Day 1 – September 21st, Tuesday
We’ll meet up at the Shannon Airport after your overnight flight. An Irish driver who will accompany us throughout our trip in a mini-coach, will escort us to the beautiful 13th century Timoleague Abbey ruins plus the Harry Clark Windows in the church of the Nativity of our Lady on the southern coast in County Cork. This is the Courtmacsherry Bay Area of West Cork.
This evening’s destination is Liss Ard Estate, built for the leaders of the O’Donovan clan, a short drive from Timoleague. You will not believe this grand 19th century Georgian country house, situated on 163 acres, as we steal a little time in the peaceful surroundings from the wedding parties that generally occupy the hotel.
Liss Ard is the site of the James Turrell Sky Garden, best described as an “installation.” Turrell, an American from California, was inspired by Celtic, Egyptian, and Mayan architecture. It’s a natural sculpture of sorts, also called a “grass crater,” enjoyed on one’s back in the center, as the sky becomes a brand new sight.
In the evening, we will have a pint at the stately bar, followed by a delicious three-course welcome dinner in the white-tablecloth, Michelin recommended restaurant on the premises which focuses on using products produced within a 50 mile radius of the estate. Here we’ll toast to our ensuing adventure!
Day 1 Hotel: Liss Ard Estate*
Day 2 September 22nd, Wednesday
Today you decide whether you prefer to sleep late or enjoy the beautiful Liss Ard gardens, wandering the estate at your leisure. Then we will head northwest to the renowned Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry on the lower west coast, known for its “craic”, Irish for good times. We’ll explore this Irish-speaking part of the country with “beehive huts” & gorgeous vistas.
On the way we’ll stop at the Kenmare Stone Circle in County Kerry, a Bronze Age religious site featuring 15 stones. Its nickname is Shruberries and dates back to the Bronze age 3,000-4,000 years ago. From there, we’ll travel over Moll’s Pass through the majestic Macgillycuddy Reeks Mountains, to get to Dingle Peninsula.
Upon arrival, we’ll immediately partake of Dingle Town’s many offerings, including charming shops, great music, restaurants, pubs, and a renowned 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. Dingle is at once both quaint and cosmopolitan.
We’ll check into the award-winning family-run Greenmount House for a stay of 3 nights. Due to its elevated position, you’ll find spectacular panoramic views across Dingle Bay from the hotel.
Tonight we will savor the freshest seafood and fish at Out of the Blue, the seafood restaurant that is the picture of quaintness and whose kitchen doesn’t open if there’s no fresh fish available on the pier that day.
Day 2 Hotel: Greenmount House
Day 3 September 23rd, Thursday
On this lucky day, we start off with a driving trip around the Dingle peninsula, stopping at leisure to take pictures and see the sights. We have the luck of the Irish today because we’ll be visiting the historic Gallarus Oratory (stone church dating back over 900 years) as well as the Fahan beehive huts which date back 800+ years and were once inhabited by monks and followers of St. Peter. We’ll make a stop into the Louis Mulcahy pottery gallery plus we’ll soak in some breathtaking coastal views.
After our trip and lunch at the local pub with nary a tripist in sight, we’ll enjoy some unstructured time to shop or relax before dinner. You might want to sample one of Dingle’s famous sea-salt ice creams from Murphy’s, or head to the Dingle Distillery for a sample, buy a sweater at the Dingle Woolen Company or visit the Dingle Crystal Factory, whose proprietor, Sean Daly, attained Master Craftsman status at Waterford Crystal. Not to worry, Dingle Crystal ships its splendid crystal back home.
Tonight we’ll treat ourselves to a superb dinner of elevated Irish cuisine at Mask – a short walk away from our hotel.
Day 3 Hotel: Greenmount House
Day 4 September 24th, Friday
Today is all about Irish seaweed! The Irish have long indulged in seaweed baths to help rheumatism and arthritis and relieve tension. Seaweed, a natural anti-oxidant, 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 45-minute seaweed body treatment for each of us. It’s not a bath, but a seaweed salt body polish and oil massage, appropriately named “Detox by the Sea”, which leaves your skin vitalized and nourished. This treatment won the Irish Spa Award for best indigenous Irish spa treatment. You may obtain other spa services, such as a bath, facial, or specialty massage, at your own expense, as we enjoy the spa pool, whirlpool, and deck overlooking Dingle Bay. Gloria, our guide, will arrange the spa day, with lunch, in advance for all to relish.
We’ll feel like pampered noodles by the time we return to the guesthouse to ready for another night on the town!
Tonight we must go to the pub for dinner, for we are in Ireland for heaven’s sake. John Benny’s is the place that comes to mind when you think of a true Irish Pub. Not only will we imbibe in their cold Guinness, but we’ll surely tuck into their traditional Irish Beef, Guinness and Mushroom Pie or their hearty Fish Pie while we listen to live traditional Irish folk music.
Day 4 Hotel: Greenmount House
Day 5 September 25th, Saturday
Bidding Dingle a sad “slan go foill,” (Irish for “goodbye for now”), we’ll drive north to Limerick to spend time exploring King John’s Castle in county Limerick. King John was the brother of Richard the Lionhearted, so it’s not surprising to learn that the castle has been inhabited for 1,000 years.
Today we’ll have a simple picnic lunch on the run because the iconic Cliffs of Moher in County Clare await us. Group selfies will abound! This is one of the most famous sites in all of Ireland.
A short drive away is our third and final “home” – Doolin, the preeminent Irish music locale, called the New Orleans of Ireland, situated on the Atlantic seaboard. Tonight will be the first of our three nights in Doolin. After checking into the charming, recently opened Fiddle & Bow hotel which pays homage to the music that made this town famous, we’ll have a wee bit of a rest and then we’ll head out for a refined Irish meal at OAR restaurant, Kieran O’ Halloran’s place.
Day 5 Hotel: Fiddle & Bow
Day 6 September 26th, Sunday
Today we’ll head out for a scenic drive to Loop Head, a promontory bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Shannon River with stunning cliffs plus a lighthouse. This area is part of Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way.” After lunch at the charming Stella Maris hotel in the beach town Kilkee, we’ll 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 spongy in parts, 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 a lovely tea house/art gallery near Loop Head.
Tonight is reserved for local music, seafood chowder, steak or classic fish and chips at the popular McDermott Pub.
Day 6 Hotel: Fiddle & Bow
Day 7 September 27th, Monday
After a proper full Irish breakfast, we’ll get gussied up and head to the lovely town of Adare in County Limerick which some call the prettiest town in Ireland. This village dates back to the 13th century with its thatched roof cottages and stone walls. This morning we’ll have free time to explore this picture perfect Irish town. We’ll can discover the antique shops and art galleries or perhaps buy that last little souvenir. We might grab a snack on the go, careful not to fill ourselves too much because our high tea today will be a 5 star experience!
With its 52 chimneys, Adare Manor was voted the #1 resort in Europe. The manor was built in 1832 and its here where we’ll take our afternoon tea. Executive Pastry Chef Xavier Torne will serve us a jewel-box menu of sweet treats with specially blended teas from around the world, including their own signature blend, coupled with dainty cut tea sandwiches, perfectly crafted miniature pastries and warm scones with clotted cream. This afternoon high tea is an indulgence you won’t soon forget.
Of course we’ve saved the best for last. Tonight we will enjoy something quite special. We’re all invited to the home of musician Christy Barry and his partner Sheila who’s an artist. Tonight, we’ll be able to partake a bit ourselves both listening and sharing in music, storytelling and song as we sip wine and enjoy some locally made charcuterie.
Day 7 Hotel: Fiddle & Bow
Day 8 September 28th, Tuesday
This morning we’ll head to the Shannon Airport for your return flights, where we shall surely exchange hugs and kisses as we say a fond farewell holding onto our new memories and new friends which we’ll cherish forever. As the great Irish Poet W. B. Yeats said about Ireland; “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”
Ms. Frank reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
* Alternate hotel on first night, SeaView House Hotel
** Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all pubs and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood. Options are plentiful.