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This past September I embarked on a trip to Ireland with Crafted Ireland. I had been to Ireland once before, but mind you it was to Dublin for St. Patty’s Day which is a whole other experience in itself. Returning to Ireland was not immediately on my bucket list (partially due to this experience), but I was intrigued to learn more about this country as my clients became more curious too. I don’t say this lightly when I say: this was the best trip ever. Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries I have been to not just in the landscapes, but also in the people and the experiences we had. EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO TO IRELAND!

I get a lot of questions asking what I do on these trips, so I decided to break down the itinerary just as we got it!

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DAY ONE

10am: Check-In at The K Club

Our first stop was The K Club, where we checked in for our first night in Ireland. This long-standing member of Preferred Hotels offers the very best of pampering, leisure and golf facilities and is only 30 minutes from Dublin. Built in 1832, on the banks of the River Liffey, the original house was modeled after a French Château and still retains many of its original architectural features, art work and antiques. The estate is set on 550 acres and has two championship golf courses – The Palmer Ryder Cup Course and the Palmer designed Smurfit Course.

11am: Tour of the Belmond Grand Hibernian Train

Our first stop of the day was to take a tour of the Belmond Grand Hibernian Train before the guests boarded. This magnificent train is the first luxury rail experience of its kind in Ireland and offers accommodations for up to 40 guests in elegant, private en-suite cabins on two-, four-, and six-night journeys. This is definitely a bucket list items for me!

Contact me for more information and to book the Belmond Grand Hibernian Train experience.

Noon: Site Visit of The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin

Our next tour was at The Shelbourne Hotel, which is the largest luxury 5-star hotel in Dublin (I actually had the luxury of staying here on our third night). History is very much alive in this hotel, with a social scene dating back to 1824 and the famous Constitution Room where the Irish Constitution was signed. We toured the Princess Grace Suite and stopped in the lively Horseshoe Bar for a glass of champagne!

1pm: Lunch at Matt The Thresher

Hungry after the long travel day, we headed to Matt the Thresher, an award-winning seafood restaurant, for lunch. They specialize specifically in fresh wild Irish fish and shellfish, so I chose the mussels and catch of the day – both were divine!

2:30pm: Behind the Scenes Tour of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We went on a behind the scenes tour with one of the Cathedral’s Vergers and had the chance to see areas many people don’t get to see in this historic Cathedral. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been at the heart of Dublin and Ireland’s history and culture for over 800 years. For centuries it was the largest enclosed space on the island and it remains the largest Cathedral in the country. It has been visited by some of Irish history’s most influential individuals from Cromwell, William of Orange and King James I, to Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. 

4:30pm: Tour of K Club’s Straffan House

We returned back to the K Club where we toured Straffan House, a private property for rent on the grounds of The K Club. It gets its design influence from the original ‘Straffan House’, which is now actually the K Club. Justin Bieber has even stayed here!

7pm: Dinner in the Library at the K Club

We enjoyed a lovely evening dining in the Library to live music by local musicians. While everything on the menu was wonderful, I especially appreciated this gorgeous vegan pineapple coconut ravioli dessert!


DAY TWO


9:30am: Site Visit of the Conrad Hotel

We started our morning off at the Conrad Hotel, a 5-star hotel located in the heart of Dublin. It recently underwent renovation that finished in May 2016, and now offers crisp, luxury accommodations that caters to both the business and leisure traveler.

10:45am: Site Visit of The Merrion Hotel

Next stop was The Merrion Hotel, which has a completely different feel than the Conrad but in an equally great location. The interior is designed using Irish fabrics and antiques to reflect the architecture and original interiors of the 18th century townhouse. It also houses a spectacular collection of 19th and 20th Century art which is widely considered to be one of the most important private collections in Ireland.

11:45am: Museum & Skyline Tour at Croke Park, Hospitality Suite Lunch, and All-Ireland Football Final 2017 Mayo vs. Dublin

This experience was a real treat, as the All-Ireland Football Final is known as the “Superbowl” of Ireland. Crafted Ireland gave us the VIP experience with a behind the scenes tour of Croke Park and hospitality suite lunch with amazing seats for the game. Dublin won the game which meant the city would be celebrating that night!

6:30pm: Dinner & Drinks at The Westbury Hotel

Following the excitement of the game, we headed to The Westbury for {celebratory, for some} drinks at their fantastic bar, The Sidecar, which feels like you have gone back in time to the 30’s in the most stylish way. We then dined at Wilde, their gorgeous restaurant serving up locally sourced dishes, and our table had a view over Grafton Street. We ended our time at The Westbury with an evening tea and cocktails by the fire, then headed out right out onto Grafton Street to join in on the festivities.


DAY THREE


8:45am: “Behind the Ropes” Tour at Trinity College

Located in the heart of Dublin, Trinity College is the oldest University in Ireland dating back to 1592.As well as housing the Long Room library (which has featured in movies such as Harry Potter and Star Wars), Trinity College also houses the Book of Kells, a 9th-century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world. These are must-sees when visiting Dublin!

12:45pm: Check-In to Dunbrody Country House Hotel

We made the drive to Dunbrody Country House Hotel and checked into our country estate accommodations for the night. Dunbrody Country House Hotel is a small luxury hotel in Wexford located on the Hook Peninsula on Ireland’s south coast. Owned and operated by husband and wife team Kevin & Catherine Dundon, this hotel reflects their joint passion for excellence in all areas – fine food and a friendly, relaxed service combined with luxury accommodation. I immediately felt like home (well, if only my home were this beautiful) here!

3pm: Cooking Demonstration with Kevin Dundon

We stepped into Kevin’s kitchen to learn all of his secrets. The craziest new trick we learned? Cook with hay! It adds the most amazing flavor.

6pm: Hook Head Lighthouse Tour & Reception

The 13th Century Hook Head Lighthouse is over 800 years old, which makes it the oldest intact operational lighthouse in the world! Guided tours are offered here year round and makes for a great stop if staying in Waterford or Wexford. We climbed the 115 steps to the top and then had a champagne reception overlooking the sea with the most perfect weather!

 
8pm: Dinner & Drinks at Dunbrody Country House

We returned back to the hotel for a real treat of a dinner – a special menu prepared by Kevin Dundon himself! I wish I could properly describe how incredible this meal was, but you’ll just have to head out there and experience it for yourself. Just read the menu to see what I mean!


DAY FOUR


9:15am: Head to Waterford City for Waterford Treasures & Viking Virtual Reality Experience

Waterford City was founded by the Vikings around 1100 years ago and was Ireland’s chief port for European trade. We visited Waterford Treasures, which is comprised of three very different museums all next to each other tell the history of Waterford, from its foundation in 914 to the late 20th century. We even did a Viking Virtual Reality experience – so cool!

1:15pm: Fish & Chips Lunch at Dino’s and Exploring in Kinsale

What trip to Ireland would be complete without a traditional fish and chips lunch? We stopped at Dino’s, a well-loved family institution that prides themselves on providing fish only from sustainable stocks on the south west coast of Ireland. After the most delicious lunch, we walked and shopped around Kinsale.

 

5:15pm: Check In to Killarney Park Hotel

We drove from Kinsale to Killarney, where we checked into Killarney Park Hotel. The town of Killarney is a hotspot for tourism, being at the end of the Ring of Kerry and with the lakes, mountains and valleys that surround. Killarney Park Hotel is located in the city center and has a classic elegance with superior service. I loved the ambience of the bar as well as the crackling fire in the lobby in the evening.

7:30pm: Dinner & Site Visit at Aghadoe Heights Hotel

We headed to Aghadoe Heights Hotel for dinner and to check it out. I was instantly impressed with this hotel. With breathaking views of the Lakes of Killarney, a spectacular spa, five-star service, contemporary elegance, and one of the best meals I have ever had – I was sold! We may have enjoyed checking out the spa just a little bit too much!

 

Part Two Coming Soon!

 

Safe travels y’all!

Chelsea Rose Martin