Join this 4-day discovery tour of Ireland's fabulous collection of country houses, beautiful gardens and historic castles. With a relaxed itinerary allowing plenty of time to enjoy all the fascinating sites, this is a tour for lovers of mystical ruins, exotic gardens and grand houses full of fine art and antiques. This tour will lead you into the soft green landscapes of Central Ireland with tales from myth and legend through to much more recent history. Ireland has been inhabited for thousands of years and the people of this country have left a wonderful collection of historic buildings to be explored.
Day 1: Dublin - Killaloe/BallinaYou depart Dublin and travel west through the Midlands to Emo Court House, an 18th century neoclassical mansion set in stunning parkland and gardens. There’s time for a stroll in the grounds and refreshments in the excellent tea rooms.Continuing west through the Slieve Bloom Mountains, you arrive at the unique Birr Castle. You can learn about the bygone age of scientific discovery at the Great Telescope, the largest in the world for over 70 years. The castle is a private residence but the substantial and beautiful grounds are open to the public, as are the excellent exhibitions. The tour continues south to the twin towns of Killaloe, Co Clare and Ballina, Co Tipperary - situated on the banks of the River Shannon - where you will spend your first night.Day 2: Killaloe/Ballina - Carrick on ShannonBegin the day travelling through the counties of Tipperary, Offaly and Roscommon, and experience the best of rural Ireland. You pass along the shores of Lough Derg and a scenic drive from here brings you to Clonmacnoise - an early Christian site in a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Shannon. You head through Athlone and then northwards alongside Lough Ree to the grandeur of Strokestown Park. This great mansion house sits in stunning grounds and hosts a fascinating museum about the great famine. From here, you drive a short distance to the bustling town of Carrick-on-Shannon, your home for the next two nights.Day 3: Northern Ireland A relaxed day exploring the Lakelands in County Leitrim awaits and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. You visit Florence Court, one the grandest 18th century country houses in Ireland and a former home of the Earls of Enniskillen. The lush parkland and majestic grounds are the perfect opportunity for photos. You stop at the nearby historic market town of Enniskillen, where you can view the impressive 600 year old castle atop the banks of the River Erne. Later we head back to Carrick-on-Shannon where the rest of the day is yours to explore this popular inland resort.
Day 4: Carrick on Shannon - DublinIn the morning we head to the heritage town of Kells and the famous monastic site where the Book of Kells was created. This phenomenal ancient treasure exhibits the height of medieval design and craftsmanship. You have time to take a leisurely lunch amongst the historic sites of St Columba’s Church and the traditional High Crosses. After lunch, you travel through the flourishing countryside to Trim Castle, the setting for the movie “Braveheart”. Relive the scenes from the film as you explore the massive three storied keep, a structure so large that it took over 30 years to build.Weather permitting; you head for the ancient Hill of Tara, the traditional seat of more than 140 Kings of Ireland. From this regal site, you head back to Dublin.