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Your first destination in this tailor made holiday touring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, is the colourful village of Kinsale, on the south-west coast and less than an hour from the city of Cork. With it’s situation right by the sea, this spot is world renowned for culinary delights, from the freshest local delicacies to more internationally inspired menus. We’ll use our local knowledge and connections to point you in the right direction of the current hotspots.
A harbourside hotel enjoying a fine reputation is your base for two nights here in Kinsale. Alongside well-proportioned, beautifully presented rooms, you’ll find a glass-sided restaurant serving the freshest seafood and Irish classics, as well as a lively bar betraying the town’s nautical history.
Time to explore the cobbled streets and quirky shops of this historic and very colourful village. Alternatively, take a trip along the coast, where you’ll find plenty of beaches and welcoming villages.
Your second base, less than two hours further south, is the seaside village of Baltimore with its bustling natural harbour a haven for yachts and ferries to local islands. This is where the Irish themselves like to holiday, but they don’t mind sharing the secret! Seeing whales and dolphins in the wild is still one of the greatest thrills in nature, and it’s perfectly possible on a boat trip in the company of an expert marine biologist from here – add an extra night and we will pre-book the whale and dolphin watching trip for you (see pricing details below).
Just on the outskirts of the village, this traditional inn features a bar area crammed with memorabilia of years gone by, leading into a bright and airy restaurant. Eat sumptuously fresh seafood as you gaze out to the boats bobbing on the water, or chat over a Murphy’s with the locals. Rooms are extremely spacious and neatly decorated with splashes of cheery colours. A feeling of being beside the seaside pervades the place, and the welcome is every bit as friendly as you’d expect.
Time to explore on your own, perhaps heading further west to the village of Schull, with its colourful craft shops, drive to Mizen Head, visit the imposing Bantry House and estate, or enjoy one the numerous coastal walks in the Baltimore area.
Your journey now takes you northwest, with options to explore one or more of the fingers of land at the south of Ireland, including the Bere peninsula, before reaching your next base.
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. Perhaps enjoy a light tapas-style lunch in the bar, or a more substantial evening meal in the restaurant – an allowance for dinner on your first night is included. Should you wish to dine out, 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.
This is your chance to drive the famous Ring of Kerry, the 120 mile circular drive and one of the country’s most popular tourist trails. Although busy, there are plenty of options to avoid most of the crowds and still enjoy the open views of the mountains, coast and islands of the area. Look out for the myriad squiggly signs of the Wild Atlantic Way highlighting spots of interest.
Turning North you cross the Shannon by ferry and reach County Clare, where you really experience the pounding might of the Atlantic Ocean. Your next base is at one of the county’s most famous coastal spots.
Family-owned for many decades, your hotel in Co Clare is just a few short steps from the beach at Spanish Point, named after the Spanish from the Armada who died here in 1588.
Influence of weather and ocean is keenly felt here; on calm days there’s an overwhelming serenity, while the ocean pounds the coastline when the wind is up, every wave crashing on the rocky parts of the coastline.
The hotel has recently been treated to a thorough refurb, each of the en-suite bedrooms stylishly fitted with a not to local artistry and atmosphere.
There’s a choice of dining, including an in-house coffee shop, as well as a welcoming restaurant with open kitchen and vast windows almost inviting in the nearby sea. Take a cocktail at the bar before dinner, then after a pint in the traditional Irish pub, often to the sound of live music.
Start the day with a fine breakfast before setting off to explore Co Clare. Perhaps make the short drive to the village of Ballyvaughan, in the heart of the Burren, Ireland’s most enigmatic landscape, filled with ancient history, legends, flora and fauna of the area.
You’ll have plenty of time to explore more of Clare’s world-class landmarks: with a sheer drop of over 200m into the sea, the Cliffs of Moher are a spectacular sight. Unsurprisingly, the visitor centre is one of the most popular places along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, so we recommend a trip early or late in the day to enjoy them without too many crowds.
For the final leg of your tour, pass Galway City and head to the west and the mountains, loughs and coastline of Connemara, where you will once again stay right by the sea, just beyond the traditional village of Clifden. The peninsula of Connemara retains a wild side, with peat bogs stretching inland to the towering Twelve Bens. Its’ name derives from “Conmhaicne Mara” (meaning: descendants of Con Mhac, of the sea)and it is a delight to meander along roads right by the dramatic coastline and sandy beaches.
Hidden from view, yet only moments’ walk from the centre of lively Clifden, your accommodation in Connemara is a classic Irish castle hotel, in the care of the same local family for many decades. Guests are invited to wander the vast, tumbling gardens or to relax with a treatment in the spa, later dining in the restaurant amidst the dramatic Connemara views. Your host is often in attendance, bringing the history of the place alive with stories of its past. Bedrooms tell the story, too, furnished with a range of pieces and decorated with a pleasing informality.
There’s plenty to see in Clifden around its circle of quirky shops, cosy cafes and lively pubs. And on the doorstep, you’ll find some of Ireland’s wildest corners. Sky Road rises away from town, skirting Cloon and Laghtanabba Bog and delivering superb views of Turbot Island, Inishturk and Orney Island. Take your time over lunch of chowder and Guinness before exploring Cleggan Cliffs and the expanses of Connemara National Park.
You’re about four hours from Dublin Port, probably the most convenient exit point. This route could work equally well in reverse, from Connemara to Cork.
This holiday tours round the south and west of Ireland, round the coast of County Cork, then to Kerry, north through Clare and finishes in Connemara, County Galway.
£1365 per person for April & October, and £1495 per person for May to September, for 10 nights on a bed & breakfast basis, with dinner allowance provide on one evening in Kenmare.
Why not add a half day whale-watching boat trip and extra night in Baltimore for £130 per person.
We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland for this holiday.
The most convenient ferry routes are those from Pembroke or Fishguard to Rosslare, though connections through Dublin are also possible.
There are direct flight connections to Cork from many UK airports including London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Luton, Southampton and Edinburgh. You could also easily base this holiday on return flights to Dublin and we can provide car rental for you, too.
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.
We work hard to make sure the unexpected doesn’t affect your trip. On rare occasions, changes or cancellations may occur, affecting accommodation, transport or excursions. We are committed to informing you of any such circumstances and will use our knowledge and resources to offer suitable alternatives wherever possible.
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This holiday can be arranged from April to October
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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.
As a child I spent a very memorable holiday in Connemara, in the west of Ireland. Although we had explored many parts of Ireland and Scotland before, ...
The driving route was memorable and we really appreciated the personal care and attention that had gone into the choice of places to stay.David & Olive, Nottingham
Too many amazing sights to mention. We loved it all! Staying in some truly special places and meeting friendly, kind, warm and interesting people.Trisha & David, Suffolk
There was no one favourite - each stop provided a different and varied scene. Spectacular scenery throughout.Valerie & Neil, London, UK