Best of Ireland- moved thread

These posts about Ireland were extracted from a Rhine & Moselle thread and moved here:
Focusing on Ireland right now. Getting close.

Which Ireland are you doing? When is (Blue?) Danube? I have some suggestions for both if you are interested.
Best of Ireland 16 June although we arrive the 14th. It's a small group. We're booked on a viator tour of the Boyne valley Celtic sites and Trim castle for the Friday on our own.

Budapest to Amsterdam next year the end of May.

Always interested in suggestions.

Going to the edge of the "Pale" : )

They have changed the Best of Ireland itinerary since we went in 2016, but much of it is the same. I've posted some stuff in the past, but let me organize my thoughts first. It is too bad you no longer go to Ashford Castle and Blarney Castle. While Blarney Castle is certainly touristic, with the Blarney Stone and all, it is still a beautiful ruin with beautiful grounds and gardens. (and don't tell anyone, but, though it is nice and modern enough (maybe too modern) and has a beautiful view of Lough Leane and Ross Castle in the distance, Agadoe Heights was our least favorite lodging.) Dinner the second night there is at Rozzer’s Restaurant, a quaint place less than a mile down the road, and a memorable experience. In fact if it were possible to get reservations, I would eat there instead of at the Agadoe Heights Hotel restaurant the first night)

Speaking of eating- On Day 4, eat a light breakfast or no breakfast at all!, because the lunch at Bushmills Inn is truly a feast! There was well over a half dozen wonderful meats and fowl to die for, carved just for you while you watch (double up, mix and match), plus seafood, a number of varieties of potatoes and potato dishes, fresh and cooked veggies, other fixins', and of course beer, etc. And don't let me forget dessert- lots of goodies that includes Sticky Toffee Pudding. I'm getting hungry just thinking about and typing this : ).

Give me a day, and I'll come up with a few other suggestions and tidbits, like these little ones

- you can't take photography of the Book of Kells, so I just quietly photographed a poster in the gift shop. : )

- Here are a few places that you'll see but your driver or TD may not point out-

(1) From the bus window during the drive around the Ring of Kerry, eight miles from Ballinskelligs Bay off the tip of Iveragh Peninsula, you can see the Skellig Islands- the farthest of the three is Skellig Michael- it has quite an interesting but enigmatic history. It has pre-Christian ruins and an old Celtic monastic settlement. Among the structures is a small cluster of six ‘beehive’ huts you might recognize from the last scene in the Star Wars film "The Last Jedi" where Rey meets Luke Skywalker : )

(2) On a promontory, just down the road from the Giants Causeway on the Antrim coast, are the ruins of Dunluce Castle. Again it has an interesting history- the lady of the manor left after part of the shear cliff gave way one night and the kitchen broke off and fell into the sea. Among other cultural references, with the help of some CGI, it is a key filming location/backdrop for the TV series "Game of Thrones." Our bus did a drive-by.

1 - I know everyone raves about Ashford so it will be interesting to see how Glenlo Abbey turns out. One interesting thing there will be the restaurant in the old Orient Express dining cars. Not sure if that is included or not.

2. I'm definitely primed for castle viewing. We watched a really good BBC tv series called "Tales of Irish Castles" on netflix. Worth watching even though we'll only see a few of them like Trim. They did talk about Dunluce and I'm a Game of Thrones (book and series fan) so maybe we will luck out and get a photo op.

3. What was the issue with Aghadoe Heights? I know after our Scotland, England Wales tour we noted that each hotel had pluses and minuses depending on the room, the food, etc.

4. I would have liked to see the grounds at Blarney but no way was I going to make that climb and bend myself backward to kiss the stone.

5. Thanx for the warning about Bushmill. Sounds like a fruit and yogurt morning.

6. Not sure about the Rozzers dinner. The website and app list it in the itinerary but the green book doesn't. I checked out their menu and it looked good so hopefully it is on.

I'll write a review after our return. Thanx.

Aghadoe was modern- I don't know, it was just a feeling, it just didn't fit (especially compared to Mount Juliet or Glenlo Abbey) kinda like spending the night at a Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn in Amish country. It is set off on a hill, by itself, nothing there, not near town or anything else except Rozzers and the little abandoned stone church across the street from Rozzers- we took a stroll to the church after dinner and looked at gravestones (how fun?) because the entrance had been boarded up.

You could almost say the same about Lough Erne Resort, except it sits on a beautiful golf course next to two lakes and is architecturally interesting. The second day here (Day 6), unless you are really tired and need a down day or want to play golf, I would go to the Belleek factory (factory tour was interesting, more so than Waterford factory which was also on our tour) or into the town of Enniskillen.
I can deal with modern all else being ok - decent food, cleanliness, friendly staff, etc. And the view looks fantastic.

Belleek is another part of the itinerary that seems confusing. One version has it as an option or free time in Enniskillen. But our green book says it's Belleek or hang out at the hotel in the morning. Then Enniskillen in the afternoon. Hopefully it's that version as I'd like to see both.

I know several of the stays on this tour have spas and/or golf resorts - which would be fine if all included in the fare - but I'd rather see Ireland. I have been checking which hotels have other activities like walks, bicycles, a pool to relax in, etc. and it seems fine. Time will tell.

Yup. On our recent Blue Danube we had 4 versions of the itinerary- the Tauck website, Green Book, the App, and the TD's daily sheets. A call to Tauck can "usually" help ferret out the most accurate of the first 3- the final word is the daily "Go Sheets."

Also, take advantage of falconry the first time it is offered- the schedule could change or you could get weathered out. You never know when it will be offered (wink, wink). We had two chances- could have done it at Ashford for a fee.

And at Mount Juliet, eat breakfast early the first morning or the day you leave, so you have time before the bus leaves to take a short walk down and across a small stone bridge over the River Nore to the Ballylinch Stud farm paddocks which are in a large field behind the manor- you may see them from your window if you room faces the back of the manor or you can see it from the hotel dining room and terrace. Depending on timing, there could be a bunch of mares with foals- quite neat!!

Mount Juliet (back):


Stone Bridge across River Nore:


Ballylinch Stud Farm- one of many mare and foal pairs:

British wrote:
We have found that the green book we have been sent for our upcoming Iceland trip is different than we expected. It made it appear that we get to see all the tours that we thought were optional choices. Then some time later we got the email from Tauck asking us to chose the optional tours, by that time we had discarded and forgotten all our original notes and research about whichever we would prefer to see.
I haven't looked at the Ireland itinerary for a while but always thought it was not so good. I don't want to go to a Waterford crystal factory or see Belleek china, I want to see beautiful Ireland. My Grandfather being Irish and my mother spending a chunk of her childhood there, I have never been. When we were younger we were put off going because of all the violence we were seeing on the TV during the Troubles. Mr B has been several times on business, it's not at the top of his 'go to' list. I looked at a rival company's trip, it looks much better and covers way more, but having experienced them once, that was enough plus their cancellation policy is just to put the money towards another trip, so what if you cancel because of an illness that means you can't travel again! Also, you have to pay by check in total on booking to guarantee the price. I have never had to cancel a trip, but the time will come.

British- Since I kinda hijacked this thread I moved all my Ireland posts along with a copy of Claudia's to a new thread. Claudia just needs to delete a couple of hers here to the original thread back on track as a Rhine and Moselle thread. No need to worry, Waterford is gone and Belleek is an option- you can choose to go into Enniskillen or stay at the resort (to play golf?) instead. We found the Belleek factory tour very interesting- me from the technical perspective, my wife from the artistic. Our small group were the only people there except for a number of artisans who took time from their work to fully explain and show us how they make the china and the incredibly intricate details.


  • Glad you moved this Alan.

    Will note the Stud farm in my green book.

    I know some will want to go to Belleek to shop but I'm more interested in the manufacturing/artistic process. Doubt I'll buy any dishes.The jewelry on their website looks interesting though....

  • Claudia, regarding Dunluce, you'll need to ask the tour director for a photo op stop. I did that the day before and she was happy to oblige. We went after lunch at Bushmills before heading back to Belfast and it's not really out of the way. Dunluce Castle is actually in my mother-in-law's genealogy (McDonnell), so it was really important to me that we do this. Everyone on the bus loved it. Of course it looks nothing like itself in Game of Thrones after they CGI'd it!!

    Also, the artisans at Belleek were wonderful about showing us their intricate, detailed process. It's a really intimate, interesting experience (better than Waterford).

    The stud farm at Mt. Juliet is gorgeous. You can take a bike out from the hotel and ride around there. My husband did that and really enjoyed it.
  • When we were planning our extra Friday in Dublin and researching Viator tours they had several GofT tours but I figured as you said that they wouldn't really look like they did in the series. One had you rowing a boat (I forget which scene it was from) and I was like "Almost $100 and I get to row a boat? No thanx."

    If your into the castles and have netflix, I highly recommend the series I mentioned before "Tales of Irish Castles".

  • Wow, it looks like Calkat and I have similar memories and observations! She is right on about Dunluce- I suggested it to TD, same as stopping a second to see Skellig Michael : )

    Calkat- do you have memories of local "verse"? Should we tell them?

    Joyce- depending on what is offered / included there is some level of golf at Mount Juliet- lessons and maybe straight play, don't remember, didn't ask. You can check the MJ website. But since you may already have golfed I would lean towards the other activities.

    Also, in addition to bicycles, I believe horesback riding is available at Mount Juliet as well as fishing (in the Nore?).

    Claudia, thanks for deleting your Ireland posts- I just moved/removed my last one. I think we are all straightened out now. I'll try to be more careful in the future.

  • Alan, I think we should let them hear the local verse on the trip. So fun in context! Also, no worries about my Rhine & Moselle thread, but good idea to move the Ireland comments. I didn't mind at all, since it got me remembering how great Best of Ireland trip was. It was our first one with Tauck and still my favorite. Looking back, even though Ashford Castle was wonderful, I think Mt. Juliet was my favorite of the hotels. Northern Ireland and Antrim Coast were my favorite areas--would love to go back.
  • CalKat wrote:
    Alan, I think we should let them hear the local verse on the trip. So fun in context! Also, no worries about my Rhine & Moselle thread, but good idea to move the Ireland comments. I didn't mind at all, since it got me remembering how great Best of Ireland trip was. It was our first one with Tauck and still my favorite. Looking back, even though Ashford Castle was wonderful, I think Mt. Juliet was my favorite of the hotels. Northern Ireland and Antrim Coast were my favorite areas--would love to go back.

    It may be TD dependent, but we had a limerick contest- some were quite good.
  • edited June 2018
    Yes, we had a limerick contest also. Very fun.
  • Guess I better start practicing my "limericking".
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