9 Day Luxury Southern Tour of Ireland
Day 1: Dublin to Cork
On arrival to Dublin Airport you will be met by your private driver guide and depart for Cork, where you will enjoy a 1-night stay in Hayfield Manor. En route, you will have the opportunity to visit the picturesque Japanese Gardens and National stud and the iconic Rock of Cashel.
The Japanese Gardens of Tully were created between the years 1906 and 1910. Devised by Colonel William Hallwalker, a wealthy Scotsman of a famous Walker brewery family, the gardens were laid out in their paths of beauty by the Japanese Eida and his son Minoru. Planned to symbolise the life of Man, the landscapes are now of international renown and are acclaimed as one of the finest gardens in Europe. The path through them is arranged by theme and leads one on a symbolic journey from birth to death. The garden’s features include a Zen rock garden and a variety of exotic plants, trees and sacred bamboo.
The lands around Kildare have been associated with the breeding of horses since 1300, when it is likely that horses used for battle were bred here for the Knights of Malta. In 1900, lands were purchased from a local farmer by Colonel William Hall-Walker, who later became Lord Wavertree. Interested in breeding horses he turned the land into one of the best studs in Europe. He succeeded in building up a collection of foundation mares, which had tremendous influence on racing. He presented his Stud to the Government for the purpose of founding a National Stud in 1945. The Irish National Stud Company Ltd was formed in 1946 and it officially took over the running of the Stud. Since then it has continued to expand and develop and is now a source of national pride and an international tourist attraction.
About the Rock of Cashel:
The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for many centuries prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King donated his fortress on the Rock to the church. There are two distinctive buildings on the Rock; Cormac's Chapel & The Cathedral. Work began on Cormac's chapel in 1127 and the Cathedral in 1235. Originally Roman Catholic, it was passed to the Anglican Church of Ireland during the 16th century reformation, but eventually closed for worship in 1721 when it was replaced by the nearby St. John’s Cathedral. It remains one of Ireland’s iconic national monuments and a symbol of our ecclesiastic history
Day 2: Cork to Killarney (Ring of Kerry)
Check out from Hayfield Manor, meet with your private driver guide and head for Killarney, where you will enjoy a 2-night stay in the Killarney Park Hotel. En-route you will visit Blarney Castle where you will get the opportunity to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and walk the grounds. From here we will travel through Kenmare giving you an opportunity to take in the beautiful views from the highlights of the Ring of Kerry
About Blarney Castle:
Though the original castle was built some time around 1200 AD, construction on the present castle or “Keep” began in 1446 under Cormac Mc Carthy; King of Munster –one of the 4 historic provinces of Ireland. Though there are several legends of the stone’s origin, an early story involves the goddess Clíodhna (Pronounced: Clee-on-ah). Mc Carthy –being involved in a lawsuit – appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told Mc Carthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court [and he did so] with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence; and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart "the ability to deceive without offending." Mc Carthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle during its construction.
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, according to the castle's proprietors, has been performed by millions of people, including statesmen, rock stars, and legends of the silver screen. The kiss, however, is not casually achieved. To touch the stone with one's lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, and then lean over backwards on the parapet's edge. This, of course, is achieved with the help of an assistant. We recommend arriving as early as possible, as queues can form at peak times.
Kenmare is noted for winning the annual Irish “Tidy Towns” competition during the last 15 years and is one of the most attractive towns in Ireland. Its colourful Henry Street, which retains many of its original buildings and features, is a paradise for the aesthetically minded. Since its' origins in 1678, the heritage town of Kenmare has been one of Ireland's most idyllic destinations. Nestled peacefully at the mouth of Kenmare Bay; a visit to Kenmare leaves lasting memories, with its colourful shop fronts, unrivalled range of restaurants and stunning scenery. The entire area was granted to the English scientist, Sir William Petty [by Oliver Cromwell] as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland –the Down Survey in 1656. He laid out the modern town at the close of the 17th century –much of which is intact today. As with most rural towns in Ireland, Kenmare has at least two historic churches –one Protestant (Church of Ireland) and the other Roman Catholic. The neo-gothic-style Holy Cross Catholic Church was consecrated in 1864 and forms a lovely closing vista at the end of Henry Street. St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland was consecrated and dedicated to our national saint, Patrick, on 31 August 1858 to replace the church at Killowen (built in 1811); the ruins of which can be seen a short distance from town on the Kilgarvan Road.
Day 3: Dingle Town and Slea Head Drive
After breakfast, meet with your private driver guide before departing for Dingle and the Slea Head Drive.
About Dingle & the Slea Head Drive:
You can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the quaint town of Dingle before we head out on The Slea Head Drive. Here you will see Dun Beag Fort. Excavations show that it dates back as far as the 6th century BC. Following the coast we visit The Beehive Huts. Explore the passageways, paved pathways and beehive interiors. Relax as our journey takes us back to Killarney over the magnificent Conor Pass.
The Dingle Peninsula –immortalised by the 1970 movie, Ryan’s Daughter –is one of the most beautiful peninsulas on the Irish coastline. It thrusts out into the Atlantic Ocean to claim Ireland’s most westerly point. Dingle is the chief town of the peninsula and is a thriving, colourful fishing port. The town is a jumble of attractive streets tumbling down a hillside and coming to a halt at the handsome pier. It is also home to the South-western Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area), and you should have no problem meeting some native Irish speakers. The name Dingle comes from the Irish name, An Daingean or Daingean Uí Chúis, meaning "Ó Cúis' fort”. There was recent controversy when the national government tried to change the town’s name to its original form. This is evident from the road signs. Historically, Dingle was Kerry’s leading port and later became a centre for smuggling. However, the town of Dingle is probably best known for its resident dolphin, Fungie.
Day 4: Killarney to Galway
After breakfast check out of The Killarney Park, meet with your private driver guide and we travel North to Ashford Castle, where you will enjoy a 2-night, stopping en-route at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.
About the Cliffs of Moher:
Heading North we reach The Burren. This landscape harbours plants from arctic to alpine and Mediterranean. After we leave the Burren we arrive at The Cliffs of Moher. The spectacular cliffs rise 700 feet skyward from The Atlantic Ocean and are 5 miles long. The Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland.
About The Burren:
Unsurprisingly, the Burren has been the source and site of symbolism and settlement since time immemorial. Perhaps most famous is Poulnabrone, a gravity-defying portal dolmen that’s perched here for over 5,800 years, guarding the remains of 22 people buried over the course of six centuries. Like a huge outdoor museum, there are over 80 tombs scattered across this sparse terrain, dating from the Mesolithic era right through the Iron Age. Once Christianity began to make its mark on Ireland, the Burren was no different; visit Corcomroe Abbey to see a particularly awe-inspiring example of a 13th-century Cistercian monastery. The Burren Centre will walk you through what’s probably the largest limestone pavement anywhere in the world.
Day 5: Connemara Tour
After breakfast, meet with private driver guide, before departing for the picturesque scenes of Connemara, en-route visiting Kylemore Abbey and having a demonstration at Joyce's Sheep Farm.
Connemara is a region of western Co. Galway, which is known for its rugged mountain scenery; blended on the western seaboard by stunning seascapes. It is loosely bordered on the north and east by Lough Corrib (Ireland’s 2nd largest lake) and reaches the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard. It is also home to Ireland’s only fjord at Killary Harbour, as well as the largest Gaeltacht in Ireland (Irish-speaking region). A tour of Connemara would not be complete without a visit to Kylemore Abbey, home of the Benedictine nuns, who settled there after fleeing Belgium during the First World War. Prior to that, it had been a home of Mitchel Henry –a wealthy doctor and politician –who had it built in 1871. The principle town in Connemara is Clifden.
There is also time to visit the charming town of Clifden made famous by British aviators Alcock & Brown who made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919 and landed just outside of Clifden. Clifden had already gained prominence after 1905 when Guglielmo Marconi decided to build his first high-power transatlantic long-wave wireless telegraphy station near the town, to minimize the distance to its sister station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The first point-to-point fixed wireless service connecting Europe with North America opened for public service in October 1907. At peak times, over 400 people were employed by the Clifden Wireless Station; among them Jack Phillips, who later died as chief Radio Operator on the Titanic. On 19 June 1919 the transatlantic flight by Alcock & Brown crash-landed in Derrygimlagh bog, close to Marconi's transatlantic wireless station.
About Kylemore Abbey:
Catching your breath from The Sky Road we slow the pace and heart down with a visit to the beautiful Kylemore Abbey- "Ireland’s most romantic building". Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain (1,736ft) on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul, the heart of the Connemara Mountains, it is regarded as one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings. Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as excellence in education.
About Joyce Sheep Farm:
Joyce Country Sheepdogs is part of a family run farm located in Connemara on the West of Ireland. Joyce Country Sheepdogs offers you the opportunity to visit a working hill sheep farm and watch the Border Collie sheepdogs herding Connemara Blackface sheep. Joe Joyce is the third generation of his family to farm sheep in the Joyce Country area. Some 700 years ago, the rugged landscape of this area attracted a Welshman of Norman origins called Thomas Joyce who married a local girl and settled in the area which now bears his name. It is therefore fitting that Joe now farms this area together with his wife Mary Ann, who also happens to hail from the South Wales area
Day 6: Galway to Dublin
Check out of Ashford Castle, before departing for Dublin where you will enjoy a 3-night stay in the Merrion hotel. In the afternoon you will have the option to have a walking tour with a private guide or explore Dublin at your own leisure.
With a population of about 1.2 million people, Dublin is the largest city in Ireland, and was established in 988AD by Viking settlers, who settled near [what was then known as] the Black Pool. Whilst the English Crown exerted power over Ireland after the Viking period, it was not until the Act of Union of 1800 that Ireland formally became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland. In the years leading up to, and during this period, Dublin was transformed from a medieval city to a modern European Capital. It would later become known during the Georgian Period as Dublin, Second City of the Empire –second only to London!
Dublin’s Georgian Squares:
During the mid-18th century, a total of 5 “squares” were added to enhance the newly developed streetscapes. In each case, a park formed the centre-piece of the Square; surrounded on each side by 4-storey townhouses. St. Stephen’s Green is the largest of these squares, and perhaps the most beautiful. It is known colloquially as Stephen’s Green, and is without doubt the most fashionable part of Dublin due to the array of high-end shops and restaurants. Merrion Square –literally a stone’s throw from the Merrion Hotel –was laid out in 1762 and is considered one of the city's finest surviving squares; owing to the fact that the 18th century streetscape remains largely intact. It is noted for its most famous one-time resident and playwright, Oscar Wilde, who lived at No. 1 Merrion Square. His statue can be seen in the park at the north-western corner of the park. FitzWilliam Square is the smallest and the last of the five Georgian squares in to be laid out. It was a popular place for the Irish Social Season of aristocrats entertaining in Dublin between January and Saint Patrick's Day each year. The other 2 Georgian squares are located on the less fashionable side of the city –just north of the River Liffey.
Trinity College was established by Royal Charter in 1592; during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The present buildings date from c1750. It is Ireland’s oldest and indeed prestigious university. Ireland’s largest collection of books and manuscripts are housed in the Trinity College Library. Its principle treasure is the 8th century handilluminated Book of Kells, which is generally considered to be the most striking manuscript ever produced in the Western world, and one of the greatest masterpieces of early Christian art. Trinity College was the first university in these islands to admit women –the first enrolment being in 1904. Largely seen by the Catholic Church in Ireland as a ‘Protestant’ university, it forbade its members from attending. The ‘Ban’ was lifted in 1970. Notable students at Trinity College were Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker –writer of Dracula.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral:
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church building in Ireland and is also the National Cathedral of Ireland. It belongs to the Church of Ireland, which is the largest Protestant denomination on the island of Ireland. The present building was erected between 1200 and 1270 and is named in honour of St. Patrick –the Patron Saint of Ireland. It is one of two Anglican cathedrals in Dublin –the other being Christ Church Cathedral. Such an arrangement is to be found nowhere else in Christendom
Day 7: Dublin
After breakfast meet with your private driver guide before departing for your Dublin City Tour. Below are some options for sites to visit throughout your tour.
With over 1 million visitors per year, this is the biggest tourist attraction in Ireland. Set in the centre of one of the world's most famous breweries, Guinness Storehouse is Dublin's 'must-see' visitor attraction! The Guinness Storehouse is a dramatic story that begins over 250 years ago and ends in Gravity, the bar in the sky, with a complimentary pint of Guinness, and an astonishing view of Dublin! You'll also see how Guinness has been advertised over the years. But most of all, you will see how Guinness has shaped the socio-economic history of Dublin and indeed Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral:
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church building in Ireland and is also the National Cathedral of Ireland. It belongs to the Church of Ireland, which is the largest Protestant denomination on the island of Ireland. The present building was erected between 1200 and 1270 and is named in honour of St. Patrick –the Patron Saint of Ireland. It is one of two Anglican cathedrals in Dublin –the other being Christ Church Cathedral. Such an arrangement is to be found nowhere else in Christendom.
Christ Church Cathedral:
The Anglo-Normans (The English) arrived in Ireland in 1169; an event which simultaneously extended the Holy See of Rome to our shores. Christ Church Cathedral was built inside the city walls for the English; while St. Patrick’s Cathedral (a short distance away) was built outside the city walls for the native Irish population. At the time of the Reformation both cathedrals were passed to the Anglican Church of Ireland. While cathedrals in Europe are traditionally the seat of a bishop, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a Dean –the most famous of all being Dean Jonathan Swift (1713-45) writer of Gulliver’s Travels. Christ Church Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Dublin.
Originally completed in 1911, this was the last major classical building to be constructed before Southern Ireland gained independence from Britain. It was originally shared between the Dublin Castle administration and the Royal College of Science for Ireland. The foundation stone was laid in 1904 by King Edward VII; and was subsequently opened to pomp and ceremony by his son, King George V in 1911. His insignia and initials can still be seen on each of the pediments. Today it houses the offices of the Attorney General, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Although it contains the Council Chamber or cabinet room, the official seat of government is the nearby Leinster House, which contains the two houses the Oireachtas –Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann –the lower and upper houses of parliament respectively.
Built in neo-classical style, it was originally built in 1745–48 by James FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare. It was located on the unfashionable and isolated south side of the city, far from the main locations of aristocratic residences, namely Rutland Square (now Parnell Square) and Mountjoy Square. The Earl predicted that others would follow. In succeeding decades Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square became the primary location of residences of the aristocracy, with many of their Northside residences being sold (many subsequently deteriorating and ending up as slums).
Day 8: Wicklow mountains
After breakfast meet with your private driver guide, before departing for the picturesque Wicklow Mountains, en-route visiting Powerscourt House and Gardens and Glendalough.
About Powerscourt House and Gardens:
Powerscourt is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name. The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O’Toole's and the Fitzgerald's, Earls of Kildare. In the mid 1700s a major restructuring project was begun by Richard Wingfield which led to what we know today as Powerscourt House. With its adjoining 18th century gardens, Powerscourt is one of the finest examples of a stately home in Ireland.
Glendalough, or the Glen of two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. It is also known as the city of the seven Churches. This site was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century and was a centre of early Christian learning until its demise in 1214 at the hands of the Normans. The two lakes, which gave the valley its name, came into existence thousands of years ago, after the Ice Age. The mountain streams eventually formed a large lake. Before the arrival of St. Kevin this valley would have been desolate and remote. The Visitor Centre has an interesting exhibition and an audio-visual show.
Day 9: Depart Ireland
Alas your Tour of Ireland comes to an end. Check out of Merrion Hotel, meet with your driver guide and depart for Dublin Airport for your returning flight.
• Private Touring in Luxury Mercedes Minivan (Up to 8 Hours)
• Personal Chauffeur Driver Guide (Police vetted for Government Departmental assignments)
• Breakfast each morning at each accommodation
• Executive Vehicles adhering to all National and European Limousine Regulations.
• Vehicles Fully Air Conditioned
Tour Does not include:
• Entrance charges to attractions
• Meals (Excluding Breakfast and where stated)
• Drivers Gratuities
Terms & Conditions1.1 Costs
It is important to note that all prices quoted are preliminary, subject to availability and final itinerary layout. Upon receipt of your booking deposit we will confirm costs and begin booking all aspects of the itinerary.
1.2 Payment Process
In order to secure your booking, a €500.00 per person non-refundable deposit is required. The remainder of the balance is due no later than 45 days prior to your tour commencing. Payment can be made by MasterCard or Visa Card. An emailed initial itinerary will be provided following the booking and deposit. To reduce paper waste our office may only post documentation should it be necessary of specifically requested by clients.
In the event of cancellation of any part of your tour, communication must be provided by email/fax followed by written confirmation.
The following cancellation charges apply based on the notification table below:
· 61-90 Days prior to the arrival, 25% of the total costs
· 31-60 Days prior to the arrival, 50% of the total costs
· 15-30 Days prior to the arrival, 85% of the total costs
· Less than 15 Days prior to the arrival, 100% of the total costs
While we will do all possible to facilitate any refunds from suppliers, we strongly advise guests take out travel insurance.
Any money owed by Gregan Chauffeur Tours Ireland to clients because of a refund, will be processed within 60 days following the initial cancellation. Refunds will be processed according to the cancellation terms in section 1.3.
1.5 Change requests
We will try to accommodate all reasonable changes requested. Any change required after the initial deposit will be subject to a $50 administrative charge. Change requests can be arranged only up to 7 weeks prior to your tour commencing except with the written permission of Gregan Tours Ireland.
Our vehicles are insured to International standards â€¢ In the event of a vehicle breakdown, no refund will be applied for the time lost. We will do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen. Our vehicles are maintained to national annual car testing standards. â€¢ Passengers may incur valet charges of €250 for costs relating to soiling within the vehicle.
1.7 Travel Insurance
We suggest all our guests arrange for travel insurance prior to arriving in Ireland. We are not responsible for loss, damage or theft of personal belongings and equipment, personal injury and illness.
Gregan Tours Ireland contracts with independent contractors in securing and booking the services provided in our tours and we are not responsible for any negligence and/or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. Gregan Tours Ireland gives notice that in issuing coupons, vouchers or tickets for travel conveyance or transport by any means, and in making arrangements for golf, hotels or other accommodations, we are acting not as principals but as agents only for the companies, corporations or persons providing or offering their service. Gregan Tours Ireland is not responsible or liable, with respect to person or property, for any loss, damage, injury, accident, delay or irregularity however sustained or suffered during any trip or tour arranged by them. Flight and other travel arrangements prior to commencement of the tour are the responsibility of the client and are subject to the terms and conditions of the carrier.