Tour from Dublin
Tours are priced individually according to the route, group size, distances & hours required, date(s) in question, start & end locations, overnight locations (where applicable) and remaining supply at time of booking.
This morning your driver will collect you from the Dublin address of your choice. You'll enjoy the comfort of your own Mercedes- Benz tour vehicle over the next two days.
First thing, your driver will discuss how best to approach the day ahead based on the route to be covered, the season and expected weather conditions.
Today's highlights are Powerscourt Estate & Gardens https://powerscourt.com/ and the valley of Glendalough.
Powerscourt Estate is one of Ireland's most spectacular aristocratic estates (voted top three gardens in the world by National Geographic). The house and gardens were commissioned in 1730 to transform the medieval castle home of the Powerscourt family. Now home to the Slazenger family, Powerscourt is reminiscent of the great Italian Renaissance villas. Explore the beautiful gardens and perhaps pop in to the Avoca Cafe for a coffee or tea.
Glendalough, which in the Irish language means ‘Valley of the two lakes’ is probably Wicklow's most popular national park attraction. The valley is home to ancient oak forests with abundant wildlife and is the backdrop for a major Celtic- Christian settlement founded by St. Kevin in the early medieval period. Explore the ruined monastery buildings and marvel at the towers and intricately carved stone Celtic crosses, complete with detailed scenes from the bible. One of the largest Viking ships ever discovered was built with oak sourced from the valley. Its quite an amazing thought to ponder as you stand at the waters' edge and breath in the fresh mountain air.
This afternoon the journey takes you further south, through a patchwork of rolling green fields to the ancient city of Kilkenny where tour service ends and the evening begins. As the day draws to a close, your driver will provide advice as to how to approach tomorrow's tour and agree a time and place for collection.
You can select whichever overnight accommodation suits you best (not included). Guest favourites downtown include Butler House and Hotel Kilkenny. Guest favourites in the countryside include Mount Juliet Estate.
Guest favourites downtown include Campagne (One Michelin Star) and Restaurant Rinuccini (classic Italian opposite the castle). Guest favourites in the countryside include The Hound (Michelin Plate) and Lady Helen (One Michelin Star) both at Mount Juliet .
The local favourite beer is Smithwick's red ale. Why not try a pint at Kyteler's Inn? Kyteler's has been serving thirsty patron's since 1324 and is named after the former owner who was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake.
Look forward to a delicious breakfast after a night of entertainment and rest. Kilkenny is very close to the "Golden Vale" region of Ireland - one of Europe's best agricultural plains. Many of the hotels have excellent local breakfast options with amazing local cheeses and cured meats to sample.
NB: Much of Medieval Kilkenny is best explored on foot - ducking down tiny cobbled alleyways, descending ancient staircases, strolling through castle gardens, nipping in and out of neat little shops (& into neat little pubs for a cheeky pint of Guinness). Accordingly, depending on your mobility and the weather, the vehicle and driver will be very useful at times, but almost a hindrance at others. Your driver will advise how best to proceed based on your interests and local operational factors.
Introduction to Kilkenny
During the middle ages, a feudal merchant aristocracy known as the Normans left Normandy in Northern France and conquered England following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After discovering that the farmland in Ireland was of the highest quality, they invaded the Emerald Isle in 1169 and set about constructing towns protected by castles at some of the best farming and trading locations in the country. The best preserved of these is Kilkenny, which retains many of the features built almost 1,000 years ago.
Popular things to see and do in / around Kilkenny
One of the most imposing structures in Kilkenny, the castle was built in the 1100s by the Norman Lord, Strongbow. Home to the powerful Butler family over the centuries, the castle was regularly upgraded and is in excellent condition. Gifted to the people of Ireland in 1967 it is now open to visitors. You can get a tour of the castle or just stroll through the gardens to soak up the vibe and for great views over the River Nore and city below.
Tip: In late spring and through summer the Hotel River Court on the opposite bank of the river often hosts BBQs on their terrace. If the weather is fine you could pull up a chair to enjoy a cool drink and some grilled meat with amazing views of the castle and swans gliding on the water.
Red ale is the favourite local beer, brewed under the Smithwick's name since 1710. The Smithwick’s Experience guided tours run at regular intervals throughout the day, 7 days a week, each tour taking approximately 1 hour.
St. Canice's Cathedral
A beautiful cathedral built in 1285 and featuring incredible stained glass windows by Harry Clarke. Associated with the witchcraft trial of Dame Alice Le Kyteler - a woman accused of murdering her multiple investment banker husbands and of collapsing the tower of St. Canice's into its choir.
The Black Abbey was built in 1225 by the Normans and named after the Dominican "Black Friars". This medieval abbey endured several reversals of fortune throughout the centuries and now displays the largest stained glass window in Ireland - The Rosary Window, created by Mayer's of Munich in 1892.
Based in the Castle Yard (historic stables and coach houses) Kilkenny Design is an amazing shopping experience showcasing the best of Irish craft and design. You'll find unique Irish homewares, gifts, jewellery and fashion of the highest quality under one roof.
A traditional pub
Kilkenny has a number of great traditional pubs where you can sample a pint of beer or enjoy a simple pub lunch. Check out John Cleere's at 28 Parliament street for a pint of Smithwick's red or blonde ale (Guinness is for Dubliners!). The lamb stew and roast carvery sandwiches are both excellent and typically Irish.
Jerpoint Abbey (20km outside the city)
Located in rolling countryside at Thomastown, Jerpoint is one of the best examples of a Norman Abbey ruins dating to the 1100s. The ruins are in excellent condition and are well worth a quick visit, especially if you are overnighting at nearby Mount Juliet.
Your driver will drop you back to the Dublin address of your choice in good time for rest, refreshments and evening entertainment. After discovering some of the most authentic sides to Ireland on your private two day tour we hope that your heart will remain in the Emerald Isle.