Explore the highlights of Ireland by rail in 10 days
Rugged coastline, beautiful rolling hills and dramatic castles are all within reach on this tour of the Emerald Isle. Our highlights include the Ring of Kerry, Cork and Killarney, the legendary Blarney Stone, the Cliffs of Moher and Ireland's wonderful capital, Dublin.
Following your flight, meet your group and Tour Manager at our hotel in Dublin, where tonight we all enjoy dinner together.
We leave Dublin behind and take the train to Cork, travelling in First Class. On arrival in Cork we take an excursion to the famous Blarney Castle. One of Ireland's greatest treasures, this iteration of the medieval castle was built in 1446, but sources suggest that there have been dwellings of a sort on the site since perhaps the 12th century. Of course, the most famous tourist attraction here is the famous Blarney Stone. If you hang upside down over a rather disconcerting drop (helpful hand bars are provided, though it might be worth having someone help you out) and kiss the stone, you are said to become extremely eloquent, and because of this, the world 'blarney' has become Irish slang for someone who possesses the 'gift of the gab'.
You have a full day to explore the castle and its gardens - be sure to look out for the fascinating poison garden, filled with a number of nefarious plants, including wolfsbane, ricin, and opium. After, we transfer back to our hotel.
On Day 3 we are transferred to Cork city center for a visit to the Jameson Distillery. Whiskey is one of Ireland's most famous exports, and Jameson Whiskey was brewed at this Bow Street site from 1780 to 1971, when it moved out of Dublin. In its heyday, this distillery was a community within the city of sorts, boasting of numerous workshops, including a smithy, a coppersmith, and a saw mill. During the tour, we learn fascinating aspects of the whiskey distilling process, learning about the method of triple distilling the beverage for a smoother taste. At the end, you also have the opportunity to enjoy a wee dram of whiskey, before we transfer back to our hotel.
The rest of the day is at leisure, perhaps to enjoy the numerous hotel facilities, or to explore the beautiful city of Cork. An ancient city that began in the 6th century as a monastery, Cork has numerous fascinating facets to explore. Kent Railway Station in the center of Cork might be worth a visit, a throwback to the industrial pastime of the City, this station was built in 1893 and still retains its Victorian era charm. Alternatively, stroll down to the English Market, a gorgeous brickwork market hall built in 1788 where traders come to sell their locally produced food and wares.
This morning we travel to the harbor town of Kinsale, where you are at leisure, perhaps to wander the streets and view the myriad of brightly colored buildings that line them. Kinsale also has a wide variety of delicious restaurants, so why not take the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch whilst here?
We continue to Killarney, situated amongst the sublime scenery of Killarney National Park, and check into our hotel for the next 2 nights. After dinner we are whisked away to the Celtic Steps Show, a spectacular evening of traditional Irish music and dance. From lively, jaunty tunes to slow and bittersweet ballads, Irish music has traditionally covered a whole score of emotions with fiddles, flutes, and drums, and we are fortunate enough to experience these incredible traditional displays in a delightful mix of the music through the ages.
On Day 5, we enjoy a drive around the beautiful Ring of Kerry, one of the most breathtakingly dramatic areas of scenery in the Republic of Ireland. From the tumultuous sea to the craggy windswept mountains and cliffs, enjoy this verdant piece of Irish countryside, before we pause, perhaps to enjoy a bit of lunch before we continue on to our next activity, a horse and carriage ride on the Jaunting Cars of Killarney. A jaunting car has been a traditional mode of transport in Ireland since the early 19th century, and they are a wonderfully unique way to see the Emerald Isle.
We travel to Galway via the famous Cliffs of Moher, Ireland's most dramatic natural attraction. It is easy to see why, as the cliffs rise to a great effect out of the sea, staggering off into the distance. The cliffs are also home to a great number of birds, with over 20 species making their homes on the cliffs. Thanks to their wild beauty, they have been used as a filming location for numerous films, including 'Harry Potter' and the 80's classic, 'The Princess Bride'. We learn more about the cliffs at the Visitor Centre, where you have time at leisure.
Leaving the Cliffs of Moher, we continue to the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, which tells visitors of the history of Burren, from its creation over 320 million years ago to today. Our final destination today is our hotel, where we transfer to after some time at the Burren Centre.
On Day 7 we make visits to the Celtic Crystal Factory in Connemara, where we learn about the creation and history of these stunningly intricate pieces and enjoy a demonstration of glass cutting, displayed by a master cutter who explains his work in a fascinating and enthralling show. Later, we experience an Irish tradition of Turf Cutting at Glen Keen Farm.
In the afternoon, our destination is Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. Kylemore Abbey is relatively young in the history of Ireland, only being founded in the 1920's on the grounds of a late 19th century castle, but it has served as a Benedictine monastery for nearly 100 years and is a truly remarkable example of Victorian architecture. The vast gardens are also of note, being surrounded by imposing mountains, they are an oasis of green and calm in an otherwise dramatic landscape. Finally, we travel to Quiet Man Cottage for a short time, before we return to our hotel.
After a leisurely morning, we transfer to Galway Station to return to Dublin by Standard Class train. We enjoy a sightseeing tour on Day 9, including a visit to the Book of Kells, an ancient codex that is believed to have been written in around 800 AD. The intricate detail on this book is remarkable, and well worth lingering over.
We then visit the world famous Guinness Storehouse for a guided tour, exploring the history of this dark and iron rich stout that is famous internationally, and we enjoy a tasting before you spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure, perhaps exploring more of the fascinating city. This evening, we gather for a farewell dinner at 'The Merry Ploughboys', an Irish music pub where one can truly experience the lively culture of Ireland thanks to its live bands and lively atmosphere.
On Day 10 your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to and from Dublin airport, which is approximately 10 miles from your base in Dublin.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Explore the highlights of Ireland by rail in 10 days