Meet at Dublin Airport after your overnight flight. An Irish driver (who will accompany us throughout Ireland) in a comfortable and roomy mini-coach will take us to Kilkenny Castle on the River Nore in County Kilkenny. Built in the early 1200s by William Marshall, son-in-law of Strongbow and Princess Aoife, the castle retains large elements of its original exterior. After a brush with Oliver Cromwell, the castle was later inhabited by the Butler family in the 1700s. The castle is intact with period art and furnishings and is sure to whet our appetite for Irish history. We will stay over in Kilkenny for one night.
Next up is the renowned Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry on the lower west coast, known for its “craic” (good times). It’s lots of fun (and dangerous for the shoppers in the group) to explore this Irish-speaking part of the country with “beehive huts” and gorgeous vistas. First, we will take a 2-hour cooking class at Dingle Cookery School, where we will eat the fruits of our labor at an early dinner (included). This is a hands-on class by Chef Mark Murphy, whose name is synonymous with Dingle food tourism, including cooking techniques and Irish food history. Chef Murphy will tell us about the foodie scene in Ireland.
After dinner, we will immediately partake of Dingle Town’s many offerings, including shops, music, restaurants, pubs, and a pier. This will be the first of three nights in Dingle Town with its fish restaurants (with tonight’s dinner just coming off the boat) and quirky pubs. We may have a pint after dinner, or enjoy some brown bread ice cream at Murphy’s.
We’ll take a driving tour around the peninsula, stopping at leisure to take pictures and see the sights, including the Gallarus Oratory (stone church), Fahan beehive huts from sometime in the 8th-12th centuries AD, once inhabited by monks and followers of Saint Peter, the Louis Mulcahy Pottery Gallery, and breathtaking coastal views. After the tour and lunch, we will have unstructured time to shop or relax before dinner. Those who wish may visit Dingle Crystal, whose proprietor, Sean Daly, attained Master Craftsman status at Waterford Crystal. Not to worry, Dingle Crystal ships its splendid crystal!
Day 4 is all about the seaweed. The Irish have long indulged in seaweed treatments to help rheumatism and arthritis and to relieve tension. Seaweed, a natural antioxidant, improves the suppleness and elasticity of skin, stimulates the renewal of damaged skin cells, detoxifies, cleanses, tones, and
moisturizes. The Peninsula Spa at the Dingle Skellig Hotel will provide a one-hour seaweed body treatment to each of us (included), leaving your skin vitalized and nourished. You may obtain additional spa services, such as a seaweed bath, facial, or massage, at your own expense. Everyone will enjoy the whirlpool, and deck overlooking Dingle Bay. Her Irish Road Trip will arrange the spa day, with lunch at the hotel (included), for all to relish.
By now, we’re starting to feel Irish! We’re feeling “sorted out”! Bidding Dingle Town a sad goodbye with the earnest wish to return some day, we’ll head north to one of the iconic Irish spots, the Cliffs of Moher. Selfies will abound! We’ll have a casual lunch and explore at leisure. Onto our second “home”—Doolin in County Clare—the preeminent Irish music locale, on the Atlantic Ocean. This will be the first of three nights in Doolin. The evening holds in store a yummy, authentic Irish dinner and live music “session” at one of Doolin’s famous pubs.
After partaking of a casual breakfast at the hotel, we’ll take a scenic drive to Loop Head (County Clare), a promontory bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Shannon River with stunning cliffs and a lighthouse. This area is part of Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way.” After lunch on the way at the charming Stella Maris Hotel in the beach town of Kilkee, we will enjoy a 2-hour, medium-level hike at Loop Head, while the local guide favors us with folklore and information about the flowers and geology. The terrain is gently sloped and uneven (and spongy in parts due to heather), but there is no actual climbing. For those who do not wish to hike, an alternative activity will be staying in Kilkee and strolling the beach or visiting Kilbaha Gallery near Loop Head. Then, back to Doolin for dinner and more live music in the evening.
On Day 7 we get gussied up and head to the manor house! Shopping is delicious in Adare, which some call the prettiest town in Ireland. Adare Manor, with its 52 chimneys, built in the mid-1800s, will provide the afternoon tea (included), while we provide the good conversation and camaraderie. No doubt, we will be stuffed upon return to Doolin, but the proximity of the restaurants and pubs gives us the option to prolong our lovely day!
En route to Dublin, we will stop at the Clonmacnoise Monastery ruins on the banks of the River Shannon, founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th Century (County Offaly). The ruins include a cathedral, two
Round Towers, three High Crosses, nine churches, and over 700 early Christian graveslabs. Collectively, they are a magnificent sight to behold!
The excitement will build as we head to vibrant, historic, river-crossed Dublin for three nights. Unfortunately, we say goodbye to our driver there. We will check in to our hotel and convene for dinner in this foodie-approved city. Perhaps we will hit the funky Temple Bar neighborhood for a nightcap.
This morning, we will take a two-hour walking tour guided by a post-graduate history student of either Trinity College or the National University of Ireland. The tour starts at Trinity College grounds, the iconic Irish university. Dublin is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, and tastes, and you will be independent for most of the afternoon after the tour, so that you can pursue your own interests. I recommend a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or the more specific Trinity College tour (including the Book of Kells, circa 800, the Gospel penned by Columban monks in an ornate fashion). Other fun spots include the Guinness Storehouse and Grafton Street for shopping and “buskers” (street performers). There are parks galore throughout Dublin for walking and people-watching, including the stunning National Botanic Gardens . I will provide a list of places to see and things to do. We can stay in touch by texting and sharing our whereabouts. We will meet up at the hotel prior to dinner at Gloria’s favorite restaurant in Dublin in the Stoneybatter neighborhood.
Day #2 in Dublin is for hitting attractions that appeal to you. In the evening, we will try to see a play or Riverdance at one of Dublin’s historic theatres, which is an extra cost. This may be announced later and is optional. We will meet up for a farewell drink in the evening, perhaps at the famous Brazen Head Pub, as this is our last night in Ireland and we must be merry.
We share taxis to the Dublin Airport and kiss and hug goodbye—for we are vaccinated against the coronavirus!
Her Irish Road Trip, LLC reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on closings due to COVID-19, weather, or when something great and unexpected comes along! All breakfasts are included and a few other meals, as noted above in bold. All activities listed above are included in the trip price