Your Accommodations: Each night you will stay in a wonderful castle or great house, experiencing for yourself how it was to live the life of luxury and opulence enjoyed by the most wealthy and powerful families in Irish history. Your room will often be furnished with family antiques and will have private bathroom facilities. Breakfast each morning is included.
Your Transport: You will travel in air-conditioned Mercedes cars, people carriers (MPVs), mini coaches or coaches, each specially configured for maximum leg room and excellent touring comfort.
Your Driver/Guide: Your group will be accompanied throughout your tour by an experienced, professional and friendly driver/guide. Without the stress of driving on strange roads, all you have to do is relax as you are whisked in comfort from place to place!
This is a private tour - just your party and nobody else - and so can start or end any day you choose. You will not be joining a larger group and there is complete flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests. The itinerary assumes arrival to and departure from Shannon Airport. If that is not the case we can easily alter the running order to take account of your travel plans.
Day 1: Shannon - Limerick - Adare. King John's Castle in Limerick, which has been fully restored, was built in 1210 "to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond", and is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland. Adare is a perfect example of an estate village and was developed by the Earls of Dunraven who lived at Adare Manor. This 18th century castellated manor house, with towers, turrets, and stonework ornamentation, is now a luxury 5 star hotel. Overnight in the famous Adare Manor, a beautifully restored country mansion surrounded by extensive parkland and a championship golf course.
Day 2: Ring of Kerry Tour. Explore the breathtaking scenery of the Ring of Kerry, travelling past some of Ireland's highest mountains one one site and most spectacular coastal scenery on the other. Our journey will take us through the villages of Cahirciveen, Waterville and Sneem, before we return to Killarney for a guided tour of the elegant 19th century mansion, Muckross House.
Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colorist Mary Balfour Herbert. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843. Overnight in historic Ballyseede Castle, once chief garrison of the legendary Fitzgerald’s, the Earls of Desmond.
Day 3: Killarney - Blarney - Cobh - Waterford. This morning we leave Killarney and travel though the Agricultural heartland of south Ireland to Blarney and its famous castle. Kissing the famous stone at here is said to impart the gift of eloquence, but you must be suspended upside-down to achieve it! The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the Kings of Munster from the 4th century before being handed over to the church in the 12th century. It remained the seat of the local Bishop until 1647 when it fell to the Cromwellian army. Overnight in Waterford Castle, magnificently set on it's own Island and reachable only by private ferry.
Day 4: Kilkenny - Thomastown - Waterford. Kilkenny Castle dominates the beautiful medieval city of Kilkenny. Built in 1172 it was bought by the Butler family in 1391 and remained their home until 1935. A walking tour of the city, which is extremely rich in well preserved medieval buildings, is well worth while. The Cistercian Abbey of Jerpoint, close to Thomastown, dates from 1158 and was one of the most important monastic settlements in Ireland. The port city of Waterford is famous for its Crystal Factory - a tour is highly recommended. Overnight in Waterford Castle.
Day 5: Clonmacnoise - Loughrea - Coole Park - Galway. Clonmacnoise is a monastic settlement, famed for its scholarship, which thrived from the 7th until the 12th century. Many Irish kings were buried there. Coole Park was once home to Lady Gregory who regularly played host to Irish poet W.B.Yeats. Although the house is long gone, the magnificent grounds and lake, with its famous swans, are worth visiting. Yeats lived at nearby Thoor Ballylee, a small castle on a more "domestic" scale than many we have seen. Overnight in Ballinahinch Castle amidst the hauntingly beautiful scenery of Connermara.
Day 6: Connemara Tour. Connemara, an area of rugged landscape, bogs and mountains is known for its clear light and unspoilt beauty, characteristics that make it specially loved by artists and photographers. Kylemore Abbey was built by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife and is now a select private boarding school for girls. Visitors are restricted to the gardens and lakeside walks. On the return trip through the Maam valley you are likely to see locals harvesting turf, used as fuel, from the bog still using tools and methods a thousand years old. Overnight in Ashford Castle, Ireland's most luxurious castle hotel set in a large sporting estate.
Day 7: Galway - The Burren - The cliffs of Moher - Bunratty. The Burren covers 100 sq miles of lunar like rock with underground rivers, caves, loughs and ancient burial places, some dating back more than 3000 years. At 800 feet above the Atlantic Ocean a walk along the Cliffs of Moher is a bracing experience and will certainly give you an appetite for lunch! Bunratty Castle is host to regular medieval banquets during the tourist season and the adjoining folk park, with reconstructions of typical rural dwellings, including a full village, is well worth seeing. Overnight in Dromoland Castle, favored residence of visiting heads of state and international celebrities.
Day 8: Bunratty - Shannon. Today's activities will be determined by departure times. For those with late flights it is a good opportunity to see any places that were missed on the earlier visit to Limerick or to spend a few more hours at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. We will be at your service right up to your departure, when it will be time for you to say farewell.
Notes: This is a fully guided tour, it is not a self-drive tour. The tour is private and will be designed just for your group, you will NOT be joining a larger group.
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