2017 Irish Supreme - 10 Days / 9 Nights
Your Irish trip starts at 2:00 pm when you meet your tour director at your Dublin hotel. Set out to see central Dublin’s public buildings, tranquil parks and bustling shopping streets. Drive past Leinster House, the seat of government, and St. Stephen’s Green. Cross the River Liffey and see the wide O’Connell Street with many monuments and the General Post Office, where the 1916 Rising started. Walk through Trinity College with a student guide to see stately buildings and visit the Old Library where the priceless 8th century manuscript of the Book of Kells is housed. In the evening discuss your itinerary with your tour director and your fellow travelers over a welcome drink and dine independently.
Travel to Kildare to visit the Irish National Stud to learn about the valuable horse breeding industry and see some of the magnificent animals. Take a walk around the delightful grounds to see St. Fiachra’s Garden, created in 1999 and the miniature Japanese Gardens. Drive to Kilkenny where a casual lunch is included and then spend some free time to browse around the narrow medieval streets. Continue your drive south through the scenic Knockmealdown Mountains and the “V” Gap to your hotel in Ballycotton. This intimate country house property is located on the south coast, overlooking the ocean and is a delightful haven of tranquility. Enjoy a superb dinner in the hotel’s fine restaurant with locally-sourced ingredients.
(B, L, D)
Drive through the rich farming countryside of east County Cork to Kinsale on the south coast. Join a local guide to explore Charles Fort and then take a short walk around Kinsale’s historic streets. This delightful old fishing town is now renowned for sailing and gourmet food. Journey along the rugged coastline of County Cork, passing picturesque villages, coves and beaches. Travel to Killarney and check in to your elegant hotel, located in the center of the town. You may like to browse around the shops and pubs or take a walk through Killarney National Park before dinner.
Today travel around the Ring of Kerry drive, one of Ireland’s most popular scenic routes. Every bend in 100 miles of road reveals breathtaking views of mountains and the Atlantic Ocean and there will be plenty of stops to admire the vistas and take photos. At the tip of the peninsula visit the Skellig Experience, which shows the austere conditions of early Christian monastic life on the nearby rocky island of Skellig Michael. The island was used as a location for the “Star Wars VII” movie made in 2014. Return through the attractive village of Sneem and pause at Moll’s Gap for panoramic mountain views. Watch a shepherd and his skilled dogs round up sheep before returning to Killarney. In the evening enjoy a warm welcome and delicious cuisine at award-winning Killeen House Restaurant.
Sample tea and scones in a pub in Listowel, associated with the writer, J. B. Keane. Take a 20-minute ferry ride across the wide River Shannon Estuary and drive along the coast. View the Cliffs of Moher, majestic walls of rock, which extend five miles along the coast. You may walk to O’Brien’s Tower at the highest point for panoramic views of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, if the weather is clear. Journey through part of the Burren, a region of rounded limestone hills, to the lovely Dromoland Castle Hotel. Relax in the wonderful setting, play a round of golf or use the extensive spa and leisure facilities. In the evening experience gourmet dining in the hotel’s elegant dining room.
Drive north for a gentle walking tour around central Galway to see Eyre Square, Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and parts of the medieval city walls. On Shop Street view the medieval Lynch’s Castle that gave the English language a new word. Then drive to Spiddal to visit Cnoc Suain, a restored 17th century hill-village set in a beautiful landscape where you will be immersed in local Irish culture. Take a short cruise on Lough Corrib to approach Ashford Castle from the water so you can take photos of the incredible views. Unwind in luxurious surroundings and enjoy an excellent dinner in Ashford Castle’s lovely restaurant.
Drive through the scenic Connemara region to view rugged hills and sparkling lakes. This area is sparsely-inhabited due to the poor conditions for farming. However, the beauty of its natural features is breathtaking. Visit Kylemore Abbey, a stately 19th century mansion in a tranquil lakeside setting that is owned by an order of Irish Benedictine nuns. Walk along the lake shore and tour the fine reception rooms and the elaborate church. Continue your drive through Connemara and stop in the town of Clifden to take a look around. Return to Ashford Castle in the early afternoon so that you may enjoy some of the many facilities that this spectacular hotel has to offer. Dine in one of the castle’s other restaurants in the evening.
Travel through the center of Ireland to visit Kilbeggan Distillery Experience, the oldest distillery in the world, to see artisanal whiskey production. While the building and some of the distilling processes remain unchanged for centuries, modern equipment is used to create this special whiskey. Sample some of the finished product at the end of the tour. Continue your drive to Dublin and check in to a different hotel in the city center, where you will have some time to relax and enjoy the facilities. In the evening head to one of Dublin’s fine restaurants for an elegant dining experience.
This morning take a short ride through the Wicklow Mountains just south of Dublin. Take a guided tour around Russborough House, an elegant Palladian mansion noted for its art and photography collections. Enjoy the wonderful unspoiled setting and grounds of the imposing residence. In the afternoon use your included voucher for an open-top bus tour around the main sights of Dublin. You may stay on the bus for the entire circular tour or get off and on at 24 different places of interest. You will also have a voucher to visit either Guinness Storehouse to learn about the famous brew or the General Post Office Museum, which was the headquarters of the 1916 Rising and now contains a museum to chronicle the events.
Your tour ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner