8 Night Irish Castles and Manors Silver Tour

Day 1 – Dublin Airport to Wicklow

Upon your arrival into Dublin Airport it’s time collect your Hertz Car Rental and 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 south of Dublin City to Wicklow, the Garden County of Ireland. 

Wicklow is home to many of Ireland’s most historic and majestic attractions. Take time today to visit Powerscourt House and Gardens  

First stop will be Powerscourt House & Gardens. an 18th Century Palladian House in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, you will find a sublime blend of formal gardens and ornamental lakes together with secret hollows, rambling walks and over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs. On to the ancient monastic settlement at Glendalough. Glendalough is a truly spellbinding place - an ancient monastic settlement and two clear water lakes beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley, which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. The monastic settlement was established  by St. Kevin in the 6th century. From here, follow the signs for Avondale House. Built in 1779 Avondale House is set in the spectacular surroundings of Avondale Forest Park, now a museum to the memory of one of the greatest political leaders of modern Irish history, Charles Stewart Parnell, who was born in Avondale on 27th June, 1846. On to Avoca where you can take the Avoca Handweavers factory tour, famed worldwide for the quality of its woven fabrics. 

Day 2 – Wicklow to Cashel, County Tipperary

What a day in store! Cross the sheep strewn Wicklow Mountains to Kilkenny, also known as the ‘Marble City’. As well as being the most successful county in Ireland’s national sport of ‘Hurling’, Kilkenny City is home to such historic sites as St. Canice’s Cathedral and Kilkenny Castle. As part of your tour, tickets for the ‘Smithwick’s 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. 

The last leg of today’s journey brings you to the Rock of Cashel in the County of Tipperary. which stands for Strong Fort, and it has been in use since the fourth century. Because of its height and the fact that the surrounding land of Tipperary can be seen for miles, this made it an ideal fortress to defend against its enemies and was the perfect seat for the greatest of Ireland’s High Kings, Brian Boru. This site is also strongly associated with St. Patrick in the 5th century. In the evening, stroll the streets of this quaint small town and interact with the friendly locals while you enjoy the local pubs. Just make sure not to mention the fact that their neighbours Kilkenny triumphed over them in the most recent Hurling Championship Final. 

Day 3 – Cashel to Ballyseede, County Kerry

This morning, you will be travelling from Cashel to the Kingdom of Kerry in Irelands spectacular South West. First stop is Cahir Castle, once an important stronghold of the powerful Butler family, which retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles. For those who wish to have an early start and take a slightly longer route to Killarney, Blarney Castle and the ‘Gift of Eloquence’ awaits. Onwards 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. From here, travel north to Ballyseede Castle just outside the town of Tralee where you will be spending the next 2 nights. Just a short distance from our offices, make sure to say hi to their 2 friendly resident canines, Einstein and Mr. Higgins.

Day 4 – Ring of Kerry/Dingle Peninsula

Today you may choose to simply relax in Ballyseede Castle and the nearby town of Tralee 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. Back to Tralee to relax in the luxurious surrounds of Ballyseede Castle.

Day 5 – To Adare, Bunratty and the Cliffs of Moher

One of the most dramatic days of your tour brings you to the west coast of 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. Continuing on 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 on the coast of West Clare. You then arrive at 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. Just north of the Cliffs you then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. Make sure to take the guided tour led by the hotels owner of the 15th century Castle ruins that sits next to Ballinalacken House and don’t forget to bring your camera. Head for heights absolutely essential.

Day 6 – Ferry trip to Aran Islands

Drive the short distance to Doolin pier and take the ferry to the Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. 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.

For whatever reason, should you prefer not to take the ferry to the islands, then Galway city is just an hour’s drive to the north. 

Travel to the university city of Galway via the lunar like Burren Region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. Also on route, you will have a chance to visit Dunguaire which was built in 1520 by the O'Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. Galway, the ‘City of the Tribes’ is also known as Ireland’s Cultural and festival capital. With its street entertainers and traditional pubs with great music, Galway and in particular, the Quays area of the city centre will enthrall you particularly in the evening time. Other sites in Galway include Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra dating back to 1320. Christopher Columbus reputedly worshipped in this church in 1477. Also nearby are Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square. This evening, travel the short distance to Doolin or Lisdoonvarna to enjoy the best of traditional Irish music in one of the many excellent pubs.

Day 7 – To Historic Meath and Bellingham or Cabra Castle

Today’s journey brings you to your Castle north of Dublin and includes a number of Ireland’s most historic and visited locations. First of these is the ancient monastic settlement at Clonmacnoise. This is an early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon and includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight, two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. From here, we travel 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’.

Day 8 – Dublin/Belfast or North Antrim Coast

So many options today! Either relax in your luxurious Castle surroundings or travel to any one of a number of intriguing destinations. Spend the day in Dublin City seeing the best the capital has to offer including the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and the Book of Kells and if possible historic Kilmainham Gaol. 

Alternatively travel the short journey north from the Castle to Belfast City in Northern Ireland. The world's largest dry dock is here, testament to the building of the Titanic here. Take one of the cities famed Black Cab Tours and let your experienced, impartial and friendly driver acquaint you with the social and political history & culture of Belfast. Well worth a visit is the new Titanic Exhibition and the Cathedral Quarter. 

If you prefer to leave out the cities on your last full day, bypass Belfast and head north to the beautiful Glens of Antrim dotted with quaint villages. From here, make sure to walk the stunning Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which spans a gaping chasm between the coast and a small island used by fishermen. From here travel to the Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway was formed 70,000,000 years ago by massive volcanic activity is contradicted only by local legend. After the Causeway, travel to the nearby Dunluce Castle. This spectacular castle was shaped when the sea cut deep into the land, exploiting cracks in either side of the rock. The early Christians and the Vikings were drawn to this romantic place and an early Irish fort once stood here. 

Day 9 – Homeward Bound

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