DAY 1: ARRIVE SHANNON AIRPORT – CORK
Depart Shannon Airport travelling east to Cashel in Co. Tipperary. Cashel is a thriving market town set against a backdrop of antiquity and situated in the rich pasturelands of the Golden Vale. Its most famous characteristic is the “Rock” of Cashel”. This “lump” of limestone is 200 feet high and is said to hail from the Slieve Bloom Mountains thirty miles to the north. Legend has it that the devil took a bite out of these mountains and, finding that it did not agree with him, spat it out. It landed at Cashel. The gap left by the “bite”, known as the Devil’s Bit, can be clearly seen from the top of the rock. This place was in the forefront of Irish ecclesiastical and political history for a thousand years before a long period of neglect set in during the 18th Century. In addition to the Rock itself the city of Kings has many varied attractions including The Folk Village, Bolton Library, Kings Heritage Centre and Hoar Abbey.
Continue your journey south to Cork City. Check into Hayfield Manor, Cork where you will spend the next 3 nights.
Cork or Corcaigh or ‘The Great Marsh of Munster’, which had its historic beginning in the 7th century when St. Finbarr founded his monastic settlement on what is now Gillabbey Rock. The physical shape of Cork derives from its island beginnings. Water and tides, birds and boys fishing, bridges and Amsterdam-like house-fronts, all cajole the walker and casual visitor to the city. Up to the 1770s Cork was a city of waterways. Patrick Street was seriously damaged in the dying days of the War of Independence but much of the remaining fabric of the city remains as it was in the 19th Century. Cork has many physical qualities, steps, steeples and hidden squares and lanes. Over the years the medieval plot size and street pattern have been retained, despite much of the city being rebuilt in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
DAY 2: CORK – COBH AND MIDLETON
In the afternoon travel to the nearby town of Midleton which is home to the Jameson Experience; Old Midleton Distillery. 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. A short film sets the scene before their tour guide walks you through the old distillery. The guided tours last one hour and end with a complimentary glass of Jameson Whiskey and a chance to take part in a tutored whiskey tasting to become a certified Irish Whiskey Taster!
Return to Cork City for overnight at Hayfield Manor.
DAY 3: CORK – BLARNEY AND KINSALE
Return to Cork City for overnight at Hayfield Manor.
DAY 4: CORK – ASHFORD CASTLE
Continue onto Ashford Castle in Cong, Co. Mayo where you will spend the next two nights.
Dating back to 1228 and once the estate of the Guinness family, the legendary 5-star Ashford Castle Hotel was one of the first luxury Castle Hotels in Ireland. Situated beside the tranquil Lough Corrib the setting for this world renowned hotel is truly breathtaking. Opening in 1939, Ashford Castle has welcomed many Heads of State as well as International Personalities over the years. The timeless classical interiors and award winning cuisine, combined with an array of Sporting Activities such as Fishing, Falconry, Golf, Horseback Riding and Cruising on the Corrib has resulted in Ashford Castle Hotel receiving many awards. Befitting the formal atmosphere of the George V Restaurant Ashford Castle kindly request that gentlemen wear a jacket and tie for dinner.
DAY 5: CONNEMARA
The centre of Connemara is composed of mountain peaks, the Twelve Bens or Pins, which culminate in Benbaun.
Killary Fjord, located in Leenane, is Ireland’s only fjord. It forms a partial border between counties Galway and Mayo. It is 15 kilometres (9 miles) long and in the centre it is over 45 metres deep. From Nancy’s Point, just west of Leenane Village you can take a 90 minute cruise with Killary Fjord Boat Tours (operates April – October. Please check in advance for sailing times) on their all-weather purpose built vessel, the Connemara Lady. It allows uninterrupted views of the spectacular scenery which make Killary Fjord such a unique place. Setting off towards the west you cruise 45 minutes to the mouth of the Fjord, before turning to make your way back to Nancy’s Point. The cruise offers a great way to take in the dramatic sweep of the landscape, as you pass between the Twelve Bens and the Maam Turk mountains to the south, in County Galway; and the Mweelrea mountains to the north in County Mayo, as well as the views out to the Atlantic at the mouth of the fjord. The fjord’s sheltered waters are perfect for mussel farming and you will see the ropes at several points on the fjord. You will also see some circular salmon farms, closer to the shore. Sheep dot the hills. Towards the mouth of the fjord is a small island, which has a Victorian range marker on it. This is the point at which dolphins typically emerge if they are in the vicinity. They like to swim alongside the ship, offering spectacular views. Prebooking is strongly recommended.
You should not miss the opportunity to visit Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey is the only home of the Benedictine nuns in Ireland. It was originally built by Mitchell Henry, M.P. for County Galway, (a native of Manchester city) 1864-1868 as a gift for his wife, who fell in love with the site overlooking Loch Na Coille Moire (the lake of the big wood) when they came here on their honeymoon in 1860s. The Gothic Church, set in the grounds of the Abbey, is the jewel in the crown of Kylemore. It has been lovingly restored and any visit would not be complete without seeing it. You can avail of the nun’s excellent home cooking for lunch if desired, or alternatively bring a picnic and take your picnic on the shores of the loch.
The diamond shaped town of Clifden is the largest town west of Galway, making it the capital of the Connemara region. Set against a backdrop of mountains and ocean, this colourful and lively town is brimming with boutiques, gift and souvenir shops, cafes, fine restaurants and lots of quaint Irish pubs.
Return to Ashford Castle for your final night in Ireland.
Day 6: Depart Shannon
A private driver will drop you to Shannon Airport for your return flight to the USA.
Low Season 2016:
Mid Season 2016:
High Season 2016:
*All prices are per person based on double occupancy.