Dubai To Dublin To Find Pots Of Gold
If you’re looking for gold at the end of the rainbow, look no further than the Republic of Ireland. Whether you’re race-horse-crazy, golf-mad, or a dedicated gourmand, love wild and wonderful scenery or prefer life in the City, look no further than a vacation on the Emerald Isle. There are so many luxury tours to choose from that it’s hard to pick the right one. Walking tours, bus tours, pony trekking or travelling by chauffeur driven limousine, staying in Bed and Breakfast, in Castles or in five star hotels – Ireland has it all.
If it’s a golfing vacation you are seeking, there can be no finer destination than The K Club in County Kildare with its magnificent courses and perfectly groomed greens. The K Club, Ireland’s First AA 5 Red Star Hotel, is located in the heart of the idyllic Irish countryside on the banks of the River Liffey in Straffan, Co.Kildare. Built in 1832 and modelled on a French chateau, with an elegant restaurant serving gourmet meals, prices start from €166.5 (760 Dirham) per night including breakfast, and there are frequent ‘offer packages’ available, to include ‘green’ fees.
And, of course, if you’re a racing afficianado, there is no more perfect place in all the world than County Kildare, to view the world’s finest bloodstock. A visit to the Irish National Stud is a must. Open from February through to November, it will cost €12.50 (50 Dirhams) for an official tour of The Stud and its famous Japanese Garden. Having inspected the finest Irish Sires and Dams, stopping off at Goff’s auctioneers in Kildare Paddocks (telephone 035345886600 or visit www.goffs.com to check out upcoming auctions) is the next step to acquiring the next Grand National Winner. Follow on with a day’s racing at the Curragh, renowned as one of the world’s finest race course and only 40 minutes by car from central Dublin. They offer excellent hospitality deals if you’re planning on entertaining colleagues or friends.
Wherever you go, and however you choose to travel in the Irish Republic, you have to be aware that not an inch of ground of 32,595 square miles that makes up Eire is without its’ legends. Add that every one of its 4.6 million inhabitants has probably kissed the Blarney Stone, an act that promises life-long eloquence, and you’ll never be short of a story as you travel around. A word of warning, though. If you decide you want to acquire your own Irish ‘gift of the gab’, make sure there’s a strong fellow around. Leaning out of a hole in what’s left of the grey stone wall of Blarney Castle needs not only an athletic physique and a head for heights but a strong companion to take hold of your heels!
We’d booked through Ireland and Scotland Luxury Tours and landing at Dublin Airport, Austen, our guide was waiting to meet and greet us in the luxurious black BMW which was to be our transport throughout our seven day tour.
Our first stop was at Ballynahinch Castle where we were to spend our first two nights Ballynahinch is a real castle beside a picture-postcard lake that glows molten gold in the Irish sunset. Supping your first real Irish Guinness may come as a bit of a shock, but simply sitting in the oak-lined bar before dinner in the Owenmore restaurant is a relaxing experience and enjoying fish fresh- caught from the West Coast or well hung game is a delightful way to start the culinary experience that is Ireland.
Everything in Ireland looks fresh – from the food laid before you at your first full complimentary Irish breakfast, to the restaurants countryside you drive through whatever your destination. The first day, we visited Aughnanure Castle, a couple of miles from the picturesque little village of Oughterard. Built by the O’Flatery family in mediaeval times, the monastery looks much as it must have done when legend has it, S Ireland’s only pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley lived here in the mid-1500’s. Nuns still inhabit Kylemore Abbey, once home to an order of Benedictine monks.
On day three, we transferred to Sheen Falls Lodge via the rugged, raw beauty of the Cliffs of Moher that rise 390ft along the Kenmare shoreline. Each time you encounter a new, breathtaking vista in Ireland, you wonder why anyone might want to holiday anywhere else. On day four we stood on the headlands, above Coumeenole beach with its white horse waves, golden sands, looking over miles of uninhabited and gazed in wonder. But if words failed us, we were in the right place to find more. Climb the narrow stone stairway to the top of Blarney Castle and gaze in wonder at the glorious greenery beneath you. The scenery must surely inspire eloquence, even if the act of bending backwards in an attempt to reach the stone itself has you screaming with fear!
On the same day, we paid homage to St Patrick at the Rock of Cashel. The fairy-tale Castle is sited in the Devil’s Bit, on a mountain 20 miles north of Cashel where legend would have you believe that Ireland’s patron saint banished The Devil from a cave, resulting in the Rock’s landing in Cashel. It is also reputedly the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St Patrick in the 5th century. Our day ended in Waterford, founded in 1100 by the Vikings and said to be Ireland’s oldest City. It is also home to the Waterford crystal glass factory. Arrive early enough and you can take a tour to see how the glass is blown and sculpted. We stayed one night at the Lyrath Estate. As you approach, it appears you are checking in to a private old country mansion set in manicured grounds but inside you find a modern hotel with all the amenities including a luxury spa.
The last two days were spent at the modern Sherbourne Hotel in the heart of Dublin’s fair City. There’s so much to do that you wonder at the statue of her ‘daughter’ Molly Malone pushing her barrow on Grafton Street can stay so still. Take a real Irish pub crawl, ranked number four in The World’s 50 Best Walks by the British Sunday Times, this is less than a drinking binge and more of an award winning show that crawls from pub to pub. Professional actors perform the works of Dublin’s most famous writers, Joyce, Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan and many more to amuse you. Take a Viking Splash Tour on a ‘Duck’ bus for an overview of Dublin’s best sights or catch one of the on-off buses, now a feature of every major tourist City – tickets €10.12 (48 Dirhams); visit the Book of Kells, an ancient and very beautifully decorated manuscript of the Four Gospels dating back to mediaeval times. Stroll along O’Connell Street or walk along the Liffy embankment and just admire the view of Dublin Castle or stop off at Bewleys, Ireland’s oldest cafe, for a snack before taking the flight home. One thing is for sure. Spend a week in the Irish Republic and life will never look quite the same again.
There are many ways to enjoy Southern Ireland. We travelled with Ireland and Scotland Tours. UAE Flights direct from Dubai to Dublin daily – 8hrs and 10 minds AE Dirham – 3525 plus Carrier imposed charge of 1180D, exclusive of taxes and Fees AED.
Nine day inclusive private tour as above includes hire of driver and vehicle; B& B in all hotels; golf fees; all attraction entrances – €4929 – 22,418.02 UAE Dirhams. Contact Ireland and Scotland Luxury Tours Tel; +44 (0)2890 67357.
By Andrea Kon