After meeting our tour leader and fellow travellers we leave Dublin and travel to County Kildare, the beating heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred industry. Here we enjoy a private guided tour of the Irish National Stud, the only stud farm in Ireland open to the public. During the tour we will see some of Ireland’s finest thoroughbred horses, visit the horse museum and explore the world famous Japanese Gardens, renowned as one of the finest examples in Europe. We continue to Portumna Castle, a semi-fortified house built around 1618, with a beautifully restored 17th century potager kitchen garden. Our final destination today is The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis. The capital of County Clare, Ennis is a picturesque and historic market town dating back to the 11th century. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner together. (D)
Overnight: The Old Ground Hotel (or similar)
On a guided walking tour of Ennis we wind our way through the medieval streets listening to tales of famine and poverty, rebellions and riots and learn about the mythology and legends of the town. We make our way to the UNESCO Geopark of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Here, we admire the diverse landscape of the Burren and enjoy a one-hour Cliffs of Moher cruise. Gaze in awe at the sheer scale and uniqueness of this natural phenomenon, which towers over 700ft above the sea. Don’t forget your camera as the area is home to large colonies of birds. You may even be lucky enough to spot a puffin or two! This afternoon we drive to the town of Killarney in County Kerry, known as the gateway to the Ring of Kerry. Stay two nights at the Killarney Royal Hotel. (B)
Overnight: Killarney Royal Hotel (or similar)
We spend today exploring the lovely Ring of Kerry with its spectacular scenery and ancient heritage. We make a short visit to the ‘Skellig Experience’, which tells of the Skellig monks and their lives in early Christian times. Our next port of call is Portmagee, a small picturesque fishing village full of brightly painted houses. Later we see Staigue Fort, an intriguing ring fort built between 300 and 400 AD. At the head of the River Sneem estuary we find the romantic village of Sneem, which is referred to as ‘the Knot in the Ring’. Brimming with traditional buildings, restaurants and craft shops, we will have time to explore Sneem before we return to Killarney. (B, D)
Overnight: Killarney Royal Hotel (or similar)
Our first visit of the day is to the heritage town of Kenmare, which is nestled at the mouth of Kenmare Bay and was founded by Sir William Petty in 1670. Our next stop is the 200-year-old cottage of Molly Gallivan, a widow who brewed illicit whiskey and sold it in her illegal pub! Here we gain an insight into Ireland’s simple, rural country lifestyle before the days of electricity and modern conveniences. Our final destination today is the medieval town of Kinsale, one of the most picturesque and popular seaside resorts in the south west, full of traditional bars, lovely buildings, narrow streets, and fascinating shops. Tonight’s accommodation is in Actons Hotel, or similar. (B)
Overnight: Actons Hotel (or similar)
This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Kinsale accompanied by a local guide. Learn about its history and maritime traditions and admire the 800-year-old Church of Saint Multose and the unique star-shaped Charles Fort. We make our way to Cork, for a panoramic tour of the city before heading to the coastal town of Cobh, which was the departure point for the final 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic. Later, at the Jameson Midleton Distillery we learn about the production of whiskey and taste what is considered by many to be the finest whiskey in Ireland! We travel to Kilkenny, rich in medieval heritage and perhaps most famous for its imposing castle. After checking in to the River Court Hotel, we enjoy a final dinner together. (B, D)
Overnight: River Court Hotel (or similar)
After visiting the 12th century castle, set in extensive parklands, our route back to the capital takes us through the beautiful and dramatic Wicklow Mountains, travelling through heather-clad hills, lush vegetation, rocky foothills and delightful glens. On our way we stop at the village of Avoca, perhaps most famous for the ever popular TV series Ballykissangel. Here we call in at Fitzgerald’s Pub, which featured in the programme. You will have time for a spot of shopping at the Avoca Woollen Mills before we travel back to Dublin where the tour ends. (B)
Pick-Up & Drop-Off
This tour commences from the Gresham Hotel, 23 O'Connell Street Upper, Dublin 1 at 8.30am. Please ensure you are at the meeting point at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
The tour finishes at 5:30pm at Gresham Hotel, 23 O'Connell Street Upper, Dublin 1.
Back-Roads Touring have hand-picked an extensive portfolio of quality properties across Europe and to ensure the very best experience on each of our tours hotels may vary to those listed in this itinerary.
Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility.
“My family and I journeyed to Ireland for our backroads tour. Because we had never (a) been out of the US, and (b) never travelled with a group of strangers, we were very apprehensive.
When we met Paddy and our group, those fears were gone. Paddy immediately made us feel comfortable and welcomed. Our group was comprised of varying ages and countries but we all travelled well together. The tour is hard to describe because we saw and did so much. Paddy made sure we saw the best and most interesting parts of Ireland. He would describe things and made sure that we were enjoying ourselves. He made sure that everyone stayed together.
Dinner was my favorite time with the group. Dinners were usually at 7:30 and we would stay and chat until well past 10:30. When meals were not provided, Paddy made the best suggestions of where to eat. Paddy is the consummate professional and a great representative of Back-Roads tours.
I know that our next tour will be in Italy and Paddy can’t be our guide, but knowing the quality of this guide and the thought that goes in to each tour, we’ll be back in 2017. Thank you for a wonderful holiday.”
“I enjoyed the tour very much and look forward to our next one. I personally prefer small hotels with character than larger hotels. They seem to blend with the Back Roads' small vehicle theme. My highlight was the friendliness of our tour leader, driver and companions.”