Highlights South Ireland

This 7 night Highlights of the South Tour includes the must see locations in the south of Ireland.

 

Overnight Locations:

Arrive Dublin

  • Night 1: Dublin
  • Night 2 : Cork
  • Night 3 + 4 : Killarney, Kerry
  • Night 5 : Limerick
  • Night 6+7 : Dublin

Depart Dublin

 

Day 1

Welcome to Ireland and to Dublin, the capital City! Upon your arrival in Dublin, make your way to your overnight accommodation. Dublin is the capital of Ireland and one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. Home to over a quarter of the Ireland’s population, almost one million in all, Dublin is a youthful, vibrant and dynamic city with an ever-increasing cosmopolitan influence. Time permitting, we would recommend that you take the Dublin “Hop On, Hop Off” tour – just over one hour this guided tour which lasts all day and allows you explore the history and culture of Dublin at your leisure. An all day ticket means you can hop on and off as often as you wish throughout the day. Join the tour every 30 minutes at any of the 10 bus stops and buy your ticket from the driver. Each stop is located at one of Dublin’s most interesting attractions. All tours start and end at 59 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1. Other items to see in Dublin: Trinity College, The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. It contains the four gospels, preceded by prefaces, summaries, and canon tables or concordances of gospel passages. It is written on vellum and contains a Latin text of the Gospels in insular majuscule script accompanied by magnificent and intricate whole pages of decoration with smaller painted decorations appearing throughout the text. The manuscript was given to Trinity College in the 17th century and since 1953 has been bound in four volumes. It has been on display in the Old Library since the 19th century. Two volumes can normally be seen, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. St Patrick’s Cathedral is traditionally the site of a holy well used by St Patrick for baptisms and a church was established here as early as the late fifth century – a stone marking the site of the well was found in 1901 after the demolition of buildings nearby to form the park beside the cathedral. The present cathedral was founded in 1192 by Archbishop John Comyn. As Archbishop he resided in the priory of Christ Church Cathedral – unwilling to submit to the jurisdiction of the City Provosts, he started a cathedral and palace outside the city walls. Guinness Storehouse – The new Guinness Experience is located in the heart of the Guinness brewery in Dublin. It is a dramatic story that begins over 250 years ago and ends in Gravity, the sky bar, with a complimentary pint of Guinness and an astonishing view of Dublin. As you wander up through Guinness Storehouse, you’ll discover what goes into making the Black Stuff- the ingredients, the process, the passion. Shopping The main shopping areas are Nassau Street, Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green, Temple Bar, O’Connell Street and Henry Street. The department stores are on Grafton Street (Brown Thomas, excellent for Irish fashion design has now relocated to the former Switzers building) and in O’Connell Street (Clery’s, for the more budget-conscious). For Irish and European gifts try House of Ireland on Nassau Street. Shopping malls include the St. Stephen’s green shopping centre, the largest in the city, which is a bright and spacious shopping area where you can buy just about anything and also have a meal (it can be very crowded, especially in summer). The Powerscourt Townhouse on Clarendon Street (follow the sign on Grafton street) is on a smaller scale and specialises in wonderful restaurants, cafes, crafts, jewellery and clothes stores. On the other side of Grafton street in Dawson street is the royal Hibernian way, a small shopping mall with some very exclusive clothes shops. Finally, there is the Jervis Centre which is second only to St Stephen’s green. Here you will find many clothes stores for all ages and a large branch of Dunnes Stores, an Irish clothes and food shop chain. Branches of Marks and Spencers can be found in Grafton Street and Henry street, where most of the larger chain stores are represented, including the body shop for natural beauty products, HMV for music and concert tickets and the Levis store for casual clothing. This evening we would recommend that you dine in the famous “Temple Bar” area of Dublin city. Since 1991, it become the cultural and entertainment quarter of the city (currently with 11 hotels and hostels. 14 music venues, 21 bars and 74 eating places!), Temple Bar covers 28 acres (11.3 hectares) and is bounded by Dame Street, Fishamble Street, the South Quays of the River Liffey and Westmoreland Street. The pubs of Dublin are not simply places in which to satisfy your thirst. They are theatres for storytelling, backdrops for romance, homes away from home and keepers of the spirit of the city, in more ways than one. It never rains ina pub either! Don’t forget to try a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) but remember it takes a while to become accustomed to the taste!
Overnight & Breakfast in Dublin

Day 2

Dublin – Rock of Cashel-Cork – ca. 280km Today you will depart Dublin and travel to Cork via Kilkenny – a visit to Kilkenny is an essential part of your visit to Ireland. Travel via Naas (N7/N9/N10) to Kilkenny. Kilkenny is a medieval city of 24,000 people acclaimed internationally as a centre for craft and design. We would recommend that you visit the Kilkenny Design Centre (free entrance) where you can purchase the best in Irish clothing. Continue your journey to the Rock of Cashel. As you approach Cashel, the famous Rock of Cashel looms up in front of you. The Rock of Cashel is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Ireland. It sits on the outskirts of Cashel on a large mound of limestone bristling with ancient fortifications. Mighty stone walls encircle a complete round tower, a roofless abbey, a 12th century Romanesque chapel, and numerous other buildings and high crosses. The Rock of Cashel is composed of four structures which are the Hall of the Vicars Choral, the cathedral, the round tower, and Cormac’s Chapel. Hore Abbey is about one kilometre north at the base of the rock. The word Cashel is an anglicised version of the Irish word Caiseal. The translations means ‘fortress’ which is exactly what it was used for. From Cashel, follow the signs for Cork (N8) and travel via Mitchelstown and Fermoy to Cork, the second largest city in Ireland, that was founded in the 6th century by St. Finbarr. Cork is the largest county in Ireland and has embraced the art of living to such an extent that visitors cannot but relax and enjoy her charms. Cork City sited on the River Lee has been designated as European Capital of Culture 2005. Cork city and its surrounds hosts a number of sites of historical interest. Within walk of the city centre, there is the Cork City Gaol, St. Finbarr’s Cathedral and University College Cork, but to name a few. Cork is a haven for the shopper, with all the main UK retailers, department stores and famous food markets on offer in the city centre. The English Market (off Princes Street and the Grand Parade) provides a colourful taste of Irish cuisine. Overnight & Breakfast in Cork cork
Overnight cork overnight

Day 3

Cork – Killarney – approx. 205km Today you will take a wonderful journey along the coast N71. (You can also take the direct route from Cork on the N22). You will be going in a south westerly direction through Bandon, Clonakilty, Rosscarbery and Skibbereen . From Skibbereen travel north towards Bantry Bantry House & Gardens Bantry House & Gardens is well worth a visit. Occupied by the White family since Richard White purchased it in 1739; the house contains furniture, paintings and other objects d’art collected by Richard White, the 2nd Earl of Bantry, on his extensive travels to Europe during the 19th century. The 2nd Earl was also responsible for laying out the formal gardens that Bantry House is renowned for. The gardens are laid out over seven terraces, the last four linked by a monumental flight of steps atop 100 stairs – the ‘Stairway to the Sky’. Located in the grounds of Bantry House you will find the 1796 French Armada Centre. The visitor centre tells the fascinating story of the ill-fated French Armada invasion of Ireland in 1796 when almost 50 warships carried 15,000 soldiers into Bantry Bay. Continue northwards via Ballylickey to Glengarriff, one of Ireland’s most beautifully situated villages. Glengarriff is one of the few remaining areas in Ireland which still has some of the original oak forest that covered the country. The area is of special interest to botanists because of the mild climate that it enjoys. In the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff lies Garnish Island, otherwise known as Ilnaculin. A short boat trip brings you to the island (approx €15) – look out for seals basking on the nearby rocks – to see the beautiful Italian style gardens that are home to numerous rare and sub-tropical plants. Travel onwards to Kenmare on the N71 Kenmare is magnificently situated at the point where the River Roughty opens into the estuary of the Kenmare River. The town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. Continue onwards to Killarney. Upon arrival in Killarney, check in to your accommodation and enjoy a well earned rest! In the evening take a stroll around the town, find a good restaurant for dinner and follow your ears to one of Killarney’s lively traditional music pubs such as Danny Manns or The Laurels.

Overnight & Breakfast Killarney

Day 4

Full Day Tour of the Ring of Kerry, approx. 250km Leaving Killarney head for the Killorglin road, pass Killarney Golf Club on your left ( 1.5 miles ) and your on the road to Killorglin. Killorglin is famous for PUCK Fair pagan festival dating back 3000 years ( 10/11 and 12th. August ). You will also pass the Red Fox Inn and Traditional Bog Village. Next stop is Glenbeigh, it has a beautiful beach at Rossbeigh, 3 miles of sandy beach, head back to the N70 to Kells or go over the mountain at Cahill’s pub ( cars only ) to join the N70. From the mountain stage there is a great view of DINGLE bay, this is a good spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the view. CAHERCIVEEN is next, at the new bridge on the left can be seen the birth place of Daniel O’Connell ” The LIBERATOR ” and hero to the Irish people in the 1800′s. It is also home of two stone forts dating back to the 9th Century. All visitor information can be found at the tower like building, a refurbished barracks near the town centre. Leaving Caherciveen on your right hand side you can see VALENTIA Island. Valentia island, a place of unique scenic beauty, tropical vegetation, breath-taking cliffs and magnificent seascapes, can be accessed via a bridge from the fishing village of Portmagee. At the point where the bridge meets the island you will find the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre. The centre interprets in a lively and non-academic way the life of the early Christian Irish monks living in the island monastery of Skellig Michael, a small island 8 miles (14km) off the Kerry coast. VALENTIA was where the first Transatlantic Cable was laid all the way to America in 1857, you can also visit the Slate Quarry and the Light House, there are many remains of old structures including Stone Forts and Churches. From Valentia drive back to the main road and head across the headland to Waterville. Continue along the coast road over the Coomakista Pass where there is a viewing point at 700ft (225m) above sea level affording spectacular tours. Travel on through Caherdaniel and Castlecove to Sneem, a past winner of the National Tidy Towns Competition. For a side trip look out for signs for Staigue Fort approximately 2.5 miles beyond Castlecove. The fort is probably the finest example of a stone fort in Ireland and is about 2,500 years old. It is built of stone common to the district and is almost circular The final leg of the tour takes you through some of the most stunning scenery. From Sneem you drive through Parknasilla and Tahilla to Kenmare and then up the mountain road to Moll’s Gap and Ladies View where you will be treated to unrivalled views of the Killarney Valley. You will pass through the Killarney National Park , the Upper Lake and the Middle Lake before you get to Torc Waterfall on your right and then on to Muckross House and Gardens, well worth a visit and stretch those legs after a great day Overnight & Breakfast Killarney
Day 5

Killarney – Limerick, approx. 268km The Dingle Peninsula has more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland. The main town Dingle is the most westerly in Europe and attracts large numbers of visitors each year, many of whom come to learn the Irish language in the surrounding ‘A Flor-Gaeltacht’ – Irish speaking district. Despite the visitors, the Dingle Peninsula tends to enjoy less traffic than the Ivergah Peninsula (Ring of Kerry) and life seems to move at a slower pace., From Killarney take the N72 towards Killorglin. Approximately 2 miles (3km) from Killarney take a right turn onto the R563 signposted to Milltown and Castlemaine. Take a left in Castlemaine village square following signs to Dingle. The early part of the drive may seem uninteresting, but soon changes as you pass through the tiny village of Boolteens, and views of Castlemaine Harbour open up on your left. The fuchsia lined route pushes on between the Slieve Mish Mountains and the sea until you reach Inch, one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. At low tide it is possible to drive down onto the sand, but make sure you keep away from the soft sand near the magnificent dunes. There is also limited parking available on the roadside overlooking the beach. Continue west along the coast road via Red Cliff to the village of Annascaul. This small village is the birth place of Jerome Connor, the famous sculptor, and Tom Crean, a local hero who accompanied Scott and Shackleton on three Antarctic expeditions, including Scott’s doomed attempt to reach the South Pole. On his return to Annascaul Crean opened the “South Pole Inn”, which is still in business today. Leave Annascaul on the N86 heading directly to Dingle. Surrounded by hills on three sides, the harbour town of Dingle is one of the world’s natural beauty spots. It’s a lively and attractive place with a picturesque harbour, brightly painted buildings and lots of pubs with live music. Continue your journey via the Conor Pass to Castlegregory a small village located on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, halfway between Tralee and Dingle. Continue your journey on the R560 to Camp and Blennerville. Time permitting take in a visit of the Blennerville Windmill Laneville, built in the 18th century is Ireland´s only commercially operated windmill. It is also the tallest of its kind in Europe: 21.3 metres high. Continue your journey on the N21 through Tralee, Abbeyfeale, Newcastlewest and onto Adare. Adare is widely regarded as being Ireland’s prettiest and most picturesque village. Situated on the river Maigue, a tributary of the Shannon river, Adare (Gaelic name: “Ath Dara” – the “ford of the oak” – from the combination of water and woodland) dates back, at least, to the early 13th century. During its long history, Adare, as a strategic location, has been the subject of many conquests, wars and rebellions. Two groups of, world famous, ornate, thatched cottages line part off the village’s broad main street, punctuated with beautiful stone buildings, medieval monasteries and ruins. Continue onwards on the N21 to Limerick. Limerick City is the capital of the Shannon Region and the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Limerick, with a charter older than London, has retained much of it’s historical past in attractions such as the Treaty Stone & King John’s Castle. This evening, why not visit Dolan’s Pub, Dock Road, Limerick where there is traditional Irish Music every evening.
Overnight & Breakfast Limerick

Day 6

Limerick – Cliffs of Moher – Dublin ca. 300km Today, you will depart Limerick and take the N18 towards Ennis and then the N85 to Lahinch (or the N68/N67 coast road to Kilkee) and travel along the R478 to the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. Almost 700ft (over 200m) high, composed of bands of shale and sandstone, the cliffs offer spectacular views westward towards the Aran Islands and provide a perfect vantage point to admire the setting sun or the frightening sight of the Ocean below. O’Brien’s Tower is located on the highest point of the cliff. From there, travel along the R476 to Corofin, then the R460 to Gort, continuing onwards to Loughrea on the N66 and then the N6 to Ballinasloe. From Ballinasloe follow signs for Athlone (Dublin, N6). At the Junction R357 turn right (signposted Shannonbridge). In Shannonbridge turn left R444(signposted Clonmacnoise). And follow this road for approx 5 miles. Clonmacnoise wonderfully sited on the water meadows of the River Shannon, remains one of Ireland’s holiest places. An early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon, the site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. Even in ruin, this monastic city of St. Ciaran, with its cathedral and churches, its high crosses and round towers is a must for all visitors. Continue your journey on the N62 to Athlone, then the N6 to Kinnegad and finally on the N4 back to Dublin. Should you wish to arrive in Dublin earlier, you can travel from Limerick on the N18 to Gort and then onwards as described above. (time saved 2-3 hours).Continue your journey on the N62 to Athlone, then the N6 to Kinnegad and finally on the N4 back to Dublin. Should you wish to arrive in Dublin earlier, you can travel from Limerick on the N18 to Gort and then onwards as described above. (time saved 2-3 hours)
Overnight & Breakfast in Dublin

Day 7

Full Day Tour of the Boyne Valley ca 100km We would recommend that you take a tour of the Boyne Valley in North Dublin. The Boyne Valley and its surroundings, situated some 20 miles north-west from Dublin, is one of the most important Irish locations as far as historical heritage is concerned, from pre-celtic to medieval times. In this area you can find the pre-celtic tumula of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, the Hill of Tara, where the ancient Irish kings settled their kingdom (actually, there is not much to see in Tara nowadays, but the site is inspiring), Monasterboice with its High Crosses, the Mellifont Abbey, and many other interesting things. Take the N2 heading north via Ashbourne towards Slane in Co. Meath. Turn right about 2km south of Slane, the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre is 7km (4.5 miles) east towards the village of Donore. For about 3km before the Visitor Centre the road follows the bend in the river Boyne. Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, open in 1997, is designed to present the archaeological heritage of the Boyne Valley, which includes the megalithic passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. The Centre is the starting point for all visits to both monuments, and contains extensive interpretative displays and viewing areas. Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre Please note that this is a very busy site and visitors must expect a delay in the summer months if visiting Newgrange and Knowth and access is not guaranteed. Newgrange is the most important of three pre-celtic funerary monuments, and was built approximately 5000 years ago, being therefore older than Egyptian pyramids. Also recommended are Mellifont Abbey & Monasterboice. Mellifont Abbey. The first Cistercian monastery in Ireland founded in 1142 by St. Malachy of Armagh, its most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo c.1200. Monasterboice. The Monastery which was founded by Saint Buite, who died in 521 AD, contains two of the finest High Crosses in Ireland, both these Crosses are made of sandstone and date to around the 9th century. The site also has a round tower, which is in excellent condition. Return to Dublin. For your final evening in Ireland, why not take in a visit to the Shindig night at the Old Jameson Distillery Your evening begins with a drinks reception and guided tour of the distillery. Guests may also join a whiskey tasting session. This relaxed evening includes Irish music and “craic” and also contemporary “Riverdance” style dancing, paired with a delicious meal.
Overnight & Breakfast in Dublin

Day 8

Travel to Dublin Airport for your return flight home.

Choose from B&B Accommodation or Hotel Accommodation, prices are FROM prices and are subject to availability at time of booking