Best of Ireland 2018 changes

Am I reading the 2018 itinerary correctly?

New counter-clockwise route, starting and ending in Dublin, that's fine, but no Blarney Castle, no Ashford Castle, and no stop at the Waterford Crystal factory?!?!?!

Yes, Blarney is a bit touristic and a bit of a cliche, kissing the stone and all, but it really is a beautiful ruin and the grounds are beautiful, too. And of course, what does everyone ask when you get home- "Did you kiss the Blarney Stone?' From the private boat trip on Lough Corrib and the spectacular approach by water, to the welcome with piper and staff, Ashford Castle is just incredible.

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Comments

  • edited July 2017
    Oh, no!! Glad we did it in 2015! Ashford Castle was a big highlight for us. Wouldn't want to miss that. Since the tour ends in Kilkenny, would be easy to do Blarney and Waterford on your own at the end if you wanted to. I wonder what has precipitated this change.
  • Bummer! Ashford Castle and the Irish School of Falconry was one of our most memorable places! Perhaps there's extra time in Dublin, though?
  • This trip sounds awful. Ireland has been on our travel list, but not any more. At least not with Tauck, and I hate to say that. Bad decision, just like leaving Passau off the Blue Danube itinerary. The cathedral and organ concert were highlights if our river cruise.
    Nancy
  • Those are unfortunate changes -- but after looking at it more, they still have Ashford Castle on the small group version of this tour, which probably makes some sense. Maybe it was Ashford Castle pushing back on the larger groups and only wanting to accomodate the smaller size. And Blarney Castle and Waterford are still on the one week shorter tour, maybe feeling those are the more touristy stops?
  • edited August 2017
    Ah, good catch! I didn't see that they had broken out the Small Group as a separate tour from the regular tour- they used to be just different size groups with the same itinerary. The Small Group tour has different lodging on Days 5 & 6 (Lough Eske Castle vs Lough Erne Golf Resort probably for the best) and replaced Mount Juliet with Lyrath Estate- mixed feelings about that.

    Of course much of Europe has become very touristy (or touristic as one of our TD's used say), but that is one reasons we go. If it was just to see the emerald green grass and drink Guinness, we could rent a farm house for a week or two. But places like Ashford Castle, Waterford, Blarney are all a part of what makes Ireland, Ireland. I just think a "best of" tour should include places like that. Check out Glenlo Abbey Hotel which replaced Ashford! : (
    At least they kept Mount Juliet Hotel in the standard size tour.

    As to Waterford, the factory tour was interesting, even for a guy, heck I even enjoyed the stop and tour of the Belleek factory. But if you read the wiki, you'll find they have had financial problems over the last two decades and are lucky to be around at all. It doesn't matter to me that the recent incarnation WWH (Waterford, Wedgwood Holdings) was just about gone until Fiskars, a Finnish company, purchased the whole shooting match which includes- Waterford and Rogaška (crystal) and Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Royal Albert (china) in 2015 or that most Waterford crystal is now produced outside Ireland in countries such as Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany.

    One final note totally unrelated to this discussion for anyone taking this or similar tour- eat a light breakfast and plan on a light dinner, on Day 4- the lunch (a feast!) at Bushmills Inn is to die for- 6- 8 types of meats carved as you wait, other great stuff, and fantastic desserts including sticky toffee pudding!
  • Alan, have a heart, not more talk of sticky toffee pudding when I am on a diet!
  • British wrote:
    Alan, have a heart, not more talk of sticky toffee pudding when I am on a diet!

    Yeah, I know! I've been dieting so I can gain it all back over the next two weeks- we fly out on Thursday for "Romantic Germany."
  • Oh Alan S , I so agree with you. We just returned from this trip. SO GLAD we did it this year before the change. They should now change the name of the tour from "Best of Ireland" to hanging out at hotels in Ireland and drinking as now there are 3 days where they return to the hotel in the afternoon and you have free time.
    How can they leave out Blarney castle?? We did not kiss the stone but the grounds are beautiful and it's amazing to see the castle. PLUS the biggest shop in all of Ireland is there and we had some time to shop before we had lunch on our own there. That was one of my favorite days of the tour. I also loved seeing how Waterford crystal is made. I know its NOT really Waterford anymore, it's owned by someone else BUT the town is ancient, why not tour it?!. Go to a distillery? WHY???? I'd much rather see an ancient castle and glass.
    BUT they do pass by Blarney and Waterford on the new itinerary on day 12, as Blarney is right near Midleton where they do the Jameson Experience and they have to pass Waterford to go from Midleton to Thomastown. SO WHY THE CHANGE?!
    I realize starting and ending in Dublin makes more sense and is easier for flights BUT essentially the itinerary goes to the same areas but in a new order so I think it's a shame that they are leaving out something as iconic as Blarney.
  • PS. I happened to like Mount Juliet as much as or maybe better than Ashford Castle. The food there was certainly better.
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