On Dublin’s Doorstep
Outside the urban buzz, the literary heritage and pint-perfect pubs of Dublin lies an enchanting world. The Dublin’s Doorstep tour whisks us by Hollywood sets and medieval castles and to national parks and a secret garden.
On we travel from pre-pyramid tombs to Anglo-Norman forts taking in lessons in astrological horse racing and a Japanese Garden in Ireland’s equestrian heartland. We’ll meet pagans and saints, Colonels and stars. You simply won’t believe all of this sits slap bang on Dublin’s Doorstep.
Perfect Time To Go
April - October
Number Of Nights
Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow
The vast bog and heathered lands of the Sally Gap road have graced our movie screens more than once. Both PS I Love You and Braveheart have featured Wicklow’s National Park. Make special time for a stop at Lough Teagh (aka Guinness Lake) and the staggering views of scree cliffs and endless bog flecked with frocken berries and bog cotton. St Kevin’s monastic site of Glendalough is your prize for making it over the mountains.
Altamont Gardens, County Carlow
From the Garden of Ireland (Wicklow) to Carlow’s green-fingered gem: Altamont Gardens. A shock of Robinsonian splendour, Altamont is the secret garden of all our childhoods. Clipped Yews, a generous dappling of ever-still lakes mixed with mathematically mastered herbaceous borders afford Altamont that dreamy mix between wilderness and reason. The star walk of the floral expanse is arguably a stroll along the River Slaney reached by the intriguing sounding ‘Ice Age Glen’.
Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny
Overnight in Kilkenny city before posing this question: Where would you get a castle for £50? Kilkenny City that’s where. This hulking Norman-medieval pile anchors the city with a stoic grace. Amazingly, Kilkenny Castle remained in the Butler family for an astonishing five centuries until they offered it to the city for a pittance. A Chinese Bedroom, the spectacularly ornate Withdrawing Room and the otherworldly Blue Corridor are just a clutch of highlights in this most vivid of history lessons.
Rock of Dunamase, County Laois
It’s not hard to guess the original intention for the Rock of Dunamase. Jutting proudly out of a swathe of County Laois fields, this is the smartest vantage point for any military lookout for miles. With staggering views out into Laois’ pastoral nirvana and quaint vignettes of the stony Holy Trinity Church, there are fewer more arresting sights. Built as a military fort, this site has welcomed Normans and suffered Vikings and Cromwellian attacks.
National Stud, Co. Kildare
Overnight in Kildare with its abundance of hotels and resorts. Kildare is arguably the beating heart of equestrian Ireland. At the core of that beating heart is the National Stud and the eccentric character of Colonel William Hall Walker. Here lies the legacy of a man who believed that a racehorse’s pedigree was written in the stars. Literally. Hence the stables still have skylights allowing the horses to see the night sky. The Japanese Gardens, designed by Tessa Eida, were the Colonel’s idea, too, and a walk through them is to bathe in the purest serenity.
Trim, County Meath
Wicklow’s Sally Gap wasn’t the only place to get the Braveheart movie treatment. Mel Gibson also filmed parts of the Scottish epic at Trim Castle. Closing in on its 900th birthday, the castle here is bursting with Anglo-Norman history and architecture. Stand out sights include a cruciform-shaped 20-sided tower and the Dublin Gate Barbican Tower, which won’t fail to inspire thoughts of knights and damsels. A restful cameo appearance by the Boyne River adds a sense of delicacy to the masculine structure. Overnight in one of Trim’s country houses before continuing your journey to a jewel in Ireland’s historic crown.
Newgrange, County Meath
Before the pyramids were a twinkle in the Pharaoh’s eye, Newgrange was being built by a pagan community on a Boyne Valley hilltop. Today, this kidney shaped passage tomb juts out of the ground like a grass-roofed UFO, but its simplicity belies its incredible feat of engineering. Exterior stones on the building feature some of the most perfect examples of Celtic tri-spiral motifs while inside lies the world’s only organic indoor lightshow designed to harness the sun’s rays during the Winter Solstice. Audiences for the event are chosen by lottery.
The Hill of Tara, County Meath
It is Meath (the ‘Royal County’) later in the day, this time specifically the Hill of Tara, where Ireland’s High Kings centred their power. That power was conferred at the Lia Fáil, a phallic stone that still stands there today, while the two passage tombs appear as two giant rings sunk into the Meath soil. It’s said that on a clear day you can see half the counties of Ireland from the hill here, and the underrated east coast landscape does Ireland’s former kings proud.
We will custom build this tour to suit your needs and budget.
Our package includes the following:
- 5 nights hotel accommodation
- Breakfast daily
- Hire of self-drive rental car or travel with your own car (we will deduct car rental price) from the UK and include return fare on ny Stena Line route (please ask us for prices)
- VAT at 20%