Ireland: Gems of the Emerald… (trip)

Ireland: Gems of the Emerald Isle

  • Adare, Ireland
  • Active & Adventure
“"The Irish people -- their beautiful spirit, love and devotion to their country, their history, culture, and gorgeous countryside make… ”
,  Killarney
,  Kenmare
,  Burren
,   Great Blasket Island
,  Dingle Peninsula
,  Clare
,  Kerry
,  Ring of Kerry, Ireland, Europe

from $4,195* per person8 DaysMay, July-September
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Boundless Journeys 16 people max
Ireland will embrace you and may never let you go. For hundreds of years, this romantic land has inspired bards, musicians, and artists. You too will be swept away by the beauty of the landscape and the warmth and wit of the Irish people. Our days in Ireland are spent walking and hiking the lush, forested valleys of the Ring of Kerry, the wild green hills of the Dingle Peninsula, and the surreal limestone paths of the Burren. The quaint streets of small villages dotting the south and west of Ireland can only be topped by evenings in a traditional pub (there are many to choose from!) listening to lively music and sharing stories with the locals.

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Locations visited/nearby

Dingle , Killarney , Kenmare , Burren , Great Blasket Island , Dingle Peninsula , Clare , Kerry , Ring of Kerry, Ireland, Europe

2 testimonials about this trip

  1. Reviewer: M. Green located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio USA
    "The Irish people -- their beautiful spirit, love and devotion to their country, their history, culture, and gorgeous countryside make us want to plan our return before we even leave"
  2. Reviewer: C. Holzer located in Princeton, NJ USA
    “My enthusiasm for your trips is boundless and I will recommend you to all my friends!”

3 testimonials about the provider, Boundless Journeys:

  • Reviewer: S. Schantz located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA
    "My praise for the experience I had on my Boundless Journeys adventure in the Canadian Rockies is¦well, boundless! The trip was meticulously planned and implemented with the utmost professionalism. The guides were truly superb and every facet of the trip was outstanding. I expect to be on another Boundless Journeys trip very soon!!"
  • Reviewer: M. Thompson located in El Paso, TX USA
    "One of the best managed and most enjoyable trips I've ever taken!"
  • Reviewer: G. Gehr located in Andover, MA USA
    "The trip was everything we hoped...beautifully planned and even better than your advertisements! Nicky herself is an absolute jewel! She is simply amazing in her knowledge of the natural world, as a tour leader and as a group leader. She is simply superb in every way! One of the most memorable human beings I have ever met."

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DAY 1 
Killarney National Park

Walk – easy, 2-3 hours.

We depart Adare this morning for Killarney National Park. This section of the Kingdom of Kerry is one of the few areas of Ireland that remains forested, and MacGillicuddy’s Reeks are among the highest mountains in the country. Nestled between the base of the mountains and the town are the Lakes of Killarney, the centerpiece of Killarney National Park. We begin our exploration by walking the Muckross Peninsula. This beautiful, pastoral walk encircles Muckross Lake and brings us past the 200-year old Dinish Cottage and the Old Weir Bridge. Nearby we pass the “meeting of the waters,” where a stream feeds Muckross from the other two lakes. If we are lucky, we may also see the Irish red deer, the only surviving herd of native deer in the country.

Later this afternoon we check into our home for the next two nights, a lovely four-star hotel in the heart of colorful Killarney.
Killarney Royal Hotel, Killarney

Old Kenmare Road

Walk – moderate to strenuous, 3-4 hours.

We begin our adventure today in an unusual way – boarding an open boat for a scenic two-hour trip through Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake – the perfect way to see another side of the park before walking Old Kenmare Road, a local favorite. Our walk begins at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, the impressive hunting retreat of an 18th-century aristocrat, and ends at the beautiful Torc Waterfall. We make our way through magical, moss-covered woodland – the oldest oak woods in Ireland – and into the open valleys of Esknamucky Glen. Later this afternoon we visit Muckross House, a Victorian mansion surrounded by traditional gardens that recreate rural Irish life in the early 20th century.

Tonight we enjoy dinner at a great Killarney restaurant.
Killarney Royal Hotel, Killarney

DAY 3 
Transfer to Dingle

Walk – easy, about 3 hours.

This morning we make our way west to the Dingle Peninsula, where we have a variety of walking and hiking options to choose from. Along the way, we’ll stop at Inch Strand. This beach is a local favorite, and we may even see a few border collies on a day off from shepherding duties playing in the surf. Exploring the beach and venturing into the sand dunes offers a dramatic change from yesterday’s walk and highlights Ireland’s diverse habitats.

Our hotel for the next three nights is well-located in charming Dingle. Tonight we enjoy dinner at one of Dingle’s wonderful restaurants, featuring fresh seafood and traditional fare.
Greenmount House, Dingle

DAY 4 
Ventry Beach to Slea Head

Walk – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours.
A drive along the coast brings us to our trailhead at Ventry Beach, a beautiful, crescent-shaped white sliver. As we begin our ascent from Ventry Beach, our path is dotted with wildflowers. We ascend and then level out high above the ocean. This lovely, quintessential Irish landscape has appeared in such films as Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away. Along the trail, we pass beehive-shaped stone huts that are believed to be the humble abodes of early Christian monks. As we walk along, amazing views of the Atlantic and the Blasket Islands are revealed far below. The views of Great Blasket Island (where we will walk tomorrow if the weather cooperates) improve steadily as we descend to Slea Head.

Tonight you are free to choose from one of Dingle’s numerous restaurants for dinner. Our guides will be happy to make suggestions for you.
Greenmount House, Dingle

DAY 5 
Great Blasket Island

Walk – difficulty and elevation gain variable, about 4 hours. 

Today we take a trip back to a time before cars, cell phones, and computers. If the seas permit, we will board a ferry from Dingle to Great Blasket Island, the largest of a group of islands clustered off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Made famous by local author and Blasket native Tómas Ó’Criomhthain, the people of the Blaskets eked out a tough existence of fishing, turf-cutting, and taking advantage of odd shipwrecks in their waters. The population has dwindled, but Great Blasket Island still offers excellent options for walking and hiking, or perhaps just relaxing and imagining life on these islands in centuries past. (Please note: ferry service to Great Blasket Island is highly dependent on weather conditions. If it is not possible to ferry to the island, our local guides know numerous excellent walking and hiking options around the peninsula, each with their own special highlights.)

Dinner tonight is at another favorite local restaurant in Dingle. After dinner those who wish can seek out any of a number of “trad” music sessions taking place in the local pubs. In Dingle, it is still common for talented musicians to spend their evenings playing together in a local pub, and it is a delight to witness this Irish tradition.
Greenmount House, Dingle

DAY 6 
Transfer to Ballyvaughan; Corcomroe Abbey and Abbey Hills

Walk – easy to moderate, about 2 hours.

We depart Dingle early this morning over the spectacular Conor Pass, and make our way north to Ballyvaughan. Our drive on the narrow country roads is delightfully scenic as we cross the Shannon Estuary by ferry, stopping for lunch along the way.

As we approach Ballyvaughan, the landscape changes completely. Here we are entering the Burren (literally “rocky place” in Gaelic). The Burren is a vast limestone landscape, an ideal environment for wildflowers, including dozens of species of orchids. The history of the human impact on this area is fascinating, as centuries of farming and the removal of trees and turf have led to the austere beauty of the Burren today. We stop at the Burren Center in Kilfenora, where informational displays introduce us to the region. Time permitting, we then begin our walk at the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey, a ruined 12th-century Cistercian monastery. After exploring the ruins, we ascend into the surrounding hills, and enjoy expansive views over the abbey and the neighboring farmland.

This afternoon we arrive at our final hotel, a lovingly-restored four-star country house.
Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan

DAY 7 
The Burren

Walk – easy to moderate, 4-6 hours.

After breakfast, we head for the small parish of Fanore, where we begin our walk on a greenway (an old farm road) through the Burren. To the west and north are views of the Atlantic and Galway Bay, and on a clear day we will see the Aran Islands in the distance. Ancient stone walls mark our way through the rolling hills, and if we are lucky, we may see one of the many herds of wild goats that roam here.

Tonight we enjoy a final celebratory dinner at our hotel.
Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan

DAY 8 
Transfer to Shannon

After a final Irish breakfast we depart for Shannon airport, where we bid each other farewell.

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