Join us aboard Belmond Grand Hibernian for a thrilling journey that takes you into magnificent private homes and estates to meet gardening gurus, siblings of a whiskey dynasty and a legendary horse trainer. This richly packed, four-night adventure will see you coursing through the Emerald Isle and alighting to enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes tours with owners and experts alike.
Leading the tour are Patsy Floyd and Heather Osborne. Green-fingered photographer Patsy, who lived and worked in Ireland for the first 28 years of her life, has led many garden tours for Belmond Royal Scotsman and, when time allows, also enjoys her own wonderful garden in Wiltshire. Heather has lived most of her life in Ireland and is an enthusiastic gardener. She is also an accomplished horsewoman and has even won a race in Leopardstown.
Armed with a wealth of insider knowledge and enthusiasm, the two are the ideal traveling companions for your spectacular journey on the Belmond Grand Hibernian!
Day 1: Dublin – Portlaoise – Charleville
Board Belmond Grand Hibernian at Dublin Heuston Station and savour your first delicious lunch on board as the train weaves its way towards Portlaoise, in County Laois.
Disembark mid-afternoon for a visit to Fruitlawn, the private home and garden of Arthur Shackleton, one of Ireland’s top garden designers. In his company, explore the enchanting walled garden and discover the treasures within its formal layout, from a hornbeam tunnel and vibrant perennial borders to a vegetable plot nurturing unusual varieties such as seakale and wineberries. Enjoy relaxed drinks in his home before leaving to rejoin the train. Tonight, a sumptuous dinner is served on board, followed by lively Celtic entertainment in the Observation Car. The train stables overnight in Charleville.
Day 2: Charleville – Cork – Charleville
After breakfast this morning, alight from the train in Cork for a drive through the picturesque countryside to the village of Cappoquin, in County Waterford. Here you enjoy an exclusive visit to the 19th-century Salterbridge House, gloriously located overlooking the Blackwater River. The owners, Philip and Susie Wingfield, welcome you in for coffee before you step outside to admire the stunning five-acre gardens, including magnificent Irish yews, magnolias and massed hydrangeas.
From here, take a short drive across the river to Tourin House & Gardens, home to the Jameson family of Irish whiskey fame. Three sisters – Kristin, Andrea and Tara – direct descendants of distillery founder John Jameson, live in the handsome Italianate-style villa. As well as inheriting a deep knowledge of whiskey, the sisters have a love of gardening inspired by their Norwegian mother Didi, who planted many of the rare trees, shrubs and flowers that have made Tourin’s gardens famous. Enjoy lunch with the sisters before taking a tour of the grounds, where you’ll come across the original 16th-century Tourin Castle, see ornamental planting at its summer best and perhaps stride down woodland paths to the river. You then return to Cork in the early evening and visit the Jameson Distillery. Learn how the popular blended whiskey is made and enjoy a tasting before rejoining the train and travelling to Charleville for the night. Relax over another exquisitely crafted dinner before tapping your toes to entertainment from local musicians.
Day 3: Charleville – Mallow – Killarney
Today, your itinerary takes an equestrian turn as you leave the train at Charleville for a short drive to Howardstown Racing Yard, in County Limerick. Your host is legendary cross-country rider Enda Bolger, now a master trainer with a raft of wins at Cheltenham and Punchestown. Head to his celebrated gallops to watch the horses in action as they work at the fences. Afterwards, enjoy a drink and time to chat to the charismatic trainer about his life in and out of the saddle.
If there’s time, you can stop to visit Kilmallock Abbey, a ruined Dominican priory on the north bank of the River Loobagh. Note the beautifully carved vaults and cloisters, still in superb condition.
Rejoin the train at Mallow and, over a restorative lunch, journey towards Killarney in County Kerry. Alight to visit the spectacular Muckross estate, riding in a traditional jaunting car to explore the splendid arboretum, water gardens and blooming shrubs overlooking the mirror-perfect lake. Before reboarding the train for a well-deserved dinner, take time to explore the vibrant town. Stroll down pretty streets lined with colourful shops and houses, admire the stained-glass windows in St Mary’s Cathedral or try a local ale in a welcoming pub.
Day 4: Killarney – Gort – Athlone
This morning, disembark in Ennis, the county town of County Clare, for a drive across the rocky, lunar-like terrain of the Burren. Arrive at Caher Bridge Garden, an award-winning plantsman’s paradise, created against all odds on the area’s unforgiving limestone rock. The miraculous garden is the labour of love of Carl Wright, who transformed a swathe of land, covered in hazel, into a warren of individual spaces with stone walls, tranquil ponds and meandering pathways. Join him to discover how he tamed the wilderness while ensuring his garden blended into the landscape. Learn about his choice of plants, including extensive fern and hosta collections. Look through the moongate – perhaps the most iconic feature of the garden – to see the old bridge over the River Caher perfectly framed.
It’s now lunchtime, and Monks restaurant, set on the edge of the ocean in Ballyvaughan, is the perfect stop for authentic Irish fare – creamy seafood chowder, fresh Atlantic fish or whatever takes your fancy.
Your final experience is at Woodville Walled Garden, located on a working farm in County Galway. This floral oasis was the restoration project of owner Margarita Donohue, expertly assisted by head gardener Marie. Flourishing herbaceous flower beds, fragrant roses, heritage fruit trees and a historic dovecote encircle a central fountain. Enjoy a farewell drink and canapés featuring local delicacies in the stable yard. Return to the train in Gort for a final delicious dinner and live entertainment to celebrate the end of your adventure. The train stables overnight in Athlone.
Day 5: Athlone – Dublin
As the train wends its way back east, linger over a final leisurely breakfast before alighting at Dublin Heuston Station, your journey’s end.
2020 Dates:July 7-11
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Prices are per person.
*Pricing varies based on availability and date. Prices are subject to change daily. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability for your desired departure.*
Touring Options: We highly recommend that you select your preferred touring options well in advance of your final payment. Please ask us for more details.