Day 1: Shannon to Ashford Castle
Superb Castle to stay in Ireland – the 5* Ashford Castle Ashford Castle is a 5* deluxe property situated on Lough Corrib, near the village of Cong, about 28 miles north of Galway City. Ashford Castle is an Irish landmark that was built over a period of 30 years in the 19th century, incorporating the remains of a 13th Century Norman Castle. The stately baronial castle was the country estate of Lord Ardilaun and the Guinness family for almost a century, until it was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1939. The public rooms and reception rooms are elegant and stylish ranging from a majestic dining room to a dungeon bar.
This afternoon, you can enjoy a day of leisure at Ashford Castle or explore the surrounding town of Cong. Cong is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the north. It was also the home of Sir William Wilde, historian and father to prominent playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer, Oscar Wilde. Cong also has a fine example of a ruined medieval abbey, Cong Abbey, where Rory O’Connor, the last High King of Ireland, is reputed to have died. Cong was the filming location for John Ford’s 1952 Oscar-winning film, The Quiet Man, featuring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald.
Day 2: Tour Connemara & overnight at Ashford Castle
Today you can tour the Connemara region of Co. Galway. Connemara is a wild and beautiful region of mountains, lakes, tumbling streams undulating bog, unspoiled beaches and panoramic views. It is a Gaelic- speaking region and has attracted many artisans, who can be visited at work in their studios. Here you may like to visit Kylemore Abbey & Walled Gardens, ‘Ireland’s most romantic castle’ originally built as a gift in 1867. Alternatively you can take the Killary Cruise and enjoy the unspoilt splendor of the Killary, Ireland’s only Fjord. This 9 mile inlet has some of the finest scenery in the West of Ireland.
Breath-taking views of Kylemore Abbey, Connemara
Or travel north to Westport in County Mayo. Here you can visit Westport House, one of Ireland’s most beautiful historic homes. Built in 1730 on the ruins of a former Castle of legendary Irish Pirate Queen Grace O Malley -complete with original contents, dungeons, wax work displays and three exhibitions, it is still home to her direct descendants, the 11th Marquess of Sligo and his family.
Return to Ashford Castle for overnight.
Day 3: Cong to Adare
Depart Cong and travel south to the village of Adare in Co.Limerick, widely regarded as one of Ireland’s prettiest villages.
En route you may like to stop in Galway City. Continue south via Gort & Ennis; after you can visit Bunratty Castle & Folkpark, Bunratty Castle built in 1425 is the most complete and medieval fortress in Ireland, the Folkpark within the grounds of the Castle is where 19 century life is vividly recreated.
Continue through Limerick City, Ireland’s 2014 City of Culture Heritage and hedonism co-exist comfortably in Ireland’s third largest city. Visit the newly renovated King John’s Castle, Limerick’s Oldest Castle and might fortress, the 800 year old St. Mary’s Cathedral, the elegant Georgian architecture of Pery Square and the treasure trove that is the Hunt Museum. The Museum exhibits one of Ireland’s greatest collections of arts and antiquities.
Your final destination today is Adare Manor where you will overnight for the next three nights.
Day 4: Clare
Today, enjoy the spectacular scenery of Ireland’s wondrous western coast. Travel north to Quin and visit the magnificent medieval Knappogue Castle and Walled Garden. In Quin you can also visit Craggaunowen, The Living Past. During the Bronze Age people protected themselves by building their homes on lakes, an example of such a dwelling or “crannog” can be seen at Craggaunowen. The project also includes a Castle and a “Ring Fort”, a true reproduction of a farmer’s house dating from the 4th or 5th century.
Continue via the town of Ennis and travel west to the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. Situated in County Clare and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 600ft above the ground at their highest point and 5 miles long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.
Continue north via the mystical area of the Burren region of Co. Clare before returning to Adare for overnight.
You will bid farewell to your driver at this stage.
Day 5: Adare
Enjoy your day at leisure in the village of Adare. Adare is regarded as one of the prettiest village’s in Ireland. Adare, as a strategic location, has been the subject of many conquests, wars and rebellions. Snuggled in a wooded setting among the rich quiet farmlands of the Golden Vale by the River Maigue, Adare is a model village dating from the time of the Norman conquest. It has been home to the Earls of Dunraven (Quin Family) for over three centuries. Thatched cottages line its broad street, punctuated with beautiful stone buildings and picturesque ruins.The River Maigue flows under a graceful stone bridge and medieval monasteries quietly count the passing centuries.
Visit the Adare Heritage Center and step back in time and experience the village’s unique rich and varied historic past, through realistic crafted model enactments, magnificent murals, as well as a “state-of-the-art” audio/visual presentation. Visit the Trinitarian Abbey situated next to the Heritage Center. This is the only recorded Trinitarian monastery in Ireland. It was originally built by the Fitzgerald Clan for the Trinitarian order of monks in the early 13th century. It is believed that the Trinitarian monks who came to Adare may have come from Scotland. The monastery was suppressed and badly damaged during the reign of King Henry VIII. Repaired and enlarged in the mid-19th century, the building is, today, called the “Holy Trinity Abbey” and is used as the local Roman Catholic Church. A visit to this historical and beautiful building is highly recommended.
Time permitting visit Desmond Castle, one of the few remaining authentic Norman Castles in Europe.
Enjoy your last night in Ireland at Adare Manor.
Day 6: Depart Shannon
Class, Comfort, Luxury
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*All prices are per person based on double occupancy for Castles to stay in Ireland.
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