I have touched briefly on other blogs, on how up until before covid, I had spent some years as a tour guide here in Ireland. I took groups of American tourists around our little island showcasing what exactly Ireland has to offer.
I, like many others chose a different path when the pandemic settled down.
However, I have decided to still continue to do some tours sporadically throughout the tour season here in Ireland.
Just very recently I completed a 10 day tour of Ireland with a group that had planned to come before the dreaded covid hit. I had been communicating with the client since 2019. So, lets just say we knew each other very well by the time the 16th September had arrived.
The wonderful group consisted of the client and her husband, her mother and sister, two of her best friends and another family friend. None of the group had ever been to Ireland before. I understand that going on any vacation is very exciting, but the prospect of being given the opportunity to guide a group who are coming to a country for the first time is very rewarding.
The tour was spread out over 10 days. This is always advisable when coming to Ireland. Especially when coming with family and friends, as it means there is no rushing around from place to place. Trips are for making memories, and taking time to enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere in different towns & cities.
This tour started in the capital, Dublin. A medieval city that has lots to offer.
We spent an overnight in the capital before making our way south to Blarney Castle & Gardens in County Cork, making sure to stop off at the magnificent Rock Of Cashel on the way down.
Rock Of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland
Blarney Castle, Cork Ireland
From Blarney we made our way to the picturesque village of Kinsale. Kinsale is full of vibrancy and colour and is filled with magnificent restaurants. That evening, we ate at a magnificent restaurant called Rare @ The Blue Haven We had a beautiful five course tasting platter here. Kinsale will never let you down when it comes to food.
The following day we had the day at leisure in Kinsale. This allowed the group to adjust to the time changes and the challenge of flights etc ensuring they were in tip-top form for the rest of the trip.
From Kinsale we made our way across into the Kingdom of Kerry. Stopping in the beautiful little town of Kenmare for a coffee and a walk around the charming streets. From Kenmare we made our way onto part of the Ring Of Kerry stopping off for some photograph opportunities including Ladies View. This is where Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting visited during the Royal visit in 1861. It was this visit that really turned Kerry, Killarney in particular into the most popular tourist town in Ireland.
Ladies View, Ring Of Kerry, Ireland
From here we made our way into the town of Killarney where the group took a horse and cart ride through Muckross Estate and Then a Boat Cruise on the lower lake.
Lower Lake Boat Cruise
We stayed outside the town of Castlemaine for two nights. We explored the beautiful Dingle Peninsula the following day. The Dingle Peninsula is one of my personal favourite places on the Island.
From Kerry we made our way up into County Clare. We done this by travelling across the River Shannon by ferry from Tarbert to Killimer. A staggering journey of approx twelve minutes.
From there the next must see was the magnificent and iconic Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are entirely vertical and the cliff edge is abrupt. On a clear day, the views are tremendous, with the Aran Islands etched on the waters of Galway Bay. From the cliff edge, you can just hear the booming far below as the waves crash and gnaw at the soft shale and sandstone.
We spent a total of three hours here as the weather was nice and it was not windy at all.
Cliffs Of Moher, Clare, Ireland
From the beautiful Cliffs of Moher we made our way into the beautiful City of Galway where we stopped for two nights.
The following day we went out to the Island Of Inishmore by plane. We had a beautiful day out there. The sun was shining and there was not a breeze. A friend of mine took us around the Island in a mini bus. We went to Visit the ancient site of Dun Aengus. Dún Aengus is the most famous of several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, of Co. Galway. Ireland. It is located on Inishmore at the edge of a 100-metre high cliff. Dún Aengus is an important archaeological site that also offers a spectacular view. It was built during the Bronze Age and dates from 1,000 B.C. or before. It has been called "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe." The name "Dún Aengus" meaning "Fort of Aengus" refers to the pre-Christian god of the same name described in Irish mythology.
Dun Aengus Fort, Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland
That evening we returned to Galway and ate in the magnificent sea food restaurant called Kirwan's On The Lane. September really is the start of the Oyster season in Ireland. Kirwan' is a fantastic seafood restaurant.
The following morning we packed up again and traversed North Easterly through Ireland to the County Of Monaghan. The Farney County, a County full of Drumlins thanks to the magnificent glaciation period. And believe it or not, it is the County I was born in. So it was quite coincidental that the group wanted to visit here. As Monaghan would not really be part of the tourist trail here in Ireland. So why visit? They wanted to Experience the magnificent Castle Leslie Estate The group really loved their horses and some of them wanted to take in some horse riding here. The Leslie Family can trace its ancestry back to Atilla the Hun. The first Leslie came from Scotland and was a Hungarian nobleman called Bartholomew Leslie. He was the chamberlain and protector of Margaret Queen of Scotland. The family motto ‘Grip Fast’ originated through him. While fleeing enemies Queen Margaret rode pillion on the back of Bartholomew’s horse. When fording a river, the queen fell off and Bartholomew threw her the end of his belt and told her to grip fast the buckle. He saved the Queen’s life & from that day onwards she bestowed the motto Grip Fast on the Leslies.
The Castle itself is more than an experience.
Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan, Ireland
The following morning we packed up yet again and headed for the North Coast. Taking in a visit to the world renown Giants Causeway. The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.It was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1986 and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department Of Environment Northern Ireland.
The Giants Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland
After some lunch we went to visit and cross the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. Not for the faint hearted.
With its single hand rail, the new bridge reduced the reliance on a boat to reach the island and increased productivity for what was once a flourishing industry on this coastline. In the 19th century more than 80 fishers, 21 salmon fishers and 10 fish carriers were working in the parish of Ballintoy. Catches of up to 300 salmon a day were common until the 1960s.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge, Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
We then stayed in the town of Portrush for the night. Portrush is home to the famous Royal Portrush Golf Club. It is here that Ireland's own Shane Lowry won The Open Championship in 2019
From Portrush we went to the City Of Belfast for one night. The Group took in one of the famous Black Taxi Cab tours. These tours bring groups to intimate parts of the city with extremely experienced guides. They also visited St.Georges Market
St George's Market is one of Belfast's oldest attractions and one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland. Only open Fri, Sat & Sun.
As well as being home to some of the finest fresh produce, with customers travelling near and far to sample the delights of Friday, Saturday and Sunday markets, it has become one of the city's most popular places to visit.
Since its £4.5m refurbishment in 1997, this charming Victorian building offers one of the most vibrant and colourful destinations that Belfast has to offer.
Deanes @ Queens Restaurant, Belfast
The meal at Deane's was magnificent at would come highly recommended.
The group reminisced on what was a memorable trip. Ten days might seem like a very long time. But when you are with friends and everyday is filled full of dreams, time can just slip by.
These trips are all about capturing memories, embracing the culture and fulfilling dreams. And this group went away with all these things.
Falconry in Ireland was a dream for this guest.
If Ireland is somewhere you have always wanted to visit, but were never sure how to go about it. If you are interested in travelling with a group of friends, or family, or both. Just let me know, I may be able to help fulfil your dream.