A new tour for 2021 includes many of Ireland’s historic hotspots including Dublin, the splendid Wicklow Mountains, included visits to fabulous castles and ancient buildings that have played such an important part in Ireland’s rich history and the wonderful East coast. We stay in two superb hotels, both family run and offering a very high standard of service and include opportunities to sample some of the local specialties’.
The four star family run Minella Hotel with 10 acres of gardens, nestles in the Comeragh Mountains, with fine views of the River Suir, close to Clonmel. You feel like you are entering into a touch of grandeur; a former private home and now operating as a hotel, rooms are equipped with a TV, hairdryer and tea/coffee making facilities. The restaurant uses local and seasonal ingredients, serving up fresh Irish food in a formal but relaxed environment, there’s also a cocktail bar overlooking the river. Leisure facilities include an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tub and tennis court.
Our much acclaimed 4 star country house hotel is situated half way between Belfast and Dublin in the coastal resort of Dundalk. Set in 130 acres of beautiful parkland, this impressive Victorian House forms the heart of a family run hotel that has been transformed to provide the modern standards of today, including a comprehensive leisure centre with a swimming pool. All the en-suite bedrooms are equipped with a TV, a safe, an iron and tea/coffee making facilities. Lifts serve all floors.
Saturday From your front door to the waiting Club Class coach then cross country to Wales and the port at Holyhead for the sailing to Dublin enjoying the comfort of the Club Lounge. On disembarkation we drive the short distance to our overnight hotel, the modern Aspect Park West, where we will enjoy our first evening’s dinner.
Sunday Leaving our overnight hotel we have a short tour of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin before heading south for the Wicklow Mountains National Park, the largest of Ireland’s six National Parks and one of the country’s most untouched regions. We pass through the spectacular valley of Glendalough, famed for its picturesque scenery and rich history, as we continue our drive to the Suir Valley and our luxury hotel the 4 star Minella. Upon arrival we enjoy tea/coffee and homemade cakes whilst our luggage is taken to our rooms. Later we sample Tipperary Cider, fine local produce.
Monday We begin our day at Kilkenny Castle, which dominates this historical small city, to understand why so many people choose to visit this expansive castle every year. We wander through period rooms and set foot in 50 acres of rolling parkland, topped off with a pretty rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake. We then delve into a treasure trove of artefacts with a guided tour of Medieval Mile Museum. Here, we admire medieval sculptures and a collection of Renaissance tombs while we soak up more than 800 years of Irish history. We finish the day with some free time to explore charming Kilkenny. Catch glimpses of the town’s well-preserved churches and monasteries, or amble along the winding lanes dotted with craft shops selling goodies like pottery, paintings, knitwear and jewellery.
Tuesday This morning, we visit the historic site, Rock of Cashel, a collection of medieval buildings standing atop an imposing hill with limestone outcrops. The ancient fortifications include the 12th century round tower, Cormac’s Chapel with vaulted ceilings and wide arches, the 13th century Gothic cathedral and a number of high crosses. We then fast forward to the 19th century with a guided tour of Swiss Cottage. Built in the early 1800s by Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Glengall, the cottage orné features an ornate thatched roof and an elegantly decorated interior with a parquet floor and spiral staircase. For our last stop today, we enjoy a guided tour of Fethard Horse Country Experience. The interactive experience, housed within the historic Tholsel building, explores the history of the horse in Irish culture.
Wednesday Today we bid farewell to County Tipperary and our hosts as we head north to make a morning visit to Slane Castle and its impressive buildings, where we have a guided tour. Set in the middle of a whopping 1,500 acre estate by the river Boyne, this architectural delight is home to the Conyngham family. Here we find out more about the family, the history of the castle and the concerts hosted here over the years, including U2, The Rolling Stones and Queen. This afternoon we make our way to the superb Ballymascanlon House Hotel, our home for the next two nights.
Thursday Our last excursion sees us getting to grips with the cider making process at Armagh Cider Company. A guided tour brings to life the journey from blossom to bottle, with a peek at the orchards and where the cider and apple juices are made. To celebrate the humble apple, we tuck into apple tarts washed down with tea and coffee, before driving along the shore of Carlingford Lough to spend time in Carlingford itself. This coastal town retains much of its medieval charm, so we take in a number of historical sites and castles as we stroll through the narrow streets and lanes of the walled town.
Friday An early start as we drive to Dublin where we join the morning ferry for the sailing to Holyhead, where we will enjoy breakfast on board. From North Wales we make use of the motorways to return to our home area and waiting taxis.
Fenn Holidays Ltd, Whittlesey Road, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 0AG