Monasteries, Castles & Manors of Ireland

Monasteries, Castles & Manors of Ireland



With the beautiful and vibrant cities of Dublin and Galway as our base, we discover Ireland’s long and rich history through its magnificent buildings. St Patrick introduced the monastic way of life to the country in the 3rd century, promoting simple living in remote places. This simplicity contrasts with the grand castles and manors which we also explore, including a unique tour of Birr Castle, where we are entertained by the owners, Lord and Lady Rosse. These illuminating visits are complemented by lovely experiences which deliver a real taste of Ireland, including a music trail through Galway, a cruise on River Corrib and a state-of-the-art whiskey distillery tour.

Pricing from
Trip Type
Individual Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
Departure Dates
Jun 6, 2021 - Jun 14, 2021


Nights One, Two, Seven and Eight – Iveagh Garden Hotel
The Iveagh Garden Hotel offers modern luxury in the heart of Dublin, just steps from Grafton Street, the city’s world-famous shopping street. With a contemporary atmosphere, the luxurious and peaceful rooms offer free Wi-Fi, a TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, and complimentary toiletries. This urban oasis sets out to create the lowest carbon footprint possible when compared to any other hotel in Europe and also features a lovely restaurant, bar and botanical terrace.

Nights Three to Six – Park House Hotel
The Park House Hotel is perfectly located in the center of Galway city and has a reputation for excellence. The spacious rooms offer first-class amenities, including free Wi-Fi, multi-channel TV, tea and coffee-making facilities and luxury eco-friendly toiletries. The welcoming hotel also features one of Galway’s most popular restaurants since its opening in 1975 and a friendly bar decorated with hand-carved oak panels and stained glass.


Airport private transfers to/from Cork/to Dublin




  • day 1

    June 6: Arrival (depart U.S. on 6/5)

    On arrival at Dublin airport, a private transfer will take you to the Iveagh Garden Hotel, our base for the next two nights. This afternoon there is the option to join a guided walking tour of Ireland’s convivial capital of Dublin. Once Europe’s fifth largest city with a history that stretches back over a thousand years, Dublin is now one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Our tour covers the area near our hotel, taking in landmarks such as St Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Concert Hall and Newman House.

    In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink at the hotel, followed by dinner.

    Meals: Dinner

  • day 2

    June 7: Dublin – Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral and Chester Beatty Library

    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).

    We continue to Christ Church Cathedral, located in the former heart of medieval Dublin. Containing the largest cathedral crypt in Britain or Ireland, Christ Church displays various historical features, including the oldest known secular carvings in Ireland and the conserved tabernacle and candlesticks used in 1689 when James II attended mass after fleeing England.

    Next, we enjoy a guided historical walking tour of Dublin. We discover several landmarks such as Dublin Castle, the old city wall, Temple Bar and the River Liffey, before visiting Chester Beatty’s library, described as the finest collection of manuscripts and books made by a private collector in the 20th century. The museum includes representative samples of the world’s heritage (artistic, religious and secular) from about 2700BC to the present century.

    This evening we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 3

    June 8: Athlone Castle and Clonalis House

    We check out of our Dublin hotel and head to the 13th-century Athlone Castle. First built to defend the crossing point on the River Shannon, we discover seven centuries of history here on our guided tour and walk in the footsteps of monks, kings, soldiers and generals. The castle’s story is vividly told through interactive exhibits, vibrant displays of historic artifacts, a 3D timeline illustrating Athlone’s last 200 years and a 360-degree cinematic experience which brings the Great Siege of Athlone to life.

    We continue to Clonalis House, a grand Victorian residence nestled in a crescent of cypress and redwood trees. Clonalis is now home to Richard O’Conor and his family, who are the 27th generation of O’Conors and direct descendants of the last High Kings of Ireland. We discover the fascinating family history, exploring the Dining Room with its extensive collection of portraits, the elegant Drawing Room and the peaceful Chapel.

    This evening we check into the Park House Hotel Galway where we stay for four nights.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 4

    June 9: Kylemore Abbey, Sheep dog demonstration, Ashford Castle and Galway Music Trail

    Today we head first to Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. We visit the restored rooms of the beautiful Gothic Abbey, home to a monastic community of nuns since 1920, and explore the six acre Victorian Walled Garden where only flower and vegetable varieties from that era are grown. This was one of the last walled gardens built in Ireland during the Victorian period, and its magnificence at the time was compared to London’s Kew Gardens.

    We continue to Glen Keen Sheep Farm, one of Ireland’s largest sheep farms located on the Wild Atlantic Way, with a spectacular backdrop of mountains. Here we enjoy a sheep herding demonstration.

    Our next stop is Ashford Castle, former home of the Guinness family and now a lavish hotel set in a remarkable 800-year-old castle. We take in the exquisite interiors and the glorious views of the estate here and also enjoy a delightful afternoon tea.

    We end the day back in the thriving city of Galway, where we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant followed by a fascinating music trail. We visit some of the best traditional pubs, which host nightly music sessions, and soak up the atmosphere.

    Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea, Dinner

  • day 5

    June 10: Lough Corrib Cruise and Galway

    Our day begins in Woodquay in the heart of Galway city, where we board the Corrib Princess and embark on a leisurely cruise along the majestic River Corrib and onto Lough Corrib, the Republic of Ireland’s largest lake. We take in the stunning views of this spectacular waterway, passing castles and other historic landmarks along the way.

    We then enjoy lunch in Galway before free time to explore the city at leisure. Head to Galway City Museum, which overlooks the famous Spanish Arch, discover the medieval walls in the city center, or explore Galway Cathedral with its stunning stained glass and intricate mosaics. Or you may like to stroll along Salthill Promenade to take in the beautiful views of Galway Bay.

    This evening we enjoy dinner together at a restaurant in Galway.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • day 6

    June 11: Clonmacnoise Monastery and Tullamore D.E.W Distillery

    We start the day with a visit to Clonmacnoise Monastery, an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge. Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, Clonmacnoise became a center of learning excellence and was visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th-century Annals of Tighernach, were written here. Today we can see the beautifully preserved ruins of Clonmacnoise Cathedral, seven churches and two round towers as we soak up the site’s tranquillity.

    We continue to Tullamore D.E.W Distillery, set on the banks of Tullamore’s Grand Canal in an Old Bonded Warehouse. Here we discover the state-of-the-art process as we learn about the distillery’s history and the secret that gives the whiskey its unique complexity. We follow in the footsteps of Daniel E. Williams as we learn his story from stable boy to distillery manager and creator of the whiskey which still bears his initials today.

    This evening we enjoy dinner together at a restaurant in Galway.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 7

    June 12: Birr Castle and Castletown House

    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 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.

    We then pay a visit to Castletown House, Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian style house built between 1722 and 1729 for William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. The extraordinary scale, decoration, plasterwork and collections at Castletown bring to life this unique period in Ireland’s history.

    We arrive into Dublin in the early evening where we check back in to the Iveagh Garden Hotel. After dinner, we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • day 8

    June 13: Farmleigh House and National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History

    Today we visit Farmleigh House, formerly one of the residences of the Guinness family located in Phoenix Park. The house has been carefully refurbished as an official State guest house for visiting dignitaries, which have included President Barack 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 continue to the National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History, located at the former Collins Barracks in the Arbour Hill area of Dublin. Here we enjoy a guided tour and discover displays of furniture, silverware, ceramics and glassware, as well as examples of folk costume, money and weapons.

    This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner together in a local restaurant.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 9

    June 14: Departure

    A private transfer will take you back to Dublin airport for your return flight home.

    Meals: Breakfast

Everything you need to know about the tour

Save this information for later by downloading the full tour brochure.

Be prepared with the National Trust Travel Plan

Since 1973, USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services has served travelers just like you, to help protect their travel plans