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Day one – Arrival in Dublin
Arrive in Ireland’s capital city & make your way to your accommodation for the evening. The River Liffey cuts through the centre of this ancient city, Georgian tenements and modern architecture blend between cobbled lanes and sprawling streets. Laughing voices and warmth escape from the lively bars and pubs. Walk the paths and uncover pages of poets and writers, hear of heroes and rogues, and soak up the unique atmosphere. There’s so much to see and do here – just let us know if you’d like to take an extra couple of days at the beginning or end of your tour to enjoy all the city has to offer.
Your accommodation in Dublin
This independent hotel lies in a superbly central location, perfect to explore the city. The shops of Grafton St and the many bars and restaurants of the city are close to hand. Rooms are modern and the hotel boast its own whiskey bar.
Tonight you will join your tour guide and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.
Day two – From East to West
You’ll depart as a group this morning by train from Dublin to Galway. Rattle through the western suburbs and into the country, the smoke and smells fading with the beating of the sleepers. Flat land and pasture fill the landscape before the tracks descend into bog and lake. Wetted moss and wild flowers, blackened water and nesting birds – this unique environment is a pleasure of dulcet loneliness. The earthy bog softens to the horizon, marshes yellow and green sponged between lakes and sky.
Cross the long bridge into the city of Galway; a colourful expanse of houses and industry on the water’s edge. Your adventure along the Wild Atlantic Way has begun. Disembark and head out on a boat tour – with a bit of luck the Galway Hookers will be out on the bay. Their famous red sails ripple, sharpened bows cutting through the water, pulling the sea open like a clam. Learn of the Claddagh fishing industry’s rich history in the company of your boats captain – he himself part of a local fishing dynasty.
You’ll have the rest of the day to explore the delights of Galway City, including exceptional fresh seafood and delectable Guinness if you wish.
Your accommodation in Galway
Your accommodation is right in the heart of the city, only a short walk from the water. Enjoy the ambiance of this relaxed setting and go for a drink in the luxurious bar, or maybe head out and explore the city on your doorstep. The staff are welcoming and take pride in offering the most comfortable setting in Galway. The attention to detail makes this a special place to spend the next two nights.
Day three – The Ancient Aran Islands
A short ferry ride from the mainland brings the group to the Aran Islands. A visit to the largest island, Inis Mór, is sure to be a highlight of the trip – jigsaw pieces of grey rock rise high out of the ocean, dry stone dykes thread over the bare green of rooted weed and grass, furrows of silver wrinkle between the rocky crops.
Embark upon a guided tour with a local resident of this unusual location – visit the ruins of early Christianity, piles of shale and rebuilt chapels; walk along the cliff’s edge far above the waves breaking below; explore the prehistoric forts that grow from the rocky outcrop. The culture of this unique place is ancient, the Irish language still widely spoken in this microcosm of old ways. Many an artist and writer has been inspired by this beautiful place on the edge of Europe; tiny fields packed together on the barren planes, records of history still passed by the oral tradition, ancient monuments built amongst the dykes and grazing animals.
Head back to Galway and spend the evening at your leisure; maybe visit the cathedral on the banks of the Corrib or take a stroll on the Old Long Walk.
Day four – The Traditions & Music of Ireland
The morning begins with the short train journey from Galway to Ennis. Fields of gold and green stretch to the horizon, pastures brim with plump cows and grazing sheep, tractors with broken doors slow traffic. This gentle landscape has inspired songs and artists for centuries – fitting for the next destination. Arrive in Ennis and freshen up at your accommodation before having the afternoon free to explore this gorgeous town – flower baskets bloom from windows along the old streets, colours abound on painted walls and smells of fresh produce fill the air outside local shops.
Tonight will be a special evening. Take a short walking tour through the streets of Ennis, Ireland’s famous city of traditional music. Spend time in the company of an eminent traditional musician and learn of the quirks and lore of this place filled with music & dance. Then it’s to the pub for a traditional session. The bodhran slaps and thunders an opening beat, the fiddles stretch and yawn; music fills the room as voices quieten. Enjoy lively jigs and bittersweet folk tunes that will transport you through the times and lands of Ireland.
Your accommodation in Ennis
This 18th century traditional hotel, at the very centre of life in the town, offers a fine-dining restaurant, a bistro and a traditional pub. Its central location makes it easy to explore the area. Rooms are decorated simply and elegantly, with comfortable beds ensuring a great night’s sleep, while the hotel’s lobby area is a sumptuously furnished oasis of calm, the perfect place to relax with a refreshment or two.
Day five – The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren
Take a private coach tour and reach deep into the wilds of the west. Begin the day with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher – distant horizons sit on the ocean and birds swoop and rise on Gulf Stream warmth. Weeds and flowers cling to the rocky drop; below, waves roll into the cliffs and shatter on the rock walls. Along the way there will be plenty of surprise and excitement, this pocket of Ireland full of twists.
Next it’s onto the Burren where all is not as it seems. This Karst of limestone is a bizarre moonscape set amongst the greens of Ireland – spend the afternoon walking amongst the ridges and fissures of the eroding rock in the company of a local expert. Learn of the microcosms hidden among the gaps and their importance as a singular habitat in Ireland. Watch wild goats grazing, and discover why this strange place has been designated a European priority habitat for wildflowers.
Head back to your accommodation and spend the evening relaxing, or hit the town and take your pick of musical style and atmosphere in the ‘Mecca of Irish Traditional Music’.
Day six – Jaunting in Killarney
This morning you’ll embark on a rail journey through the heart of Ireland. Pass through quaint towns and villages and the changing scenes of Irish life – turf smoke puffs from cottage chimneys and gorse bush bristles amongst field and crops. Your tour leader will be on hand with stories concerning Ireland’s rich history and mythology.
Arrive in Killarney and freshen up at your accommodation before stepping back in time. Outside the hotel, you will be picked up in a jaunting car – Ireland’s original train (complete with four hairy legs). The jarvey (driver) will welcome you onto the car and introduce you to the horsepower upfront before you all trot through the town and out towards Ross Castle. An imposing tower on the banks of Lough Leane, the restored 15th century seat of O’Donoghue, Ross is a fascinating visit. Surrounded by the lush forests and green hills of the Killarney National Park, you’ll spend the afternoon gazing at the views from your horse and cart. Learn of the area’s history from a local expert before trotting back to your hotel.
Your accommodation in Killarney
Set within easy walking distance of many of the attractions in this classic Co Kerry town, this is one of Killarney’s longest-established hotels, now enjoying a renewed lease of life under local ownership. In addition to enjoying a prime central location, the hotel offers a host of facilities on site, including an inviting restaurant and well stocked whiskey bar, all wrapped up in six acres of landscaped grounds.
Day seven – The Ring of Kerry
Today will be a mixture of stunning scenery and a chance to explore the Irish coastline. Traverse the famous Ring of Kerry – sea stacks and seaside villages, green meadows and shale splintered mountains. On a private coach you’ll wend your way through the views and drama of Ireland – hear tales of pirate queens and ambitious smugglers, rustic dangers and characters descended from the landscape. Follow narrow roads between cliff face and drop, curving with the coast and sea. Dramatic vistas and beautiful views; each corner turned is another moment to remember. Stop for lunch beside the sea and enjoy fresh produce landed at the pier just a short walk away.
Then it’s on to a truly different experience. In the company of one of Ireland’s foremost seaweed and foraging experts, explore the diverse shoreline and learn which species are edible (and maybe try a few). With each step, the vibrant colours of the plants are revealed – the huge selection of species and tastes held between the pools and bedrock is staggering. Much of these flavours are sought out by chefs around the country and further afield – you’ll end the day with a newfound wonder at the bounty of the shore.
Complete the circuit and head back to your accommodation for the final night. Spend the last evening walking the streets and paths of Killarney, or find a cosy pub and fireplace and look back on the week.
Day eight– Return to Dublin
The trip concludes with a train journey from Killarney back to Dublin. Say fond farewells to your fellow travellers before continuing on with your plans. Maybe tag on a trip to the North of Ireland and the Causeway Coast to make an odyssey of your holiday – do let us know if we can help.
This Wild Atlantic Way small group guided tour starts and finishes in Dublin, with stops in Galway, Ennis & Killarney.
The price of £1,895 per person sharing a twin or double room or £2,525 single occupancy includes:
All accommodation is carefully-selected and researched by us, predominantly featuring small, family-owned hotels – contact us for more detailed information. We will do our best to accommodate room preferences subject to availability at individual properties.
This tour will operate with a minimum of four and maximum of 15 passengers on each departure date.
Simply complete the form below to reserve your place(s). We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours to provide time for you to pay the deposit of 25% per person.
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.
|Departure Date||Starts From||Nights||£ per person (2 sharing)||£ per person (single)|
|Sunday 27 Sep 2020||Dublin||7||£ 1895||£ 2525|
|Sunday 26 Sep 2021||Dublin||7||£ 1895||£ 2525|
To reserve your place(s) on this tour, please call us or complete the form below, making sure to select your departure date from the dropdown menu and advise of any special requirements. We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours and contact you with details of how to confirm your booking by payment of the per person deposit.
Please note: All form fields are required unless otherwise stated optional.