7 Night House & Garden Tour from Shannon

Day 1: Arrive Shannon Airport

Arrive Shannon 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 through the market town of Ennis towards one of Europe’s most visited natural wonders – The Cliffs of Moher. This wall of limestone rises to heights of almost 700 feet above the churning Atlantic swells. Visit the Atlantic Edge Exhibition which brings to life the story of the Cliffs of Moher, presenting geology, wildlife & human aspects of the Cliffs in an entertaining way. Drive through the Burren, an area of limestone rock covering imposing majestic mountains, and tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. With its innate sense of spiritual peace, extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, and megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour and a seductively magical aura which few people leave without wanting to experience again. Take a short orientation tour around central Galway before checking into your hotel. Overnight Galway DBB

Day 2: Connemara and Westport

Today explore another of Ireland's famous scenic regions, Connemara. Here the constantly-changing cloud formations give hills, lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. Travel alongside Galway Bay to Spiddal where most locals speak the Irish language. Pass the granite hills and sparkling lakes of the Inagh Valley on the way to Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord. Visit such places as Kylemore Abbey and its Walled Garden, Dan O’Hara’s Heritage & History Centre and Connemara Celtic Crystal Factory where you can watch skilled craftsmen cut the crystal and learn about the symbolism of the motifs before continuing on to see Westport House & Gardens. Built in 1730 on the ruins of one of legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley’s 16th Century castles, it is complete with original antiques, dungeons and wax work displays. Stunning scenery, architectural magnificence and beautifully manicured gardens combine with a remarkable history that encompasses Ireland’s notorious pirate queen, rebellions, slavery and famine. Overnight Westport DBB

Day 3: Westport to Galway

After breakfast, visit Turlough Park & Museum of Country Life. Set in spectacular surroundings, framed by magnificent gardens and reflected in the still waters of its own lake, this is the first branch of the National Museum to be located outside of Dublin and complements its three sister venues in the capital city. Onwards to Strokestown Park House Garden & Famine Museum, an 18th century mansion which has been faithfully restored. It is unique in that it retains its original furnishings and the professionally guided tours allow visitors to browse freely through the stately surroundings. The 4 acre 18th century walled pleasure garden has been fully restored to its' original splendour. Its piece de resistance is its' herbaceous border which is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest herbaceous border in Britain & Ireland. After the visit, travel to Galway. The Quays area in the city is home to a number of lively music pubs including the popular Quays Bar and great choice of restaurants. Overnight in Galway. BB

Day 4: Galway to Dublin

After breakfast, travel cross country towards Dublin, visiting 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. Overnight Dublin DBB

Day 5: Wicklow and Glendalough

Today, we travel south into the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow County. Visits today may include, depending on the time of year, Kilruddery House & Gardens, Mount Usher Gardens, Powerscourt House & Gardens and Rissborough. 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. Before returning to Dublin, visit Wicklow Gaol, reputedly one of Ireland’s most haunted places. Overnight Dublin DBB

Day 6: Dublin Area Gardens

Visits today will include gardens such as Deepwell, The Talbot Botanic Gardens (part of the Malahide Castle demesne), Beaulieu House Garden & Car Museum and Ardgillan Castle and Victorian Gardens in Dublin to name but a few. Dublin also has the largest park in Europe, Pheonix 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. This evening is free to discover the sights & sounds of this vibrant city. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 7: Boyne Valley

Today, discover the historic and archeological treasures of the Boyne Valley, first visiting the ancient Celtic site of the Hill of Tara, then Trim and Kells Heritage Towns. Trim’s 12th Century Castle featured in the film Braveheart and Kells is famous for its 9th Century monastic settlement, Book of Kells and Celtic High Crosses. The 5000 years old Megalithic tombs at Newgrange, built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley, will also be visited. Return to Dublin arriving at your hotel in time to freshen up before your farewell dinner at the Abbey Tavern, where you will enjoy a typical Irish 4 course meal, including an Irish coffee, followed by traditional Irish music & dance. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 8: Depart Dublin

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