The picturesque South & South West of Ireland is famed for its relaxed pace of life and outstanding natural beauty & scenery. Each county offers endless opportunities to see exceptional landscapes and taste mouth-watering gourmet delights. Come sample the sights of the South for yourself with Select Hotels of Ireland……
Depart Dublin airport and 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.
One of the world’s great gardens, Powerscourt is situated 12 miles south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The garden was begun by Richard Wingfield in the 1740s and stretches out over 47 acres. It is a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces and ornamental lakes together with secret hollows, rambling walks, walled gardens and over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs. The 18th Century Palladian house, designed by the German born architect Richard Castle, now incorporates an innovative shopping experience and terrace cafÃ©.
Another popular visit is Glendalough, an early Christian Monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses. The Visitor Centre has an interesting exhibition and an audio-visual show.
Continue south to Co. Wexford, which offers coastal villages, sunny seashores, national heritage attractions, and gardens including the very famous John F. Kennedy Park and Arboretum.
Overnight at White’s Hotel Wexford ~ Whites of Wexford offers guests a truly world class hotel experience with 157 bedrooms & luxury suites. Centrally located in Wexford Town, it is the ideal base for touring the sunny South East. The facilities include a Tranquillity Spa, leisure club & Cryotherapy Clinic. The hotel caters for all palates including business lunch, afternoon tea or a romantic meal for two in the Terrace Restaurant, Library Bar or La Speranza Cafe© Bar. The hotel also includes an outdoor courtyard to dine al fresco, extensive conference facilities, panoramic views & underground car parking.
After breakfast depart Wexford and make your way towards Co. Cork. Visitors to New Ross, County Wexford will immediately be drawn to the magnificent sight of the masts and rigging of the historic emigrant ship Dunbrody towering over the quayside. Dunbrody is a full scale replica of the original ship which was built in 1845 for the Graves family of New Ross and which carried thousands of emigrants from Ireland to North America over a period of thirty years, trading extensively all over the world. The ship itself is a beautiful authentic recreation and visitors will experience the sights, smells and sounds of a tall ship crossing the ocean, as well as meeting the captain and crew, and encountering emigrants telling their stories. Dunbrody recalls the romantic age of sailing ships as well as giving a unique insight into the mass emigration of the Great Famine and the years following. All this on the very spot where President John F. Kennedy recalled his great grandparents leaving Ireland in 1849 “famine emigrants carrying only two things, a strong desire for freedom and a strong religious faith”.
Continue towards Waterford City – Despite it being one of Ireland’s oldest, Waterford City is a fabulous blend of ultra-modern shopping centres’, pedestrianised walkways, lively traditional pubs and highly acclaimed gourmet restaurants.
Maybe visit the home of the world’s finest crystal – Waterford Crystal. At the Waterford Crystal Factory you will take a fascinating tour of the visitor centre. Here you will see how the skilled craftsmen work generations of design experience into pieces that are as individual as the people who make them. Visitors are guided through the production area, where they can see the birth of crystal from a white-hot furnace, and then witness its transformation by dedicated blowers, cutters and engravers into beautiful sparkling crystal. On their return from the tour, visitors are shown around the Crystal Gallery, which houses one of the world’s finest displays of crystal.
Travel through Youghal – one of the best preserved examples of a 13th century town in Europe, and as such has been designated a “Heritage Town” by Failte Ireland. It was built as a town to defend and control trade on the Blackwater River which leads into the heart of Munster’s rich farmlands. Youghal’s position was critical to the maintenance of that trade, and access to the most valuable farmland in Ireland. It derives its name from the Gaelic word ‘Eochaill’, meaning ‘yew wood’, pronounced ‘Yawl’.Â You can explore the walls and one of the towers from which it is possible to make out the original layout of the town. Some of the historic buildings in Youghal, include the Watergate, Myrtle Grove, Tyntes Castle and St. Mary’s Collegiate Church.
Overnight at the Midleton Park Hotel – Midleton, Cork. Experience the warmth and elegance of the Midleton Park Hotel & Spa located just 14 miles east of Cork City. The Midleton Park Hotel enjoys an enviable reputation for luxury 3 star hotel accommodation, superb conference and banqueting facilities, delicious food, fine wine and unsurpassed hospitality.
After breakfast, maybe visit the Old Midleton Distillery – The distillery visit is a journey through the story of Irish whiskey by means of an audio-visual presentation (available in 7 languages). Follow the old distillery trail through mills, maltings, corn stores, still house, 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
You might like to stop in Cork City for a walk around or maybe continue to Kinsale, the Gourmet Capital of Ireland – Every visitor to Kinsale is captivated by its beautiful setting, with the long waterfront, narrow winding streets and Compass Hill rising sharply behind the town. The old fortifications of Charles Fort and James Fort guard the narrow entrance to Kinsale from the sea. The town has poignant memories of the sinking of the liner ‘Lusitania’ in 1915, off the Old Head of Kinsale, and it was in the courthouse the inquest into the incident took place.
Charles Fort – is situated outside the town of Kinsale and once protected the sea approach into Kinsale which is now one of Ireland’s finest yachting grounds. The fort is the best preserved and most extensive star-shaped fort in Ireland and covers 12 acres. It was built in the time of Charles II, hence the name and it is a fine almost unaltered example of 17th century fortification which follows the pattern of other fortified structures in Europe.
Continue through West Cork and maybe visit the town of Clonakilty, which has a thriving musical and artistic community and is also a regular award winner in the national tidy towns competition. Several of its pubs are noted for great music sessions, with many big name acts taking part. The town is home to the impressive Model Railway Village Project that depicts many of West Cork’s finest attractions in miniature.
Rosscarbery – is a small historic town set in picturesque surroundings overlooking a sandy inlet of the rugged West Cork coastline. The town grew up around a monastery, which was established by St. Fachtna in the latter half of the sixth century.
It is now a peaceful place with an attractive Square and nicely decorated buildings with traditional shop fronts. The wide variety of amenities for young and old within walking distance of the town make Rosscarbery an ideal tourist centre.
Overnight at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, Cork – The Celtic Ross Conference and Leisure Centre provides guests with beautiful views over the Rosscarbery Bay and fantastic facilities to ensure a comfortable stay in this wonderful hotel. The hotel houses 66 guest rooms some with sea views and all with comfortable and modern furnishings. Facilities include Druid’s Restaurant and Kingfisher Bar, Lounge, Tower Gallery, Holistic Suite, Leisure Centre and meeting & conferences suites.
Depart Rosscarbery after breakfast and travel through Skibbereen, one of the many towns in Ireland which suffered very badly during the period of the Irish Famine in the 1840’s. The Famine plot survives today in the Abbey Cemetery west of the town. The Famine in Skibbereen is examined in an exhibition at Skibbereen Heritage Centre.
You might like to visit the Mizen Head Visitor Centre at Irish Lights Signal Station located at Ireland’s most south-westerly point! There are spectacular views on the Suspension Bridge and at the end of the peninsula and the houses have been equipped with an audio-visual room, a map and archive room; the Keeper’s kitchen and bedroom have been retained and there is a bird and sea watch room.
Continue through Bantry – Possibly visit Bantry House and Garden, a stately home owned and lived in by Egerton Shelswell – White and their family, descendents of the Earls of Bantry. The house has an eclectic collection of art treasures which were mainly collected by the second Earl, Richard White, in the 1800s. He created the gardens in the 1850s and the gardens today have been restored to their former glory. Restoration work is ongoing and the views from the top of the hundred steps are breathtaking.
Pass through Glengarriff and maybe take a boat trip out to Garnish Island. Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, Ilnacullin (Garnish Island) is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty. The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the creative partnership, some eighty years ago, of Annan Bryce, then owner of the island and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. Access to the Island is by small ferry boats and licensed 60 seater water buses.
Taking the Healy Pass over the Beara Peninsula, you will find Molly Gallivan’s Farm, where visitors experience 5000 years of history on a 500 metre walk. At Molly Gallivan’s Cottage & Traditional Farm the visitor will see the simple lifestyle in rural Ireland before the days of electricity and modern conveniences. Molly’s enchanting cottage is over 200 years old, and her farm is complete with animals, fowl and traditional farm machinery.
The visitor will also visit the ghostly ruins of a family dwelling from the era of the Great Famine, and a Neolithic stone row that forms part of a very rare ancient sun calendar.
Cradled in the heart of Kenmare Bay, the picturesque town of Kenmare is the perfect location from which to discover the South West of Ireland, linking the internationally famous Ring of Kerry with the rugged Ring of Beara.
Overnight at the Kenmare Bay Hotel – Situated at the junction of the Beara Peninsula and the famous Ring of Kerry, the Kenmare Bay Hotel & Resort is the perfect base for exploring the scenic Kerry countryside. A quiet walkway from the hotel leads you directly into the heart of Kenmare town in three minutes. Founded in 1670, Kenmare is a small piece of heaven renowned for its award-winning restaurants, quality shopping, fine pubs and lively atmosphere. The Hotel, with its 127 bedrooms, 32 new Holiday Homes and luxury Lodges, Banqueting Suite, Leisure Centre and Kids Club offers something for everyone.
This morning after breakfast, continue to 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. The spectacular scenery of the area, particularly the lakes has been the basis of a tourism industry that has been operating in Killarney for at least 200 years, although it was the visit of Queen Victoria to the area in 1861 that saw the start of the large-scale tourism that we know today
In Killarney, you might like to 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. 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 decide to travel straight towards Tralee Town or maybe take the longer scenic route around the Dingle Peninsula and see the settings for movies such as Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away. The Dingle Peninsula extends into the Atlantic Ocean. It is particularly notable in that apart from possessing the highest peak in the country after MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and some of the most magnificent coastal scenery in Munster, it preserves an unequalled series of Early Christian monuments. Also a very large portion of the peninsula is a native Irish speaking area noted for its purity of its idiom. The town of Dingle enjoys a superb situation on its almost landlocked harbour, but the town itself has no traces of antiquity. However as one proceeds from the town of Dingle to Slea Head, the road commands fine views of the Atlantic and the Blasket Islands which are a group of iron-bound islands, uninhabited since 1953. Visit Gallarus Oratory, one of the most perfect relics of early Irish Christianity probably constructed around the year 800. You may also like to visit Kilmalkedar where there is an interesting 12th century church consisting of a roofless nave with a good doorway and ornamented arch. In the churchyard there is an Ogham stone and an ancient sundial.
Overnight at the Manor West Hotel, Tralee – Tralee’s luxury destination with 75 bedrooms, the AA 4**** Manor West Hotel is designed with the discerning guest in mind. Situated on the site of Kerry’s largest shopping destination, Manor West Retail Park, the hotel’s location in the heart of Kerry makes it the ideal base for exploring the jewels of the kingdom. The hotel provides all the facilities you would associate with a deluxe hotel and the Harmony Leisure Club & Wellness Suites are a must for all guests. Situated on the main Limerick/Killarney road, the Manor West Hotel is less than 20 mins from Kerry International Airport.
Enjoy a leisurely morning around Tralee Town – Maybe visit Kerry County Museum which brings to life the story of Kerry from the earliest times to the present day. Priceless treasures are on display in the Museum, illustrating the rich heritage of the county. Each artefact has its own story to tell, whether it is a beautiful sunflower pin worn by the fashion-conscious in the Bronze Age, or duelling pistols used by the Liberator, Daniel O’Connell, in the early 19th Century. Travel back 600 years in the Geraldine Experience and you will see, hear and smell medieval Tralee
Enroute to Limerick, possibly stop off in Castleisland and visit Crag Cave which is formed of limestone & is a colourful wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites. Discovered in 1983 and thought to be over one million years old, this natural attraction has dramatic sound and lighting effects. A visit to Crag Cave will delight and enthrall all ages and friendly tour guides will be pleased to explain the origins of the Cave, describe its many beautiful formations and introduce visitors to a world older than mankind.
Situated in Adare Village, Ireland’s most picturesque village, the Adare Heritage Centre allows you to experience this area’s unique history, spanning the years from 1233 to the present day. The story is told through realistic model enactments. The centre also houses a Tourist Information Office, the Dovecot Restaurant, Black Abbey Crafts, Kerry Woollen Mills and Curran’s Heraldry.
Continue north through Limerick City – a bustling modern city with a rich medieval past. As well as the internationally renowned Hunt Museum with its exceptional art collection including works from Picasso, da Vinci and Renoir, Limerick also boasts a wonderful medieval precinct with the famous 800-year-old King John’s Castle.
Overnight at the Castle Oaks Hotel, Limerick & experience casual country elegance. Located on N7 just 7 minutes from Limerick City, just off the new Limerick by-pass. The Castle Oaks House Hotel and Leisure Club is situated on 26 acres of mature gardens. The hotel boasts 20 lavishly appointed bedrooms and 22 (2 bed roomed) suites with individual private lounges, 19 4**** self-catering homes and new day spa. Extensive conference and banqueting facilities. Award-winning Acorn Restaurant. Fishing on site. Golf, equestrian facilities nearby. Shannon Airport 40 minutes
Alas, it is time to bid farewell. Travel to Shannon Airport for your transatlantic flight to the US.
Slan Abhaile (Safe Home)
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