Scenic South West Ireland Tour (7 Night)

Detailed Itinerary for the 7 night Scenic South West Self Drive Tour of Ireland

In order to give you an idea of the detail that we at IrishTourism.com place in our itineraries, below is the first 5 pages of the 38 page detailed itinerary that we have painstakingly put together for this tour. Regardless of the depth of information that is contained within these itineraries, your dedicated agent is always a quick phone call or e-mail away should you require assistance in any way, whether it be before your arrival in Ireland or during your time here.

Overnights:

  • Kinsale, County Cork for 2 nights
  • County Kerry for 3 nights
  • County Clare for 2 nights

Shannon to Kinsale

This route will take just over 2 hours driving time if no heavy traffic is encountered in Limerick or Cork. However, if you intend including the side trip to Cobh near Cork, add at least 30 minutes driving time.

From Shannon take the main N18 south to Bunratty Village, just 10 minutes north of Limerick city and just 10 minutes from Shannon airport. As you approach Limerick follow signs for Cork and the N20.

Limerick City is a not often recognised as a tourist destination, which is a shame because Limerick has a long history with a medieval past dating back as far as the 5th century. Among the most interesting attractions are King John’s Castle and The Hunt Museum. The former is an impressive 13th century military castle featuring an imaginative historical exhibition with two multi-vision shows, battlement walks, and much more. The latter houses the finest private collection of antiquities in Ireland, including works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Picasso and Yeats plus many stunning medieval pieces. Limerick boasts many fine restaurants and pubs with numerous music venues.

King John's Castle

King John’s Castle is a fortified 13th century Castle on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick. The castle overlooking the river Shannon opens an exciting window on the lives and stories of the people through political upheaval, war and famine. Archaeological excavations open to the public roll back the mists of time to pre-Norman houses which predate the castle by 100 years, as well as siege mines, garrison and soldiers quarters and sallyport all found under the level of the present courtyard. The castle itself features an imaginative exhibition spanning the castle’s history.

King John’s Castle is a visitor attraction of international standard, in the heart of Limerick’s Medieval District on King’s Island. Features of the visit include Imaginative historical exhibition, Multi-Vision Show, Excavated pre-Norman houses, fortifications and siege mines, Battlement Walks, Reconstruction of medieval courtyard, Panoramic views of Limerick city, the river Shannon, countryside, King John’s mint where visitors can collect a replica of the original coin.

Continue south through the lush farmlands of County Limerick into County Cork, passing through the villages of Croom, Charleville and across the Blackwater Valley at the town of Mallow. Approximately 5 miles (8km) north of Cork City you will see signs for the village of Blarney, home of the renowned Blarney Castle. A stop to climb to the castle ramparts to ‘Kiss the Blarney Stone’, said to bestow the gift of eloquence, and is a must for those who dare.

Across the village green you will find the Blarney Woollen Mills store, a one stop shop for Irish knitwear, crystal, linen and much more.

From Blarney head back to rejoin the N20 following signs for Cork City. On approach follow signs for the city centre watching out for signs for the N27 to Kinsale, the Car Ferry and Cork Airport. Follow the N27 south and then the R600 until you reach the beautiful harbour of Kinsale.

If time allows take a side trip to visit The Queenstown Story (also know as the Cobh Heritage Centre). Cobh, situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours, was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912 and was the closest port to the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. The heritage centre sympathetically recounts these events and tells the story of emigration from Ireland to the United States and Australia from the time of the famine in 1847 up to the 1950s.

To take this side trip follow the N20 from Blarney to Cork City as above, but then turn left onto the North Ring R365 at the junction prior to entering the city centre. Follow signs for Dublin and Waterford turning left onto the N8. At the junction with the R639 take the 2nd exit at the roundabout onto the N25 signposted to Wexford and Rosslare. Look out for signs for Cobh taking the R624 until you reach the town. To reach Kinsale you do not have to return to Cork. You can take the car ferry from Carrigaloe to Glenbrook and then follow the signs for Kinsale.

Kinsale is a delightful harbour town that has retained its old world charm and character despite being well developed from a tourism point of view. Its beautiful waterside location, local facilities including a yacht marina and historic buildings such as Desmond Castle and Market House combine to offer the perfect base for your first 2 nights. Kinsale styles itself as the gourmet capital of Ireland, boasting numerous excellent restaurants and atmospheric traditional pubs.

Desmond Castle International Museum of Wine;

Kinsale's International Museum of Wine tells the romantic story of the Irish emigrants who colonised the wine trade throughout the world after being forced to leave their own shores. The museum is located in Desmond Castle, a 15th century Customs House which belonged to the Fitzgerald family.

Kinsale was a designated Wine Port and supplied ships for the Vintage Fleet (forerunner of the British Navy) as far back as 1412. In that year the Vintage Fleet of some 160 vessels plying from Bordeaux included five Irish owned vessels - three of which were from Kinsale and two from Dublin.

In the 17th century Desmond Castle was turned into a prison - its inmates were mainly French and captured at sea so the castle was popularly known as the "French prison". Conditions were grim with overcrowding, lack of food, cold and disease. In 1747 there was a disastrous fire in the prison in which fifty four prisoners perished.

During the American War of Independence the crews of many American vessels were held prisoner in Kinsale in poor conditions. The Rev. William Hazlett, a Presbyterian minister from nearby Bandon, and Reuben Harvey, a Quaker merchant in Cork, worked to improve conditions and in 1783 George Washington thanked Harvey for "his exertions in relieving the distresses of such of our fellow citizens as were prisoners in Ireland".

Desmond Castle now belongs to the Irish State, and is being leased by the Office of Public Works to Kinsale Chamber of Tourism, for the development of The International Museum of Wine. John Collins.

Opening Hours
The Museum is open from Easter to the end of October, seven days a week. The opening hours are 10 am to 6 pm, and the last admission is at 5.15 pm

Alternative route to Kinsale via the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle (Provided in your full 55 page itinerary)

From Shannon take the main N18 south to Bunratty Village, just 10 minutes north of Limerick city and just 10 minutes from Shannon airport. As you approach Limerick follow signs for Limerick City centre. Limerick City is not often recognised as a tourist destination, which is a shame because Limerick has a long history with a medieval past dating back as far as the 5th century. Among the most interesting attractions are King John’s Castle and The Hunt Museum. The former is an impressive 13th century military castle featuring an imaginative historical exhibition with two multi-vision shows, battlement walks, and much more. The latter houses the finest private collection of antiquities in Ireland, including works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Picasso and Yeats plus many stunning medieval pieces. Limerick boasts many fine restaurants and pubs with numerous music venues.