12 Night – Leisurely Ireland Tour

 

<big> Leisurely Ireland Tour  </big>

 

This 12 night Leisurely Ireland Tour spends 2/3 nights in each location rather than moving every night.

This 12 night Leisurely Ireland self drive tour  is an ideal choice  for the traveller who would rather tour the countryside from a number of locations rather than change accommodations every night or two. This car tour will allow the customer more time to enjoy the area in which they are staying and get to know the locals! . Depending on the day you can chose to have a leisurely day or head out on a day trip to explore the surrounding area. This tour is based on arriving and departing through Dublin airport however we can amend the itinerary to suit an alternative airport/ferry port.

Overnight Locations :

Night 1 & 2: Kilkenny
Night 3, 4 & 5 : Kerry
Night 6 & 7 : Galway
Night 8, 9 & 10: Donegal
Night 11 & 12 : Dublin

 

 

Cliffs of moher 1

 

<big> Tour Pricing </big>  

 

Low Season B&Bs 3 * Hotel 4* Hotel
Bed & Breakfast for 12 nights and Rental of an Economy Manual car  €729 pps  €945 pps  €1,119 pps
High Season B&BS 3* Hotel 4*Hotel
Bed & Breakfast for 12 nights and Rental of an Economy Manual car  €959 pps  €1,249 pps  €1,445 pps

*pps=per person sharing

Tour package Includes :

  • Economy Manual vehicle eg., Ford Fiesta  with unlimited mileage based on a minimum of 2 people travelling together. Inclusive of: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), theft protection (TP), government tax (VAT) and Location Service Charge (upgrade rates for larger or automatic transmissions are available on request).
  • Full breakfast daily except on day one
  • All local taxes and hotel service charges
  • Confirmation documents for each of your accommodations including driving directions
    • All rates above are per adult sharing, child and single supplements apply
    • Low Season- November-March
    • High Season- April-October

 

<big>  Tour Itinerary </big> 

 

Day 1 – Kilkenny
After collecting your rental car your first stop is the National Stud and Japanese Gardens where a Horse Museum tracing the history of the horse in Ireland using artifacts, illustrations and text is located. 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. Characterized by beautifully restored old buildings, Kilkenny City is small and compact enough to explore on foot, yet full of fascinating, historical buildings. Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands. Also in Kilkenny is Saint Canice’s Cathedral, the second longest of Ireland’s medieval cathedrals. Built on the site of an earlier church, the major portion of the work that produced the beautiful Gothic structure was carried out in the middle of the 13th Century.

Overnight in Kilkenny

Day 2 – While in Kilkenny
Today you have the option of having a leisurely day and exploring the many craft and pottery shops that are found in shadow of the Kilkenny Castle.
Alternatively travel down to Waterford. En-route you can make a stop in New Ross to visit Dunbrody Famine Ship. The Visitor Experience provides a unique, authentic re-creation from a period in history which shaped modern day America and Ireland. Visitors climb the gangplank to the main deck of the Dunbrody. They descend a companionway to enter the quarters of the captain and mate and the stateroom assigned to important passengers. These quarters are fitted out exactly as they were for a voyage. A mixture of replica and authentic objects are used. Further along this route take a visit to The Kennedy Homestead which is the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, celebrates the story of five generations of the Kennedy dynasty and is still farmed today by his descendants. Joining the multitudes of Irish fleeing the Great Famine, Patrick Kennedy departed from this homestead for the port of New Ross on a wet day in 1848 to set sail for the United States where his descendants were to become one of the world’s most famous families. Travel to Waterford and take a visit to the Waterford Crystal Interpretive centre.

Overnight in Kilkenny

Day 3 – Killarney
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. The Rock, which rears above the plain, dominated the land routes southwards. 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, 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 take a slightly longer route to Killarney, Blarney Castle 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 or simply take a stroll through the streets of this quaint town to enjoy the great pubs and enjoy the traditional Irish music on offer.

Overnight in Killarney

Day 4 –Ring of Kerry day trip
Leaving Killarney head for the Killorglin , which is famous for the Puck Fair pagan festival dating back 3000 years. Where else but in Ireland would a wild mountain goat be crowned King and reign over a town for three days? Killorglin – where a goat is King and people act the goat!
Next stop is Glenbeigh and its beautiful 3 mile sandy beach at Rossbeigh. 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.
Leaving Caherciveen on your right hand side you can see Valentia Island. This is 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 where 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 views. Travel on through Caherdaniel and Castlecove to Sneem.
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 the infamous 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 in Killarney

Day 5 – Day Trip to Dingle
The travel to the fishing town of Dingle today as well as the dramatic Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula has more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland. Dingle is the most westerly town 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. On route stop in the village of Annascaul, 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. Minard Castle is also well worth a visit. The castle is said to have been built by the Knight of Kerry and is the largest fortress on the peninsula. Continue on past Dingle and visit Dunbeag Promontory Fort. What makes it one of the most dramatic archaeological sites on the peninsula is that results show that it was begun in 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 Killarney for the evening.

Overnight in Killarney

Day 6 – Killarney to Galway
One of your longest but most dramatic days of your tour brings you from Killarney 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 along the N20 towards Limerick City of ‘Angelas 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. Continue 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.
From there head to Galway, 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

Overnight in Galway

Day 7 – Day Trip to Aran Islands
In Galway Bay lie three rocky limestone outcrops that make up the Aran Islands. They are a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, unique in their geology and archaeology and unrivalled in their potent sense of history.
Each of the three islands, Inishmore (Árainn), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) and Inisheer (Inis Oírr) have their own distinct atmosphere and character, but the dramatic landscapes and endless sea form a backdrop to a labyrinth of meandering stone walls and tiny, tightly packed fields. In between, a network of narrow winding roads and grassy lanes sweep from pristine beaches and craggy shores to the dizzying cliffs that mark the edge of Europe.
The islands have lured legions of writers, artists and visitors over the centuries, their enigmatic ancient monuments, early Christian remains, holy wells and historic lighthouses adding to their sense of timelessness and mystery. Take a pony and trap, or a guided tour from the pier up the island to the stone fort of Dun Aengus. Dún Aengus fort is located on top of a 300ft high sea cliff and is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe.

Overnight in Galway

Day 8 – Galway to Donegal
The most direct route to Donegal will have a driving time of less than 4 hours. On route to Donegal you will travel by Ireland’s most visited pilgrimage location, the Shrine at Knock. Shortly after this, you can take a slight detour to the Coleman Irish Music Centre is a celebration of Irish Music, Culture and Heritage as expressed in the South Sligo style of music played by Michael Coleman and other musicians of his time. Southwest of Sligo Town you will find the Ancient Tombs of Carrowmore. Over 60 tombs have been located by archaeologists to date. Dating back to nearly 5,000 B.C. and centuries older than the Pyramids of Egypt, Carrowmore is Ireland’s largest megalithic cemetery and is considered to be one of the most important in Europe. Shortly after leaving Sligo on route to County Donegal you will arrive at Drumcliff Churchyard, perhaps the most visited graveyard in Ireland. William Butler Yeats is buried here under the epitaph that he penned, “Cast a Cold Eye on Life, on Death. Horsemen, pass by!”. The Churchyard stands in the shadow of the magnificent Benbulben. Continue north until you reach Belleek home to Belleek Pottery, where there is an excellent visitor centre that is open from April to October. Set up in 1857, the factory is famous worldwide for its ornate fine Parian China. Other major touring attractions in Donegal include the Railway Heritage Centre, Donegal castle and Donegal Craft Village in Donegal town. Heading west from Donegal Town, on the edge of the Atlantic is Ireland’s premier fishing port of Killybegs. Nearby are the magnificent Slieve League Cliffs which at over 1,000 ft (300 metres) the cliffs are the highest marine cliffs in Europe. Next stop along this route is the Gaelic speaking village of Glencolumbcille where you can take the opportunity to relive local rural life as experienced in 18th, 19th and 20th century Ireland.
Overnight in Donegal

Day 9 – While in Donegal
There are a number of other options available to you today including the ancient territory of the Inishowen Peninsula is the most northerly part of Ireland. Monuments of an earlier age seem to grow from the landscape as castles, towers and ancient churches shimmer in the sunshine. Your tour begins at Grianan an Aileach, the ancient Temple of the Sun that was Christianized by St. Patrick. Founded by the Druids, this ring fort dates back to some 2,000 years B.C. The panoramic view from the walls of this ancient palace is truly magnificent; seven counties can be seen on a clear day. Onwards north to Buncrana and the Tullyarvan Mill – a tastefully restored corn mill dating from the 19th century, today developed as a local craft centre and tourist amenity.
From Buncrana to Dunree Head and Fort Dunree, constructed in 1798 by the English as a defensive measure against Napoleonic invasion. At the top of the Inishowen Peninsula is Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head. It is not just Ireland’s most northerly point, but also an area of great scenic beauty and of historical, scientific and ecological importance. The area is steeped in history and folklore. Continuing around the peninsula, you arrive at the pretty village of Culduff with its stone circle. Deep in the heart of County Donegal is Glenveagh National Park and is considered by many to be Ireland’s finest national park. At the core of the park is the Glenveagh Estate, originally the home of the notorious landlord John George Adair, much despised for his eviction of Irish tenant farmers in the 1860s.
Overnight in Donegal

Day 10 – Day trip from Donegal
Today drive to the major attractions in Antrim which include The Giants Causeway, Bushmill’s Distillery, Dunluce Castle and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. Many of these sites are located close to each other which means minimal driving between each location when you get there. The fact that the Causeway was formed 70,000,000 years ago by massive volcanic activity is contradicted only by local legend that claims the causeway was created by a fabled giant. The Old Bushmills Distillery is the world’s oldest licensed Whiskey Distillery. King James I granted the original licence to distil ‘Acqua Vitae’ in April 1608, and since then Bushmills has been making the finest Irish Malt Whiskey for almost four hundred years. Dunluce 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. Further along the coast near the harbour of Ballintoy the stunning Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge spans a gaping chasm between the coast and a small island used by fishermen. The terrifying eighty foot drop can be crossed via the swinging bridge – not for the faint hearted!

Return to Donegal

Day 11 Donegal to Dublin
Today you will be travelling to Dublin. Travel the scenic coastal route to Dublin via Belfast. Continue your sightseeing of Belfast today taking in visits to those major attractions that you did not have the time for the previous day including the Titanic Quarter where you can take one of the excellent local tours or the Black cab Tours. Other major areas of interest in Belfast include St Anne’s Cathedral, City Hall, The Belfast Wheel and of course in the evening, pay a visit to the Crowne Liquor Saloon. It’s amazing how many visitors from abroad don’t realise that the Titanic was actually built in Belfast! Because she bore the name of the port of Liverpool on her stern people assume that this was where she was built. In fact Liverpool was simply the home port of the White Star Line fleet of which Titanic was the ultimate flagship. Titanic was conceived, designed, built and launched in Belfast and… As the locals fondly say “She was alright when she left here!!!” The quandary that you will be faced with when you reach Dublin is, not what you should see but that you should leave out. Knee-deep in history and with its own unique sense of humour and wit, Dublin is an invigorating city. Take the opportunity to visit some of Ireland’s most history laden locations, including Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Gaol, The National History Museum and not forgetting The Guinness Brewery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral & why not finish up the day in Dublin’s Temple Bar section and enjoy the wonderful pubs and music it is famous for.

Overnight in Dublin

Day 12 – While in Dublin
Continue your sightseeing in Dublin today visiting the many historical and modern attractions that this cosmopolitan city has to offer. Other attractions include Christchurch Cathedral which was founded in the year 1030 by Sitric, King of the Dublin Norsemen, the James Joyce Centre & the Dublin Writers Museum. Of course, you may wish to take time out to shop in Grafton Street or any one of a number of narrow and quaint streets that the café strewn city centre has to offer. The Dublin Hop On Hop Off Bus is an excellent way of visiting many of Dublin’s most historic locations. This evening, why not spend some time in the Temple Bar area. This small area boasts a dazzling choice of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to suit all tastes and pockets, all within easy walking distance of Temple Bar’s many cultural centres and galleries. Its narrow cobbled streets are pedestrianised and are ideally suited to a leisurely stroll through the quarter. There is also the opportunity to experience an evening’s entertainment at any one of a number of excellent traditional Irish shows.
Overnight in Dublin

 

<big> Tour Highlights</big>

 

Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of moher 2
The Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, loom high over County Clare’s west coast. Standing 214 metres at their highest point, the cliffs stretch for 8km along the Atlantic coastline. From the cliffs, one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, The Twelve Bens, the Maam Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the south. O’Brien’s Tower, another of Ireland’s most photographed landmarks, guards one prominent headland of these majestic cliffs. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher region of north Clare has been awarded the prestigious designation of membership of the UNESCO supported Global Geopark network at the 10th European Geoparks Conference in Langesund, Norway. This iconic location attracts close to one million visitors per year. The unusual, underground visitor centre also houses the exciting Atlantic Edge display. This huge, domed cave contains images, exhibits and displays. The centre also has a gift shop stocking official Cliffs of Moher products, maps, guides, books and DVDs, visitor information and an accommodation booking service. Other facilities of this fully wheelchair accessible premises include a baggage store and ATM. Friendly staff will answer questions, provide assistance, give information on and directions to other attractions in the area

Kilkenny Castle  Kilkenny Castle
This iconic location attracts close to one million visitors per year. The unusual, underground visitor centre also houses the exciting Atlantic Edge display. This huge, domed cave contains images, exhibits and displays. The centre also has a gift shop stocking official Cliffs of Moher products, maps, guides, books and DVDs, visitor information and an accommodation booking service. Other facilities of this fully wheelchair accessible premises include a baggage store and ATM. Friendly staff will answer questions, provide assistance, give information on and directions to other attractions in the area.A 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands which was the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde. Due to major restoration works, the central block now includes a library, drawing room, and bedrooms decorated in 1830’s splendour, as well as the beautiful Long Gallery. A suite of former servant’s rooms is the Butler Art Gallery, which mounts frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art. The Parade Tower is the Castle’s conference venue.

Rock of Cashel Rock of Cashel (2)
A spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. Attractions include an audio-visual show and exhibitions. Access for visitors with disabilities by prior arrangement.

 

 

Aran Islands  Aran Islands
In Galway Bay lie three rocky limestone outcrops that make up the Aran Islands. They are a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, unique in their geology and archaeology and unrivalled in their potent sense of history.
Each of the three islands, Inishmore (Árainn), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) and Inisheer (Inis Oírr) have their own distinct atmosphere and character, but the dramatic landscapes and endless sea form a backdrop to a labyrinth of meandering stone walls and tiny, tightly packed fields. In between, a network of narrow winding roads and grassy lanes sweep from pristine beaches and craggy shores to the dizzying cliffs that mark the edge of Europe.
The islands have lured legions of writers, artists and visitors over the centuries, their enigmatic ancient monuments, early Christian remains, holy wells and historic lighthouses adding to their sense of timelessness and mystery. Take a pony and trap, or a guided tour from the pier up the island to the stone fort of Dun Aengus. Dún Aengus fort is located on top of a 300ft high sea cliff and is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe.