Luxury Irish Castles and Hotels Tour (6 Night)

Day 1: Dublin to Ashford Castle

Today you have a number of options for your journey, the quickest route to Ashford Castle via Galway and Clonmacnoise or the slightly longer path via Newgrange. Clonmacnoise is a famous Christian site which was founded by St. Ciaran in the early 6th century; it includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, three high crosses and two round towers as well as a significant collection of early Christian gravestones. The megalithic tomb of Newgrange is older than Mycenae, Stonehenge, or even the great Pyramids of Egypt and it is the most notable passage-tomb in Europe.  Before travelling onward to Ashford Castle you might like to stop in Galway, the ‘City of the Tribes’ which is famously regarded as Ireland’s Festival and Cultural capital. With its street entertainment, traditional pubs with fantastic music, Galway will enthrall you. Possible stops in the city include The Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra, Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch or Eyre Square, to name but a few. Ashford Castle is just 45 minutes north of Galway and is recognised as one of the top Castle Hotels in Ireland. From the moment you check into this luxury castle accommodation you are welcomed as if you are a long lost friend and there will be no shortage of things to do on the estate from the lavish spa treatments to leisurely walks on the grounds.  Ashford Castle was founded back in 1228 and has since passed hands many times. The estate opened as a hotel in 1915 and since then has had many famous guests including many of the cast and crew of the film ‘The Quiet Man’ in 1951!

Day 2: While in Cong

While there are plenty of activities in and around the Castle Estate to keep you entertained including golf, falconry, clay pigeon archery, bicycle hire and water sports, if you decide to tour the area surrounding the Castle, you will not be short of things to see. Take a cruise on Lough Corrib and visit the ancient ruins on Inchagoill Island, the ferry terminal for which can be found near the village of Cong.  Also in the village you can take the Quiet Man Tour which visits the film locations and settings used in the making of the epic film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara – The Quiet Man. You could easily travel south to Clifden which is the principle town of Connemara. Here you can peruse a great deal of shops including sweater shops, quality gift shops, enticing boutiques, antique shops as well as many quirky souvenir shops. If not already visited, Kylemore Abbey may also be on your visit list! Known as Ireland’s most romantic Castle the grounds also contains a Gothic Church and a beautiful Victorian walled garden. Just south of the beautiful town of Westport you will find Croagh Patrick which is known locally as Ireland’s 'Holy Mountain' and according to legend St. Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and praying here. Return to Ashford Castle this evening for another overnight stay in your superb castle surroundings! 

Day 3: Ashford to Dromoland Castle

While driving from Ashford to Dromoland Castle, the shortest route will take you into Galway City followed by an hour’s drive south to Dromoland. Your tour today will take you through the Burren, an area of limestone rock covering mountains, and serene valleys with small meandering streams. With its extraordinary rich array of flora and fauna, megalithic tombs and monuments, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour which few people leave without wanting to experience again. En-route to Dromoland Castle an optional stop can be taken in the provincial town of Ennis. As the capital town of County Clare, Ennis is a historic and charming market town taking its name from “Inis” which is the Gaelic word for island. Just south of Dromoland is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Built in 1425 and restored in 1954 to its former glory Bunratty Castle is a must see for most visitors. The castle now contains mainly 15th and 16th century tapestries, furniture and artwork and it stands majestically in the vast grounds. The cottages, houses, shops and other buildings of the folk park spread out at the foot of the castle’s enormous walls, much like the way that the cottages and crofts would have clustered around at its base in times past. At night-time the Castle is an impressive setting for the medieval banquets that are held all year round. Please advise at the time of booking if you wish to include the banquet in your vacation. Rest tonight in the exquisite Dromoland Castle. Dromoland Castle is steeped in history from its origins as far back as 1014 to the present building we see today constructed in the early 1800’s.  In terms of luxury accommodation, Dromoland Castle does not disappoint! Their warm hospitality and high class accommodation and service has helped to build the hotel’s reputation as one of the finest five star hotels that Ireland has to offer. 

Day 4: Dromoland to Kenmare

Depending on the route you wish to take today, the major attractions along the road to Killarney include Bunratty Castle and Folk Park (which you may have visited already), Limerick City which was of ‘Angela’s Ashes’ fame and the pretty Village of Adare where streets are lined with traditional thatch cottages.  If taking the ferry route which crosses the Shannon, this more direct route will allow for additional exploration time in Kerry. Of course, in case you have not made it to the Cliffs of Moher at this stage, then they will be your first stop on either route. The Cliffs lay claim to one of the most astonishing views in Ireland and the Aran Islands are often visible as the hills and valleys of the scenic Connemara region. Continue to Kenmare where the luxury Park Hotel Kenmare awaits you! The Park Hotel Kenmare is an energetic five star luxury hotel with wonderful facilities including the exclusive ‘Spa Samas’ where treatments were designed using techniques developed in the Himalayas, as well as an extraordinary 25 meter pool and on-site cinema. This spectacular hotel also boasts spectacular views overlooking Kenmare Bay amidst the majestic Cork and Kerry Mountains. 

Day 5: While in Kenmare

Kenmare is the perfect base for you to tour the famous Ring of Kerry, which is a journey through some of Ireland’s most outstanding scenery around the Iveragh Peninsula. Stunning mountain and coastal scenery combined with colourful towns and villages will make this journey one of the highlights of your vacation. For those who wish to take a rest from driving we can pre-arrange a coach tour through this route from Killarney. Muckross House is a stop on your route that you are sure to visit. Muckross House is a wonderful Victorian manor built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert. The location of the House is impressive, close to the eastern shore of Muckross Lake and set below the impressive backdrop of the Torc and Mangerton Mountains. As a substitute to the Ring of Kerry tour you may prefer to take a wonderful tour by pony and trap that takes you through the Black Valley in the Gap of Dunloe and after a snack at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, you can return to Killarney by boat via the beautiful Lakes of Killarney. This evening you will spend another fabulous overnight stay in the luxury Kenmare Park Hotel, perhaps tonight enjoying a sumptuous dinner in the George Bernard Shaw restaurant. Named after the Irish playwright who famously said ‘there is no sincerer love than the love of food. 

Day 6: Kenmare to Dublin

Today you have a long journey but there are plenty of touring opportunities en route to keep you busy! First stop today might be Cahir Castle, which is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles, its impressive keep, tower and defensive structures still remain. Not far from Cahir the Rock of Cashel can be found. St. Patrick is believed to have preached here and converted King Aenghus to Christianity here in the 5th Century. From Cashel travel north to Kildare and here you will have the opportunity to visit the National Stud & Japanese Gardens. On site is a Horse Museum which traces the history of the horse in Ireland through illustrations, artifacts and text. The skeleton of the legendary steeplechaser 'Arkle' is also on display. From Kildare, travel the short distance to Dublin. The predicament that you will face when you reach Dublin is, not what you should see but what you should leave out. Immersed in history and carrying its own unique sense of comedy and fun, Dublin is a revitalising city. Take the opportunity to visit some of Ireland’s most historic locations, including Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin Castle, The Guinness Storehouse, Christchurch Cathedral and of course not forgetting St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Why not end your busy day in Dublin’s Temple Bar and enjoy the great pubs and traditional music that the city is famous for. When you are worn out from touring the city your overnight stay tonight is in Dublin’s historic Merrion Hotel, one of Dublin’s top five star hotels, it is prestigiously set in the heart of Georgian Dublin. Originally built in the 1760’s this luxury hotel well known for its prime location and luxurious accommodation.