The Merrion Hotel
Day 1 - Arrive Dublin
You will be met in the arrivals hall by
your driver - Private Transfer to your hotel.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city with Pat
Liddy, guide to HRH The Queen.
Enjoy a 3-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 so unique.
Stroll along the cobbles of Temple Bar and Trinity College,
catching the cadences of Irish accents cascading through the streets
Stand by the River Liffey and tilt your nose to inhale the hops
wafting from the Guinness Brewery
Marvel at the soft lilt of the Gaelic language
Learn about some of Ireland's famous writers and freedom
Walk across the enchanting Ha'penny Bridge
Later enjoy afternoon tea with historian
Speaker on Irish Culture - Turtle Bunbury –
The Hon. Turtle Bunbury, the younger son of
Lord Rathdonnell, is a best-selling author and historian based in Ireland. His
books include the Vanishing Ireland series, Sporting Legends of Ireland, The
Irish Pub & Living in Sri Lanka. He was a curator of the first ever History
Festival of Ireland in June 2012. He is the presenter on the 'Genealogy
Roadshow', an ongoing tv series which first aired on Ireland's RTE1 television
channel in 2011. In the 1990s he studied law and modern history at the
University of Groningen in the Netherlands and Trinity College Dublin and was
then a journalist for several years on the South China Morning Post and in
The Merrion Hotel
Day 2 - The Grand Tour of Kildare &
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
Historically, the ‘Grand Tour’ was a
European sojourn undertaken by young aristocrats, a rite of passage soaking up
the continental highlights. Kildare and Wicklow recapture this notion, offering
a complete Irish experience within a short drive of Dublin.
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, savour 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.
Along with the hotspots, you’ll find plenty
of hidden gems: a Givenchy dress worn by Princess Grace at the Newbridge Museum
of Style Icons; a submerged townland beneath the Blessington Lakes, a fairy
bower at Lullymore, at the heart of the Bog of Allen. Get ready for an
unforgettable adventure right on Dublin’s doorstep.
Once back in Dublin, enjoy a private traditonal music pub crawl.
Birr Castle Demesne , Ireland
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 - Tour To The West – 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.
Lunch at Birr Castle with the Earl &
Countess of Ross
Birr Castle Demesne is open to the public
every day of the year and attracts an average of over fifty thousand visitors
annually. The castle itself, however, remains a private residence: still
the home of the family which originally built it and has lived there ever since
for some fourteen generations. Two hundred years ago, this family, called
Parsons, inherited the Earldom of Rosse, and the present head of the family
living at Birr Castle is Brendan Parsons, Seventh Earl 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…
Lunch is served in the rich red dining
room, where the last seven generations, who built up everything from the
Telescope to the gardens, look down from their formal portraits on the walls.
Under a massive early ormolu and cut-glass chandelier, the main castle
dining table seats over twenty whilst a more intimate one in an alcove
overlooking the forecourt seats a further eight or nine. The tables are
set with various family heirlooms, in silver, china or glass, all on family
linen tablecloths and if the party is not too large, lunch ends with coffee
served in cups specially commissioned to portray the castle nearly 200 years
The tour continues…
After lunch, the family portraits and
furniture in the dining room may be pointed out, as well as the great
staircase, which dates from the reign of Charles II and is made entirely of yew
Unless already included in the programme
before 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 in the castle’s old stable block. Lord Rosse will also show the
group as much of the Demesne’s beautiful gardens as the programme may allow
Then back on the road to Ashford Castle –
Irelands Grandest Castle Hotel
Dinner at your hotel tonight
Bundorragha Harbour , Ireland
Day 4 - Rib & Helicopter Tour OR
Inishturk, Off-shore Inhabited Island
Rib & Helicopter Tour
Being 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
On returning to the boat, travel along the fjord to a scenic
spot or deserted island (weather permitting) to enjoy a special Delphi
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. A
very special and memorable day to treasure forever.
Lastly, Return by Helicopter to Ashford
with a final chance to take in the mesmerising Connemara coastal scenery
"it really was for real".
Alternative Activity instead of the
helicopter – Seafood & Farming Traditions Day
Killary Harbour is a dramatic deep fjord
that penetrates 12km inland from the Atlantic and into which the lakes and
rivers of the Delphi valley drain. It produces what is arguably Europe’s best
selection of fresh shellfish within surrounding farm lands that have remained
unchanged for generations.
The day begins with pickup 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 4pm.
The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
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, is one of the most impressive stretches
coastline 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
Snuggled in a wooded 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 of 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
Secret Ireland Escape, Ireland
Sheen Falls Lodge
Day 6 - Secret Ireland Escape
Discover a whole new standard of Irish
hospitality with private access to the parts of Ireland many rarely get to
Experience a 'new' Ireland as we arrive at
a modern villa, designed by a world renowned Irish architect. Meet the owners
and view their private collection of contemporary Irish art & sculpture.
Relish as only the best of fresh Irish seafood is served for lunch - a truly
gastronomic experience. Dessert is served with a range of artisan treats,
Nespresso coffees and/or Irish Liqueurs.
First Stop - Villa combined with Art Tour
and Seafood Platter Lunch
Second Stop - Arrive at one of the
Manor- Receive three Irish whisky tastings in a private Shebeen in the company
of the Lady of the Manor.
Castle- receive a full tour to the rooftop terrace and enjoy a Meade tasting at
this secluded castle. Nestled on its very own island and restored to its
original condition, the castle is now used as a private summer home.
Final Stop - Arrive at Garrykennedy, one of
Ireland's smallest villages. Choose any of the following experiences:
a) Learn how to pull the perfect Pint
b) Enjoy a wide selection of warm
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, onwards to the Kingdom of Kerry
Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Sheen Falls Lodge
Day 7 - Gap of Dunloe & Dingle
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 MacGillycuddy 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 you can enjoy a light snack (not included).
This afternoon explore the Dingle
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. 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 till
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 the English.
Hayfield Manor Hotel
Day 8 - Tour to Cork
Explore Kinsale - Gourmet Capital of
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.
Kinsale is a National Tidy Towns Winner too
but for all that it's still a very agreeable place. 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 white bells and bluebells, and in
summer red valerian grows out of crevices in every wall. Desmond Castle, a
tower house from the 1500s, was once used as a customs 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.
Middleton Distillery, Ireland
Hayfield Manor Hotel
Day 9 - Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey
Visit 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
whisky 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!
Ballyfin House, Ireland
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack
Day 10 - Ballyfin House
Be sure to arrive at Ballyfin Demense in
time for lunch, as the stay includes Irish breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee &
homemade cookies & cake, soft drinks, a pre-dinner drinks reception,
gourmet dinner, and use of most on-site recreational facilities (equipment
Spend the day at leisure enjoying the estate and its varied activities including boating and fishing on
the lake, biking riding, picnics, exploring the 600-acre estate, swimming pool and
fitness centre, spa treatments, wine and whisky tasting, and feasting on Chef
Cordonniers fine food.
Ballyfin House, Ireland
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack
Day 11 - Ballyfin House
Spend the full day on the estate exploring at your leisure
Dublin Airport, Ireland
Day 12 - Transfer to Dublin