Ireland Garden Tour June 2020 – Cancelled due to Coronavirus

Sadly, we had to cancel this trip due to concerns about the Coronavirus. We have another great tour planned for the west of Ireland for June 2021 – hopefully all will be ‘back to normal’ by then. A sneak preview with full details to come soon are available here: 

Ireland Garden Tour 2021

 

 

Ireland Garden Tour – June 28-July 8, 2020

An exciting horticultural adventure in the west of Ireland!  The itinerary is designed with plant-lovers in mind but also has something for everybody, with visits to ancient historical sites, beautiful coastal walks, and stays in charming historic towns and villages, including two nights in luxurious castles. cropped-20190628_174045.jpg

 

A huge range of plants thrive in Ireland’s warm, moist climate, making it one of the few places in the world where tropical plants mingle with arctic species. We will get behind-the-scenes tours of castle gardens with the head gardeners; visit unique botanic areas featuring Irish orchids and other wildflowers; walk in dramatic coastal scenery in County Clare and the Aran Islands; and enjoy lively Irish culture and music in Galway and Ennis.

This is a relatively active tour itinerary with lots of walking/hiking opportunities – we will never spend more than a few hours on the bus each day.  Rather than the usual bus tours of Ireland that try to take in the entire country, we will enjoy multi-night stays in beautiful locations so you will really get a feel for the west of Ireland.

 All accommodation is at four-star hotels, including stays in two luxurious Irish castles!

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This tour is limited to just 30 guests, so don’t miss your chance to reserve a spot! In order to visit some of my favorite off-the-beaten-track places, group size is limited to enable us to travel on a smaller coach. (Back roads in Ireland are very narrow and twisty!) A deposit is required to hold your place now, and is 100% refundable up to 90 days before departure.

Dates: Arrive Sunday June 28 – Depart Wednesday July 8

Tour 2020 – Booking Form

Itinerary

(Scroll down to see a detailed itinerary with photos)

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin; free day for sightseeing

Day 2: Transfer to Birr, County Offaly; tour two gardens on the way; overnight in Kinnitty Castle

Day 3: All day touring Birr Castle and Gardens; transfer to Galway; overnight in Galway

Day 4: Tour Galway and Bridget’s Garden; overnight in Galway

Day 5: Transfer to County Clare; tour the Burren, Loop Head lighthouse and the Bridges of Ross; overnight in Ennis

The Bridges of Ross, Loop Head to Kilkee Project.Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan
The Bridges of Ross, Loop Head to Kilkee

Day 6: Tour Irish Seed Savers and a private garden; overnight in Ennis

Day 7: Visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park; overnight in Ennis

Day 8: Transfer by ferry to the Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands; tour Dun Angus; overnight on Inis Mor

Day 9: Free day on Inis Mor; optional guided cliff walk

Day 10: Transfer by ferry to the mainland; overnight in Dromoland Castle, County Clare

Day 11: Transfer to Dublin; depart

Cost: €3399 per person sharing a twin/double room. For those passengers requiring a single room there is a €1259 single supplement. Note: All above quoted prices are in Euro. Airfare is not included in the cost. See end of itinerary for details on what is included.

To reserve your place: Download the booking form below and follow the instructions on the form. Bookings and deposits are made through the Irish Tourism Group.

                   Tour 2020 – Booking Form

                     DETAILED ITINERARY

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National Botanic Garden, Dublin

Day 1: Sunday 28th June – Dublin

Arrive at Dublin Airport and meet with your experienced Irish guide and driver who will transfer you to your Dublin city centre hotel. Use this day to relax after your long flight and perhaps explore a bit of Ireland’s capital city and dining (not included) in one of the many restaurants, bars or gastro pubs on your doorstep.

Overnight: Camden Court Hotel, Dublin, Bed and Breakfast Basis

Day 2: Monday 29th June – Birr, County Offaly

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Japanese Garden at Irish National Stud

Suitably refreshed, enjoy a morning at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens in County Kildare, which were laid out by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. Representing the journey of life, the gardens are said to provide comfort to the soul. Continue on your journey to what was formerly known as King’s County.

Visit Bellfield House and Gardens in Birr, County Offaly, created by garden designer Angela Jupe and include a walled garden, Victorian glasshouse made by Angela from salvaged materials and a collection of unusual plants. Enjoy lunch (included) in your tranquil surroundings.

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Bellfield House and Gardens

Check into your gothic revival castle hotel in Birr and unwind before dinner.

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Kinnitty Castle Hotel

Overnight: Kinnitty Castle Hotel, Birr, County Offaly, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Basis

 

 

Day 3: Tuesday 30th June

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Birr Castle

Today you will enjoy a leisurely visit to Birr Castle and Gardens. The gardens are home to an abundance of rare plants, collected by the Earls of Rosse on their travels around the world over the last 150 years. Within the 50 hectares you will find the world’s tallest box hedges, over 40 champion trees, over 2000 species of plant as well as rivers, lake and waterfalls. It was the first garden in Ireland to receive specimens of Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) after its discovery in China in 1945 and recent plant hunting expeditions by the current Earl and Countess include Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Iran, South Africa, New Zealand, China and Bhutan. The gardens also include the “great telescope” built by the Earl of Rosse in the 1840s.

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The Great Telescope at Birr

At the time the telescope was the largest in the world and held that title for almost 70 years. Take a break from your exploration with lunch at the Courtyard Cafe (included). Following your visit, enjoy the scenery as you travel to the vibrant city of Galway. Galway is renowned for its traditional Irish music – be sure to visit the pubs in the evening for lively Irish music sessions.

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The lively city of Galway, renowned for traditional Irish music

Overnight: Park House Hotel, Galway, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Basis

 
Day 4: Wednesday 1st July

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Brigit’s Garden, Galway

 

 

 

This morning enjoy a guided tour of Galway city and Galway Cathedral. Continue to Brigit’s Garden for lunch (included) followed by a tour of the award winning Celtic Garden. In addition to the Celtic Gardens you will enjoy the nature trail, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), thatched roundhouse and crannog, and the calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland.


Overnight: Park House Hotel, Galway, Bed and Breakfast Basis

 

Day 5: Thursday 2nd July

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Summer wildflowers abound in the rocky Burren landscape

Leave Galway behind and take a scenic tour of the Burren, a unique limestone moonscape which contains examples of all the major habitats such as limestone pavement, calcareous grassland, hazel scrub, Ash/Hazel woodland, turloughs, lakes, petrifying springs, cliffs and fen within its 1500 hectares. The Burren is a geologically unique region in north Clare that is host to over 70% of Ireland’s native wildflower species, including many unusual types of orchids that should be in bloom at this time of year.

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Purple-spotted Orchid

 

 

 

Horticulturists consider this a very unique area, with alpine flowers growing adjacent to Mediterranean flowers due to a unique combination of geology, climate and history.

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Scarlet Pimpernel
The Bridges of Ross, Loop Head to Kilkee Project.Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan
Natural sea arch at the Bridges of Ross

Included is a visit to Loop Head Lighthouse and the Bridges of Ross, a spectacular natural sea arch and one of the best seawatching sites in Europe.

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Enjoy a fascinating walk in the Burren with Tony Kirby

After a lunch stop (not included) in one of the Burren villages, enjoy a Heart of Burren guided walk that coincides with the Burren in Bloom – one of Europe’s great annual natural history events. Local expert guide and author Tony Kirby leads a fascinating walk in the Burren, interspersed with informative and entertaining commentaries on the geology, flora, archaeology, wild life and farming of the region. The walk features spectacular views of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara, as well as prehistoric monuments (including the most westerly megalithic tomb in the Burren) and vast tracts of limestone pavement. Continue on to the bustling market town of Ennis where you will be staying for the next three nights.

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Ennis, a charming historic town in County Clare

Overnight: Templegate Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Basis

Day 6: Friday 3rd July 

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Tour the seed gardens at Irish Seed Savers Association

Make your way to Irish Seed Savers, whose main objective is to conserve Ireland’s very special and threatened plant genetic resources. Their work focuses on the preservation of heirloom and heritage food crop varieties that are suitable for Ireland’s unique growing conditions. . Enjoy lunch (included) at nearby Nuala’s Bar and Restaurant followed by a visit to a County Clare private garden. Return to Ennis where the rest of the evening is yours to explore your surroundings and enjoy the Ennis nightlife.

Overnight: Templegate Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, Bed and Breakfast Basis

Day 7: Saturday 4th July 

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Feast at a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle

After a leisurely start to your day, celebrate Independence Day with a visit to one of Ireland’s most popular attractions, Bunratty Castle and Folkpark. Within the grounds of the castle is a re-created 19th century village which includes a school, shops, doctors and of course – the Pub. Across the road from the castle you will find Blarney Woollen Mills which sells many fine Irish made goods. Spend the evening being entertained and dined at a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle where the Royal Court may even provide a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner! Return to your hotel in Ennis for the night.

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Walled garden at Bunratty Folk Park

Overnight: Templegate Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, Bed and Breakfast Basis

 
Day 8: Sunday 5th July

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Walk up a stone trail to Dun Aengus, a dramatic prehistoric cliffside fort

This morning check out of your hotel and head for the ferry port in Doolin where you will set sail for the beautiful Aran Islands! We suggest you take a small case with you for the two days and leave your main luggage with the coach as it remains on the mainland & will meet you at Doolin. Travel to the largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mor, and on arrival enjoy lunch (included) before a guided tour of the island that will include a stop at the largest of the prehistoric stone forts of the Aran Islands, Dun Aengus. The fort consists of three massive dry-stone walls and chevaux-de-frise, a dense band of jagged, upright stones, surrounding the fort from cliff to cliff, designed to impede attackers. (Please note that it is approximately a 1 km. walk up a steep incline and suitable clothing and walking shoes are recommended.)

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View from Dun Aengus

Afterward, check into your private cabana with a seaside view!

Overnight Aran Island Hotel, Inis Mor, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Basis

Day 9: Monday 6th July

Today enjoy a full day exploring this wonderful island and relaxing from your hectic itinerary. As the Aran Islands are extensions of the Burren with similar limestone pavement, there should be plentiful wildflowers to be found on various coastal walks on the island. I will lead a walk to Dun Ducathair (the Black Fort) for anyone who is interested (approx. 2.5 hours round trip).

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Hire a pony and trap on the island
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Coastal walk to Dun Ducathair (the Black Fort)

Other points of interest include a 5th century church and the Aran Sweater Market in the village of Kilronan, or hire a pony and trap to take you on a tour of the island. After dinner you will be treated to an Irish dance workshop where you may even learn some basic Irish dance steps!

Overnight Aran Island Hotel, Inis Mor, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Basis

Day 10: Tuesday 7th July

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Spend your final night at luxurious Dromoland Castle

This morning after breakfast take the ferry back to the mainland at Doolin. On arrival re-join your coach and make your way to your final accommodation, the magnificent 5 star Dromoland Castle Hotel where after checking in, you can enjoy some of its facilities (golf, archery, falconry, garden walks etc.).This evening enjoy an early farewell dinner at the nearby Inn at Dromoland or for an additional supplement you can dine in the Earl of Dromoland Restaurant in Dromoland Castle.

Overnight Dromoland Castle Hotel, Bed and Breakfast basis

Day 11: Wednesday 8th July

Transfer to Shannon or Dublin Airport for your return flight.

Included in the cost of the tour:

  • Transfers on arrival and departure by private coach
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary in a luxury coach with an experienced Irish driver and guide. Accommodation in rooms with private facilities for 10 nights
  • Irish breakfast daily
  • 5 hotel table d’hote dinners
  • 5 lunches
  • Irish Seed Savers Experience
  • Heart of Burren Guided Walk
  • Walking tour of Galway and Galway Cathedral
  • Ferry Rossaveal to Inis Mor (Aran Islands) to Doolin
  • Guided tour of Inis Mor
  • Irish dance workshop
  • Bunratty Castle Banquet
  • Farewell Dinner at the Inn at Dromoland
  • Entrance fees to the following attractions, sites and gardens: Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, Bellfield House and Gardens, Birr Castle and Gardens, Brigit’s Garden, Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare private garden entry, Bunratty Castle and Folkpark.
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at each hotel
  • Hotel service charges and tax (at current rate)

Not included in the cost of this tour: 

  • Travel to or from Ireland
  • Items of a personal nature such as wines, drinks, phone calls etc.
  • Meals not itemized in the itinerary
  • Optional Dinner at Dromoland Castle – Supplement: €60 pp.
  • Tips & gratuities

    Prices:
    The cost of your tour is €3399 per person sharing a twin/double room. For those passengers requiring a single room there is a €1259 single supplement.

    Note: all the above quoted prices are in Euro

Tour 2020 – Booking Form