Irish Castles & Celtic Culture
Kiss the Blarney Stone, admire the beauty of Galway Bay from the Cliffs of Moher, step back in time in ancient castles and immerse yourself in the magic of Ireland on this classic rail tour.
The untamed beauty of the Emerald Isle is within your grasp on this enchanting tour that takes us from Dublin in the east to the Aran Islands in Galway Bay off the western shore. Along the way, we are introduced to the unique customs, vast history and beautiful landscapes of Ireland through visits to the Guinness Storehouse, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, Bunratty Castle, the Cliffs of Moher and Inishmore in the Aran Islands. The journey begins in Dublin, where we are introduced to the incredible heritage of the city through a guided tour featuring a visit to Trinity College and an afternoon learning about Ireland’s favorite drink, Guinness. Travel by train through the Irish countryside to Cork, where the dramatic history of the region comes to life at Cobh’s Heritage Centre and we hope the “Gift of Eloquence” rubs off on us as we visit Blarney Castle and kiss its famous stone. Continue by train to Killarney. Here, we drive along the Ring of Kerry and take a jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park for memorable views. The journey continues to Galway as we immerse ourselves in 15th-century life at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and take in some of the best cliff views in the world from the Cliffs of Moher. From Galway, we ferry across the bay to a place where Gaelic culture thrives today as it did centuries ago: the Aran Islands. We return to Dublin by train, concluding our immersive journey with a memorable evening of Irish food and merriment.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Rail travel on Irish Rail between Dublin to Cork, Cork to Killarney and Galway to Dublin
- Hotel accommodations for 7 nights
- 12 meals, including dinner and entertainment at the Merry Ploughboys Pub
- Dublin city tour, including Trinity College
- Guinness Storehouse visit
- Blarney Castle excursion
- Cobh Heritage Centre
- Ring of Kerry
- Jaunting car ride in Killarney National Park
- Visit to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
- Ferry to Inishmore
- Inishmore city tour
- Cliffs of Moher
- Transportation of by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage handling
Day 1 - Dublin
Welcome to Ireland! Upon arrival, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Transfers will accommodate guests arriving in Dublin before 10:30 a.m. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure to relax or begin to explore the city. This evening, meet your tour manager and fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at your hotel. Overnight Dublin. (D)
Day 2 - Dublin’s Fair City
We start the day with a panoramic tour of Dublin. Discover the north side of the River Liffey, known for its striking monuments and historic buildings along O'Connell Street, such as the GPO (General Post Office), the Custom House along the quays, and Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe. We cross to the south side of the river and see the colorful doors near Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found, and Grafton Street with its quality shops. Not so far from St. Stephen’s Green, on Kildare Street, we see Bram Stokers’ house, the author of “Dracula.” This part of the city is also home to Trinity College, where the famous Book of Kells is permanently on exhibit in its library. Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families. Within its walls, you can admire Parliament Square and its 18 th-century edifices. Famous alumni include Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett.
After lunch at leisure, we visit the Guinness Storehouse. Opened in 1904, the Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing Guinness. Today it houses an exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story. Discover what goes into making a pint of Guinness - the ingredients, the brewing process, the time, the craft and the passion – and how it is marketed and sold. At the end of the tour, sample a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar with unparalleled views of Dublin before you. Overnight Dublin. (B)
Day 3 - Dublin to Cork by Train/Cobh Heritage Centre/Blarney Castle
This morning we transfer to Heuston Station and board an Irish Rail train for the trip to Cork. The journey takes just under three hours, and green fields and streams of Ireland’s countryside are the backdrop of your trip. On arrival in Cork, meet your waiting motorcoach and depart for Cobh, a port town on the Southern shore of the Great Island. Between 1848 and 1950, over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland including over 2.5 million from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration in the country. We visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, which hosts a multimedia exhibition of the Origins, History and Legacy of Cobh.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we set off for the village of Blarney to visit one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, Blarney Castle, famous for its Blarney stone, which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Kiss it and learn the truth behind the legend! Return to Cork train station and take the train to Killarney, where your evening is at leisure. Overnight Killarney (B, L)
Day 4 - Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is the most famous and panoramic route in Ireland. Discover its astonishing beauty on this morning’s tour. Leaving Killarney, pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road offers panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Continuing to Cahirciveen, we pass the birthplace of Ireland’s National hero, Daniel O’Connell. Our drive takes us past peat bogs to the towns of Waterville and Sneem Village, famous for its brightly colored houses. The road then continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney. On arrival back in Killarney, enjoy a traditional jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park. Overnight Killarney. (B)
Day 5 – Bunratty Castle/Cliffs of Moher
Start the day with a visit to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. Bunratty Castle is one of the most authentic medieval castles in Ireland. Built in 1425 and plundered on many occasions, it was restored in 1954 to its former splendor and now contains 15th and 16th-century furnishings and tapestries. Within the grounds of Bunratty Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th-century life is vividly recreated.
Next, we drive to the Cliffs of Moher. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and standing 230 meters above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. The sweeping view across the Atlantic has recently been ranked the best “cliff-view” on the planet by Conde Nast Traveler. Continue to Galway and check into your hotel. Dinner this evening is at Padraicin’s Restaurant. Overnight Galway. (B, D)
Day 6 - Aran Islands
Today’s drive takes us through Connemara to Rossaveal, where we board a ferry to Inishmore. The three Aran Islands—Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore—are situated in Galway Bay and are one of the last real “Gaelteacht” (Irish as a first language) areas of modern Ireland. Inishmore is the largest of the Aran Islands, made up of 14 tiny villages covered with old stone walls and little fields. On the west coast of the island, majestic cliffs drop into the wild Atlantic Ocean. This area is dominated by Dun Aengus, one of the most impressive Neolithic stone forts in Europe. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before the return ferry to the mainland. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight Galway. (B, L)
Day 7 - Galway to Dublin by Train
This morning we transfer to the Galway rail station and board an InterCity train for the three-hour journey to Dublin. Upon arrival at Dublin Heuston Station, we transfer to our hotel with the afternoon at leisure. This evening, enjoy dinner and entertainment at the Merry Ploughboys Pub. Overnight Dublin. (B, D)
Day 8 – Tour Conclusion
Your Ireland rail tour ends this morning with breakfast followed by a group transfer to Dublin’s international airport for return flights home. Transfer accommodates flights departing after 10:00 a.m. (B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotels include Iveagh Gardens Hotel (Dublin), Great Southern Hotel (Killarney), and Clayton Ballybrit Hotel (Galway).
Irish Rail’s InterCity trains connect cosmopolitan cities and historic towns. These trains offer basic amenities and lovely views.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
: Departs 1st June 2020 ($2,445), 14th September 2020 ($2,445)
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