7 Night Irish Castles and Manors Platinum Tour

Day 1 - Dublin Airport to Kilkenny

You will be met at Dublin Airport and taken to the Hertz Car Rental Desk. Upon collecting your rental car it is time to start your Castle's and Manor Tour of Ireland. Taking into account your long overnight flight, your first day?s drive is a short one, bringing you southeast of Dublin to Kilkenny. Your first stop is the National Stud and Japanese Gardens where a Horse Museum tracing the history of the horse in Ireland. In fact the winner of the 2003 Californian Breeders Cup Mile race is a National Stud horse, the 3rd in the last 9 years. The Japanese Gardens are situated in the grounds of the Stud Farm and were created between 1906 and 1910. They are planned to symbolise the 'Life of Man' from the cradle to the grave.  On to Kilkenny - Long renowned as Ireland's Medieval Capital, the city's origins date back more than 1,500 years. Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands. Also in Kilkenny is Saint Canice's Cathedral, built on the site of an earlier church, the major work was carried out in the 13th Century. As part of your tour, tickets for the Smithwicks Experience are included. This famous Irish Ale was first secretly produced in Kilkenny by monks in 1231 and this atmospheric tour culminates with a pint of this now world renowned Ale. After your check-in it is time for your Spa Treatment/Massage which will be most welcome after your flight and long first day. Your travel advisor has a comprehensive list of treatments available.

Day 2 - Kilkenny to Killarney, County Kerry

This morning, you will be travelling from Kilkenny to the Kingdom of Kerry in Irelands spectacular South West. Your first stop today is the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. Cashel was once the seat of the Kings of Munster and capital of this southern province. Kings of Ireland as well as Munster came to this spot and St. Patrick is known to have preached on the rock and converted the local King, Aenghus, here in the 5th Century. Just 10 miles further on stop is Cahir Castle. Once an important stronghold of the powerful Butler family, it is one of Ireland's largest and best-preserved castles. On to Killarney. With its three famous lakes and majestic mountain ranges, Killarney has been the inspiration of poets and painters over many centuries. The Killarney National Park is internationally renowned both for its scenic beauty and scientific interest. There are many walks and trails around Killarney including a 2-hour tourist trail around the town itself. You will also have a chance to visit Ross Castle, the Gap of Dunloe with the Black Valley. Travel to the Europe Hotel stunningly situated on the shores of Loch Lein. If you arrive in time, why not take a complimentary short riding session on the hotels Austrian Halflinger ponies around the hotel grounds.

Day 3 - Ring of Kerry/Dingle Peninsula

Today you may choose to simply relax in your hotel and the nearby town of Killarney or take on a days touring of either the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula to the west. While the Dingle Peninsula is the shorter drive and is graced with more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry includes the stunning views over the Lakes of Killarney from Moll's Gap as well as numerous colourful villages on this route. Not for the faint-hearted, you will remember this mountain pass drive forever. The Dingle route includes visits to the lovely fishing town of Dingle and beyond to Dunbeag Promontory Fort, an archaeological site on the from the late Bronze Age, 800 BC. Continue on to Slea Head and here you will see Dun An Oir (Fort of Gold). Here in 1580, after three days siege, over 600 Irish and Spanish soldiers surrendered to Lord Grey only to be massacred by his troops. Nearby is the Gallarus Oratory, one of the best preserved early Christian church buildings in Ireland.

Day 4 - To Dromoland Castle in County Clare

First stop will be the Village of Adare in County Limerick. Adare is regarded by many a seasoned traveller as Ireland's prettiest village with its charming thatched cottages, manicured public park and ancient church. From Adare continue towards Limerick City of 'Angela's Ashes' fame and home to King Johns Castle. Shortly after this, you arrive at Bunratty Castle. Built in 1425, this majestic castle was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour. Within the grounds of the Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th century Irish life is vividly recreated. Just north of Bunratty lies the majestic Dromoland Castle. Enjoy the castle grounds on arrival and following a private falconry session, enjoy a sumptuous meal in the Earl of Thomand restaurant.

Day 5 - To the Cliffs of Moher and Burren Region of County Clare

This morning travel to the magnificent 'Cliffs of Moher'. The majestic Cliffs of Moher are without doubt one of Ireland's most spectacular sights and overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands on the coast of West Clare. Just north of the cliffs is the village of Doolin. Doolin is world-famous for its wealth of Irish folk music and in recent years has been attracting crowds to spontaneous sessions in any one of its excellent pubs. You then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs nearby. An alternative to walking the cliffs and Burren region is to see them from the sea. With an early start, you may take the ferry to the Aran Islands from Doolin Pier. Aran will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. Take a pony and trap, or a guided tour from the pier up the island to the stone fort of Dun Aonghus. The fort is located on top of a 300ft high sea cliff and is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. This evening, attend the Bunratty Castle Medieval banquet just 10 minutes from Dromoland.

Day 6 - To Historic Meath and Dublin

Todays journey brings you east to our capital city of Dublin. A slight detour will also allow you a visit to the megalithic tombs of Newgrange. One of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange is older than Stonehenge, Mycenae or even the Pyramids of Egypt and is foremost among the passage-tombs of Europe. Also in this area are the Hill of Tara (seat of Ireland's ancient High Kings) and Trim castle, featured in the Mel Gibson movie 'Braveheart'. Then it's off to the luxurious Merrion Hotel in the city centre where, depending on whether you took any detours earlier, you may have time to shop or sightsee. Close to your hotel are many of the city's most historic attractions including Trinity College, Dublin Castle and the National History Museum. This evening, enjoy your gourmet dining experience at Patrick Guilbuad's Michelin star restaurant.

Day 7 - Dublin/Belfast or North Antrim Coast

Using the Hop-on Hop-off Bus ticket we provide, you will be able to visit many of Dublin's most renowned and historical locations. Amongst other sites, you may see the Guinness Storehouse, the National Museum of Art and the historic Kilmainham Gaol where all of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were executed. For a more light hearted experience, maybe a visit to the Irish Leprechaun Museum would be worth taking in. Perhaps spend some time shopping either before or after your afternoon tea experience at The Merrion. In the evening, there are many great Irish plays on in Dublin if that is to your taste. Of course, the authentic Dublin pub is an experience in itself and Dublin pub or literary tours are also freely available.

Day 8 - Homeward Bound

Regrettably, this morning it is time for your private transfer to Dublin Airport unless of course you are one of the lucky ones who has planned post night stays in Dublin City.