Lush, romantic Ireland, land of castles and magic. Whether your passion is poetry, ponies or pubs, the Emerald Isle will always enchant.
Day 1: Arrival Dublin
You will be met in the arrivals hall by your driver, who will chauffeur you to your hotel. As your rooms may not be ready, enjoy a walking tour of the city with Pat Liddy, guide to HRH The Queen. Enjoy a three-hour walking tour of Dublin, and discover the historic city’s main sites, such as the bohemian Temple Bar district, and Dublin Castle. Immerse yourself in Irish history, and hear music and stories that make Ireland’s capital city unique. Stroll along the cobbles of Temple Bar and Trinity College, standing by the River Liffey and inhaling the hops wafting from the Guinness Brewer, and walking across the enchanting Ha’penny Bridge.
Later enjoy high tea with the Hon. Turtle Bunbury, bestselling author and historian, at Number 10, a beautifully restored Georgian house. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. You will enjoy one evening at The Merrion, a luxurious five-star in the heart of Dublin. Accommodation is in a Main House Junior Suite, and includes breakfast.
Easy city walking
Day 2: The Grand Tour of Kildare and Wicklow
The Grand Tour is the quintessential circuit of Kildare and Wicklow, taking in the most spectacular scenery, the most beautiful big houses and gardens and the most intriguing Early Christian heritage sites… in a route as suited to a short visit as a long, leisurely meander.
Roam from St. Kevin’s sixth century monastic settlement at Glendalough to great mansions like Russborough and Carton House. Stop to smell the flowers in ravishing Irish gardens, savor warm village welcomes, or soak up epic scenery ranging from grassy plains, glacial lakes and wild mountain passes to a surprising eastern coastline.
Enjoy a private Sheepdog demonstration at Russborough House. Once back in Dublin, enjoy a private Literary Pub Crawl.
Day 3: Tour To The West and Royal Lunch
Travel through the gentle midlands of Ireland, a land of sensuously curving rivers, rolling hills and wide open bogs where grouse and skylark song breaks the windswept silence. There will be hidden gardens to explore, and historic mansions to visit. You’ll then have lunch at Birr Castle with the Earl & Countess of Rosse. You will first be entertained with sherry or sparkling wine in the tapestried hall, which provides the most appropriate setting for a brief history of the castle and of the family. Lunch is served in the rich red dining room. After lunch, Lord Rosse will take the group into the gardens to see the Great Telescope, as well as the galleries of Ireland’s Historic Science Centre, which is located at the castle’s old stable block.
Then back on the road to Ashford Castle – Ireland’s Grandest Castle Hotel. Accommodation is in a Junior Suite, and includes breakfast.
Day 4: Boat and Helicopter Tour OR Inishturk Island
You’ll be picked up at Bundorragha Harbour by a powerboat/rib, and visiting mussel and oyster farms along the fjord, with explanations and demonstrations of what is involved, Sampling fresh oysters with a glass of Guinness or white wine. Then follows a scenic walk to a traditional farm to watch a demonstration of sheep shearing, working sheep dogs and turf cutting. On returning to the boat, travel along the fjord to a scenic spot or deserted island (weather permitting) to enjoy a special Delphi picnic lunch. After lunch, a visit to a deserted Famine Village, only accessible by boat, where we can begin to understand the complex tragedy of the famine. This includes everything from the dependency on the potato to the culture and politics of the time and the harsh evictions that soon followed and scattered the Irish to the four corners of the world. Lastly Return by Helicopter to Ashford with a final chance to take in the mesmerising Connemara coastal scenery.
Please note that the helicopter tour is for a maximum of 5 people, if there are 6 in the group we would do the following:
Seafood & Farming Traditions Day: The day begins with pick up by powerboat at the pier and visiting mussel and oyster farms along the fjord, explaining and demonstrating what is involved, and sampling fresh oysters with a glass of Guinness or white wine. Then follows a scenic walk to a traditional farm to watch a demonstration of sheep shearing, working sheep dogs and turf cutting. On returning to the boat, travel along the fjord to a scenic spot to enjoy a special picnic lunch before returning to the pier at about 4:00 p.m.
Day 5: Tour to Adare by way of The Cliffs & The Burren
The Cliffs of Moher, a sheer precipice 8 km long and rising to a height of 203m, one of the most impressive stretches of the coast in the West of Ireland, remarkable especially at nesting seasons for the quantity and variety of seabirds there.
The Burren – Words simply cannot do justice to this eerie, peculiar 193-square mile area of ancient seabed that suffered glacial activity during its long history. The Burren, is a bare lunar like landscape of a limestone plateau dotted with stone age forts and megalithic tombs.
Snuggled in a wooden and lush countryside setting, Adare is widely regarded as being Ireland’s prettiest and most picturesque village. Situated on the river Maigue, a tributary of the Shannon river, Adare (Gaelic name: “Ath Dara” – the “ford of the oak” – from the combination of water and woodland) dates back, at least, to the early 13th century. The bridge by which you enter the village, in the shadow of the ruined Desmond Castle, was built in 1329. Two groups of world famous ornate, thatched cottages line part off the village’s broad main street, punctuated with beautiful stone buildings, medieval monasteries and ruins.
On arrival at Adare be greeted by a horse & hound welcome
Overnight at Adare Manor – Stateroom
Day 6: Secret Ireland Escape
Discover a whole new layer of Irish hospitality with private access to the parts of Ireland many rarely get to see.
Experience a ‘new’ Ireland as we arrive to a modern villa, designed by world renowned Irish architect. Meet the owners and view their private collection of contemporary Irish art and sculpture. Relish as only the best of fresh Irish seafood is served for lunch – a true gastronomic experience. Dessert is served with a range of artisan treats, espresso and Irish Liqueurs.
First Stop Villa with Art Tour with Seafood Platter Lunch
Second Stop Arrive to 1 of the following;
a) Hunters Manor & receive 3 Irish whiskey tastings in private Shebeen – Meet the lady of the Manor as we arrive to your private Shebeen, and receive a trio of Irish whiskey tastings
b) Private Castle & receive a full tour to the rooftop terrace and enjoy a Meade tasting nestled on its very own Island, restored to its original condition and used now as a private Summer home
Final Stop Arrive to Garrykennedy, one of Ireland’s smallest villages & choose any of the following;
a) Learn how to pull the perfect Pint of Guinness
b) Enjoy a wide selection of warm artisan tapas
c) Receive a local Craft Beer Tasting of a light beer, The Blonde or, a dark ale, The Ruby Red. Your luxury mode of transport for the day is The AZUL, Ireland’s only skippered motor yacht. Then on to the Kingdom of Kerry.
Overnight at Loch Lein Country House. Accommodation is in a Lake View suite and includes breakfast.
Day 7: Gap of Dunloe & Dingle Peninsula
The Gap of Dunloe Day Tour – Once in Killarney tour to the world renowned Kate Kearney’s cottage. Here you take a 7 mile jaunt on a pony and trap through the Gap of Dunloe where you can view a spectacular glaciated valley. The Gap is a narrow mountain pass between Mac Gillycuddy Reeks (to the west) and the Purple Mountain (to the east) and five lakes all connected by the river Loe. This area is often described as one of the most spectacular glaciated valleys in Western Europe. This part of the journey just takes under 2 hours.
Your pony and trap ride ends at Lord Brandon’s Cottage where if you wish, you may purchase a light snack.
This afternoon explore the Dingle Peninsula. Set off along the shore of Dingle Bay to explore this lovely peninsula. You pass Inch Strand where ancient red cliffs lead down to a sandy spit going far out into the sea. This was one of the entrances to Tir na Oge, the land of eternal youth of the legend of Niamh and Ossian., It was also used in the film Ryan’s Daughter, which you should see on DVD before travelling. Here also is Annascul, where John Crean lived, an Antarctic explorer with Shackleton. Coming on towards Dingle the road winds along the coast, past the ruins of Minard Castle.
The Dingle Peninsula has been inhabited for almost 6,000 years. The first settlers on the peninsula were nomadic hunters and gatherers who foraged on the coast for their food. Later Stone Age man and Bronze Age man were to build their tombs, erect their standing stones, and toil the land for the first time. The Celtic population arrived in the couple of hundred years before the birth of Christ and brought their ancestral goddess “Duibhne”, after which the Dingle Peninsula has been named in Gaelic: Corca Dhuibhne, the tribe of Duibhne. In the centuries that followed, the peninsula was to be visited by Vikings, Normans and English.
Day 8: Tour to Cork
Explore Kinsale, the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. Kinsale town’s fame was established years ago as a quaint seaside town with delicious restaurants and carefully preserved 18th-century buildings. In the 1960’s Heidi McNeice, the wife of the poet, opened the first restaurant here and it rapidly became a magnet for the world’s glitterati. In the last decade it has become unquestionably the gourmet capital of Ireland; with music and cinema stars bidding up local real estate values, it is also one of the most expensive. Once, it was an important naval port. In 1601 the Irish joined forces with Spain against the English, and the Spanish fleet anchored here before the disastrous battle of Kinsale, which led to the ‘Flight of the Earls’ and put an end to the rebellion against Elizabeth I and her reconquest of Ireland. St Multose Church is the oldest building in town, parts of it dating from the 13th century. Inside are the old town stocks. The churchyard has several interesting 16th-century gravestones which in spring are covered in whitebells and bluebells, and in summer red valerian grows out of crevices in every wall. Desmond Castle, a tower house from the 1500s, was once use as a custom house, and later as a prison for captured American sailors in the War of Independence; it now houses an ‘International Museum of Wine’. There is also an interesting museum in the old courthouse and market building, with material associated with the life of the town and port through the centuries.
Overnight Perryville House – Super Deluxe
Day 9: Whisky, Whisky, Whisky
Today travel to the Middleton Distillery, and enjoy a private tour and tasting. Set on 15 acres and beautifully restored, this is where the true heart of Irish whiskey beats. The old distillery is a unique experience with some of the buildings dating back to 1795. Take a journey through history and see the old kilns, mills and malting, water wheel and old warehouses. You will be lead through the extraordinary story of Jameson Irish Whiskey. A short film sets the scene before your guide walks you through the old distillery. After the tour enjoy a tutored whiskey tasting to become a certified Irish Whiskey Taster!
The Jameson restaurant, the Malt House, is a great place to enjoy a delicious lunch before hitting the road. Don’t forget to pick up your personalised bottle of Jameson, with your choice of engraving. Then on to meet the three Jameson sisters, Kristin, Andrea and Tara- ninth generation direct descendants of John Jameson, whose name is synonymous with Irish whiskey. Enjoy tea followed by a glass of Jameson poured by a Jameson!
Days 10 and 11: Ballyfin
Be sure to arrive at Ballyfin Demense in time for lunch, as the stay includes Irish breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee, homemade cookies AND cake, soft drinks, a pre-dinner drinks reception, gourmet dinner, bedroom minibar of soft drinks and snacks, laundry and pressing facilities and use of most on-site recreational facilities (equipment supplied). Activities include boating and fishing on the lake, biking riding, picnics, exploring the 600 acre estate, swimming pool and fitness center, spa treatments, wine and whiskey tasting, and feasting on Chef Cordonniers fine food.
Overnight Ballyfin Demesne – Junior Suite
Day 12: Departure
Transfer to Dublin Airport