West Ireland Vacation: Seclusion for Couples in Castles

A 9 day trip to Ireland 
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While together in rural Ireland, the two of you will be able to truly relax. Sleeping in royal castles, strolling manor house gardens, dining privately and savoring the country’s romance will be the focus of this itinerary. Handcrafted around five-star castle and manor house accommodation, this luxury tour explores Ireland’s enchanting western coast. It will be the small moments that you remember most when it is just the two of you and the beauty of the romantic escape. So slow down, relax, and savor these days spent together.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Shannon, Adare, County Limerick, King John’s Castle, Bunratty Castle, County Tipperary, Rock of Cashel, County Kerry, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Kenmare, Kenmare Bay, Ross Castle, Muckross House, Cork, County Cork, Blarney Castle, Cobh, Kinsale, Cong, County Mayo, Galway, Salthill, Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Dromoland, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell Stone Fort, County Clare, The Burren, Cliffs of Moher

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Shannon to Adare – A Manor House in a Heritage Village

Thatch stretches harmoniously across the Adare rooftops, and beneath it are colors. Red, yellow and pale pink abound, and each townhouse is a different hue. They contrast with the medieval monasteries and ruins, as well as the golden stone of yesteryear. Cobbled lanes connect it all, before taking you to the village’s outskirts, where the houses are whitewashed and fringed by green lawns. It will be out here that you will find your manor house, perched alongside the River Maigue. Check into your deluxe suite and the day is at your leisure. There will be all the privacy you need in the manor house and gardens, with the quaint village of Adare a short walk away, so that you can settle in at your own pace.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Adare – The Cashel of the Kings and Pre-Celtic Ireland

Medieval buildings stand mysteriously on a green plain and loom above the town of Cashel including a Romanesque chapel from the 12th century, a Gothic chapel adorned and decorated in the 13th century, and a grand 15th-century castle embellished with towers and crosses. Welcome to the Rock of Cashel, the seat of the High Kings of Munster, where Celtic art rings the buildings, and the stories are legendary. Not far from here is another story, Lough Gur one of those hidden gems that have managed to stay hidden. Stone circles juxtapose with megalithic tombs and crannogs, with castle remains on the horizon. Here you can explore the history, then take a walk around the lakeside, wondering about Ireland’s pre-Celtic settlers.

Those two destinations will comfortably fill half a day, and your guide can include more should you wish. For example, you could head to Limerick, where you can live out the Viking story at King John’s Castle. Bunratty Castle is the most resplendent of all the country’s medieval fortresses, stuffed full of tapestries and artworks from that period. To get around everything, you will need an early start. So instead, you may want to have a late start and handpick the itinerary with your guide.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Killarney to Kenmare – Highlights of Kerry and Five-Course Champagne Dining

Lakes appear glassy around Killarney, reflecting the mountains of Macgillycuddy Reeks. Walking trails twist off into the wilderness here, ideal for feeling the silence that Ireland can provide. This country is not just where you get time to be together as two, but Ireland also provides space. Brick footpaths turn into rugged trails, and when you turn around there is nobody else in your view. Keep walking, and you will find woodlands and waterfalls, the sight of many oaks enhanced by the roaring rush of water. This morning your guide will take you to Killarney National Park, give you a map, and leave you to explore on your own.

The afternoon will bring you to follow the Ring of Kerry to Kenmare. Every turn in the road is a scenic highlight as boulders scatter beneath mountain shadows, villages wait deep in the valleys, and then suddenly the road climbs to a mountain lookout, presenting an island beneath ever-changing skies. The entire 110-mile Ring of Kerry is a little much for one day, especially with how busy some of the places can be. Yet the section to Kenmare is on your route. Check into the five-star manor house and spend this evening in the hotel’s dining room, champagne corks popping beneath the chandeliers. It will be a five-course dinner with a gourmet selection of traditional foods made into contemporary dishes.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Kenmare – Romantic Cruise Around Kenmare Bay

Kenmare is all colorful houses and cobbled streets, a town that reflects many Irish preconceptions. You will hear Gaelic voices, find numerous Guinness-serving pubs, and find small local shops that entice you through their window displays. Today is very relaxed, and there will be plenty of time to explore Kenmare. The only planned activity is a small-group cruise on Kenmare Bay, and drifting out towards the Atlantic you can explore inlets and peninsulas, where puffins gather, and gannets swoop down to fish. Seal pups are abundant during the summer while the uninhabited islands are photogenic any day of the year. The bay is now considered the richest marine habitat in Western Europe, so perhaps it will be eagles or flopping full-grown seals you most remember from the cruise.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Cork – Manor House Elegance and Highlights of Colorful Cork

Onwards you will go, the two of you and your guide driving to Cork and a manor house with a different style. This five-star property is more a castle than a house, an oasis of calm that is perched on a river within Cork. It will feel like a country escape, a place where you can be cut off from everything, yet it is in the city. You can walk into Cork and explore its colors, or relax along the river and feel the tranquility. County Cork is studded with highlights, and it is almost always the colors you remember, regardless of where you spend the day.

Blarney is bright blue and yellow, dominated by the looming frame of Blarney Castle, the most famous and most visited of all Ireland’s castles. Cobh is fishing harbor bliss, the townhouses reflecting in Atlantic Ocean waters. The Titanic set sail from here, and the interactive museum is a popular draw, and very engaging indeed. Move next to Kinsale, each house a vibrant hue, almost every window framed by flowers. As with other days on this itinerary, the day is flexible, so you can pick and choose where you go and what you see.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Galway to Cong – A Decadent Castle and Bohemian City

Like Cobh, Galway is a wonderful place to explore as a couple. Walk hand in hand down narrow cobbled streets, past the little shop fronts and street musicians. Grab lunch in one of the pubs, where storytellers come to entertain the crowds and there is a lively buzz throughout most of the day. Your guide will bring you here and like with most destinations, will leave you with a map and some time to be alone. Move next to Cong and the most famous of Ireland’s castle hotels which has won multiple awards and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World called the Best Resort in Ireland by Conde Nast. You will have a deluxe lake-view suite, a dinner reservation, and all the space and time you need to explore both the castle and its grounds.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Cong – Beautiful Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, and a George V Dinner

Western Ireland is defined by its landscapes as rugged and rounded mountains stretch along the horizon, often shrouded in cloud. Lakes and ponds stud the valleys while stone farmhouses stand lonely amid the green as sheep graze high on surrounding hills. This area, northwest of Galway, is called Connemara. Native Gaeilge is the language of choice, and there will be nothing contemporary here. It is a barren yet beautiful landscape, enjoyed on a day away from your castle. Set off through the Connemara Mountains and go searching for Kylemore, a neo-Gothic abbey and castle steeped in romance and tragedy.

Benedictine stories whisper from the walls here. The Abbey is mirrored perfectly, reflected in the lake it stands on. The church is more of a cathedral, glamorous and opulent, just in miniature form. For many visitors, Kylemore is Ireland’s most romantic building. Head there for lunch and a private tour, before a chance to get lost in the gardens. Spend tonight in your castle’s George V dining room, beneath nine Waterford crystal chandeliers. The menu is inspired by the surroundings, a mix of sweet mountain lamb, Galway oysters, Corrib salmon, and garlic plucked from the estate grounds.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Dromoland – The Burren and Cliffs of Moher; Gaelic Castle Accommodation

Take breakfast in the dining room or call it to the room for a very leisurely morning. Take a final stroll around the castle gardens, perhaps even doing so in the company of a hawk. Head off on your final full day, the destination Dromoland. Staggering sights dot your way, including a megalithic cluster of portal stones that stand isolated on a hill dated to 5,000 years ago. Caherconnell Stone Fort is in a perfect circle nearby, constructed without mortar and believed to have been inhabited since 400 AD. It is a military fortress and a place to live from a time before Ireland became Ireland.

Those prehistoric remains are complemented by nature’s drama. Strange limestone boulders cover the landscape at The Burren, scattered around megalithic portal tombs and steep crevices. One of these is Poulnabrone, a tomb that you cannot believe was put in place 5,000 years ago. Wind whistles noisily along the Cliffs of Moher, roaring the tale of the Atlantic. The cliffs rise precipitously, some standing 700 feet above crashing waves. Looking out from here, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay along with shards of rock jutting from the ocean. Arriving at the Cliffs of Moher to walk off hand in hand, finding that this world-famous Irish attraction is also a place to find pure peace and tranquility.

You will want to be flexible as it is hard to know exactly how much time you will want at each stop. Arrive in Dromoland, and you will have a real treat for this final night. The castle’s history starts with Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, part of the old Gaelic royal families. Over the centuries the castle was home to the barons of Inchiquin and the O’Briens, but now it is a boutique hotel that keeps the regal history alive. One glance at the driveway, and you can tell this is somewhere special. One evening in the castle, and you will be immediately immersed in both the history and grandeur.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Shannon – Departure

This castles and manors tour does not stop in Dublin, a to include the Irish capital would add on an extra six hours of driving time. Shannon now has an international airport, and you can fly out from where you started. Seeing Ireland this way means you get more private time together, without missing out on the country’s major treats.  If you would like, you can certainly add to this tour and fly to the capital, but that is entirely up to the two of you.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,595
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.