On arrival in Dublin Airport reclaim your baggage and enter the Arrivals Hall. Here, you will meet your Irish tour guide (who is also your driver).
15:00 Check-in time. Hotel reception will store your luggage prior to Check-in.
There will be 3 Group transfers this morning between 07:00 am and 12:00 noon. Board your luxury air-conditioned coach and make the short transfer to Gresham Riu Plaza Hotel, located in the beating heart of Dublin City, where you can relax and unwind after your flight.
At 19:00 this evening all participants will gather for dinner in the Gresham Riu Plaza Hotel restaurant, where you will become acquainted with your fellow travellers and the coming days can be discussed at leisure with your tour guide.
After breakfast this morning, you will make the short journey to Dublin City, Ireland's capital. Here you will explore some of the capital's best-loved attractions.
Visit Trinity College. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I on the site of an Augustinian monastery. See the Book Of Kells. The book, which is housed in Trinity College, is the most richly decorated of Ireland's medieval illuminated manuscripts. It contains the four gospels in Latin. Some dyes used were imported from as far as the Middle East.
You will travel to the Guinness Storehouse. With an address at the world-famous St. James's Gate. Here you will tour the world-renowned brewery and enjoy a perfect complimentary pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar — located at the top of a glass tower that commands spectacular views of Dublin City.
In the afternoon, depart for Kinnitty Castle in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains of County Offaly, the Hidden Heartlands of Ireland. This unique castle has had a long & turbulent history from the Norman’s in the 12th century to its destruction by Republican Forces in 1922 to the present day. It now stands as an intimate and cosy castle hotel.
Overnight and dine at Kinnitty Castle. After dinner, you might like to retire to the Dungeon Bar for a nightcap before bed.
This morning after breakfast, depart for County Kilkenny. Visit Kilkenny Castle. This imposing structure dominates the skyline of Kilkenny City. It has been an important site since Strongbow constructed the first building; a wooden tower, in the 12th century. William the Earl Marshall built the first stone castle on the site, in 1260.
Take time to stroll through Kilkenny City. As you walk the medieval streets of Kilkenny, you might want to visit the Kilkenny Design Centre or take time for a pint of Smithwicks, an Irish Red Ale brewed in Kilkenny. Enjoy a Traditional Farm Lunch. This will be on a Family Farm outside Kilkenny. You can chat with your hosts and hear about their life and times farming in this rural part of Ireland.
Continue onto Tipperary to visit The Rock of Cashel. Rising dramatically from the grassy plains of county Tipperary. This was the seat of kings and medieval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century. Brian Ború was crowned King of Munster here in 977, before becoming High King of Ireland in 1002.
Overnight & dine at Kinnitty Castle.
After some much-needed sleep and a hearty full Irish breakfast, depart for Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, majestically set on the Sky Road overlooking the town of Clifden in Connemara, County Galway. Travelling west, your route today will take you along the Wild Atlantic Way up the west coast of County Clare and via the famous Galway Bay.
Continue west via County Limerick to County Clare. On the west coast of Ireland, you will visit the Cliffs of Moher. Braced against the ocean, on the coast of County Clare. Here you will stand on the dramatic 702ft (214m) high and 9 miles (14km) long cliffs, a Wild Atlantic Way signature discovery point, to gaze out on the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.
You will see The Burren, which is Gaelic for rocky land—an apt name for this vast limestone plateau. In the 1640s, Cromwell's surveyor described it as "a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury".
Travel on via Galway into the wilds of Connemara, via the villages of Oughterard, Maam Cross and Recess to Clifden. Known as the capital of Connemara. It was founded in 1812 by the High Sheriff of Galway to create a "pocket of respectability" within the lawlessness of the area.
Tonight you will overnight & dine in Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. After dinner, you might like to retire to the Lounge for a nightcap (Connemara Single Malt Irish Whiskey is just a suggestion) before bed.
Today you will tour the sights of wild Connemara, famous for its bogs, mountains and rugged coastline. You will visit Kylemore Abbey. An historic building nestled at the base of Duchruach Mountain, on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul — in the heart of the Connemara Mountains. It is regarded as one of Ireland's most romantic buildings.
You will explore Killary Fjord. The fjord is a Wild Atlantic Way signature discovery point. At Nancy's Point, just outside Leenane Village, you will board the "Connemara Lady" for a spectacular 90-minute cruise on Ireland's only fjord. A cruise is the ideal way to take in the dramatic sweep of the landscape, as you pass between the Twelve Bens and the Maam Turk mountains to the South, in County Galway; and the Mweelrea mountains to the North in County Mayo, as well as the views out to the Atlantic at the mouth of the fjord. Killary's sheltered waters are perfect for mussel farming, and you will see the ropes at several points on the cruise. You will also see some circular salmon farms, closer to the shore. Sheep dot the hills and now ramble freely over the remnants of potato ridges which stand testimony to The Great Famine of the 1840s.
Tonight you will overnight & dine in Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. After dinner, you might like to take a short stroll into Clifden and enjoy a drink in one of its many fine pubs - E.J Kings, Lowry's or Griffins to name just a few!
After breakfast this morning, journey back towards Dublin City, Ireland's capital city. Visit Pearse Lyons Distillery. Learn all about the whiskey-making heritage of The Lyons family. Having moved from Ireland to Kentucky in 1976, to work at the Gems Whisky distillery, they've come back to take the Irish whiskey scene by storm. Take in the impressive Trilogy Tasting Experience at their distillery, located in the former Church of St. James.
Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinnner and a Traditional Music Night at The Merry Ploughboy Pub—one of Dublin's iconic trad music venues.
Today marks the end of the Castle & Backroads Tour.
After a final great Irish breakfast this morning there will be 2 group transfers between 0500 and 1100 for you to choose from to get you to Dublin Airport for your return flight home.