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Castles and Country Houses of Ireland

Enjoy a stay in one of Ireland's finest castle hotels

Best Time To Go

April - October

Why not...

add a few days to explore Northern Ireland at the beginning or end?

Prices From

£1385

No of Nights

9
Self-Drive
Self-Drive

Enjoy a stay in one of Ireland's finest castle hotels

Castles and Country Houses of Ireland

Best Time To Go

April - October

Why not...

add a few days to explore Northern Ireland at the beginning or end?

Prices From

£1385

No of Nights

9

Experience Ireland’s legendary hospitality at the most extraordinary and authentic castles and country houses.

This ten-day self-drive tour of some of our favourite places in Ireland enables you to enjoy a bygone era of refinement and splendour. Relax and unwind after each day’s touring in dramatic and distinctive accommodation, from Irish castles to Georgian mansions, where the welcome, atmosphere and setting each deliver something unique. Along the way you’ll experience several sections of the Wild Atlantic Way including ancient Sligo, bracing Connemara, the mystical world of the Burren in Co Clare, County Cork’s rugged coastline, as well as world-famous Cashel.

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Holiday Details

Day One – Northwest from Dublin to Sligo, ‘The Place of Shells’

Assuming your arrival to Ireland finds you at Dublin Port (we can help arrange travel to the island at extra cost, to the port of your choice) enjoy a scenic cross-country drive to the rural outskirts of the city of Sligo.

Your Accommodation in Co Sligo

Drive through the gates of your country-house hotel in Sligo and you still have a mile of avenue to go, twisting through ancient forest and deer pasture, crossing the River Unchin before arriving at the front door of the house nestled in this 500-acre estate. Inside, despite the obvious splendour, there’s a distinctly welcoming feel, the hallways and staircases lined with family photographs, each piece of furniture, each fitting triggering a story from your most genial hosts. In the evening, dinner around the vast dining table with the centuries-old family silver is an event to remember.

Day Two – Sligo Town and the Food Trail

Just a twenty-minute drive from your hotel, according to its townsfolk, the county town of Sligo, with majestic Benbulben mountain to the north, ancient Knocknarea mountain and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, beautiful Lough Gill to the east, and the rugged Ox Mountains to the south, is one of the most picturesque places in Ireland. Spend the morning discovering for yourself and sharpening your appetite, as in the afternoon you’ll meet an ebullient guide who’ll whisk you around some of the town’s tastiest spots to sample the finest food and drink the town has to offer.

Day Three – South on the Wild Atlantic Way to a Connemara Castle

Take your time over a fine breakfast today, before hitting the road on this spectacular section of the Wild Atlantic Way. The route takes in Co Mayo with Ballycroy National Park, vivacious Westport and a superb coastline, dropping further south into Connemara, around stunning Killarey fjords towards the lively town of Clifden. Your hotel sits little more than 10 minutes inland from Clifden.

Your Accommodation in Connemara

Beautifully located with a backdrop of twelve Bens mountains, and its own salmon fishery dropping away from the tumbling gardens, your castle hotel in Connemara is much-acclaimed as one of Ireland’s finest. Despite the obvious splendour of the castle and its 700-acre estate of woodland, rivers and walks, the atmosphere here is pleasingly unpretentious, with Irish informality at its heart, and the view at breakfast surely doesn’t get any better.

Day Four – Explore or Linger, the choice is Yours

Connemara’s vast wilderness is on your doorstep, its coastline and cute Clifden within easy reach. Though you may elect to take a day off from driving to stroll or cycle the vast grounds of your hotel, enjoying a picnic lunch and a laze by the river. 

Day Five – To Co Clare and the Mystical Burren 

Wave goodbye to Connemara this morning and head south via the city of Galway into Co Clare. Continue along the coast, perhaps taking in the world-class Cliffs of Moher, the beautiful beach at Fanore and the port town of Doolin, perhaps taking a glass of Guinness and classic chowder for lunch. Head a little inland to your accommodation at Ballyvaughan in the midst of Ireland’s most enigmatic landscape: the Burren.

Your Accommodation in Ballyvaughan

Hidden from view down a leafy track, your hotel in Co Clare is a sumptuous getaway retreat set within the craggy limestone geology of the Burren. This Georgian country mansion has been lovingly restored by its longstanding (since 1976) family owners, whose rare eye for detail and design goes way beyond choosing appropriate colours and carpets. Antiques and art fill this place, tastefully positioned throughout each of the rooms, the restaurant and the bar, alongside fresh flowers from the gorgeous garden, and roaring log fires. Dining here is an exquisite affair, with only the best locally-sourced produce making it on to the fine menu, complemented by an expertly assembled wine list. Despite the hotel’s obvious refinement, the welcome here is as warm as you’ll find anywhere, with friendly local staff eager to put guests at immediate ease as you’re assisted to your room, many of which have quite superb views to the coast and all the way to Galway on a clear night.

Day Six  – Further South to Wonderful West Cork

An epic day on the road today, as you spear southwards across Co Clare and across the mighty Shannon into Co Limerick, soon making your way through Co Cork, Ireland’s largest and southernmost to its coastal extremity and your next superb base.

Your Accommodation in West Cork

Home to the same Irish family for eleven generations, perched on the waterfront in this harbour-side location, your next stop is an Irish castle of fine quality and absolute authenticity. With history pulsating throughout its oak-panelled halls, staircases and bedrooms, and family art and antiques everywhere you look, there can be few more evocative places to stay in Ireland. With just eleven comfortably appointed rooms, many with views across the water, you’ll enjoy a feeling of exclusivity as you bed down for a restful night, the sound of the lapping sea right outside your window. Despite the castle’s history and tradition, the family have imaginatively utilised public space both inside and out, creating an art-lined licensed café serving fine home-made breakfast and lunch, as well as a beautifully designed outdoor space with bar, barbeque and seating to enjoy alfresco dining on warmer evenings.

Day Seven – Exploring this Corner of West Cork

The village set around the castle is endlessly fascinating and features grand eighteenth-century homes lining the hill descending to the harbour, as well as St Barrahane’s church, designed by James Pain in the early nineteenth century, and admired for its stained-glass windows. Here you’ll also find an oar from a lifeboat of the Lusitania. The village features a tiny, family-owned pub serving rather good food, and where locals can be heard chewing over parish business, generally enjoying the craic over a pint or two of the black stuff.

Day Eight – Commence your Journey North to Rock of Cashel

A shorter day’s drive today, giving you time to dawdle, perhaps visiting the classic Irish fishing port of Kinsale before hopping a little further to Cork City, home to the world-famous English Market, Blarney Castle and one of Ireland’s most charming accents. Continue north, and you’ll find it’s not a particularly long way to Tipperary and your final base in the shadow of the Rock of Cashel.

Your Accommodation in Cashel

We arrive at the last destination on your holiday, and Ireland’s newest five-star hotel in a quite stunning location here in the ancient town of Cashel. Having been developed from an eighteenth-century manor house during a painstaking years-long restoration, the level of detail and respect for its heritage and location that has gone into this hotel is all too apparent. Refined dining, sumptuous bedrooms, verdant gardens and first-class service combine to make a very special place to stay.

Day Nine – Exploring Cashel

In this ancient corner of Ireland, the world-famous Rock of Cashel has been drawing guests from far and wide for centuries. The imposing former seat of Irish kings looms over the town, with many visitors making an annual pilgrimage to stroll among its walls. But there’s much more to Cashel and wider Tipperary, with longstanding links to the world of racing evident throughout, as well as villages and towns home to engaging museums, pubs seemingly preserved in aspic and a distinctly welcoming brand of local resident.

Day Ten – Return Home via the Port of Your Choice

Return to Dublin and wend your way home or let us know if a different departure point is more suitable for you.


Location

This holiday includes stays in Sligo, Connemara, Ballyvaughan, West Cork and Cashel.


Pricing

£1385 per person in April & October, £1475 per person in May, and £1595 per person from June to September. 

Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for nine nights on a bed and breakfast basis; price includes a private guided food walk in Sligo.

Please note, this is a self-drive holiday and car hire is not included, but can be arranged for a range of vehicles – do just let us know.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.


The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Check availability for Castles and Country Houses of Ireland

This holiday can be arranged from April until the end of October.

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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