Family Trip to Ireland: Culture, Castles and Folklores

A 8 day trip to Ireland 
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Children dream of visiting castles and living with knights and princesses. You can make the family’s dreams come true on an Ireland tour customized for adventure and luxury in five-star locations. Majesty abounds in antique marketplaces and along staggering cliffs, and the past returns to life at a folk-park teaching visitors about blacksmithing, weaving, and cooking in medieval times. Dolphins leap out of the water off the western shores, and the landscape features 9,000 years of cultural history. Find crystals in caves, learn about the Titanic, and stroll through ancient ruins on your enchanting family-friendly Ireland tour. 

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General Information

Photos
Doonagore Castle in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland.
Horizontal Mill at Bunratty Folk Park, Country Clare, Ireland.
The River Lee running through Cork City, Ireland.
Cobh Town in Cork was the Titanic's last port of call in 1912.
The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
Blarney Castle near Cork.
The landscape of the Ring of Kerry in Killarney.
Dromoland Castle Hotel in County Clare at dusk.
An aerial view of the cliffs of Moher.
Cork City at sunset.
Fishing boats moored in Cobh Harbor, Cork.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Killarney, Cobh, Dingle Peninsula, Dingle, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Blarney Castle, Cork City, Dromoland Castle, Doolin, Blasket Center, Kinsale, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures. 

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Kilkenny – Arrive in Dublin and Travel to Kilkenny for an Introductory Tour

The Ireland of your imaginations comes to life in Kilkenny. Gray limestone ascends from emerald grass, and medieval cobblestone lanes lead to narrow alleys dividing historical buildings. The castle and cathedral decorate the banks of the River Nore. The city brims with artistic activity with artisans crafting traditional bodráns, Irish drums, and artwork dedicated to capturing the countryside. Your family adventure begins with your arrival in Dublin where you pick up the family-friendly rental car at the airport and traverse the gorgeous landscapes between the capital city and the charming borders of Kilkenny.

The kids are immediately swept into the grandeur and storybook ambiance of the medieval quarter. The Victorian opulence of the castle was erected over 12thcentury foundations. The stones shimmer with sliver streaks in the sunlight. The Long Gallery captivates the family with a painted roof portraying Celtic and medieval myths, elegant fireplace carved out of marble, and portraits of the Butler Family decorating the gallery. In the evening, the sounds of Irish jigs and ballads emanate from the traditional pubs and the aroma of stew filters out of the restaurants serving comforting Irish dishes with contemporary twists. The Medieval Mile Museum is located inside 13th-century St. Mary’s Church. The modern museum follows the history of Kilkenny through medieval times, highlighting the 16th and 17th-century ornate tombs carved out of local limestone.

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What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Kilkenny – Explore the Irish National Heritage Park and Discover Crystals 

In the morning, the aroma of frying bacon fills the dining room, and the kids share their favorite details of the Medieval Mile Museum and Kilkenny Castle from the previous day. You venture to the mouth of Crag Cave, a more than two-mile long network of caverns bordered by limestone walls. The system took 15,000 years to shape the stalactites, stalagmites, fascinating curtains, and marvelous pillars that showcase spectacular geological history. You touch your fingers to the cool stone and notice the distinct difference in temperatures between the cave’s interior and outside world.

The Crystal Gallery contains thousands of straw stalactites dangling from the ceiling with pure white calcite shimmering in the streams of light. The refracted beams glint with rainbows, eliciting jovial gasps from the entire family. You continue to the Irish National Heritage Park, an outdoor museum offering insight into 9,000 years of Irish history. Woodlands emanates the scent of pine while the aroma of freshwater drifts upwards from the rushing Slaney River. The kids find an immersive experience around the wedge-tombs, named for the shape of the chambers due to the positioning of large stone slabs. The megalith embodies the more than 1,500 tombs and portal stones scattered across Ireland.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Cork – Visit Blarney Castle, Ballycotton Bay, and the History of Cork

At breakfast, the family shares their favorite parts of the previous day, recalling the falconry demonstration when the powerful bird flew comfortably through the air before landing on the arm of the proud falconer. After the meal, you travel east toward Cork, stopping at captivating sites along the way, including the treasured grounds of Blarney Castle. Emerald trees surround the historical keep first erected in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th century. The aroma of pine and fresh dew fills the air, and the light gray stone contrasts the surrounding greenery where the battlements continue to protect the main keep standing 90 feet tall.

The family climbs the stairs to the upper reaches of the ramparts to kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend states that whoever kisses the stone will be gifted with great eloquence. The stone was placed as an addition to the castle in the 1440s and was once part of the king of Ireland’s throne. The kids laugh with delight as they dip backward, spotted by a staff member of the castle; press their lips to the smooth, dark stone; and wait for the legends to come true. You continue to Cork City to tour the streets once bordered by the forking waters of the Lee River. The scent of fresh bread and chocolate emanates from the English Market. The vaulted ceilings have covered the marketplace since the late 18th century. Shops and boutique stores hover over the cobbled and mosaic walkways lining St. Patrick’s Street.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Cork – Relish a Full-Day Excursion around the Sites and Experiences of Cork

In the morning, the sunlight pierces the windows of the Crawford Art Gallery. Four-thousand works of art are displayed across three floors, representing historical and contemporary visual art inside the 18th-century Customs House. After breakfast, you venture to nearby Cobh, also known as Queenstown. The waterfront city shines with brightly painted homes and an estuary glistening beneath the sunlight. The cathedral shapes the skyline with its stunning spire. The French gothic architecture features 47-bell carillon, which has a four-octave range. The largest bell weighs over 7,500 pounds. Seventy-thousand people departed Ireland through the town’s port during the famine years between 1848 and 1950.

You enter the Titanic Experience located in the original White Star Line offices. More than 120 passengers embarked on the ill-fated journey to the United States on the SS Titanic, with Cobh being the ship’s last port of call. Interactive holograms provide immersive presentations and exhibits for an insight into the final days of the ship. You pass sections of the original pier, and you feel the impact, followed by a shake and chill when the ship hits the iceberg. The cinematic experience makes your adrenaline pulse as the ship begins to sink. The museum is more of a ride through history than a walk through a gallery.  Before returning to Cork, you stop at Blackrock Castle, a fantastic five-story stronghold dating back to the 16th century with towers reaching 100 feet tall.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Kerry – Discover Tremendous Villages and Castles on the Ring of Kerry

The treasured Ring of Kerry wraps around Iveragh Peninsula with a road reaching more than 100 miles long. Scenic mountains form at the neck of the islet, leading to the outcropping of Skellig Michael. The sea-breeze carries the aroma of the briny water as the wind sweeps over the tall, bending grass. From the edge of the peninsula, you have a view of the jagged rocks of Skellig Michael reaching more than 700-feet tall along the edges of the Skellig Islands.

Stone ring forts standing less than 2,000 feet apart were erected in the 10th century with the stairways leading along the interior walls, wrapping around the beehive-like structures. The walls reach nearly 20 feet tall and 10 feet thick, and the smaller fort has a view to Ballycarbery Castle. The ruins stand on a grassy hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the 14th -century foundations support the 16th-century remains of the stronghold connected to the O’Connells. The kids can wander through the ground floor of the castle finding vines draping over the stones and archways. Two different staircases provide access to the upper level, leading away from the moss and grass peppering the first floor. Cows and sheep graze on the emerald plains leading away from the pebbled shoreline below.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Kerry – Traverse the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, and Bunratty Folk Park

In the morning, the aroma of herbaceous tea fills the dining room at breakfast accompanied by the scent of freshly baked scones with black currant jam. After the meal, you set out with the family to the Cliffs of Moher where the famous seaside bluffs reach heights of over 700 feet above sea level. The wind sweeps over the coastal plain causing the grass to fold over, and carries the scent of the Atlantic Ocean across the landscape. The family recognizes the cliffs from scenes in the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Waves crash against the rocks below and geologists have concluded that the formation of the cliffs began over 30 million years ago as river channels.

Pebbles line thin slivers of the coastline, looking up to the sandstone and shale edges. You continue through The Burren to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The grounds date back to the 15th century and were restored in the mid-1950s to its former medieval splendor. The silver stones look over the Ratty River and were erected over Viking and Norman settlements. Smoke coils from the chimneys of the thatch-roof cottages where blacksmiths craft broadswords, clanking their hammers against the metal positioned over anvils. The forges blaze with heat and weavers work making and patching clothing. The castle interior shines with tapestries and furniture from the 17th century leading to the massive Great Hall. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Dromoland – Travel to Dromoland Castle for an Exciting Day of Expeditions

After an early breakfast, you travel to Dromoland Castle, one of Ireland’s most distinctive estates preserved and refurbished to its original 16th-century prestige. The castle was once the royal seat of the O’Brien Clan, descendants of the original Irish king, Brian Boru. The manor encompasses 1,500 acres, featuring views over the Clare and Shannon Counties. Guests of the famous property over the years have included Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and Johnny Cash.

The kids are eager to try their hand at archery while on the property. Your instructor offers a brief history lesson on the celebrated skill which has been used around the world for 15,000 years. Your instructor shows you the proper stance, squaring your feet to 90 degrees with the target. You take a relaxed grip on the bow handle, place the arrow on the bow’s shelf, and grip the end of the arrow with three fingers. As you draw the string back, you feel the tension in your back before aiming and releasing. You hit the target with a satisfying thud before taking another arrow out to try again.

With more time in the day, the family heads to the Shannon Estuary to board a cruise bound for the open water. The breeze carries the aroma of the saltwater as the ocean splashes against the hull of the boat. You look back at the shoreline to enjoy the enticing view of the rugged shores, then the skipper points into the distance where a pod of bottlenose dolphins is leaping out of the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, transportation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Dromoland – Depart for Home  

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the Loop Head Lighthouse on the eponymous peninsula. The original feature burned coal and stood on a platform over an old cottage. O’Brien’s Tower, located at the highest point on the Cliffs of Moher, was erected in the 19th century as an observation tower for Victorian tourists. The gates to the Doolin Cave open, welcoming you into the home of Ireland’s Great Stalactite, the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe at 24 feet. There is always more to entice the family to stay longer, and you could certainly extend your time in Ireland to continue your exploration north along the Wild Atlantic Way or venture to England for a medieval tour of the United Kingdom. When you are ready, you travel to Shannon Airport to drop off the rental car and check-in for the flight home. 

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.