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Designed for the first time visitor to the country, explore both on & off the beaten track.
Combining Ireland’s highlights with special places to stay and hidden gems sought out by McKinlay Kidd, this self-drive holiday takes you from the bustle and sophistication of Dublin to the dramatic coastlines, lakes and mountains of the West Coast of Southern Ireland. En route, you’ll have time to explore the Curragh and National Stud, and stop off in Cashel.
You start with two nights in Dublin – just about enough time to explore the city – based in our handpicked accommodation, conveniently located within easy reach of the city centre.
Enjoy the best of both worlds in this welcoming guest house, comprising two imposing Georgian townhouses. It’s situated in a remarkably peaceful leafy avenue just to the south of Dublin city centre, yet you’re just a short walk from St Stephen’s Green, a pint or two of Guinness in a local bar, or a delicious meal in one of Dublin’s many fine restaurants.
We can also offer a choice of 4 or 5 star hotels for this holiday – ask us for a quotation.
Once home to literary greats such as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, the city of Dublin boasts an abundance of Georgian architecture as well as cosy bars and lots of great restaurants. Enjoy them all by walking in the area around Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green. Wander into Trinity College, and seek out the stunning Book of Kells, the 1,200 year old illuminated manuscript. For a complete contrast, head to the Guinness Storehouse and sample the national drink in its historic homeland. Pay a visit to one or both of the city cathedrals, cross the Liffey on the Ha’penny Bridge and visit the GPO, site of the famous 1916 Easter Rising. Take in the Dublin Writers Museum or catch an Irish play at the Abbey Theatre. We’ll provide recommendations for tours, bars and restaurants to help you make the most of every moment.
Today head south to Country Cork. En route, you could visit the National Stud, home to Ireland’s great thoroughbred racehorses, or stop off at the Rock of Cashel, ancient seat of the High Kings of Munster. Your base for tonight will be the colourful fishing town of Kinsale.
In a splendid harbourside location at the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, your accommodation in Kinsale is a quietly stylish hotel, blending contemporary flair with an old world nautical charm.
One of the most delightful aspects here is that every room treats guests to a harbour view, the decor and layout of each designed to take full advantage of the floor to ceiling glass. Perched in the oversized bed with a morning brew, looking out across the River Bandon towards watchful James Fort is a perfect way to start the day.
Enjoy breakfast overlooking the harbour, while in the evening the in-house tavern – planned by an acclaimed local yacht designer – brings a new twist to the traditional Irish pub, a cocktail on the terrace the perfect precursor to dinner.
This morning, take time to explore this historic, and very colourful village of Kinsale, or take a trip along the coast, where you will find plenty of beaches and welcoming villages. Perhaps head into the nearby city of Cork and visit the world famous English Market before heading west to your destination for the next two nights: County Kerry.
In the vivacious little Kerry town of Kenmare, this hotel simply oozes relaxed comfort and easygoing Irish charm, with a distinct twist of fun thrown in for good measure.
Family owned and run for many years, there are just 22 rooms here, each of which is a stylish haven from the town’s natural fizz, with bespoke fittings skilfully set alongside handcrafted creations commissioned from local artisans.
One of our favourite things here is the dining; take as long as you wish over a traditional Irish breakfast as it’s served till 11am, the homemade bread, pastries and preserves serving as tempting accompaniments. During the day, perhaps enjoy a light tapas-style lunch in the bar, while in the evening you’ll have a dinner allowance included, useful for your first night after long drive, when you can enjoy a meal in the restaurant. Should you wish to dine out on subsequent evenings, Kenmare’s streets are awash with choices mere moments from the front door.
By night, the bar comes alive, attracting locals and visitors with traditional music helping create a uniquely Irish atmosphere.
The famous Ring of Kerry awaits. The 120 mile circular drive is one of the country’s most popular tourist trails. Be prepared for much traffic, but take time to stop off in some of the many laybys to soak up the open views of the mountains, coast and islands – it’s easy to imagine you are in a painting. If the water is calling you, consider a boat trip to view the rugged beauty of the Skellig Islands and the dramatic island monastery at Skellig Michael – now famous for its role in Star Wars. Or stay on land (we would normally say dry, but that may be overstating it for the West of Ireland) and explore on foot on one of the many local trails.
Turning north, you cross the Shannon by ferry and reach County Clare, where you begin to feel the full influence of the Atlantic Ocean, especially at your next base by the beach at Spanish Point.
Your Hotel in Clare
Recently treated to a full upgrade and refurb, your accommodation at Spanish Point is a long-established family-owned hotel in a quite staggering location. Just a stone’s throw from the ocean, you can almost feel the waves crashing nearby on windier days; indeed, such is the effect of their proximity, the hotel windows are cleaned every day! Bedrooms are modern and beautifully presented, with a palette chosen to reflect the surrounding landscape. In the glass-sided restaurant, guests are invited to enjoy a menu of delights created from the most local of produce, including many items grown on the hotel’s own farmland next-door. Savour an expertly-made cocktail at the Ocean Bar, or a pint of the black stuff in the authentic pub, alongside live traditional Irish music.
You are within a short drive of the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, stretching five miles along the coast at a height of over 200 metres above sea level, with often breathtaking views; or head inland to explore the mystical landscape of The Burren, almost 100 square miles of limestone pavement, rich with ancient history, cave systems and unique flora. We can arrange a local guide to help you decipher the wonders of this unique area and learn about the culture and social history.
Time to turn east and return to Dublin.
This holiday starts in Dublin, then tours to the south west of Ireland, visiting Cork, Kerry and Clare.
The most convenient ferry routes are the services from Holyhead in Wales to Dublin.
There are also numerous direct flight connections to Dublin airport from the rest of Europe and from many UK airports including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Luton, Southampton and Edinburgh.
£885 per person for March, £990 per person for April & October, £1095 per person for May, June & September and £1115 per person for July & August, based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 7 nights on a bed & breakfast basis, with a dinner allowance provided for one night in Kenmare.
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.
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This holiday can be arranged from March to the end of October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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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.
A very enjoyable holiday and very nice to have all arrangements made for us. The Burren was spectacular - so different from every thing else.Lorna & Peter, Stoke-on-Trent, England
An excellent trip all round. The right mix of places and things to do.Mark & Brenda, South Africa
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