Saturday, July 22: Arrival (departures from the U.S. on July 21)
On arrival at Dublin airport, a private transfer will take you to the Westbury Hotel, our hotel for the duration of our stay. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
Sunday, July 23: Trinity College, Book of Kells, Dublin Walking Tour, Chester Beatty’s Library and Guinness Storehouse
We start the day at Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592. The college’s magnificent Old Library displays Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure, the Book of Kells. Written around 800AD and celebrated for its lavish decoration, the manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin).
Next, we enjoy a guided historical walking tour of Dublin conducted by a history postgraduate, which explores many features of Irish history while visiting Dublin’s main sights including Christ Church Cathedral, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle and City Hall.
In the afternoon we visit Chester Beatty’s library, described as the finest collection of manuscripts and books made by a private collector in the 20th century. It includes representative samples of the world’s heritage (artistic, religious and secular) from about 2700BC to the present century.
Our final visit of the day is to the Guinness Storehouse where we discover the history of the world-famous drink through a seven-storey interactive experience. There’s also a chance to sample the ‘Black Stuff’ in the rooftop Gravity Bar which offers panoramic views over Dublin.
Monday, July 24: Birr Castle
A unique and special experience awaits us today as we head to Birr Castle, the private residence of Lord and Lady Rosse, who will be our hosts for the day. We start with a drinks reception and a brief history of the castle before Lord and Lady Rosse take us on a tour of the main rooms and collections. Lunch is then served in the dining room using, where possible, produce from the estate. After lunch, Lord Rosse takes us on a tour of the beautiful gardens where we can see an abundance of rare plants plus the Great Telescope and the galleries of Ireland’s Historic Science Centre in the old stable block.
Tuesday, July 25: Powerscourt House & Gardens and Killruddery House & Gardens
Built in the 18th century, Powerscourt House is one of Ireland’s most important houses, set on a spectacular estate. The beautiful gardens are set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Sugarloaf Mountain and include a charming walled garden, striking terraces, fine statuary and a wide variety of trees.
We continue on to Killruddery House and Gardens, home to the Brabazon family (the Earls of Meath) since 1618. The present Tudor Revival mansion dates from the 1820s, incorporating parts of the original mansion. The unique 17th-century gardens are the oldest in Ireland to survive in their original style and are filled with beautiful planting and wooded areas, water features and distinctive outdoor ‘rooms’.
Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.
Wednesday, July 26: Farmleigh House and Irish National Stud & Gardens
We visit Farmleigh House, formerly one of the residences of the Guinness family located in Phoenix Park, where we enjoy a guided tour. The house has been carefully refurbished as an official State guest house for visiting dignitaries including President Barak Obama and Queen Elizabeth II. Its great charm lies in the eclecticism of its interior decoration ranging from the classical style to Jacobean, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Georgian.
We then make our way to the Irish National Stud and Gardens where we enjoy lunch. Afterwards, we have time to explore the sumptuous gardens. The peaceful Japanese Gardens are the finest of their kind in Europe while St Fiachra’s Garden pays tribute to the Irish landscape in its rawest state with woodland, wetland, waterfalls, lakes and streams.
Thursday, July 27: Malahide Castle, Beaulieu House, Ardgillan Castle and Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
Malahide Castle is one of the oldest castles in Ireland. Set in 260 acres, this magnificent castle was home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years (from 1185 to 1975). The castle is adorned with beautiful period furniture and an extensive collection of paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland which we can view on our guided tour. We’re also given a glimpse into life in the castle during the Talbot’s long residency.
Beaulieu House is one of the first unfortified houses built in Ireland and is a rare survivor of the Artisan Mannerist style. The house is currently lived in by the 11th generation of the Tichbourne family and we enjoy a guided tour here.
Our next stop is Ardgillan Castle where we enjoy a guided tour followed by afternoon tea in the stunning Drawing Room. The castle is set in spectacular parklands overlooking the Irish Sea with a magnificent view of the Mourne Mountains.
In the evening, we enjoy the ‘craic’ on a quirky, book-themed pub crawl following famous writers’ footsteps through Dublin’s maze of cobbled
streets and historic pubs. The emphasis is on fun, laughter and audience interaction as a selection of writers, from Joyce and Beckett to Oscar Wilde are featured.
Friday, July 28: Tullynally Castle and Castletown House
We head to Tullynally Castle, home to the Pakenham family (now the Earls of Longford) for over 350 years. The original 17th-century house was remodelled in a Gothic revival style in the early 1800s and houses a fine collection of furniture and art, which we discover on our guided tour. This beautiful country estate also boasts lush gardens and magnificent parkland.
We then pay a visit to Castletown House, Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian style house built between 1722 and 1729. The extraordinary scale, decoration, plasterwork and collections at Castletown bring to life this unique period in Ireland’s history.
Back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together followed by a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
Saturday, July 29: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Dublin airport for your return flight home.
Please note: Four of the seven nights on this tour are on a bed and breakfast basis. This allows you to make your own evening meal arrangements and explore Dublin