Without hyperbole, our stay at Ashford castle was beyond amazing. The grounds, the welcome, the service, the afternoon tea, the room…. It was all elegant. Actually, it set the standards almost impossibly high for the rest of the trip. Most memorable was the hawk walk and dinner in the George V restaurant. Not directly at the Castle, we also had an amazing sheep dog demo by a private breeder and trainer. We nearly brought one of the puppies home.
Killarney was a lovely town where we enjoyed the beautiful countryside and our guide set up a special Sunday visit to a master crystal cutting demo in Dingle. It’s an amazing art and skill that very few Irish practice anymore. The visit and the crystal we bought will remain quite special. Another highlight of the Killarney region was a day of golf at Tralee. The weather could not have been better; sunny, a slight ocean breeze and 75 degrees F.
Kinsale to the south is a charming coastal town where we had a chance to play golf again at Old Head. The views, once the fog lifted, were breathtaking. Here again, no rain; no wind. One of the best memories of golf in Ireland is to play with a local caddie. Sometimes they even chat about golf.
On the way north, we had a brief but very worthwhile stop in Cobh, the last port call for the Titanic. There’s a very interesting museum there. As well, we stopped in Middleton for a tour of the Jameson whiskey distillery. The tour goes through the old, original distillery and provides a fantastic overview of the Irish process to make spirits. It will make you a convert over scotch and bourbon.
We spent a brief night in Kilkenny and toured the castle. It’s a charming town that warranted an extra night or two. From there, we closed the visit in Dublin with a walking tour and a visit to the Trinity College library and the Book of Kells. Our stay at the Merrion Hotel was on par with Ashford Castle. Service, ambience, and location were impeccable. The hotel even coordinated our outbound Covid test in our room. Though, the clinic’s transmission of the results were somewhat delayed causing some concern. The results finally came with a push from the hotel staff which erased any tension in our departure planning.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Joe, our driver/guide, as one of the more enjoyable parts of our visit. He was tremendously flexible and responsive to our visit requests and needs. He arranged off hours tours as well as our entry to the museums and visit locations throughout Ireland. On top of that he was a most pleasant and personable traveling companion, a quality ambassador for both our travel specialist and for Ireland.
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