Ireland Family: Cork, Kerry & Dingle Bay

Ireland Family: Cork, Kerry & Dingle BayIreland Family: Cork, Kerry & Dingle Bay

Ireland Family

Cork, Kerry & Dingle Bay

overview

NEW! Gather your friends and family for some craic agus ceoil—that is: “fun and music”—on an active adventure through the charming villages, windswept bluffs, and hidden islands of western Ireland. Here, you can mountain bike through Killarney National Park, taking in the fabulously named Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. Stop by the farm of a local sheep herder for a tour of his spread and a hands-on demonstration of his award-winning trained sheep dogs. Stay in (and explore!) a 16th-century castle ideally suited for guests of all ages. Set out on a boat trip to Cape Clear Island, an Irish-speaking enclave that boasts megalithic standing stones, a 5,000 year old grave site, and a fourteenth-century castle. Enjoy a step dancing performance in Tralee and then try out your own moves at a local pub in Dingle.

2015 Downloadable Itinerary

 

Activity Level
Easy to Moderate;
2-6 miles daily
Meet
Cork, Ireland
Depart
Cork, Ireland
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Family Adventure 
7 days, 6 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals included except one dinner
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting point to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Skibbereen
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2
Skibbereen
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3
Tralee
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4
Tralee
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5
Dingle
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6
Dingle
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7
Dingle
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Day 1

Skibbereen

Arrival in Cork. Liss Ard Estate walk; 2½ miles, easy

Upon meeting in the city of Cork, you travel to the West Cork country estate of Liss Ard in the town of Skibbereen. This rural region in Ireland’s southwest is known for its striking peninsulas jutting into the Atlantic, beaches and secluded coves, and picturesque coastal towns. Liss Ard Estate is set amidst 200 acres of rolling Irish countryside graced with woodlands and a glittering private 50-acre lake. A warm-up walk introduces you to the enchanting grounds and the estate’s “garden rooms”—you wind through the woodland garden and waterfall garden, as views appear of Lough Abisdealy. The nearby town of Skibbereen, meaning “little boat harbor,” is considered the heart of West Cork and in fact is the most southerly town in Ireland. You gather for dinner in the estate’s excellent restaurant that always serves West Cork’s freshest ingredients from nearby farms.

Liss Ard Estate

Skibbereen, Ireland

A sprawling estate just a mile outside charming Skibbereen, featuring a Georgian country house surrounded by extensive grounds, walking trails, and meticulously designed gardens, including a “wildflower room,” sun trap, and the fantastic “Irish Sky Garden,” built around the original ancient hill fort of Lios Aird. Fully renovated with stylish contemporary decor, the main house offers plush guestrooms and enticing lounges. The restaurant is part of Slow Food Ireland. On-site activities include complimentary kayaking on the lake, walking, bird-watching, pond swimming, and fishing.

Day 2

Skibbereen

Cape Clear (Oileán Chléire), boat excursion and walk; 3- to 6.2-mile options, easy to moderate, maximum of 820-ft. elevation gain

A ferry ride this morning takes you to Ireland’s southernmost inhabited and Irish-speaking island, eight miles off the coast to Cape Clear (Oileán Chléire in Irish). Warmer than the mainland, it attracts a wealth of bird life—gannets and shearwaters—and, in its surrounding waters, seals, basking sharks, and dolphins. Just three miles wide by one mile long, the island has deep-rooted history that can be found in megalithic standing stones, a 5,000-year-old passage grave, a 12th-century church ruin, and a 14th-century castle. Your walking route winds through these ancient places, surrounded by views of sparkling water contrasted against green slopes dotted with grazing sheep and goats. At the goat farm, you may sample their very own homemade ice cream. On most days, the iconic silhouette of the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse can be seen to the northwest of the island. You return to your estate home in the early evening for dinner of perhaps pan-seared hake or local rib-eye and a local West Cork cheese plate.

Liss Ard Estate

Skibbereen, Ireland

A sprawling estate just a mile outside charming Skibbereen, featuring a Georgian country house surrounded by extensive grounds, walking trails, and meticulously designed gardens, including a “wildflower room,” sun trap, and the fantastic “Irish Sky Garden,” built around the original ancient hill fort of Lios Aird. Fully renovated with stylish contemporary decor, the main house offers plush guestrooms and enticing lounges. The restaurant is part of Slow Food Ireland. On-site activities include complimentary kayaking on the lake, walking, bird-watching, pond swimming, and fishing.

Day 3

Tralee

Molls Gap and the Black Valley self-guided bicycle ride; 15½ miles, 800-ft. elevation gain; shorter option to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, 7½ miles

You travel about an hour this morning in a northwesterly direction to Killarney National Park—named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Special Area of Conservation for its diverse habitats of untouched forest, lakes, and Ireland’s only herd of red deer. A self-guided bicycle ride takes you through the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks—the park’s most striking group of mountains—stopping en route at a local sheep farm where you see how a farmer and his prized dogs work to keep the herd together! From the terrific Ladies’ View at Moll’s Gap, it’s downhill into the Black Valley and on to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, where you enjoy lunch. Afterward, you may continue cycling through the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow pass seven miles long from north to south. You share the winding road with the horse-drawn traps that carry visitors between the five lakes connected by the River Loe (This is a fun non-cycling option for those who prefer a more relaxing, yet scenic transfer!) Your ride ends at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old fireside pub. You continue on to your own castle estate, where you may be in time for tea and biscuits upon arrival. After dinner, an optional nighttime tour introduces you to the castle’s ghostly residents!

Ballyseede Castle

Tralee, Ireland

A member of the group of Manor House Hotels in Ireland, and Kerry’s only four-star hotel, Ballyseede Castle is an estate set amidst 30 acres of grounds, offering a true castle experience that is also family-friendly with resident pet dog and Irish donkeys and miniature horses. Three floors of spacious and luxurious rooms are complimented by three restaurants and a bar, as well as numerous salons where coffee, tea, and biscuits are available throughout the day.

Day 4

Tralee

Lough Annascaul walk; 5 miles, easy to moderate; 650-ft. elevation gain. Local Irish dance performance

After a leisurely and ample breakfast this morning, you have time to explore the castle on your own. Set amidst its exclusive grounds at the end of a winding carriage drive, Ballyseede Castle dates back to the 1590s and thus is brimming with ancient legends and tales of daring earls. Prepared with a picnic lunch, this afternoon you venture to the southern edge of the Dingle Peninsula and a spectacular walk amidst open hilltops and wide views above the 19th-century village of Annascaul, near the aptly named Annascaul Lake. You end the walk with a visit to the home of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, who participated in both Robert Scott’s and Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions. He opened the South Pole Inn pub in his hometown, which in turn honored him with a statue facing the pub.

This evening, you venture to the ancient town of Tralee to take in in a local Irish dance performance.

Ballyseede Castle

Tralee, Ireland

A member of the group of Manor House Hotels in Ireland, and Kerry’s only four-star hotel, Ballyseede Castle is an estate set amidst 30 acres of grounds, offering a true castle experience that is also family-friendly with resident pet dog and Irish donkeys and miniature horses. Three floors of spacious and luxurious rooms are complimented by three restaurants and a bar, as well as numerous salons where coffee, tea, and biscuits are available throughout the day.

Day 5

Dingle

The Dingle Way walk, 2- to 8-mile options. Independent visit to local Seal Sanctuary and/or Dingle town exploration

You travel west this morning to the scenic and remote Dingle Peninsula for a walk along its northern edge. With many walking routes to choose from, your guides can tailor the walk according to the weather and group. A lovely choice is a coastal cliff-walk around the edge of Slea Head, the European point closest to America. Past small farms and Iron Age remains in the shadow of Mount Eagle, stunning views of the Blasket Islands open up as you round the head. The land- and seascapes are rich in history from the Stone and Bronze ages to 7th-century Christian stone beehive huts. And thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, rare plants thrive here.

This afternoon, you have time on your own to wander through the charming and quirky town of Dingle, which, while attracting many visitors, remains a true fishing port and center of Irish culture. You may want to peruse its many craft shops and art galleries, or stop in at one of its 52 pubs. You can also visit the local sea sanctuary and meet some of the seal pups. Dinner will offer some of the freshest fish from the port, perhaps grilled salmon, and a delectable fresh berry trifle dessert.

Castlewood House

Dingle, Ireland

A four-star boutique bed and breakfast, in the heart of picturesque Dingle overlooking Dingle Bay. This elegant country home has been designed with attention to detail in marble fireplaces, antiques, and comfortable sofas in the lounge and well-stocked library. Individually decorated rooms are spacious and plush. Its inviting dining room serves what has been called “the best breakfast in Ireland.”

Day 6

Dingle

Boat excursion to the Blasket Islands and walk; 4 miles, easy to moderate, 200-ft. elevation gain

One of Dingle’s most famous residents is Fungi the dolphin, who makes his home in the harbor. You may get a chance to meet him this morning on the boat ride out to the Blasket Islands. The Great Blasket, or An Blascaod Mór, is now uninhabited, as it was finally abandoned in 1953 when the last 22 people living on the island were moved to the mainland. The small archipelago’s culture and subsistence way of life has been preserved, however, in an amazingly large body of literature. A network of grassy trails overrun with rabbits crisscrosses the largest of the islands, revealing the unique 18th-century system of land division amidst stunning views out to the smaller islands and back to the coast. Seals and puffins occupy the protected coves and shores. On your final evening in Dingle, you learn why it is considered to be one of the strongest bastions of traditional Irish music as you join the locals in one of the pubs to experience some true craic agus ceoil— the Irish expression that encompasses fun, perhaps a pint or two for the parents, infectious music, and lively conversation.

Castlewood House

Dingle, Ireland

A four-star boutique bed and breakfast, in the heart of picturesque Dingle overlooking Dingle Bay. This elegant country home has been designed with attention to detail in marble fireplaces, antiques, and comfortable sofas in the lounge and well-stocked library. Individually decorated rooms are spacious and plush. Its inviting dining room serves what has been called “the best breakfast in Ireland.”

Day 7

Dingle

Departure; transfer to Cork

A relaxed schedule allows you to enjoy a final Irish breakfast before departing for your transfer to Cork and onward travels.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a Country Walkers adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call Country Walkers at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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