By: Darlena Hernandez, Travel Consultant
Iconic Ireland is just absolutely amazing! From the numerous shades of green, to the Wild Atlantic Way, there is something that is sure to mesmerize you! I have to say, the people of Ireland are most welcoming, filled with pride for their country, and are so willing to tell you many tales of Ireland’s history.
The pubs are alive with much laughter, great pub fare and glasses full of Guinness! You will see countless castles on this journey. Some are in pristine condition and some are ruins left from centuries long past. If you have not had the opportunity to get to Ireland, I would definitely write that on your “Bucket List” and let Brendan Vacations show you the breath taking views of this Celtic Country!
In Dublin, it is buzzing with excitement and there are so many places to explore. Following our Welcome Reception, we were taken to the, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. Located in the Docklands of Dublin, it is a state of the art experience. It was one of the best educational experiences I have ever had. It was very inspiring and emotional, all at the same time.
The Guinness Factory was a great insight to how this “Creamy Mug of Goodness” is created! After the tour, be sure to get your free mug of Guinness and relax in the lounge, with its spectacular views of the city below. Don’t miss how they serve up your glass of Guinness, as there really is a special craft in the preparation of your poured brew!
Later you may want to grab a taxi and head out to the Temple Bar District. We had a wonderful time here, strolling the streets and taking in the smells of fabulous food and the sounds of bands, playing at every pub you pass. Temple Bar is by far, the most energetic establishment here, and has a great history to boot!
The Book of Kells and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are all on the list of Dublin’s great “Must See” attractions. This city has so much to offer, that I do recommend a Pre or Post night, to allow you to enjoy some of its hidden sites.
Get ready for Powerscourt Gardens! The gardens were started in the 1740’s and are a splendor of color, various shapes and sizes, and are a great back-drop for many photo opportunities. You will admire the beauty of the estate and the statues that sit gracefully on the grounds. A true gem of this amazing itinerary!
Now it is time for Kilkenny Castle. Built in 1195 and was a symbol of Norman occupation. Its architecture is just fabulous and the grounds are perfect for roaming and taking great photos. The history of this castle is quite amusing. The Butler brothers, the original owners, were quite the “partiers” and really had the location to eat, drink, and dance the night away! It has been a spot for kings, queens and the likes of many famous people around the globe. Mick Jagger even stopped by here once, to just “loon” around as he put it.
I absolutely loved Kilkenny and visiting Newtown Jerpoint! This was and Be My Guest experience and definitely my favorite highlight of this Brendan itinerary! Seeing a 12th Century Cemetery and meeting Joe and Maeve O’Connel was a true pleasure. They delight in showing off their stunning property, Belmore House, and serving you a delightful lunch, perfectly accompanied with a delicious dessert. Be sure to have your camera ready as the vistas and photo ops are endless. I would do this tour all over again just to have this marvelous “Be My Guest” experience.
Get your “Gift of Gab” here at Blarney Castle. This grand castle is still holding little secrets that only your imagination can envision, as you climb the steps to the fabled Blarney Stone. Here you will have an opportunity to get your picture snapped while kissing the apparent “Gab Giver”. This experience was fun and exciting and provided scenery only imagined in dreams. Be sure to check out the shops and grab you some Fish-N-Chips, as it was my favorite location, for the famous dish. Truth be told, I ate Fish-N Chips four times, while in Ireland! 🙂
The Ring of Kerry drive was the best scenic drive I have ever taken. Sit back and relax while your tour guide entertains you with in depth details of the surrounding areas, along the way. I loved seeing all of the sheep and the rock walls that separate the sprawling landscapes. These walls are hand built with local rock, dug from the rugged mountains.
The Torc Waterfall was a beautiful walk with exciting views and sounds of the pebbled brooks and rustling trees. This is definitely a “Zen” experience. I can see how artists and poets were and are drawn to this location, for inspiration.
The Killarney Towers is a lovely hotel, located right in the heart of the city. When you walk out, you are in the center of so much activity. We enjoyed a very exciting Irish Folk Lore concert, in a square, located 50 yards from our hotel. I love how the locals really get into singing and dancing to the country’s music, reflecting the history of this spectacular country, throughout the ages. The Irish really are very proud of their history, their country and again, their Guinness!
The iconic Cliffs of Moher! WOW! Amazing views of the endless Wild Atlantic Way are just amazing! Situated 700 feet about sea level, it truly gives you a moment of exuberance and awe, as you realize, Mother Nature knew exactly what she was doing here! You can definitely get some pictures worth framing at this majestic location. Be sure to grab a bite to eat, at the café, located inside the museum. The Guinness Stew was very satisfying and delicious!
I have to say, Galway was one of my favorites cities. it is a quaint town, with many colorful shops and pubs to wander through. Galway Cathedral and the Connemara Marble Factory, add a great touch to the picturesque beauty of the Lakeside setting of Kylemore Abbey. Connemara is the real emerald of Ireland as it has so much to see. From the rugged mountains to the lakes and rivers, it truly gives you a real Irish Experience.
I cannot say enough about this unbelievable castle! You will not believe how spectacular and lavish the grounds are, and the rooms absolutely scream ROYALTY!
You are taken to Ashford Castle aboard, “The Isle of Innisfree”, across Lough Corrib. Your captain will give you some insight to the castles history and magnificent specs. It’s grandeur appears before you- like a majestic ship, docked in luxurious splendor. Once you arrive, a lone piper escorts you across the drawbridge, and onto the castle grounds. You are greeted like royalty, with smiles and an eagerness to please your every need. A relaxing cocktail reception awaits you, after you get to stroll the grounds, or perhaps taking part in the Falconry Excursion, or horseback riding.
The multi-course dinner is one you will never forget, and for me this was especially true! To my surprise, I received a very unexpected proposal of marriage, with our fellow tour-mates and castle staff, in the audience 🙂 It was truly a dream come true.
Be sure to get your photo taken, with the castles furry tenants. Watch out, one may give you a great big kiss on the cheek! 🙂 You will sleep in absolute luxury, as the bed are so dreamy, a kiss would have never awoken Sleeping Beauty!
A sad “Good Bye” to Ashford and we were off to Dublin, for end of our tour. Enjoy your Farewell Reception, with your tour mates and relish in the memories sure to last a life-time!
I will end by saying, Jane Horgan was the absolute best tour guide I have ever experienced. She was very professional, kind and really ensured that everyone had what they needed and were informed of the daily events. She is very well versed and always had a great story for every area we visited. I love how much knowledge she has and her humor is well placed and gave us the true connection we all desire, when traveling with people we do not know. Paul, our driver, was so good at his job! He was very pleasant and had skills like no other, when it came to the narrow roads of Ireland. He made everyone feel right at home and we truly enjoyed him! The two of them made a fabulous team and they made the experience the best anyone could ever ask for! I am ready to go back to Ireland 🙂
As they say in Ireland, go n-éirí an bóthar leat! Have a good journey!
By: Darlena Hernandez
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