GOURMET TOUR OF IRELAND
This tour is a food lovers dream & offers plenty to whet the appetite for professional and casual gourmets alike. Spend an enjoyable week exploring the gastronomic delights of Ireland’s East, South and South West Coast. Ireland is famous for its excellent natural ingredients due to a rich and diverse landscape suitable for dairy & beef and its abundant coastline full of fish and seafood. The gourmet restaurants around Ireland reflect this in their menus.
For those passionate about food, Ireland will delight your tastebuds – with fine artisan producers around the country, there is an abundance of locally grown, farmed & harvested foods. As an island, Ireland is also well known for its seafood cuisine.
On the world stage, Ireland is internationally known for its Galway Oyster Festival as well as its famous long standing heritage of producing delectable malt whiskeys and creamy stout & liquers, such as Guinness & Baileys Irish Cream.
Contact us today to customize a memorable gourmet tour of Ireland or enjoy our Gourmet Greats Tour Below:
Day 1 – Arrive into Dublin
Cead Mile Failte – A hundred thousand welcomes to Ireland’s capital city, steeped in history and buzzing with youthful energy. Medieval, Georgian and modern architecture provide a backdrop to a friendly bustling port where the cosmopolitan and charming meet in a delightful diversity that is Dublin. Dublin is a delight to explore and very easy to navigate on foot. Dublin’s attractions are many, from castles, museums and art galleries to the lively spirit of Temple Bar.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse, the number one visitor attraction in Ireland. Located in the heart of the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate, it is a “must see” on any tour of Dublin. Housed in an old fermentation plant, this seven storey visitor experience tells the history of the making of the world famous beer. It is a dramatic story that begins 250 years ago and ends in the Gravity Bar where visitors receive a complimentary pint of Guinness while relaxing and enjoying unparalleled panoramic views over Dublin. Visitors can also enjoy Irish cuisine with a Guinness twist in the Brewery Bar or a relaxing pint of Guinness in the Source Bar. And if you’d like a souvenir to remind you of your trip to the home of Guinness, there’s plenty to choose from in the Retail Store. 2009 markd the historic anniversary of 250 years of brewing at St.James’s gate, and where better to raise a glass to Arthur Guinness – the man who started it all – than at Guinness Storehouse.
Tonight, enjoy dinner at the Fitzwilliam Hotel’s Dine highly acclaimed Michelin Star Thornton’s Restaurant. Most likely the best way to experience Thornton’s restaurant is to try their 8 course tasting menu. Kevin and Muriel Thornton’s first establishment was the Wine Epergne located in Upper Rathmines from 1989 – 1992. Thornton’s opened in Portobello, Dublin in 1995 and moved to its present location on St. Stephen’s Green in 2002. Located in the heart of Dublin, overlooking magnificent St. Stephen’s Green, Thornton’s is a wonderful location for a sumptuous dining experience.
Day 2 – Wicklow & Waterford
After a full Irish Breakfast, you will travel southwards to Co. Wicklow. Travel south of Dublin, along the coast with fine views of the indented coastline travelling into County Wicklow. Traditionally know as the ‘Garden of Ireland’ because of its beauty and abundance of greenery beautifully set off against the backdrop of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, Wicklow’s tallest mountain.
Continue via the eastern coastline of Ireland down to Waterford & enjoy a cooking demonstration this afternoon at Ballyknocken Cookery School, situated in the renovated Milking Parlour on the grounds of Ballyknocken House & Farm, and a haven for those seeking to learn the skills of preparing fresh local foods in a wonderful countryside setting. The cookery school is state of the art, with large seating and hands on capacity. Top of the range equipment such as Smeg and Newbridge Home is stocked. Run by Catherine Fulvio – Catherine is a graduate of the Ballymaloe and the Alix Gardiner Schools of Cookery. Having being brought up in Ballyknocken House, Catherine believes she learnt most by hanging onto the apron strings of her mother, Mary (Byrne) who has professionally cooked 3 meals per day for guests of Ballyknocken House since 1969! Catherine worked in nearby Tinakilly House before taking over Ballyknocken House in 1999 and subsequently setting up Ballyknocken Cookery School. In between running the kitchens of Ballyknocken House, Catherine has attracted media interest and more recently has been seen on Discovery Channel in US & Canada; Gentse Waterzooi – Belgium’s’ Leading Culinary travel programme..
Continue to Waterford for overnight.
Day 3 – Waterford
After breakfast this morning, visit the Waterford Crystal Factory. The new House of Waterford Crystal, comprises an actual living and breathing crystal factory tour, fascinating visitor centre and opulent retail store housing the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world. Take a guided factory tour, giving you first hand access to all areas of over 225 years of traditional crystal production.
This afternoon, enjoy enjoy a cooking lesson at the Tannery Restaurant & Cooking School. The Tannery Restaurant & Cookery School, located in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in the south east of Ireland has long been regarded as one of Ireland’s leading restaurants. Opened in 1997 by leading chef Paul Flynn, who is regarded as one of the foremost Irish chefs, he cooks exciting and modern Irish food and has developed a range of exciting courses which reflect his cooking. The on-site Glanbia garden gained publicity in 2009 having been featured on Nationwide and numerous publications, as well as allowing the establishment to grow all its own vegetables for the restaurant.
Overnight in Waterford.
Day 4 – Waterford to Cork
Travel south to Cork today. Your first stop will be at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Midleton, Co. Cork. Ballymaloe Cookery School is owned by one of Ireland’s best-known chefs, Darina Allen. Unlike any other cookery school in the world they are located in the middle of a 100-acre, organic farm of which ten acres are devoted to organic market gardens, orchards and greenhouses. With classes in operation since 1983, this means that the students can learn to cook using the finest and freshest of ingredients.
Afterwards enjoy a tour of the Old Midleton Distillery - this tour is a journey through the story of Irish whiskey by means of an audio-visual presentation (available in 8 languages). Follow the old distillery trail through mills, maltings, stillhouse, warehouses and kilns – some of these buildings date back to 1795. View the largest pot still in the world prior to sampling the internationally renowned Jameson Whiskey in the bar (minerals for children) – perhaps have the opportunity of becoming a qualified Irish whiskey taster with presentation of certificate before browsing in the exclusive Jameson merchandise outlet and craft shops or relaxing in the elegant restaurant on site.
Continue then via Cobh, a unique Irish Port Town, situated on the southern shore of the Great Island in one of the world’s finest natural harbours. Between 1848 and 1950, over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland – over 2.5 million from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration in the country. Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. Later the steamers and ocean liners continued carrying the Irish to new lives and new lands.
Your final destination today is Kinsale town, known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. For centuries, Kinsale has been a haven from the sea for travellers and traders alike. Their influence has made Kinsale the most cosmopolitan and charming of ports in Ireland. But where Britons, Spaniards and Irish once fought, yachts now disgorge their sailors to sample “fruits de mer” in the old world atmosphere of Ireland’s Gourmet Capital. You might like to sample the history of the “Wine Geese” in Ireland’s only International Wine Museum in Desmond Castle and the history and crafts of Kinsale in the historic Courthouse. Or possibly visit Charles Fort and 12th Century St. Multose Church or The Courthouse, which houses the Regional Museum.
Day 5- BLARNEY & CORK CITY
After breakfast this morning, you will visit the village of Blarney & Blarney Castle. Situated 8km from Cork City, this historic castle is most famous for its stone, which has the traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it. The word Blarney was introduced into the English language by Queen Elizabeth I and is described as pleasant talk, intended to deceive without offending. The stone is set in the wall below the battlements, and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards (grasping an iron railing) from the parapet walk. In the grounds of the castle the Rock Close and its surroundings is a curious place of ancient trees and far more ancient stones, by legend a garden of druidic origin and a centre of worship in pre- Christian days. The place has an aura of magic and mystique with Wishing Steps, Witch’s Kitchen, Druid’s Cave and many other delights, telling a story of centuries past.
Continue to Cork City, named as one of the Top 10 Cities to visit in 2010 by Lonely Planet. Cork is Ireland’s second biggest city after Dublin and built like Venice upon the waters with the centre on an island. Moreover Cork is known have a rich cultural life and being the European Capital of Culture in 2005. Cork City has all the amenities of a large city but still manages to retain its pleasant atmosphere of a distinctive continental air. Cork was originally a monasteric settlement founded in the sixth century and got its important harbour with the Norsemen erecting it. Cork features architecturally notable buildings originating from the medieval, like St. Patrick’s Street, which is known for its remodelled architecture and shops.
The English Market is one of the oldest of its kind. Trading as a market since 1788, it predates most of the other markets like it. Barcelona’s famous Boqueria market did not start until 80 years after the English Market first started to serve the people of Cork. The English Market has entrances on Princes Street, Patrick Street and the Grand Parade. It is a covered market for fish, fruit, meat and vegetable. The origins of the market can be traced back to James 1st in 1610, but the present building dates from 1786. In 1980 it was destroyed by fire and was refurbished by Cork Corporation to an award-winning design by the Cork city architect T. F. MacNamara. Foods from all over the world as well as traditional Cork foods can be purchased.
Return for overnight in Kinsale. Enjoy your evening at leisure to sample dinner in one of the many restaurants around Kinsale.
Day 6 – West Cork & the Kingdom of Kerry
Today you will enjoy an epicurean tour of West Cork, famous for its many farmhouse cheese makers. Visit Clonakilty, home of the famous Black pudding, along with the towns of Ballydehob, Schull and Skibbereen, which are pockets of exceptional local gourmet and organic food.
Possibly stop off for a visit to Mannings Emporium , which is easily spotted on the sweeping bay road to Bantry. It has a very continental look, despite it being one of the oldest shops in the area. Val is a second generation shopkeeper, looking after this place since the late 70’s, and the premises have been in the family since the 1940’s. A striped awning adorns the front of the shop, covering the array of wooden vegetable baskets on display underneath. These contain the best fresh produce from the locality and more. In summer, locally grown green beans, peas, salad leaves, tomatoes and strawberries are here, alongside more exotic, tropical fruits. Winter finds more traditional carrots, turnips, cabbages, Swedes and parsnips, and good old fashioned Irish potato varieties like Kerr Pinks. Inside, the place really lives up to its name – this is an ‘Emporium’ in the truest sense, with row after higgledy piggledy row of jars containing all manner of good things to eat. The deli counter displays a vast choice of Irish and Continental cheeses.
Continue on to the picturesque town of Kenmare, cradled in the heart of Kenmare Bay – this town is a haven of tranquillity, gourmet food, superb accommodation and breathtaking scenery in one of the most natural, unspoilt environments in Europe.
Day 7 – Ring of Kerry
Today explore the beauty of Co. Kerry and scenery that is second to none, when you drive the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry Tour takes you through spectacular coastal and mountainous scenery along the base of the highest mountain range in Ireland, The MacGillycuddy Reeks, the highest peak being Carrantuohill rising 3,414 feet. The journey takes you through villages and towns depicting typical rural life in Ireland.
Travel through Killarney town, which was the first Tourist Destination in Ireland and has a tradition of welcoming visitors for almost three centuries. The town of Killarney – one of Ireland’s best known tourist destinations – lies adjacent to the boundary of the National Park on its north-eastern edge. Its name comes from “Chill Airne”, meaning “church of the sloe”, the original site of which is thought to be the location of the present day St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. Monarchs, Poets, Artists, Writers and Composers have visited and been inspired by the unique and unsurpassed beauty of the region. The breathtaking beauty of the landscape, the majestic mountains and mystical lakes combine to make Killarney the ultimate jewel in ‘quality holiday destinations’. Its world famous National Park and Muckross House & Gardens offer wonderful experiences never to be forgotten. Killarney is truly – ‘A place for all Seasons’.
Visit Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross House is a 19th century manor house, beautifully situated close to Muckross Lake, second largest of Killarney’s three lakes.Â Now a major visitor centre, the House has two main themes, the environment of the National Park and the folklore of County Kerry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Skilled craft workers carry on some of the traditional crafts of Kerry as their predecessors did in bygone days. The gardens informal in size are noted for their fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, extensive water gardens and an outstanding rock garden of natural limestone.
You might like to stop for some lunch at O’Neills Pub - In the same family for 150 years, Michael and Bridie O’Neill’s pub, the Point Bar, is beside the Valentia Island car ferry. Renovated in true character by the present owners, it’s always neat and makes an appealing place to drop into for a quick one while you’re waiting for the ferry – but even better to stay awhile and make the most of their super fresh seafood, served during the summer. The menu covers everything from a whole range of salads and open sandwiches on brown bread – fresh and smoked wild salmon, smoked mackerel, crabmeat, crab claws – to hot dishes like deep-fried squid and a couple of hake and monkfish dishes with garlic and olive oil.
Return to Kenmare for overnight.
Day 8 -Kenmare to Clare
After a hearty Irish Breakfast travel via Tralee, taking the ferry from Tarbert to Kilimer. Visit the breath-taking scenery of the Cliffs of Moher with an afternoon visit to the Burren Smokehouse & Visitor Centre in Lisdoonvara.
Travel south to Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co. Clare for your last night in Ireland. Enjoy a farewell dinner at Carrygerry Country House. Carrygerry is a Charming “Old World” Country House, which was built in 1793, near Shannon. Winner of the Good Food Ireland Country House of the Year 2006, the owners of Carrygerry pride themselves on sourcing only the finest local ingredients to produce a memorbale dining experience.
Day 9 – Depart from Shannon
Alas it is time to bid farewell to Ireland. You will be transferred to Shannon Airport, where you will bid farewell to your driver and check in for your return flight.