9 Day: Ireland

    A 9-day itinerary taking in the highlights of the Republic of Ireland, beginning in and ending in Dublin.

    • From: €4995pp for 8 nights.
    • Special Offers Available. Call for details.

    Dublin, Wicklow, Powerscourt, Glendalough, Cashel, Cork, Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Connemara

    Day 1: Arrive Dublin

    Upon arrival at Dublin airport you will be met in the arrivals hall by your local representative and privately transferred to your hotel. Your representative will assist you with check-in procedures.

    Overnight: Merrion Hotel

    Day 2: Dublin

    This morning, join an expert Dublin city guide for a panoramic tour of the Irish capital. On the tour, see Leinster House where the Irish government is based, the Presidential Palace in Phoenix Park, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, grandiose O'Connell Street, and the elegant Georgian squares that are so symbolic of the city.

    Visit Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1 on the site of an Augustinian monastery. Originally a Protestant College, it was not until the 1970’s that Catholics started entering the university. Among the many famous students to attend the college were playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker (creator of the novel Dracula), Jonathan Swift and political writer Edmund Burke. Trinity’s lawns and cobbled quads provide a pleasant haven in the heart of the city. Trinity houses the Book of Kells in the Old Library with its superb barrel-vaulted ceiling. The most richly decorated of Ireland’s medieval illuminated manuscripts, the Book of Kells may have been the work of monks from Iona, who fled to Kells in 806 AD after a Viking raid. The book, which was moved to Trinity College in the 17th century, contains the four gospels in Latin. The scribes who copied the texts also embellished their calligraphy with intricate interlacing spirals as well as human figures and animals. Some of the dyes used were imported from as far as the Middle East.

    This afternoon you have two choices:

    Option 1
    Visit the National Museum of Ireland. In the Treasury see some of the finest examples of medieval Celtic metalwork, including the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice. Walk round to the National Gallery of Ireland that houses a fine collection of Irish paintings dating from the 17th to the 20th century among its fine old master collections.

    Option 2
    Step back in history and visit the shrine of Irish Independence – Kilmainham Gaol. Between 1796 and 1924 Kilmainham Gaol housed many political prisoners, the last being Eamon De Valera, later to become Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and then President of Ireland who was released from the jail on July 16 1924. It was here that the ringleaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, including Patrick Pearse and James Connolly were shot by firing squad in the stone breaking yard. The jail is now a museum, restored to its original grim condition with dark passages, punishment cells and an execution yard.

    Overnight: Merrion Hotel
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 3: The Wicklow Mountains

    Meet your driver-guide to enjoy a full day excursion into the Wicklow Mountains that lie to the south of Dublin.

    The avenue of Powerscourt leading to the Palladian house echoes the magnificence of the whole estate, being a mile long and lined by over 2,000 beech trees. In addition, the 47 acres of gardens are remarkable for their grandeur of scale whilst combining great delicacy and refinement of detail. The charming walled garden, the striking terraces, fine statuary and varied trees are linked by carefully designed walks and set in the magnificent surroundings of the Wicklow Mountains. The house was gutted by a fire in 1974 but has recently been reborn. An exhibition brings to life the rich history of the estate, which is now home to the best of Irish design in gifts, clothes, and furniture in the Avoca Stores and the interiors Gallery.

    From Powerscourt, continue on to Glendalough, known as the Valley of the Two Lakes. Glendalough is one of Ireland’s national monuments – for scenic, religious, historic and archaeological reasons. Traveling through the Wicklow Gap is like entering an Irish Shangri-La, so shrouded is it in beauty, mystery and tranquillity. In the distance, the Wicklow Mountains fold gracefully into one another. The mountain forests of pine and spruce are reflected in the clear waters of the two lakes that give the valley its name.

    Glendalough was a place of religious pilgrimage for centuries following its establishment as a monastic centre by St. Kevin in the 6th century. By the 12th century it was an important diocese. However Viking raids did Glendalough much damage and, after a great fire in 1398, it declined as a religious centre. The tour will take you through the remains of the main monastic complex, through the remarkably well-preserved St. Kevin’s Church and the imposing 100ft high Round Tower.

    Overnight: Merrion Hotel
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 4: Dublin - Rock of Cashel - County Kerry

    Enjoy a full day of touring with your driver-guide as you travel through rich pasturelands. The inland countryside route passes into County Tipperary, home to the Rock of Cashel that dramatically overshadows the town below. The ruined 13th Century cathedral and the round tower perch dramatically on top of this outcrop.

    From here you can choose to visit either the town of Cobh or Blarney Castle.

    Option 1
    Blarney Castle is a small ruined tower house that dates back to the 15th century and has become a national icon as the home of the Blarney Stone. This stone, rumoured to have been brought to Ireland in the time of the crusades, is embedded in the parapet of the castle, and is said to bestow the 'gift of the gab' on all those who kiss it. The castle is situated in beautiful grounds which are adjacent to the Blarney Woolen Mills complex, one of the largest retail outlets in Ireland where fine local goods can be purchased. Please note: the climb up Blarney Castle is difficult, and is not recommended for those who have difficulty with stairs.

    Option 2
    Steep narrow streets climb the hill above Cobh’s fine natural harbour giving wide views across the bay. Its name, pronounced ‘cove’ is simply the Irish for ‘haven’. Now a popular resort and yachting centre, Cobh was the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Club, founded in 1720 and the oldest such club in the world. Cobh was once the main departure point for emigrants to America and was a stopping place for transatlantic liners. The Sirius sailed from Cobh in 1838 to make the first ever Atlantic steamer crossing and the doomed Titanic called there in 1912. Towering over Cobh is the magnificent Gothic-style cathedral which was built in 1868, faced with blue granite and supported inside by pillars made from local marble topped with intricately carved capitals. Its carillon of 42 bells is claimed to be the largest in Ireland.

    On to Killarney with its spectacular scenery, unusually mild climate and rapid changes in light and weather, this is a bewitching place of intense beauty. Ireland’s highest mountains, Macgillycuddy Reeks, raise a jagged edge to the sky while at their feet rest three still lakes, studded with little islands, set among forests and lush glens thick with grand trees, wild fuchsias and scented orchids.

    Overnight: Killarney Park Hotel
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 5: Ring of Kerry

    Today tour one of the best-loved coastal drives in Europe with your driver-guide on a full day excursion (8 hours) around the Ring of Kerry. The road follows the shoreline of the Iveragh Peninsula, passing some of the most beautiful mountain and moorland scenery in the whole of Ireland. Between the mountains and coast, this route passes by many land and seascapes and you will gain fabulous views over the bays to the neighbouring Dingle and Beara peninsulas. En-route pass Derrynane House, the home of Daniel O'Connell, the 'Great Liberator' of Ireland.

    In the midst of Killarney National Park stands Muckross House, set in the shadow of Macgillycuddy's Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland. You can explore its lovely gardens and traditional farms which recreate farming methods that were used back in the 1930s. Between April and July, the gardens are even more attractive as they are beautifully embellished in red and pink flowers of Rhododendrons. Return to your hotel from here.

    Overnight: Killarney Park Hotel
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 6: County Kerry - County Clare - Cong

    Depart Kerry with your driver-guide for a full day excursion. You can choose here whether to visit the Cliffs of Moher, or whether to visit the village of Adare, Limerick and Bunratty Castle.

    Option 1
    Reach the towering Cliffs of Moher; at over 600 feet tall these sandstone cliffs are Ireland’s highest. They are exposed to the fiercest of Atlantic storms and large colonies of cliff nesting seabirds can be spotted here. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. Continuing on from the cliffs, drive through The Burren, an area of limestone rock covering the majestic mountains and tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. The coast road will then take you around Galway Bay, famed for its oysters.

    Option 2
    Explore the picturesque village of Adare, well known for its thatched cottages and medieval ruins. Cross the River Shannon at Limerick into County Clare. At Bunratty Castle, you can see the largest 15th century tower house in Ireland, in the grounds of which are a series of traditional thatched cottages that have been carefully reconstructed.

    Continue past Galway City to your hotel that enjoys a delightful setting overlooking a bay.

    Overnight: Ashford Castle
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 7: Connemara

    Enjoy a full day with your driver-guide to explore the windswept landscape of Connemara where barren mountains surround small lakes. The Connemara coast is wrapped around the Twelve Pins and, jutting out into the Atlantic, is a landscape of wild, rocky bog land and of ragged coastline coloured with the autumnal shades of seaweed and pine trees on tiny pincushion islands mirrored in the Loughs. On the shores of one such lake sits Kylemore Abbey, still home to a living community of nuns. The walled garden in the grounds of the abbey has been faithfully restored to its former glory.

    Drive north past Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord, into County Mayo, where you will pass the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick to which there is an annual pilgrimage each year. Return to your hotel from here.

    Overnight: Ashford Castle
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 8: West Connaught - Strokestown - Dublin

    For your final full day of touring, your driver-guide will take you back to Dublin. Visit Galway City and either Castletown House or Strokestown House. In Galway you can have time at leisure to explore the quaint city perched on the edge of the bay.

    Option 1
    Continuing your journey, stop at Strokestown Park, where you can visit the Irish Famine Museum, dedicated to the victims of the potato blight in the 19th century.

    Option 2
    Visit Castletown House, Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian style house. It is very important in terms of European architectural heritage; famous for its stucco work and elaborate Baroque style.

    Overnight: Merrion Hotel
    Meal Plan: B

    Day 9: Depart Dublin

    Today you will be privately transferred to Dublin airport for your departure flight.

    Meal Plan: B

    Tailor-made for you

    •  Your Safari is just that. Each safari we create is built around you and your requirements.

    •  Select your preferred style of accommodation and explore at your own pace.

    •  Co-create your perfect trip with the help of our experts.

    Expert Advice

    •  All of our advisers are well travelled and know their areas inside out.

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    Personal Service

    •  The details make the difference. All our accommodation, drivers and guides have been carefully selected by location and service as well as their contribution to conservation or the community.

    •  Our business depends on recommendations. We go the extra mile to give you a trip to remember.

    Would you like to make a booking?

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    Call: 01227 671 154

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    Cape Town: 021 300 2166