Traditional Pub & Folklore Self-Drive Tour 6 Days
5 Night Tour From $866 pps
This tour arrives into Dublin and departs from Shannon, but these arrival/departure points can be customised.
Destinations / Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Dublin and Dublin City
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 at 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 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.
Day 2: Galway City and the Connemara Region
Today 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.
North-west of Galway City 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.
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: Kerry via Clare
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.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 4: 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 5: Limerick City and Adare
You’ve now experience the best of Kerry and so it’s time to start on your way back towards Clare. First up on your route will be “Ireland’s prettiest village” – Adare. This wonderfully picturesque rural village does its part to keep the Irish traditions alive. In Adare you’re never far from a friendly smile or a hopping music session, so even if you’re only visiting for the pleasant scenery you’ll leave with the warmth of true Irish charm.
The best place to start your visit to Adare is its heritage centre. Whatever your question, the staff are there to point you in the right direction. The heritage centre is also home to an insightful exhibition, which delves into the village’s enthralling past. Wandering around this quintessential rural village, you’ll feel magically transported into a simpler time. The local’s up beat charm is a breath of fresh air, winning you over and willing you to extend you stay in this peaceful and beautiful village.
Limerick City is next on your route, but first a visit to Curraghchase forest park is in order. Delight in the quiet calm of this woodland sanctuary. The whisper of still lakes and the soft hush of an invisible breeze as it passes by will put you at ease as you take in all the sites and sounds of the park.
Step by step you’re working your way up to Clare, where your next luxurious overnight stay awaits. First a visit to Limerick City – a bustling urban delight situated at the mouth of the River Shannon (Ireland’s longest river). King John’s Castle is one of Limerick’s most famed monuments and rightfully so. Nestled in the heart of the city on its very own island home, the fantastic 13th Century structure hosts a range of exhibitions and castle tours, which breathe life into the esteemed history of the castle. King John, after whom the castle was named, was once “Lord of Ireland”. He used the building for minting his own coins and today, visitors can receive their very own souvenir coin as a reminder of their visit.
All around the city of Limerick you’ll find a fascinating combination of the old and the new. Georgian streetscapes combine with modern buildings creating a strange mix but one that really works. A stroll along the newly completed boardwalk treats visitors to stunning views of the north bank of the River Shannon, whilst walking down the marina you can stare out along its south bank.
For a glimpse at what Limerick has to offer in terms of culture, drop into the Hunt Museum. One of a kind art pieces and antiques from the Neolithic age to the 20th Century make up the exhibitions of this magnificent museum. Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilisations all make an appearance and even works of art by Yeats, Renoir and Picasso.
In Limerick you’ll find a whole host of attractions and an eclectic selection of shops and restaurants. Time will slip away as you experience the charm of this wonderful city and before you know it, it will be time to head on to Clare but luckily your accommodation is a mere 25 minute drive from the city.
If you missed out on Durty Nelly’s on your first visit to Clare, why not pop in on your last night in Ireland. You’ll drink up the atmosphere that night and often these nights provide some of the most stand out moments. Revel in the craic and ceol, embracing that same passion, which has been intertwined with Irish culture for eons, before a well deserved night’s rest in Clare.
Day 6: Departure from Shannon
Your journey around Ireland may be coming to an end, but the echoes of all the stories and music will stay with you for years to come. The lingering beat of a fast paced jig or lilting Irish ballad will always be at the back of your mind, ready to rekindle your Irish spirit.