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Day One – Discover Dublin
You commence your tour of Ireland by train with some time in the capital. Dublin offers magnificent Georgian architecture, historic churches, modern galleries, parks and gardens, lively bars and acclaimed restaurants.
A magnet for artists and academics both past and present, this city, the cultural capital of Ireland, is a rich mix of old and new and a fascinating place to stay. We’ve visited Dublin countless times and we’d definitely recommend that you take your time to get to know the city. Meander through the streets to appreciate the beautiful buildings, especially the colourful Georgian doors. Be enticed into one of the many old pubs and linger over your Guinness – there’s always someone who’ll give you the benefit of their ‘expert’ local knowledge. Ride the DART out of town and take in the sea air at the coastal resorts of Dalkey, Howth, Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire or to just sit by the banks of the Liffey and watch the world go by for a while. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Your hotel in Dublin
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.
Day Two – Deeper in to Dublin
Today you’ll take a guided walking tour with a living legend Dubliner, hearing the stories and seeing the sights you won’t find in guidebooks, first-hand from one of Ireland’s most celebrated natives. This is one of our favourite ways to see the city, a wonderfully convivial tour in the company of a warm and engaging host is always a winner.
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 incredible 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.
Day Three – Go Westport!
Today you’re off to County Mayo on the west coast by train, to a jewel of a town on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way – the world’s longest defined coastal touring route. You’ll be transferred from your hotel to Dublin Heuston station, for the train journey of just over three hours to Westport, in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain. Arriving late afternoon gives you time to get your bearings and perhaps enjoy a drink before dinner in this classic Irish tourist location.
Your accommodation in Westport
Just moments’ walk from Westport railway station, your accommodation in Westport is an authentic family owned B&B. You’ll find the warmest of Irish welcomes here from your Westport born-and-bred host and we’re sure you’ll love the traditional décor, fabulous breakfast and comfortable en-suite rooms. Its location near the centre of Westport makes it the perfect place from which to explore this charming town.
Day Four – Getting to know Westport
With history stretching back around 5000 years – as reflected in the many megalithic monuments on the Clew Bay Archaeological Trail – there’s a wealth of activity and attractions to enjoy in Westport. Perhaps chief among these is historic Westport House and Park, a magnificent 17th-century mansion house festooned with period antiques, art and artefacts, easily reached from your B&B on foot via the defined greenway around the edge of town. Westport’s bustling Quay area features quirky shopping and one or two good dining options, while the town of Westport itself contains colourful shops and restaurants, as well as several classic Irish pubs where traditional music can be enjoyed over a few pints of the Black Stuff on any night of the week.
Day Five – Wild Atlantic Way to Galway
After a hearty Irish breakfast, get ready for a wonderful day on the road with your very own private guided tour along the Mayo coast, travelling to the lively city of Galway. You’ll be collected at your B&B and taken on an unforgettable tour along the Co Mayo and Co Galway sections of the Wild Atlantic Way, including the breath-taking Connemara coastline. Experience coastal villages seemingly untouched by time, enjoy locally caught seafood amidst the most amazing scenery, and fabulous artisan produce along the way, while meeting the friendliest people and really getting to know the meaning of ‘the craic’. Your private guide is carefully chosen by us to ensure you’re given the perfect day out.
Your accommodation in Galway
A lovingly restored Georgian townhouse right on the River Corrib is the location for your two nights in Galway city. The local husband-and-wife owners have brought the building back to life, enhancing the original features with modern touches throughout. Most of the inviting rooms have superb views of the river, where anglers can often be seen wading chest-deep in pursuit of the perfect salmon. Breakfast is served in the charming ground-floor tearoom, with its vast windows and tall ceilings, and which is open to the public for lunch and dinner, served in the secluded courtyard, weather permitting. While the house is a mere stone’s throw from the centre of Galway, its location is beautifully secluded, making this the perfect spot for both relaxing and exploring.
Day Six – Find your way around Galway
With a rich history of seafaring, fishing and trade going all the way back to the 13th century, Galway City has evolved in to a thriving bohemian cultural hotspot beloved of travellers from all over the world. The buzzing city centre, with its labyrinthine cobbled streets, colourful shops, bars and café culture, nestles alongside beautiful beaches and the meandering promenade in perfect harmony. The city famously hosts festivals of all kinds throughout the year, centring on arts, cinema and, of course, racing, while Old Ireland is never far away, with the aroma of turf fires and the sound of Irish traditional music seeping from any number of pubs on any given evening. If you’re lucky, an evening stroll along the prom culminates in a fantastic West-coast sunset – a moment you’ll find difficult to forget.
Day Seven – Continue round Ireland by train to County Clare
It’s just a short, scenic train-ride today, so take your time over a leisurely breakfast before setting off for Galway Railway station and boarding your train to Ennis, the county town of County Clare.
In a little over an hour, you’ll be in the ‘Mecca of Irish Traditional Music’, the friendliest of towns, where you’ll find a session in every pub, a smile on every face and the craic on every corner. There’s fine quirky shopping here, too, as well as a growing number of good places to eat and some really superb, authentic Irish pubs. The impressive granite cathedral and its spire loom over the end of McConnell Street, while the fast-flowing River Fergus cuts through town on its way to the Atlantic. We’ll provide all the recommendations you need to make sure you get the very best from your day out in town.
Your hotel in Ennis
Your hotel in Ennis is a long-established and iconic, family owned town hotel, standing proudly in the shadow of the cathedral. Cosy and comfortable rooms, a bustling bar full of locals and tourists alike, a good bistro (do try the seafood chowder with a pint of Guinness) and a terrific fine-dining restaurant, combine with friendly and attentive service to make your stay a memorable one.
Day Eight – The best of County Clare
You’re in for a really special day out today, with a private guided tour around some of the most famous and arresting sights in County Clare. The mysterious rocky landscape of the Burren, the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, including the stupendous views from O’Brien’s Tower, the clifftop walks at Doolin, as well as Doolin Cave, and the world-class beach at Lahinch are just a few of the Wild Atlantic Way attractions within easy reach of your hotel, and your carefully chosen guide will ensure you have a fabulous day out.
Day Nine – A private road tour from Clare to Kerry
Get set for another great day on the road, the last of your private guided tours, as our carefully chosen expert guide takes you on a fascinating route around Clare’s fabled Loop Head peninsula and onwards to Killarney in beautiful County Kerry. You’ll see sights including the famous Bridges of Ross, eerie Loop Head Lighthouse and the gorgeous beach at Spanish Point, and maybe enjoy a seafood lunch and ‘the last pint of Guinness before America’ at Kilbaha, before boarding the ferry at Killimer for the 20-minute crossing to Tarbert in Country Kerry. Once landed, you’ll be taken the long way around the fabulous North Kerry coastline and onwards to your hotel in Killarney.
Your hotel in Killarney
A long-established family owned-and-run hotel provides your comfortable stop for two nights near the centre of the bustling town of Killarney. A warm welcome and impeccable service, along with well-appointed rooms and a comfortable restaurant make this a supremely relaxing place to stay. Its convenient location makes the hotel perfectly placed to explore this most charming town and its surroundings.
Day Ten – Out and about in Killarney
The vibrant town of Killarney – ‘the Town in the Park’ – surrounded by beautiful Kerry countryside, is famous for its welcoming atmosphere and convivial hospitality. Perfectly placed on the Ring of Kerry, by the three Lakes of Killarney, it’s one of our favourite places to return to time and time again. Enjoy a morning in the company of a Jarvey on one of the town’s famous jaunting cars for a fun trip around beautiful Muckross Park and towards Ross Castle, or take one of the many superb walks that circumnavigate the town, before heading back to eat at any one of the dozens of fine eateries and to have a browse of the many quirky shops – not forgetting to pop in to a welcoming pub for a pint or two of the black stuff.
Day Eleven – The romance of rail from Killarney to Kinsale
Back on the train today for a scenic journey to the lovely and historic fishing town of Kinsale in County Cork. You’ll take the train from Killarney to Cork City and enjoy a 30-minute road transfer from here to your hotel in Kinsale.
Your hotel in Kinsale
This unique, personally run bed and breakfast is in the heart of Kinsale, yet with its peaceful garden and gated entrance, offers a true haven away from the bustle of the village. All rooms are very tastefully decorated with a focus on natural textures and colours – dark wood floors, white walls and beautiful artwork giving an immediate sense of sophistication. This is perfectly balanced with the warm reception you’ll receive from your hosts who will willingly offer the most-up-to-date advice to help you book the best of the local eateries.
Day Twelve – Out and about in Kinsale
Famed for the quality of its seafood, served in any number of superb restaurants with frontages painted in vivacious colours, Kinsale is one of the prettiest towns in Ireland and is home to a number of fine historical attractions, all within easy walking distance of your hotel. And, as you’ll find across Ireland, the quality of the welcome and friendliness of the people are simply world-class.
To help you get your bearings, perhaps join one of the popular historical walking tours of the town.
Day Thirteen – North by rail to the Titanic city of Belfast
Today you’ll have one of your most fun days on the trains as you make the journey from Cork all the way to Belfast, via Dublin. You’ll be transferred back to Cork City to catch the train to Dublin Heuston, then make a connection on the “Luas” (light rail) across Dublin to continue your tour of Ireland by train from Connolly Station to Belfast.
Your hotel in Belfast
Your hotel is a locally owned guesthouse close to the University area and a mere 10-minute walk from the city centre. This AA four-star rated accommodation comes highly recommended for offering great value for money and a comfortable base from which to enjoy the city. There is complimentary WiFi in all rooms, a light, airy breakfast room and, within a few minutes’ walk, a host of restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets; as they say in Belfast, “the craic is never far away”.
Day Fourteen – Bustling Belfast – a city transformed
At the head of Belfast Lough, the city is compact and easy to get around, whether by public transport or on foot. Belfast is teeming with a multitude of stylish bars, gourmet restaurants, trendy clubs and some of the best shopping in the UK. Visitors can enjoy traditional Irish music in a local pub or dance the night away to the latest vibes – the choice is yours!
The birthplace of the Titanic, Belfast’s industrial heritage has shaped a city steeped in culture, seen at the City Hall, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the city’s many preserved historic buildings. Also, the city’s many parks, gardens and galleries offer a perfect haven to relax. Don’t miss the newly refurbished Ulster Museum; it has an enviable collection of Irish art and the wonderful Girona Exhibition of Spanish Armada gold.
Day Fifteen – Return home
Enjoy a final hearty Irish breakfast before transferring back to the Railway Station or airport for your onward journey home.
Our self-guided tour starts in Dublin, then heads to the west coast at Mayo, then to Galway, Clare, Killarney and Kinsale in County Cork, before a final stop in Belfast. You can then return to Dublin or complete the trip in Northern Ireland.
It is also possible to customise the itinerary to start from Belfast, Cork or Limerick, just let us know your preferences.
£2250 per person for departures in April & October, £2385 per person in May, £2485 in June & September, and £2525 per person in July & August.
Prices are based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for 14 nights on a bed & breakfast basis, staying in our hand-picked selection of small hotels and guesthouses. This holiday includes train travel as described above, and transfers, as well as a walking tour of Dublin, a day trip to the Aran Islands, a day taxi tour to see the famous Cliffs of Moher and The Burren, a guided walking tour of Kinsale, and a black taxi tour of Belfast with entrance to the Titanic Visitor Centre.
Travel to Ireland
We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland from Britain for this holiday. The holiday can be tailored to match the ferry routes from Holyhead or Fishguard in Wales, or to Belfast from Cairnryan in Scotland.
Flights to Dublin, Cork, Shannon or Belfast would also be ideal starting points, and we can arrange car rental to match.
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 Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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.
This tour of Ireland by train can be arranged from April to 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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