From tourist hotspots to off-the-beaten-track beauty spots, Travel Director Faith tells us why this 1-week Ireland tour has it all.
“If you have one week to see a destination, then you want to see the best of the best. Jaw-dropping scenery, historical treasures, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality – Irish Elegance delivers this and more,” she says.
Still as enchanted by Ireland as the first time she visited, Faith shares her insights and the highlights that await you.
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FAITH ON IRELAND
Faith, who describes herself as Australian-Canadian, became a Travel Director in 2014. “I really loved the opportunity to be, what I describe as ‘everyone’s Eiffel Tower.’ We all have an Eiffel Tower or something that we really want to see. To be able to deliver that to guests is what gets me out of bed every day.”
Trained Europe wide, she specializes in the UK and Ireland. “When it came to looking at regions for Insight, I stripped it back to ask what do I really like to do myself? Then that will shine through to guests,” she explains. “I really love driving through the countryside and meeting the locals and nowhere can you do that better than in the UK and Ireland.”
For travel inspiration: Ireland destination guide
IRISH ELEGANCE – MORE THAN THE HIGHLIGHTS
“I think for insight guests, when you when you have a week of vacation, you want to spend it seeing the best of the best. And you also want to get a real feel of where it is you’re visiting,” Faith says when describing Irish Elegance. “You don’t just want to hit all the tourist highlights – although we certainly offer some of those as well – you want to really get beneath the skin of Ireland.”
This 8-day tour starts off in the vibrant capital Dublin, before heading out into the stunning countryside of Ireland. “Within the first few hours on our first drive day [Day 2 of the tour] we’re taking you to the Rock of Cashel, and it’s a jaw-dropping moment when you first see the castle perched, literally in the middle of nowhere. And the next day we’re driving the Ring of Kerry, which again is simply spectacular and leaves you speechless.”
Irish Elegance is a tour filled with historical treasures, local delights and delicious cuisine.
You will experience the Wild Atlantic Way and journey from Galway to Killarney on this once-in-a-lifetime tour. Enjoy historical Dublin and explore County Mayo. See the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle and the delightful town of Killarney. The Ring of Kerry unfolds around you on a spectacular scenic drive and you’ll get up close and personal with fishermen and farmers on the wild Irish Atlantic coast. Look out at Galway Bay from the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, revel the beauty of Connemara and enjoy an indulgent stay at the five-star Ashford Castle.
With so many memorable moments on this tour, we asked Faith to share insights into some of her favorites.
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THE BOOK OF KELLS
“The book of Kells, for anyone who is interested in history, is certainly a highlight,” says Faith of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure. An exquisite 9th-century manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament, the Book of Kells is renowned for its intricacy, detail and majesty of the illustrations. Set in the library of Trinity College, the book is protected by two-inch-thick glass and is a highlight of this 1-week Ireland tour.
“When you see the Book of Kells your jaw just drops,” she tells us. “You’re considering that every single part of this book has been touched by human hands. And human hands that we no longer know the name of. It’s called the Book of Kells because it was found at the Kells Monastery. But some evidence suggests that it might even predate its arrival there. So, we really don’t know the full story of this book.
“In the margins you can see markings. This is where the monks who were transcribing it used a medieval ruler to mark all the pages up, so they would get it in a straight line,” explains Faith. “You can see the human interaction with it and imagine what has passed. The story is that it has seen to tell is quite phenomenal.”
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A stunning combination of cobblestone walkways, emerald-green lawns and 18th-century architectural gems, Trinity College is one of Europe’s elite universities and counts poet Oscar Wilde among its alumni. You can explore its wonders on the first day of this 1-week Ireland tour.
“Trinity College is full of mind-blowing moments of history. As you make your way through the library there are documents from the Easter Rising, documents on women’s suffrage and all around you are books that are hundreds of years old,” Faith enthuses.
One magnificent sight is the Trinity College Harp, also known as the Brian Boru harp, the oldest harp in Ireland. “It’s the same harp that inspired the Irish harp emblem (left facing) and it’s the trademark for Guinness (right facing),” Faith explains. The harp dates back to either the 14th or 15th century and the emblem can be seen everywhere today on national heraldry and Euro coins.
Legend has it that the harp belonged to King Brian Boru (941 to 1014), hence its nickname, but this is historically unlikely. However, it serves as a great symbol to tell the story of Ireland. “Brian Boru was the only King to hold all the kingdoms of Ireland together. So, it’s a lovely way to get the ball rolling on the tour as well,” says Faith.
FOR THE LOVE OF SEAWEED
“An amazing aspect of this tour is that you are actually meeting the farmers. And they are explaining everything about how they work the lands. It doesn’t get more local than that,” says Faith.
On the Irish Atlantic coast, you’ll have the opportunity to meet John at his family-run seaweed farm. On this MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, you will learn about sustainable farming practices that protect the fragile ecosystems of the wild Irish Atlantic coasts.
“John is perhaps the most passionate person about seaweed you will ever meet. And he will have you excited to put something that we’ve always thought was not very nice into your mouth and [have you] enjoying it. There are so many different types of seaweed. By the time you walk away from half an hour with him, you’ll know how to tell a difference between seaweeds off the coast of Ireland.”
Thoughtfully chosen and aligned to the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences enable you to make a positive impact as you travel, on people, our planet and its wildlife. And you can enjoy two of these unique experiences on this 1-week Ireland tour.
OYSTERS FRESH FROM THE SEA
A second MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience offers the chance to visit one of Ireland’s oldest oyster farms. Here enjoy a tasting like no other, and learn about the farm’s commitment to biodiversity and sustainable packaging.
“Tasting oysters, literally harvested that morning – it doesn’t get any fresher than that. And this is coming from a rural, country town girl!” Faith says with a laugh as she recalls tasting the unique flavors of the DK Connemara oysters, bred in pure water that runs off the limestone hills of the Connemara National Park. “Even the process of getting to the farm is amazing. Its off the beaten track, even for the Irish. It’s actually my favorite day on the tour.
“You drive through Connemara to Killary Harbour which is simply stunning. You think you’re at the end of the map, and then we go even further west through little towns. We actually have to take the coach off road along a sandy beach area to get there, which is a pretty incredible experience.”
“On arrival you are surrounded by people who live and breathe the ocean and her produce. They love seafood, but specifically oysters. They’ll teach you all about the oyster industry, the markets for oysters around the world, the process of farming the oysters, how long it takes. They’ll show you what the little oyster seeds look like right through to the giant oysters that are harvested for the Singaporean markets and everything in between.
“And then you get to actually try these oysters. They’ve literally plucked them from the water, shucked them, thrown some lemon juice on and down the hatch. Whether or not you like oysters, you still try them. Because here you get to taste them as they’re supposed to be.”
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KILLARY HARBOUR – AN UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT
“This moment always takes my breath away, and I can hear it take the breath away of my guests too,” Faith tells us, describing the moment people spot Killary Harbor, which is found en route to the oyster farm. “It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or it’s a drizzly day, it is just beautiful.”
“I don’t think it’s a view that many expect when they come to Ireland. They know that they’re going to get the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle and they know they’re going to get the Ring of Kerry. But the Killary Harbor is unexpected. It is like seeing a Norwegian Fjord on the West Coast of Ireland. For me, it’s the Eiffel Tower of this tour. It’s that ‘stop and lose your breath moment’ no matter how many times I have seen it I still get goosebumps.”
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ASHFORD CASTLE, AND A DINNER TO REMEMBER
At the end of the tour, you will stay at the five-star Ashford Castle, a fitting finale to your elegant 1-week Ireland tour. As you arrive a lone piper escorts you over the drawbridge to this exquisite historical hotel. There are many opportunities to explore the vast estate, pamper yourself at the spa, or get to know the hawks and woodland surroundings at the hotel’s falconry school. And its elegant dining room is the magnificent setting for a celebration dinner, where you can toast your travels and friends.
“This is so special,” Faith enthuses. “It’s an opportunity to really dress up to the nines and the food is incredible. The menu is seasonal, so it is never the same. But for instance, on our last tour they made souffle for us right there on the spot for us. And it just melted in my mouth.”
“The whole experience is exceptional. From walking through the castle doors to coming down the stairs. To entering the dining room after you’ve had a lovely afternoon on the castle grounds. It’s it really is special.”
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If you’re feeling inspired to visit the Emerald Isle, then take a look at Irish Elegance, the 1-week Ireland tour that has it all, and our full collection of premium guided tours to Ireland.