7 Night House & Garden Tour from Dublin

Day 1: Arrive Dublin

Arrive Dublin Airport and meet with your experienced Irish driver/guide. All of the drivers we use are qualified guides and have great personalities that really will make your trip unforgettable. Travel into Ireland’s capital city and visit Trinity College which houses the famous Book of Kells, transcribed by 9th century monks. Continue on to a more modern attraction, The Guinness Storehouse, which tells the 250 year story of one of Ireland’s greatest exports. At the end of the tour, sample a pint of “The Black Stuff” whilst enjoying 360 degree panoramic views of the city from the Gravity Bar. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free for individual sightseeing. In the evening, why not enjoy dinner at one of Dublin’s superb restaurants followed by an evening’s entertainment at one of the lively pubs. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 2: Dublin Gardens

After breakfast, we start our tour. Depending on the time of year, we will visit gardens such as Deepwell, The Talbot Botanic Gardens, Beaulieu House and Garden as well as Ardgillan Castle and Victorian Gardens in Dublin.

Deepwell has been occupied continuously since the 1740s. The early cellar vaults of 'Fairly Hill' (The original name) survive but its private beach became a swamp after the first railway in Ireland was opened in 1834. Permission was granted to fill in the swamp and create a walled garden. Then standing on a 1.2ha site overlooking Dublin Bay with Howth Head on the skyline, a new house was built in 1857.

TheTalbot Botanic Gardens as they exist today were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot in the years 1948 to 1973 and cover an area of over 8 ha - 6.5 ha of shrubbery and 1.5 ha of walled gardens. An emphasis has been placed on the cultivation of plants from the Southern Hemisphere including Olearia, Azara, Escallonia, Pittosporum, Syringa, Hypericum, Clematis, Euphorbia, Nothofagus, Salvia and Berberis.

Beaulieu house is a very special place, home to the same family since 1650, a true gem and rare survivor of Irelands Heritage. One of the earliest examples in Ireland of an unfortified house, Beaulieu was constructed between 1660 and 1666, most probably designed by a Dutch Architect.

Ardgillan Castle and Victorian Gardens is an 18th century country manor house, surrounded by 80ha of woodlands and gardens. The garden contains a fine Victorian conservatory and rose garden. A unique 20 alcove fruit wall is one of the features of the Walled Garden which also includes sections for herbs, vegetables and Irish plants.

Dublin also has the largest park in Europe, Phoenix Park, containing ornamental gardens, nature trails, and broad expanses of grassland, separated by avenues of trees, including oak, beech, pine, chestnut, and lime. Livestock graze peacefully on pasturelands, deer roam the forested areas, and horses romp on polo fields. A walk in Phoenix Park is the ideal way to enjoy the remainder of the day. Evening free. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 3: Dublin to Kilkenny

After breakfast, head inland and visit Castletown House and Parklands and the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens.

Built in the 1720s, Castletown is Ireland’s earliest and finest Palladian house. The restoration of the interior of the house to its eighteenth century grandeur began in 1979, with the re-decoration of the green silk room, in 1985, a notable achievement.

Established in 1946, the Irish National Stud combines an active role in the development and promotion of Irish bloodstock with its role as one of the country's major tourist attractions and it is the only stud farm in Ireland open to the public. Having celebrated its centenary year in 2010, the Japanese Gardens are recognised as the finest of its kind in Europe.

Travel south into The Garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. Enjoy the stunning scenery on your way to the ancient monastic settlement at Glendalough that was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The Glendalough Valley is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park and is renowned for its Monastic Site with Round Tower and its scenic lakes and valleys. Overnight Kilkenny. DBB

Day 4: Kilkenny to Cork

After breakfast, depart Kilkenny for Cork. During the journey, visits to Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum, Kilfane Glen and Waterfall, Rothe House & Garden, Shankill Castle & Gardens or Lismore Castle & Gardens will be made.

Woodstock Gardens, located just outside the picturesque village of Inistioge, overlook the River Nore Valley. The gardens are home to a mix of formal and informal gardens with an arboretum, walled garden, terraced garden, yew walk and rose garden.

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall is a pristine example of a romantic era garden dating from the 1790s. Untouched for 200 years, it is a picturesque paradise with a waterfall tumbling its way to a rushing stream and woodland paths leading to a cottage orné. Tiny bridges sit among ancient trees, wild fox-gloves, ferns and other historically correct 18th century plantings.

Rothe House is a unique example of an early 17th century merchant’s townhouse in Ireland. The walled garden has two compartments: the Lower Garden which has vegetables and herbs, and the Upper Garden or Orchard which has been planted with almost 40 fruit trees, and a wildflower meadow. The planting is authentic, and every attempt has been made to secure varieties of all plants that could be seen in a 17th century urban garden.

Dating from the 17th century, Shankill Castle has some wonderful features such as the ornamental canal, which has been recently restored. The garden boasts remnants of 18th century Lime Alles, 19th century laurel lawns, and some Victorian favourites such as the gigantic Sequoias and some self-grown Ash trees. The moated garden, which was once a rose garden, is now a spring garden and the graveyard (which is close to the church) blooms all year round.

Situated in a panoramic position overlooking the Blackwater Valley, Lismore Castle has views over rolling, wooded hills to the Knockmealdown Mountains beyond. Adele Astaire, Fred Astaire’s sister, married Lord Charles Cavendish and lived in the Castle between 1932 and 1944. When her husband died she returned to America but continued to visit Lismore for a month each summer, during which time Fred Astaire was a frequent visitor.

A stop in Waterford to visit the recently opened (June 2010) new Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre will be made. Overnight Cork. DBB

Day 5: Cork to Killarney

Depending on the time of year, we travel to see Lisselan Gardens, Blarney House & Gardens, Bantry House and Gardens.

Lisselan Gardens were laid out in Robinsonian style from the early 1850’s. The Lisselan Gardens are much as they were in their Edwardian hayday containing many spectacular features such as an azalea garden, rockery, Japanese maple, rose wreathed pergola, water garden, and a rhododendron garden. The shrubbery contains mature pines, spruce, holly, and more unusual plants including acacia, myrtle, eucalyptus, robinia, and judas tree. A series of flagstone pathways and rustic bridges add ambience and character to the gardens.

Blarney House, situated just 200 yards south of the great castle itself, is one of the most elegant and gracious of the Great Houses of Ireland. The house is set in acres of parkland filled with rare and unusual trees including many maples, southern beech and giant western red cedars. In spring the grounds are carpeted with bulbs and the ‘Belgian beds,’ full of hybrid azaleas are in full flower. Whilst here, why not kiss the stone at Blarney Castle which, according to legend, grants the gift of eloquence on all who kiss it.

Bantry House is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry, still lived in by their descendant Egerton & Brigitte Shelswell-White, and their family. The house and garden were designed so that one could not have been conceived without the other. The land around the house is terraced, seven terraces in all, with the house sitting on the third terrace. A parterre facing south surrounds a wisteria circle which again surrounds a fountain. From there rise the famous Hundred Steps, a monumental staircase built of local stone, set amidst azaleas and rhododendron. Overnight Killlarney DBB

Day 6: Ring of Kerry

A visit to the Kingdom of Kerry would not be complete without a tour of the world famous Ring of Kerry. Its spectacular beauty is beyond question and provides an amazing insight into the ancient heritage of Ireland. The road winds between the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, Ireland's highest mountains, and the varied Atlantic coast. You will be amazed at the breathtaking views and you will stop for photos at the most dramatic scenes. Continue through the remote villages of Cahirciveen and Waterville. On the return, pass through the colourful village of Sneem and pause at Moll's Gap to view the Three Lakes of Killarney. Stop for a stroll through the splendid Muckross Gardens on the shores of Muckross Lake. Enjoy some free time in Killarney before dinner in your hotel. Overnight Killarney DBB

Day 7: Killarney to Bunratty

Kells Bay House & Gardens or Glenleam will be visited today, en-route to Limerick via Listowel and Adare. The 40 acres of Kells Bay Gardens are laid out along a fast flowing stream and through the imposing entrance gates, a waterfall is visible. Originally planted in the mid-nineteenth century, this is an opportunity to visit them at a magnificent stage of their restoration.

Glanleam is an elegant house overlooking the ocean on Valentia Island, just off the Kerry coast. Originally built in 1775 as a linen mill, it was converted into a fine residence by the 19th Knight of Kerry in the 1830's. An enthusiastic botanist, he planted 50 acres of superb subtropical gardens that have now become dense woodlands. Much of the collection survives growing to enormous proportions in this humid and mild micro-climate.

Stops will be made on the journey to Limerick to visit the Millenium Garden & Holocaust Memorial in Listowel and at Adare, regarded as Ireland’s prettiest village. Enjoy an evening Bunratty Medieval Banquet at the Castle or Knappogue Castle, a fitting farewell to the Emerald Isle. Overnight Bunratty BB

Day 8: Depart Shannon

After a hearty Irish breakfast, depart your Hotel for Dublin Airport to arrive in plenty of time for your return flight home.

BB = Bed & Irish Breakfast DBB = Dinner, Bed & Irish Breakfast