Traditional Pub & Folklore Self-Drive Tour 8 Days
7 Night Tour From $946 pps
This tour arrives into and departs from Dublin, but can be customised to include Shannon as an arrival/departure point.
Destinations / Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Dublin
Your trip begins in Dublin – Ireland’s capital City. From the airport, once you’ve collected your car and checked into your hotel, you’ll be heading right into the heart of Dublin City Centre, a veritable hive of activity and culture. Dublin has produced many world renowned musicians, artists and scholars. The city seems to breathe with inspiration nurturing those creative souls and giving life to expression. Dublin has so much to offer from monuments with historical significance to local secrets waiting to be discovered making it the perfect launch pad for your trip around Ireland.
With so much to do and see, it’s easy to see why the Dublin Hop On Hop Off Tour is so popular. With the freedom to jump off at any attraction along the route and regular bus times, it’s a great way to see Dublin. From Christ Church Cathedral to The National Museum of Decorative Artsat Colin’s Barracks or the Dublin Writers Museum this Dublin bus tour is extremely handy and efficient.
Whether you opt for the bus tour or not, the Book of Kells nestled in Trinity College Library is essential viewing for any visitor to Dublin. This delicately illustrated 9th Century manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin. Tours of the college are available and provide a deep insight into the history of this revered college, which nurtured such world renowned figures as playwright Samuel Beckett and philosopher George Berkerley.
The Jameson Distillery Tour, which is a quick hop away on the Luas (Dublin’s light rail tram service) will take you on a journey back to the origins of Jameson Whiskey. Jameson have become masters of their craft through the years beginning with John Jameson’s bold move to Ireland in the 1770’s and becoming the world famous brand we know today. Not forgetting Ireland’s drink of choice, the Guinness Storehouse Tour will see you delving into the history behind this famous brand. It’s the perfect excuse to fit in a sneaky pint as the day flies by.
A night of entertainment lies ahead but if you need to rest up before head on down to Grafton Street, where you’ll find a shopper’s paradise and just as many cafes and restaurants. So whatever takes you’re in the market for you’ll find here in Dublin’s premier shopping district.
Dance and music have always gone hand in hand and traditional Irish music is no exception. The jigs and reels that have become so synonymous with the Irish people are simply infectious, so why not give into your tapping feet and join in on the fun. The Irish Dance Party in Temple Bar (Dublin’s cultural capital) is an interactive Irish dance event. Professional Irish Dancers will teach you some basic Irish dancing group steps to a soundtrack of well known Irish songs from live musicians.Or with Experience Gaelic Games you can get the chance to try your hand (or foot) at Ireland’s national sports: Gaelic Football, Hurling and Handball.
That evening, check out The Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest Pub. This great venue hosts an evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies. You can listen to Irish folklore and storytelling as you sit down for a traditional Irish candlelit dinner. This makes for a truly spellbinding experience, transporting you back to Ireland of old, where storytelling was the primary means of communication.
If you’d prefer some more active entertainment the Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl, will see you being led around the Temple Bar area Dublin City by two musicians. As they treat you to well known Irish songs, the story of Irish music will unfold before you from its origins right up to its influence on popular music today.
The tour usually lasts two and a half hours, taking in some of Dublin’s most famous watering holes and is the ideal way to finish your first day in Ireland, whetting your appetite for the musical road trip ahead.
- Croke Park GAA Museum and Stadium Tour
- St. Patrick's Cathedral
- Kilmainham Jail
- The Little Museum of Dublin
Day 2: Galway City
Your next two days will be spent in the Galway and the Connemara region, which have always had very strong ties with traditional Irish music and dance. You’ll be leaving Dublin that morning and making your way across country to the west of Ireland. In actual fact, taking the direct route from Dublin to Galway is no longer than two hours, but if you decide to go this way you’ll miss out on the multitude of beautiful and vast scenery from your window-side view.
Also taking the scenic route you can make a slight detour to Clonmacnoise. This important monastic site is home to fantastically crafted stone crosses, the ruins of a cathedral and two round towers, which reach to the heavens.
The further west you push on the more you’ll notice a shift in setting. More and more greenery will pop up, with immense fields stretching off into the distance for a seeming infinity. Lush foliage and expertly crafted stone walls will line the roads as you take things at your own pace edging ever closer to Galway.
The rich heritage links of the west of Ireland are instantly evident and a prime example is the Connemara Celtic Crystal Centre.The master crystal craftsmen have refined their process to perfection and continue to create inspired pieces of this world-renowned brand. Taking from Irish folklore and the exceptional scenery which surround their day to day lives this craft has evolved over the centuries but still maintained what makes it so special. Their entire range is on show at the heritage centre if you’re looking to own your very own piece of Galway.
Arriving at Galway City, the cultural heart of Ireland, you’ll find folklore and traditional roots in their abundance. Craft shops nestled in side streets; stunning architecture with medieval undertones and the ever-welcoming presence of the locals make any trip to Galway special.
Here you will be spoilt for choice as you try to decide which Irish music Pub to visit next. Tig Collí, Taaffes, The Quays, An Pucán, The Crane… and the list goes on. As with most areas, some sessions are scheduled, whereas others are completely impromptu, taking you off guard and putting an instance smile on your face and a spring in our step.
Galway has a whole host of other attractions as well. The Galway City Museum contains two major exhibitions. One of these takes a look at the rich heritage of Galway whilst the other displays works of art from prominent Irish artists from the second half of the 20th Century. Then there’s the Spanish Arch, Galway Cathedral, and Brigit's Garden. These are just a snippet of the fantastic variety of sights and sounds in Galway City, which will leave you longing for more.
Whilst in June Galway hosts its annual Galway Sessions festival. Every year a full week of events is planned with a parade, big name musicians performing and living up to its name – plenty of sessions. All this awaits you and more in this fantastic city. You’ll be spending the night in Galway, where the refreshing country air will take whisk you quickly into a soft slumber.
Day 3: Day trip to the Aran Islands or Connemara Region
From Galway you’re in the perfect location to go on a Day Tour of the Inis Mór (meaning big Island). Inis Mór is one of three islands (Inis Mór, Inis Meann and Inis Oirr) off the coast of Galway, which are known collectively as the Aran Islands.
The islands are a haven of Irish cultures. As a result, Irish music is still as popular as ever on Inis Mór. Visitors regularly walk in on spur-of-the-moment music sessions in local pubs, and for those who arrive on the island during the summer months you can catch The Ragus International Irish Music, Song and Dance Show in Halla Rónáin. This hour long show will have you on the edge of your seats with hard shoe dancing and haunting Sean Nós airs (an old style of Irish song).
Inis Mór is also one of the last main strongholds of the Irish language and Gaeilge (Irish) is the first language on the island, but all the locals are also bi-lingual. The Inis Mór Heritage centre provides an in-depth look at the island’s history. Native tour guides, mini-buses and bicycles are available for hire, or should you prefer a more traditional trip, pony and trap hire is also available.
If taking to the water and shipping out to the Aran Islands for the day doesn’t take your fancy, there’s still plenty to see in the west. Just to the north-west of Galway you’ll find the Connemara region.
If taking to the water and shipping out to the Aran Islands for the day doesn’t take your fancy, there’s still plenty to see in the west. Just to the north-west of Galway you’ll find the Connemara region and some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland. Kylemore Abbey should definitely be on the top of your list of things to see so take the Sky Road to catch some magnificent views along the way from the Inishturk and Turbot islands just off the west coast to 12 Bens as the dominate the skyline. Around this area you’ll also find Clifden, a beautiful town, which is ideal for taking a break and just enjoying the countryside.
Kylemore Abbey is open all year round and welcomes many visitors to the estate every year. Within the grounds you’ll find The Abbey, the Gothic Church, Craft Shop, Pottery Studio, a restaurant and Victorian Walled Gardens, not to mention a selection of lake and woodland walks. The abbey dates back to 1867 and has an enthralling story behind its creation. Intended initially as a romantic gift, since its construction the Kylemore has been the centre of much intrigue including: royal visits, tragedy and even acting a safe haven in the midst of some of Ireland’s troubled years.
Connemara is also home to the Connemara National Park, a vast and scenic area, which covers some 2957 hectares. In the park you’ll find, heaths, woodlands, ancient megalithic court tombs and during the summer - a visitor centre, which hosts an exhibition on the beautiful landscapes of Connemara.
Also within the Connemara region, you’ll find the Maam Valley. This picturesque town land lies under the shadow of the Maamturk Mountains and is home to an array of sites with architectural importance and Ireland’s only Fjord – Killary Fjord. A trip to Connemara is the perfect way to see some Ireland’s finest scenery before heading back to Galway for one last session before heading south.
Day 4: The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren
It’s time to head south towards Kerry. En route you’ll be passing through Clare, so you have no excuse not to give a quick visit to the famed Cliffs of Moher and the Burren Region.
The Burren is unique in so many respects. Encompassing mountains, streams and valleys this area of limestone rock is one of a kind and beautiful in many regards. A visitor centre in Kilfenora will indulge you with all the information you need on the various features and nuances of the Burren before you head out to explore it for yourself. Wondrous ancient tombs and exceptional flora and fauna blend with each other to create some truly awe-inspiring landscapes.
Onto the Cliffs of Moher - a natural landmark, as synonymous with Ireland as Guinness or the Blarney Stone. You may have seen photos, but the immersive views from atop the cliffs are something, which really must be seen in person to be fully experienced. Just down the road (10 minutes drive) you’ll find the Doolin Cave, home to the longest stalactite in the northern hemisphere, clocking in at a massive 6.54m (20 ft).
For a bit of Ye Olde fun before Kerry, head to Bunratty Castle for an authentic medieval experience. This 15th Century castle was restored in 1954 and is now home to the Bunratty Folk Park. See up close what is was like living in the 19th Century. Popping from house to house in this recreated village setting you’ll be regaled with stories from the locals, including the Bean an Tí (Woman of the House), schoolteacher and policeman. You really won’t find anything like it elsewhere, proving why this attraction welcomes so many visitors through its gates every year.
A mere hop and skip away from Bunratty you’ll find Durty Nelly’s. If you’ve been missing those music sessions, you can get your fix here accompanied by a slap up meal. Nelly’s public house dates way back to 1620 and has a colourful history involving an Irish wolfhound, a toll bridge and a miracle cure. Travellers have been availing of Nelly’s hospitality for centuries so your sure to get an Irish welcome like non other.
Leaving Clare, it’s time to continue on towards Kerry where you will be spending the next two days. You’ll have a whole day to explore the Ring of Kerry, but for now, if you still have time, you can take the route through Adare, County Limerick (“Ireland’s prettiest village” and enjoy their rich traditional ties. Popping into any one of the village’s pubs or their Heritage Centre, you’ll usually be able to find a group of musicians who are itching to whip out their instruments and entertain.
Finally you’ll reach Kerry. Before settling down for the night, have a quick jaunt around the town of Killarney, check out one of the pubs and if you’re lucky one of the locals might whisper some Kerry folklore in your ear.
Day 5: The Ring of Kerry
The sunlight will peak through your curtained window, waking you gently and reminding you of the adventures that lie in wait outside. Kerry is famed for the Iveragh Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry as it is better known. This unspoiled and almost magical area has been attracting visitors for years. You’ll want to go at your own pace exploring the area because there is just so much to take in.
From expansive beaches to rich heritage links to ancient Ireland and some of the finest scenery in Ireland, this is one day trip that you will not be forgetting anytime soon. Venture along the pass through the majestic MacGillycuddy’s reeks, visit the restored Bog village, admire the roaring Torc Waterfall or take in the panoramic views from Ladies View. These are but a handful of attractions that will literally stop you in your tracks as you make your way around the Ring.
Within the confines of Killarney National Park, you’ll also find Muckross House and Gardens, another of Kerry’s most popular attractions. Intensive restoration work on this stunning Victorian house, means that today many of the rooms exist in their original form. To give those walking feet a rest, rent out a bike and zoom around the rest of Killarney National Park, taking in all the sights and sounds of this wonderful setting, which is bursting with nature and enchanting scenery.
A Sunken Garden, Rock Garden, Stream Garden and Arboretum all provide for beautiful viewing in Muckross Gardens and those who visit during the months of April and July are in for an extra treat as the gardens blossom with vibrant red and pink Rhododendrons. Right beside Muckross House you’ll also find Muckross Traditional Farms, which portray a working recreation of traditional farming methods and the day to day habits of a rural community in 1930’s Ireland.
Nestled in the Gap of Dunloe you’ll find Kate Kearney’s Cottage - former home to the legendary Irish beauty of the same name. Visitors are treated to a night of Irish music like no other. You’ll be served up a delicious traditional dinner - the perfect compliment to the live music and costumed dancers, which has earned the cottage such wide spread acclaim.
Watch as the musicians skilfully play their instruments willing them to produce lilting tunes and creating an electric atmosphere. Fiddles, pipes and tine whistles spur on the dances as they display their vast repertoire from jigs and reels to the famous “Brush Dance”.
Or for a more mobile music experience, you can take a trip with the Killarney Music Pub Crawl, which promises “Craic and Ceol”, just the cure after a long two days sightseeing. Again you’ll be lead on the tour by a couple of local professional musicians as you’re shown around two of Killarney’s most loved pubs: O’ Connor’s Pub and Courtney’s Bar. Discover the local folklore, sing along to all your favourite Irish ballads and enjoy a pint Kerry style on this engrossing tour.
Day 6: Kilkenny City
From Kerry to Kilkenny, you’ll be back on the road again. This will probably be the most time you’ll spend on the road in one go, but the rolling countryside views are just as spectacular and what you’ll find at the other end is sure to impress you. Culturally rich Kilkenny has plenty to offer and keep you entertained.
Kilkenny is often referred to as the medieval capital of Ireland and after visiting Kilkenny Castle you’ll know why. Dating back to the 18th Century this intricate structure boasts a variety of contrasting styles of architecture.
You will find the structure towering over the “high town” of Kilkenny City and a crossing on the river Nore, daring you to come and explore its many secrets. Room by room, the Castle Tour delves into the castles history punctuated along the way with a whole host of unique paintings and furnishings.
The Smithwick’s Brewery tour in Kilkenny invites visitors to see the working factory of this most famous ale. Smithwick’s trade secrets have been passed down over 300 years, originating with John Smithwick. His is an inspirational story, fraught with hardship, courage and an unwavering determination. John was left an orphan after the Irish rebellion, but undeterred by his situation, he strove to make something of himself, and today what started out as a local family brewery is still going strong. Also included in the tour is a visit to St. Francis Abbey, which dates back to the 12th Century and can be found on the same site as the brewery.
If you’re looking to take a break from urban Kilkenny, Kilfane Glen and Waterfall is a short drive from Kilkenny (30 minutes drive), and it’s the perfect place to relax. Let the serenity of this 18th Century romantic era garden wash away your troubles. Or if you’re looking for a more natural attraction Dunmore Caves are again a short trip away from Kilkenny (45 minutes drive), complete with a visitor centre to compliment the quiet beauty of the caves themselves.
Visitors to Jerpoint Park can experience estate country pursuits in a unique heritage setting from pony and trap rides, sheep dog demonstrations, fishing for salmon and trout on the River Nore, horse riding across open countryside with breath taking views, before soaking up the regal atmosphere of Belmore House Tea Rooms and sampling the delicious homemade delights.
Back in the city there are a number of walking tours and trails from the Tynan Walking tour (an adventure of all things medieval in Kilkenny) to the Castlemorris Wood Walk (just one of a whole range of scenic walks available to visitors of the area).
Marrying the idea of traditional Irish music and a walking rail is the Kilkenny Traditional Irish Music Trail. Once more, you will be hosted by local musicians as they bring you from session to session in Kilkenny’s most popular and lively traditional pubs. The two hour tour will see you learning about the various traditional instruments, listening to local renditions of Kilkenny folklore and basking in the energetic atmosphere. If you prefer the D.I.Y .feel of finding sessions there are plenty of pubs to choose from in the area such as Matt the Miller’s and Murphy’s, which host sessions on a weekly basis.
Day 7: Dublin via the Wicklow Mountains
The final leg of your journey has begun. Heading back to Dublin from Kilkenny, why not detour through Wicklow and discover the “Garden of Ireland” for yourself?
On your way, you can take the road through Carlow and visit Browne's Hill so you can take you picture with the largest portal dolmen in Europe. Date back to the 4th Century and measuring 6.1 m (20 ft) in length, it really is a little wonder hidden in the county of Carlow. Wicklow’s most historical asset comes in the form of Glendalough or “the valley of the two lakes”. The sight not only boasts some stunning scenery, but also a world famous Monastic Site with Round Tower and a selection of walking trails, including The Wicklow Way.
The valley was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age, and the two lakes from which Glendalough gets its name were formed when the ice eventually thawed. During the 6th Century, St. Kevin founded, what is now one of the most impressive monastic sites in Ireland. The remains of some of the building and structures from this site are still standing, including St. Kevin’s Church and a stone cross.
From Glendalough, you can take the sally Gap on your way to Powerscourt Waterfall. Taking this route you can enjoy spectacular views of the Wicklow Mountains and the dark waters of Lough Tay and Lough Dan. This will bring you to Powerscourt Waterfall (6km/3.7 miles from the main Powerscourt estate). It’s Ireland’s highest waterfall standing at 121km (75 miles) and truly a sight to behold.
Once you make it to Powerscourt Estate you will head along a mile long avenue leading up to the Palladian house, flanked by some 2,000 beech tress. Ahead of you lies 47 acres of magnificent gardens and a glorious house, which rose from the ashes back to its former glory after a fire in 1974. Within the walls of the house you can view an exhibition which covers the history of the estate in its entirety, whilst outside you can meander through the various gardens, all delicately maintained.
While you’re in the area, drop by Enniskerry village. You’ll find tiny local pubs like Ye Olde Bray Inn and acres of green in this relaxed village. Also on you way back to the Capital you’ll be brought through Bray - a quaint seaside town with calming promenades, beautiful beaches and even a scenic cliff walk along the eastern side of Bray Head.
If sight seeing has worked up your appetite, head on to Johnnie Fox’s Pub - a slight diversion as you head back to Dublin but well worth it. Johnnie’s serves up a delicious meal with a side off traditional Irish music. Don’t worry if you missed anything in Dublin the first time around, getting from Wicklow back to Dublin is a short drive (less than an hour), so you can always make your detour a short one. Who knows there might be time for one more session before you head back to your accommodation for the night.
Day 8: Departure from Dublin
You may be sad to be leaving all the Irish music and folklore behind, but as the saying goes “If music be the food of love; play on”.