The tour of Ireland begins in Dublin, the capital of Irish folklore, beer and pubs, then heads west to Clonmacnoise, the geographical and spiritual heart of Ireland, before working its way south along the spectacular coastline. The tour then returns to Dublin via Cork on the south-east coast. Accommodations include exclusive country homes and select B&Bs.
Rental car pick-up
Type: Ford Focus or similar
Pick-up location: Dublin Airport
The modern hotel made of cedar, clay and glass is listed in such top guides as Michelin and Bridgestone, and the innovative restaurant with its excellent wine cellar has won several awards. The location on the shores of Lough Ree in the heart of Ireland couldnbe better. Each room features a wine-related theme, all have sea views and large en-suite bathrooms with under-floor heating. The hand-made walnut furniture was designed exclusively for the hotel.
The country house is located near Ballyvaughan boasting superb views of Galway bay and the surrounding Burren Landscape. Open fires, antique furnishings and a friendly and personal service by your hosts Bernadette and Armin, serve to make your stay both enjoyable and memorable. Ten ensuite bedrooms are decorated with old world charm, yet equipped with all modern conveniences (Telephone, TV, WiFi). Some enjoy magnificent sea views while others overlook the splendour of the Burren hinterland. An extensive continental buffet and a choice of 8 delicious cooked breakfasts are served in a relaxed and homely atmosphere. Complimentary tea or coffee with cakes is served and wine is available at the honesty bar.
The modern 4-star hotel on the southern coast of the Dingle Peninsula is only a 10-minute walk from the Dingle town centre. All 12 bedrooms are large, bright and furnished to the highest standard with a lot of attention to detail. Helen's mother is an artist and some of her work can be seen around the place. Breakfast is prepared from local produce and the choice is fantastic. Several superb golf courses are located in the vicinity. The vibrant town of Dingle offers a surprising array of pubs and restaurants, many of which feature live music. The luxurious guesthouse makes an excellent base for exploring the Dingle Peninsula.
The Victorian residence was originally built in 1850 for use as a hunting lodge by Lord Brockett. Today it is one of the most renowned in Ireland and has attracted numerous nature-lovers, adventurers and poets to its doors. The property sits on an isolated spot directly on the shore of Caragh Lake. Guests cherish the clean air, the beautiful gardens framed by natural green woodlands and the gorgeous views of the Kerry Mountains across the lake.
Possible activities include hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, fishing and sailing, or just relaxing in front of the fireplace in the lounge with a good book. A restaurant which is part of the lodge has won several awards.
The imposing villa built in 1840 stands in Cobh, the point of departure for thousands of famished emigrants to the New World. The original style of the interior has been largely maintained in harmony with the early Victorian façade. On chilly days visitors can warm up around the open fireplace in the drawing room. The large bedrooms feature four-poster beds and other interesting antiques. The only thoroughly modern rooms are the bathrooms. Host Pam, who used to manage a supermarket, is as efficient as she is hospitable.
Rental car drop off
Drop off location: Dublin City/Dowtown
The venerable schoolhouse was designed by the same Dublin architects that created the Museum of Trinity College. From 1861 to 1969 it served as the home of St. Stephen's Parochial School and was the centre of the Easter Rising in 1916, one of the country's most important rebellions against British rule. After the final ringing of the schoolbells the building stood vacant for 30 years before being carefully restored and converted to 4 star hotel. The individually decorated bedrooms were named after famous Irish authors. What was once a large classroom is now the site of a gourmet restaurant that includes the Schoolhouse Bar, which is frequented by many locals.
The capital on the east coast with its 500,000 residents is without doubt the political and cultural center of Ireland. Around one-third of the island's total population lives in the Dublin metropolitan area. The layout of the Dublin was determined by the River Liffey, which runs straight through the city and splits it into a poor northern half and a rich southern half before flowing through the harbor into the sea. A settlement called "Dubh Linn" ("black pool") must have existed even before 450 AD, when many of the citizens were converted to Christianity by St. Patrick. The city was ruled by many different invaders throughout its long and eventful history. Much of the architecture that dominates in the old town dates back to the 18th century, when Ireland enjoyed a brief phase of peaceful respite and the population of Dublin soared from 65,000 to over 200,000. Most of the buildings that make up Trinity College were constructed during this period, such as the stately Old Library, as were numerous other famous landmarks, like St. James Gate Brewery, home to Guinness beer. Fresh samples of the famous brew are available at the visitors' center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Rental car company: AVIS (Ireland)
Type: Ford Focus
4 doors, CD Player, Power Assistance Steering