Option 1 – The Wicklow Mountains & Powerscourt Gardens
Wicklow Mountains -Wicklow is rightly known as the Garden of Ireland due to the spectacular natural scenery which couple mountains with lakes and meandering glens and a long coastline. The Sally Gap, high mountain drive is akin to being in the Wild West and the lush landscapes of Glendalough, the Glen of the two lakes nestled deep in the Wicklow Mountains. There are also the delightful villages of Roundwood and Avoca where picturesque mountains meet pretty hamlets. Powerscourt House and Gardens is a spectacular gem shadowed by the Sugarloaf Mountain and the estate is home to the largest Waterfall in The British Isles of the same name.
National Stud & Japanese Gardens – Nestled between the Wicklow Mountains and The Golden Vale is the Equestrian Countryside of Kildare. This area is famous for horse breeding and the National Stud is at the centre of this bucolic landscape. A tour of the Stud Farm introduces many legends of Irish and world racing including the famous Arkle. On the grounds of the Stud are the Japanese Gardens which offer a calm and reflective retreat from the nearby city. Also are St Fiachras Garden and a water feature designed by Waterford Crystal. St Brigit, second only to St Patrick in Irish veneration has her name associated with many monasteries and cathedrals in the region.
Option 2 – Medieval Kilkenny City, Castle & the Rock of Cashel Tour
Morning – Kilkenny City – Kilkenny is Ireland foremost medieval city with a beautiful castle, cathedral, narrow cobbled streets and its own brewery. It is a wonderful walking city with the river running through the centre of its streets and a beautiful park located north of the Castle. Near Kilkenny are the beautiful villages of Graignamanagh and Inistoige where the movie “Circle of Friends” was filmed. Kilkenny County is also great for artisans with leather, pottery and contemporary designers populating the countryside. Kilkenny Design Centre is one of Ireland’s most authentic shopping experiences.
Afternoon – Rock of Cashel– South Tipperary is renowned for its rustic castles and ancient abbeys and lush farming landscapes. The World Heritage town of Cashel lies at the foot of the world famous Rock of Cashel. This towering monument has a unique collection of medieval buildings including a Fortified Castle, atmospheric Cathedral, Romanesque Chapel and Round Tower. The town of Cahir is famous for its Norman fortification, Cahir Castle as well as the associated Hunting Lodge, known simply as the Swiss Cottage. Also in the immediate area there are the remains of once thriving monasteries at Cashel, Holy Cross and Attassel. Tipperary is also associated with evergreen valleys and mountainscapes of the Glen of Aherlow and the Vee Valley Drives.
Option 3 – Trim Castle & Newgrange Boyne Valley Tour
Morning -Newgrange Newgrange is quite simply one of the great wonders of western ancient civilization that need to be seen close up to be fully appreciated. Dating from before the Pyramids it is a complex chamber that is perfectly aligned to catch the morning sun on the winter solstice. There are two other major toms at Knowth and Dowth, both equally impressive and different in character. Nearby is the River Boyne where the famous Battle of the Boyne took place. The land here is lush and full of ancient and medieval ruins that are testaments to Ireland’s great heritage. Slane village offers a good lunch stop with pretty little cafes offering some excellent local cuisine.
Afternoon – Trim Castle– County Meath is an archaeological voyage of unparallel importance which has many attractions dating from very ancient to medieval times. The Hill of Tara stands in the centre of this fascinating county with commanding views in all directions this was the seat of the ancient Kings of Ireland. Little remains today of the ancient capital with the exception of raised mounds, a giant “Stone of Destiny” and a Chamber for Hostages. Trim Castle to the west however is almost perfectly intact and one of Irelands most interesting castles. Used for many film sets including Braveheart the castle sits proudly on the banks of the Boyne and has many ruins in the area that make an interesting walk.