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Combine relaxing train-travel with longer stays at each location on this gentle three-week trip through the very best of Ireland.
Forget about traffic, parking and refuelling as you take to the rails on this imaginatively designed holiday, the latest in our ‘Slowly…’ collection, specially created for McKinlay Kidd’s 20th Anniversary.
Travel by rail from Dublin to the city of Cork and take a day-trip to Kinsale; continue into arresting Co Kerry, before heading north for the music mecca of Ennis in Co Clare. From Galway, cross the water to Inis Mor, and experience the location for The Banshees of Inisherin by Land Rover. Carry on to Sligo, home of the island’s finest oysters, before a visit to reborn Derry/ Londonderry, rounding off in brilliant Belfast, a city transformed over the last 25 years.
We’ve spent time uncovering hidden locations and seeking out the most appealing accommodation all along this lazy route, wrapped up with one or two special experiences to deliver a holiday you’ll never forget.
Straight on to the railway today as you make your way south on a 2.5-hour journey to the city of Cork. Upon arrival at Cork Kent station, we’ll have a transfer waiting to take you the short distance to your first base.
Your Accommodation in Cork City
Close to the centre of the city, your accommodation in Cork is a long-established, family-owned hotel in the perfect location. There’s an obvious touch of grandeur the moment you step through the door, the double-height lobby decorated in classic colours, with ornate plasterwork and vast chandelier dominating. Upstairs, rooms are decorated and furnished in classic style, and benefit from air-conditioning and lots of extra touches to make your stay that bit more relaxing. You’re spoiled for choice where dining is concerned, with classic afternoon tea served daily, as well as three distinctly different restaurant spaces in which to indulge.
Take a light breakfast this morning before meeting a friendly local guide and setting off on a private guided walking and food tour of this fascinating and historic city. Founded in the 7th century by St Fin Barre – whose name adorns the grand cathedral – Cork has seen every stage of urban development, from monastic to Viking, Anglo-Norman and English colonialism, and this history is evident throughout the city. Your guide will bring all of this to life during a pleasantly unhurried stroll, while also visiting the famous 18th-century English Market to taste some of Cork and wider Ireland’s best and most authentic produce. Later, perhaps repair to one of the fine local pubs for a pint of the local stout (Murphy’s), take in a museum or gallery, and dinner at one of any number of excellent restaurants.
Take it easy at breakfast today; this morning you’ll be met by a local driver and transferred the 30-min route to the classic West Cork fishing village of Kinsale. Regarded as the start/ finish point of the acclaimed Wild Atlantic Way touring route, Kinsale is also something of a food-fans’ heaven, with more restaurants per head than anywhere else in the country. Here, you’ll meet a genial and expert local guide and take off on a walking tour, hearing stories of the town’s ancient history. You’ll have time to uncover the rest of Kinsale under your own steam before being transferred back to Cork for the evening.
We’ll provide a transfer for the short distance back to Cork Kent station where you board the train to Co Kerry, bound for its ‘capital’, Killarney. It’s a journey of only 90 minutes or so, meaning once you arrive you can drop your bags at your hotel by the station and start your exploration.
Your Accommodation in Killarney
Within a few short steps of the station, your family-owned hotel in Killarney enjoys not just the perfect location, but also a definite air of opulence. Set on six acres of gorgeous gardens, the hotel retains a wealth of original Victorian features, while offering a contemporary experience in dining, an extensive spa, and beautifully presented accommodation.
Take breakfast in the grand surroundings of your hotel’s restaurant, before meeting a cheerful local guide and taking a stroll around Killarney. There’s so much to see in this vibrant and historic town, surrounded by the magnificent McGillycuddy Reeks and the vast National Park, home to two species of deer and an array of flora. You may see locations for classic film Ryan’s Daughter, or where Queen Victoria visited in the 19th century, as well as some of the hidden corners only a local can deliver.
A fine day out awaits today. You’ll be met at your hotel by a local driver and whisked away, taking an hour or so to reach the classic Kerry town of Dingle. With a distinctly Bohemian take on life, this disarmingly friendly and artistic place is packed with character, from the ‘hardware pubs’ (enjoy a pint of Guinness while choosing a new set of screwdrivers) to wonderful ‘daily catch’ restaurants and traditional Irish music on the corner, this is a wonderful place to spend a day. We’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your time.
A two-step programme to today’s travels, you first board the train at Killarney heading for Mallow in Co Cork. Here, there’s a brief layover of 10 minutes before a short train hop to Limerick Junction in Co Tipperary. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a local driver and transferred northwest around the city of Limerick, across the Shannon into Co Clare heading for the ebullient county town of Ennis.
In the evening, take to the ancient streets of Ennis, perhaps to enjoy a live session of Irish traditional music in any one of the many pubs within walking-distance of your hotel.
Your Accommodation in Ennis
Pivotal to life here in terms of culture and society, hosting locals and visitors alike, your accommodation in Ennis is a family owned hotel of the very friendliest kind. The quiet, guests-only lobby is a peaceful spot in which to enjoy coffee, perhaps making plans for a day or evening out, while there’s a range of dining including a buzzy traditional pub, a popular bistro and more refined restaurant. Rooms are traditional and cosy, and staff are always keen to help you make the most of your time.
Another great day out today. After breakfast you’ll be met at your hotel by a superb local driver-guide and taken on a day tour of Co Clare highlights. You’ll experience the mysterious and vast limestone expanse of the Burren, and touch on the Wild Atlantic Way including the soaring Cliffs of Moher and golden beaches at Lahinch and Spanish Point.
Later, return to Ennis for more music or a quieter evening at dinner – the choice is yours.
A relaxing day awaits, with no plans and no hurry, giving you plenty of time to allow Ennis to enwrap you. There’s good independent shopping here, an ancient Abbey and Friary and a stunning cathedral – oh, and lots and lots of superb pubs.
It’s an easy drive with your local driver-guide of just over an hour today, taking you to Europe’s westernmost city. Once here, drop your bags at your dockside hotel and begin exploring ‘the City of Tribes’.
Your Accommodation in Galway
Perched right on the harbourside, there’s a pleasing freshness about your hotel in Galway. Staff buzz here and there, always eager to help, and the bar is an airy spot in which to enjoy a favourite tipple. Fine local seafood caught just metres away makes for a delicious lunch or dinner, and the recently refurbished rooms couldn’t be more comfortable.
In our opinion a holiday highlight today. After breakfast, stroll a few metres to the jetty and board the ferry bound for the charismatic Aran island of Inis Mor. The profile of this place has seldom been higher, having recently enjoyed time in the spotlight thanks to the award-winning film The Banshees of Insherin. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a man of this island, a superb guide who will carry you off in his Land Rover, taking you into the heart of Inis Mor, visiting filming locations and getting right off the beaten-track. The landscape and history of Inis Mor is fascinating and unique, and brought to life by your guide.
Returning to Galway by ferry, the boat detours to the Cliffs of Moher, allowing you to see this arresting sight from the best perspective.
An unhurried day today, to wander the ancient streets and alleys of Galway, perhaps stopping for a creamy pint, take in the cathedral, the fine museum or the Latin Quarter, all at your own pace.
A fine rail journey today, as you first make your way east into Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, where after a brief stop in Athlone, you take the train north into Co Mayo and onwards to Westport, one of Ireland’s most colourful and appealing towns. From the station here it’s only a couple of minutes by taxi to your hotel
Your Accommodation in Westport
Set at the very heart of this vibrant community, your hotel in Westport enjoys a range of dining options, including a serene orangery – perfect for afternoon tea – and a traditional Irish pub. Rooms have recently undergone full upgrade and refurb, and provide a relaxing haven after a long day’s discovery.
With its brightly-painted shop- and pub-fronts, some having been here for many decades, and its position in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, ‘Ireland’s holiest mountain.’ Westport is as appealing as tourist towns come. There’s a wealth of historical detail to be uncovered, and you’ll do so today on an easy guided walk with an expert local guide.
An even easier day of travel today, as you’re met at your hotel by a local driver-guide and transferred north to the characterful town of Sligo. Along the way, you’ll see some of the most picturesque locations on this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way in north Co Mayo, before crossing into Co Sligo and heading for the town of Sligo itself.
Your Accommodation in Sligo
The waterfront location of your hotel in Sligo isn’t the only nautical detail here, the design of this largely glass structure taking inspiration from the ships that plied their trade in Sligo over many centuries. Inside, there’s an award-winning restaurant serving a varied menu with a lean towards seafood, of course. Colourfully decorated rooms round off the picture, each a peaceful place to lay the head for a restful night.
Go easy at breakfast this morning, as today you’re off on a quiet voyage of discovery, tasting your way around the story of Sligo oysters. Starting off at the family owned cafe, you’ll have the chance to try oysters in their natural state, or delicious baked oysters, and even deep-fried in a signature po-boy sandwich. Later, take a tour of the nearby oyster farm, hearing the story of how oysters are cultivated here from tiny grain to plate, all amidst views of sweeping Sligo Bay and fabulous Benbulben.
From the relatively pastoral atmosphere of Sligo, today you’ll be collected at your hotel and taken on a scenic ride with a local driver-guide, heading north through Co Donegal and crossing the imperceptible border into Northern Ireland. You’re on your way to Derry/Londonderry, the ancient walled city completely transformed over the last 25 years and a place of legendary friendliness.
While here, you’ll have use of a Visit Derry Pass, allowing entry to many of the city’s most popular attractions.
Your Accommodation in Derry/Londonderry
Within easy walking distance of many of the city’s highlights, the River Foyle, extensive shopping and dining, your accommodation in Derry/Londonderry is an appealingly swish hotel, with a refreshingly airy and unfussy attitude. As well as a stylish and popular bar, there’s acres of lounging space and a choice of dining, while bedrooms come with all the features you need to make your stay a comfortable one.
Your day in Derry/Londonderry is yours to do with as you please. One of the best ways to get your bearings is to take a walk on the ancient city walls in the company of a local guide (included with your Visit Derry Pass), stroll across the Peace Bridge to the acclaimed brewery, and take a tour of the city’s amazing murals. – including one of Derry Girls, of course!
The Visit Derry Pass is the Official Sightseeing ticket for the Walled City of Derry~Londonderry, valid for one or two days.
One of the British Isles’ most scenic rail journeys delivers a definite wow-factor today as you board the train from Derry/ Londonderry, travelling along the Causeway Coast and south to the reborn city of Belfast.
Once here, it’s just a short taxi-ride from the station to your accommodation in the University district.
Your Accommodation in Belfast
Much acclaimed since its opening a few short years ago, your accommodation is an extraordinary place to spend the last few days of your trip. Formed from a completely refurbished grand Victorian mansion house, every detail of this place has been lovingly and personally overseen by its gregarious local owner. Each of the superbly appointed bedrooms is thematically linked to one of Belfast’s most famous offspring, with carefully considered antiques skillfully placed alongside classic art and more modern bespoke pieces. Breakfast is something of a treat taken in-room, while the ground-floor bar is a fine space in which to enjoy an early-evening cocktail.
Another of those days when you’d be advised to take a light breakfast, as you head into the heart of the city to join your guide for a delicious ‘dander’ around Belfast, hearing stories of its history told through the food and produce of Northern Ireland. It’s a tricky tale to tell, but your guide does so skilfully, employing the famous Belfast humour along the way. You’ll have the chance to eat and drink at some of the city’s best cafes, sampling the dishes and treats that built Northern Ireland.
Wherever you’re headed, we’ll be happy to create a tailor-made solution to get you back to your destination.
This public-transport holiday takes in stays in Cork City, Killarney in Co Kerry, Ennis in Co Clare, Galway City, Westport in Co Mayo, Sligo, Dublin and Belfast.
£3950 per person for April & October, £4075 per person for May, June & September, £4195 per person for July & August.
Prices are based on two sharing ensuite twin or double rooms for 20 nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
Travel to Ireland
We would recommend Dublin as your starting point, whether by air or ferry, although it is also easy to come via Belfast. With some adjustments, we could also arrange the trip using the port of Rosslare via the ferry from Fishguard in south Wales.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, 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.
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This holiday can be arranged from April 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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