8 Night Irish Castles and Manors Gold Tour

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

Kilkenny is the county town of County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is situated on both banks of the River Nore, at the centre of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in the south-east of Ireland. Kilkenny City is administered by a borough council and has a Mayor. The population of the town and its environs is approximately 25,000. The majority of the population of Kilkenny City live outside the borough boundary. From an ecclesiastical foundation, Kilkenny was the ancient capital of the kingdom of Ossory. The town was established, then a city, in 1609 by royal charter. Kilkenny was the capital of Confederate Ireland between 1642 and 1649. The seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel and Ossory are in Kilkenny. Kilkenny is famous for its mediev...read more

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle (Irish: Caisleán Chill Chainnigh) is a castle in Kilkenny, Ireland. It was the seat of the Butler family. Formerly the family name was FitzWalter. The castle was sold to the local Castle Restoration Committee in the middle of the 20th century for £50. Shortly afterward it was handed over to the State, and has since been refurbished and is open to visitors. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle. There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland. Kilkenny castle was the venue for the meeting of the General Assembly, or parliament, of the Confederate Ireland government in the 1640s. Awards and conferring ceremonies...read more

National Stud & Japanese Gardens

National Stud & Japanese Gardens

The Irish National Stud (official name: Colucht Groighe Naisiunta na hÉireann Teo (The Irish National Stud Co. Ltd)) is a horse breeding facility based at Tully, Kildare, County Kildare, Ireland. It was formally established by incorporation on 11 April 1946 under the National Stud Act, 1945 and is owned by the Irish Government. The lands around Tully have been associated with the breeding of horses since about 1300, when it is likely that war horses were bred here for the Knights of Malta. However, the first record of the setting up of a stud farm is in 1900, when the lands were purchased from a local farmer James Fay, by Colonel William Hall-Walker, who later became Lord Wavertree. As 'Willie' Walker approached middle age, he turned his attention to the owning and breeding...read more

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site in Ireland's province of Munster, located at Cashel, County Tipperary. The Rock of Cashel served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion, though few remnants if any of the early structures survive. The majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century A.D. The buildings which crown the Rock of Cashel present a mass and outline of great complexity, rivalling other sites in western Europe. The complex has a character of its own, unique and native, and is one of the most remarkable collec...read more

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Cathrach), one of the largest ancient castles in Ireland, was built in County Tipperary in 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, on an island in the river Suir. Standing tall, the castle appears to grow out of the rock, now situated in the town centre, Cahir castle is well preserved and has a guided tour and audiovisual show in multiple languages. The castle tour will take you down spiral staircases as well as into the deep dark prison dungeons. It is one of the best preserved standing castles of Ireland. In 1375, the castle was granted to James Butler, newly-created Baron of Cahir, for his loyalty to Edward III. The Butlers of Cahir sided with the Irish in the Elizabethan wars, and in 1599 the castle was captured after a three day siege by the a...read more

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland. It is near the River Martin. The castle originally dates from before AD 1200. It was destroyed in 1446, but subsequently rebuilt by Cormac MacCarthy, the King of Munster. It is currently a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and the battlements. There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the Lia Fáil—a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney about 8 km from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle ...read more

Killarney

Killarney

This little town is world-famous due to its exquisite location beside lakes and mountains.Take a horse-drawn jaunting car ride through the grounds of the Killarney National Park to Muckross House and Gardens. Tour the house with a local guide to learn about the history and lifestyles of previous owners and perhaps stroll through the gardens on the shores of Muckross Lake. As well as being a perfect location from which to explore the south western region of Ireland, for centuries the Killarney Valley has been recognised far and wide as Ireland's most beautiful destination - being aptly titled as "Heaven's Reflex". It inspired Poet Laureate Alfred Austin to write - "If mountain, wood and water harmoniously blent, constitute the most perfect and adequate loveliness that nature presents, ...read more

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is located beside the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. It was the first national park established in Ireland, created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932. The park has since been substantially expanded and encompasses over 102.89 km2 (25,425 acres) of diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, Oak and Yew woodlands of international importance, and mountain peaks....read more

Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Ross Castle is located in Killarney National Park on the edge of Lough Leane in County Kerry. It was built in the early 15th Century by the Clan O’Donoghues Mor (Ross) and is a fine example of an Irish Chieftain stronghold. It is surrounded by a defensive wall with flanking towers, two of which still remain intact today. More recently Ross Castle is known for its association with the Brownes of Killarney who retained it until it became a Military Barracks up to the 19th century....read more

Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe is a beautiful glacial valley in the Macgillacuddy Reeks mountain range, which dominate the skyline of Killarney. Here you may enjoy an energetic walk or cycle its rough path. The scenery all around the famousLakes of Killarneyis breathtaking and there are many viewing points around the lakes as you see above. The three main lakes of Killarney occupy a broad valley stretching south between the mountains. The three lakes and the mountains that surround them are all within the Killarney National Park. The Lower Lake is nearest to the town, it is studded with islands and has Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle on its eastern shore. Why not take the Gap of Dunloe Trip, by horseback or pony and trap through the Gap, and then by boat across the Killarney lake to Ross Castl...read more

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Admire breathtaking vistas of mountains, cliffs and beaches on Ireland’s most popular drive, the 100-mile Ring of Kerry. Starting from Killarney, heading around the Iveragh Peninsula and passing through Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville (favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin that now has a statue of him to commemorate his love of the place), Cahersiveen and Killorglin. Popular points include Muckross House (near Killarney), Staigue stone fort and Derrynane House, home of Daniel O'Connell. Just south of Killarney, Ross Castle, Lough Leane, and Ladies View (a panoramic viewpoint), all located within Killarney National Park, are major attractions located along the Ring. The complete list of major attractions along the Ring of Kerry includes: Gap of Dunloe, Bog Village, Rossbeigh B...read more

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

There are so many things to see, to do, to explore, to experience on the Dingle Peninsula . . . from almost 2,000 archaeological sites, to more walking than you could fit into a year, to Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who's been living at the mouth of Dingle Harbour since 1984. There is no other landscape in western Europe with the density and variety of archaeological monuments as the Dingle Peninsula. This mountainous finger of land which juts into the Atlantic Ocean has supported various tribes and populations for almost 6,000 years. Because of the peninsula's remote location, and lack of specialised agriculture, there is a remarkable preservation of over 2,000 monuments. It is impossible to visit the Dingle Peninsula and not be impressed by its archaeological heritage. When one ...read more

Adare

Adare

Located in the scenic south west of Ireland, the village of Adare dates back to 1200 A.D. It is widely known as a major Irish tourist attraction and is regarded as one of the prettiest and most picturesque towns in Ireland. During its long history, Adare, as a strategic location, has been the subject of many conquests, wars and rebellions. The old town of Adare, which stood on the northern bank of the river Maigue, near the Desmond castle, was destroyed during the 16th century wars. The present village was built in the 19th century. The early developments were very haphazard but from about 1820, streets and buildings were laid out according to the then Earl of Dunraven’s design. He built houses and rented them, under various agreements, to his tenants, working on his estate lands.&nb...read more

King Johns Castle

King Johns Castle

Experience 800 years of history in Limerick City. King John’s Castle is situated in the heart of Limerick’s Medieval Heritage Precinct, on the River Shannon at “Kings Island”. The Castle was built between 1200 and 1210. It was repaired and extended many times over the following centuries. King John’s Castle remains a most impressive Anglo-Norman fortification. It retains many of the pioneering features which made its construction unique for its day. Its massive gatehouse, battlements and corner towers await exploration! Features include: 13th Century Anglo-Norman Castle with panoramic views of Limerick City, the River Shannon and surrounding countryside. The visitor centre contains an imaginative historical exhibition, which recounts the history of t...read more

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Bunratty Castle (Irish: Caisleán Bhun Raithe, meaning Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty) is a large tower house in County Clare, Ireland. It lies in the centre of Bunratty village (Irish: Bun Ráite), by the N18 road between Limerick and Ennis, near Shannon Town and its airport. The name Bunratty, Bun Raite (or possibly, Bun na Raite) in Irish, means the 'bottom' or end of the 'Ratty' river. This river, alongside the castle, flows into the nearby Shannon estuary. From the top of the castle, one can look over to the estuary and the airport. Bunratty Castle is now a very popular tourist attraction. The interior has been furnished by Lord Gort with tapestries and artifacts from various eras in the castle's history. Some of the sights include the 'great hall', dungeons an...read more

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin, also known as the Cliffs of Coher from the Irish: Mhothair) are located in the parish of Liscannor at the south-western edge of The Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland. The cliffs rise 120 meters (394 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O'Brien's Tower, eight kilometres away. The cliffs boast one of Ireland's most spectacular views. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara. O'Brien's Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Ireland's High King Brian Boru, in 18...read more

Doolin

Doolin

A small fishing village, also known as Fisherstreet, on a sandy bay some 3km from Aill na Searrach, the northern end of the Cliffs of Moher. Doolin is world-famous for its wealth of Irish folk music and in recent years has been attracting crowds to spontaneous sessions and festivals or 'fleadhanna' of Irish and international music. Lots of music pubs and restaurants. Overlooked by Doonagore Castle, an unusual circular tower within a walled bawn enclosure, which has been restored as a residence. Nearer the sea, Iron Age burial mounds dot the surrounding landscape. One of Doolin's claims to fame is that it is the main setting for the PlayStation 3 game Folklore. According to the game's storyline, the Netherworld, the world of the dead is a realm that can only be accessed from one place ...read more

Burren

Burren

The Burren is a unique karst-landscape region in northwest County Clare, in Ireland and one of the largest Karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle comprised by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna, It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay on the west and north respectively. Strictly speaking the territory of the Burren or barony of Burren only contains the villages of Lisdoonvarna, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, Craggagh, New Quay/Burrin, Bealaclugga (Bellharbour) and Carron. The definite article (making it "the Burren") has only been added to the name in the last few decades, possibly by academics, as it had always been called Boireann in Irish and Burren i...read more

Dun Aengus

Dun Aengus

Dún Aengus is the most famous of several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, of Co. Galway. Ireland. It is located on Inishmore at the edge of a 100-metre high cliff. Dún Aengus is an important archaeological site that also offers a spectacular view. It was built during the Bronze Age and dates from 1,000 B.C. or before. It has been called "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe." The name "Dún Aengus" meaning "Fort of Aengus" refers to the pre-Christian god of the same name described in Irish mythology. The fort consists of a series of four concentric walls of dry stone construction. Surviving stonework is four metres wide at some points. The original shape was presumably oval or D-shaped but part of the cliff and fort have since collapsed into ...read more

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvarra. The castle's 75 foot-tower and its defensive wall have been restored to excellent condition, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer. Dunguaire castle is one of the most visited and photographed castles in the West of Ireland, conveniently located as it is, by the roadside on the way into the picturesque, seaside village of Kinvara. The castle was built by the Hynes clan in 1520, a family who may have been associated with the area since 662, when the site is believed to have once been the royal palace of Guaire Aidhne, the legendary king of Connacht and progenitor of the clan. Dunguaire Castle was transferred in the 17th ...read more

Galway

Galway

Galway is the only city in the province of Connacht in Ireland. In Irish, Galway is also called Cathair na Gaillimhe: "City of Galway". Galway city also has a reputation amongst Irish cities for being associated with the Irish language, music, song and dancing traditions - it is sometimes referred to as the 'Bilingual Capital of Ireland'. The city takes its name from the Gaillimh river (River Corrib) that formed the western boundary of the earliest settlement, which was called Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe, or the fort at the bottom of the Gaillimh. The word Gaillimh means "stony" as in "stony river". (the mythical and alternative derivations are given in History of Galway.) The city also bears the nickname City of the Tribes / Cathair na dTreabh, because fourteen[1] “Tribe...read more

Newgrange

Newgrange

One of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange is older than Stonehenge, Mycenae or even the Pyramids of Egypt. Foremost among the passage-tombs of Europe, Newgrange has long evoked the wonder of archaeologists and laymen alike. The magnificent entrance slab - 'one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art' - is especially satisfying, the confidently executed spiral and lozenge motifs still crisply defined after 5,000 years. The triple spiral, found only at Newgrange, occurs both on the entrance stone and inside the chamber. The passage is long, over 60 feet (20m), and leads to a cruciform burial chamber with a corbelled roof which rises steeply upwards to a height of nearly 20 feet (6m). There are regular tours of the different sites, but adva...read more

Dublin

Dublin

Dublin is both the largest city and capital of Ireland. It is located near the midpoint of Ireland's east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey and at the centre of the Dublin Region. Founded as a Viking settlement, the city has been Ireland's primary city for most of the island's history since medieval times. Today, it is an economic, administrative and cultural centre for the island of Ireland and has one of the fastest growing populations of any European capital city. The city has a world-famous literary history, having produced many prominent literary figures, including Nobel laureates William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett. Other influential writers and playwrights from Dublin include Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and the creator of Dracula, Bram Stoker. It is ar...read more

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, and is, according to the Guiness Storehouse Web site, Ireland’s No. 1 international visitor attraction. Since opening in November 2000, Guinness Storehouse has attracted over 4 million visitors from every corner of the globe. The Storehouse is laid out over seven floors surrounding a glass atrium taking the shape of a pint of Guinness. On the ground floor the massive exhibit introduces you to the four ingredients; water, barley, hops and yeast, all of which combine together to make a pint of Guinness. Visitors are also introduced to the fifth and vital ingredient, Arthur Guinness himself. As the visitor moves up through the building, they next encounter an exhibition on the history of...read more