‘On Day three of our Legends & Loughs itinerary we visited the Cliffs of Moher on the far west coast of Ireland. Very impressive at around 215 metres height, and stretching for over 14km. From here we drove through the Burren – rugged limestone karst country, to Galway, right in the middle of the week-long Galway races carnival (the Irish Melbourne Cup!). Myself and a former bookie from Townsville skipped the Irish dancing display and headed for the pub. Fantastic atmosphere. Fascinators and Guinness…what a combination, and great craic’ says Lyons.
The final full day was a visit to Ashford Castle. Originating from the 12th century, it later became the stately home of the Guinness family in 1800’s. ‘A delightful retired school teacher took us around the gardens giving a fascinating insight into the history. Another highlight was the falconry experience at Ashford Castle. The resident falconer gives you a heavy leather glove and you get to both launch and receive the Harris hawk. Lunch was in the sumptuous dining room, followed by free time to look around. The Ashford Castle Hotel has around 75 rooms and a championship golf course. Next up was a sheep farm in Connemara, the landscape reminiscent of Central Otago, then on to Killarney for wool spinning – at which point the retired bookie and I found another pub and spent a delightful hour with a particularly crusty old farmer who was a dead ringer for Father Jack of Father Ted fame.
I have to say that for me, the highlight of Ireland has been the people – universally friendly and great fun. On the final night there was a great Irish band onboard after dinner, then we reluctantly left the train the next morning in Dublin – what a journey! I would highly recommend the Belmond Grand Hibernian train for the well-heeled client who loves travelling by train’. www.worldjourneys.co.nz/rail-journeys