Centuries of Stories: Ireland's South−East

  • Mizen Head
  • Kinsale
  • Blarney Castle
  • Glendalough
  • Midleton Whiskey Distillery

The south-east of Ireland. A land flooded with history, ruinous strongholds, and unforgettable views. A place you won’t want to miss. 

Tour map

Tour Highlights

Abbeys
Distilleries
Castles
Walks
Cathedrals

Blarney Castle - Kiss the famed Blarney Stone amidst the walls of this impressive medieval stronghold and maybe you’ll get the ‘gift of the gab’. 

Glendalough - Discover a hidden-away abbey in a soul-stirringly beautiful valley. 

Rock of Cashel - This religious site defies any simple definition. It’s a castle, a Neolithic site, a chapel, and an incredible view. 

Mizen Head - The view from Ireland’s southernmost point along the Wild Atlantic Way is one you’ll definitely remember. 

Midleton (Jameson) Whiskey Distillery - Time to indulge in one of Ireland's favourite exports. 

Cobh and the Titanic - Delve into the mystery and history of this coastal town, the last port of call for Irish emigrants on the famous ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage. 

 

Your journey

 

We know what you’re looking for in a place like Ireland. So many come for the cities, and we don’t fault that logic. But we know you’re here for something a little more. The ruins of an ancient Celtic fortification. A megalithic tomb from the Stone Age. A medieval town with a big personality. An insight into Ireland’s history, both fascinating and dark.  

And this is why you’ve chosen this tour. To explore the east of Ireland, to go to her most southerly point, a region where you’ll discover everything above and so much more. A place of noteworthy people and powerful families. Blood wars and curious histories. Heritage of once-great people cover the landscape, and you’re here to discover it all. 

 

Tour Details

Starts
Check-in closes at 08:45 (tour departs at 09:00) - Dublin Nassau Street Pick Up, Opposite the Kilkenny Shop, Nassau St, Dublin,
Finishes (approx.)
18:00 - Dublin Nassau Street Drop Off, Opposite the Kilkenny Shop, Nassau St, Dublin,
Luggage
You're restricted to 20kg (44lbs) of luggage per person. This should be one piece of luggage similar to an airline carry-on bag (approximately 55cm x 45cm x 25cm / 22in x 17in x 10in) and a small bag for onboard personal items. You can find details about luggage storage options here.
Discounts

Students, seniors over 60, and children between 5 and 15 (unfortunately, we don't carry children under 5 years old)

Important information
  • Pack your waterproof clothing and walking shoes
  • This tour crosses the border, so you'll need euro and the British pound sterling
  • Attraction tickets may need to be purchased in advance. More information is provided in your booking confirmation e-mail
  • This is a hotel-only tour - we cannot book B&Bs
Tour inclusions
  • Transport in a 16 seat Mercedes mini-coach
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • Tour accommodation

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Explore the Celtic fortification of the Rock of Dunamase
  • Venture up to the Rock of Cashel, a dramatically perched medieval stronghold
  • Kiss the famous Blarney Stone for the 'gift of the gab'

Welcome to Ireland’s Ancient East, where you’ll lose yourself in history and beauty. Leaving the vibrant city of Dublin, we enter the heart of Ireland on our way to the Rock of Dunamase. Striking. Imposing. Beautiful. This is everything we love about Ireland, all wrapped up in a fascinating Celtic fortification. Well, the ruins of one. Once an early Christian settlement, it was pillaged by the Vikings in 842 and became one of the most important strongholds in County Laois. You have free time to wander here, so get your camera out.

Our journey takes us further south to the small town of Cashel where you’ll have time for lunch but also to wander the local attractions. We’re talking about the Rock of Cashel, of course. Imposing, enormous, iconic. Perched dramatically on an outcrop of limestone, this remarkable cluster of medieval buildings is famous around the world.

And if you’ve got a bit of spare time, wander over to the hauntingly beautiful Hore Abbey, the ruins of Ireland’s last medieval Cistercian monastery.

We’re spoiling you a bit today with fantastic buildings. Next up is the medieval stronghold of Blarney Castle on the outskirts of Cork. Here you have time to wander the castle grounds and go for a woodland stroll. You may even get a chance to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and receive the ‘gift of the gab’!

In the afternoon, you glide along the beautiful coastline south of Cork before arriving in Kinsale. This charming little fishing village is your overnight stop, with all its local restaurants and lively pubs. Enjoy your free evening whilst exploring the narrow streets and brightly coloured houses.

Day 2

  • It's time to believe in magic at Drombeg Stone Circle, known as the "Druid's Altar"
  • Be wowed by the megalithic Altar Wedge Tomb
  • Touch down at Ireland's most southwesterly point on the Wild Atlantic Way: Mizen Head
  • Enjoy an afternoon stroll around Bantry Town's harbour

A bit groggy this morning from last night’s pints of Guinness? No bother. We’ve got just the cure. Our first stop is for a photo at the Old Head of Kinsale, a headland view that will whack you wide awake.

And what is a visit to a country like Ireland without seeing some stone circles? That’s why our next stop is the eerie Drombeg Stone Circle, known locally as the Druid’s Altar. Back when it was excavated, a burial urn was found in the centre of these 17 standing stones. But whose, we wonder?

The next site we take you to is the kind to make you stop and ask, “What on Earth?!” before you whip out your camera. How is perhaps our question. This megalithic tomb has been around since the end of the Stone Age and the finding of bones at the site suggests Altar Wedge Tomb was a sacred site for those in the area.

Now it’s time to visit Ireland’s most southwesterly point on the Wild Atlantic Way, Mizen Head. They say photos never do Mizen Head justice, but you’re welcome to try and we know you’ll want a photo or two to remember the raw beauty of the wild Atlantic Ocean crashing up against the rocks below. Afraid of heights? Crossing the bridge is worth it even if you are, so you can get that iconic cliff view and even visit the Signal Station. You also have time here for a bite to eat at the visitor center, and even peruse the shop.

Our final stop of the day is the beautiful harbour setting of Bantry Town. Take time here to wander the quirky shops, meet the welcoming locals, or perhaps even stop in for a visit at Bantry House & Gardens, modelled after the ‘palazzos’ seen by the second Earl of Bantry on his travels on the continent.

After a full day of exploring, it’s back to Kinsale for the evening (and perhaps another pint or two).

Day 3

  • Explore the impressive Charles Fort, one of Ireland's largest military installations
  • Time to sample some of Ireland's whiskey at Midleton Distillery
  • The historic and beautiful town of Cobh has it all

How often do you look at something and use the word ‘spectacular’? Well, we’re sure you’ll use it today since your first stop is one of the largest military installations in Ireland, Charles Fort. This enormous star-shaped structure has played many vital roles in Irish history, so of course we need to take you here for a quick photo or two of its impressive exterior.

And what’s a visit to Ireland without sampling some of its moreish whiskey? We head to Midleton Distillery Cork (previously known as Jameson) for a tour of their facility and a taste of their powerful product. You might even say that theirs is the heart and soul of Irish whiskey.

With a slight buzz about your head (and heart), it’s time to fill your belly. We head to the beautiful town of Cobh where you have free time for lunch and to explore at your leisure. Perhaps it’s the Titanic Experience that will draw you in? Or the grand cathedral? The historic centre?

Tonight, you’ll be staying in the seaport town of Waterford. As we head towards Ireland’s oldest city, we’ll take the scenic coastal route and make a few photo stops along the way. Where, exactly? We like to keep it flexible. Perhaps Bunmahon Beach or Tankardstown Copper Mine. Not knowing is half the fun.

Day 4

  • Be converted by the beauty of 12th century Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey
  • Become best friends with the fun and vibrant city of Kilkenny
  • Wander Kelly Priory, one of Ireland's largest medieval monuments

Are you sick of it yet? Just how much there is to see in Ireland? Nah, we aren’t either. And as you explore Jerpoint Abbey*, our first stop of the day, you wonder how come we don’t make buildings like this anymore. This Cistercian abbey was founded back in the 12th century and, while now in ruins, you marvel at the remains of its Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

Now time for something still very much alive and bustling. Up next is the city of Kilkenny, sitting snuggly along the banks of the River Nore, a fun mix of modern and medieval. This city’s got a big personality, so we’re giving you plenty of time here to get to know her. First up is an interactive tour at Smithwick’s Experience, where you’ll explore this 18th-century brewery and perhaps even indulge in some of their ale. After that, how you spend your time in Kilkenny is up to you. With endless shops and restaurants, museums, and even a castle, there’s plenty to do.

Our final stop of the day is to visit one of the largest medieval monuments in Ireland, Kells Priory. Ruins remain today of the priory’s infirmary, workshop, kitchen, mill and more... but it’s the medieval defences that surround the priory that speak of its military involvement, inspiring the priory’s local name, the ‘Seven Castles of Kells’.

It’s back to Waterford tonight, where your time is yours to explore, eat, and be merry.

Day 5

  • Learn about the emigrant experience on the Dunbrody Famine Ship
  • Praise and explore the famous Glendalough Monastic Site
  • Feel regal at the Powercourt House and Gardens

Last Day Blues is a real thing, we know. We experience it too. But not to worry, since there’s still plenty of adventures to be had today. We head to the town of New Ross, located on the River Barrow, where we visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship. This authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel gives visitors an insight into the famine emigrant experience.

Then it’s onto the famous site of Glendalough Monastic Site. Here you have time to take a pilgrimage to the lovely lakes, praise the history at a visitor centre, and bask in the serenity of the monastic city ruins.

Now it’s time for something calming and beautiful – a visit to Powerscourt House and Gardens. The stunning views and landscaped gardens surrounding this country estate will keep your attention hooked, from secret hollows to ornamental lakes and statues.

And what a way to end the tour, just as we head back into bustling Dublin.

Attractions

Tour Attractions

You are able to pre-purchase entrance tickets to the following attractions at the time of booking:

  • Midleton Distillery (previously known as Jameson)

Other attractions may be booked and paid locally during the tour.

Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay two nights in Kinsale and two nights in Waterford. Please note this is a hotel-only tour and we cannot book B&Bs.

 

How can I book accommodation?

Accommodation is not included in the price of your tour. To book accommodation, there are two options: either Rabbie’s Tours can book it for you, or you can book your own. For information on how to do this, please see the ‘Accommodation’ tab on FAQ page HERE.

Alternatively, please email us your questions at tours@rabbies.com or call us on +44(0)131 226 3133.

Information you can find on the FAQ page, under the ‘Accommodation’ tab: types of accommodation, room types, the booking process, getting to and from your accommodation, and cancellation terms.

How much will the accommodation cost?

We book accommodation with third-party providers on your behalf and each property sets their own rates. Rates vary considerably depending on the accommodation standard, facilities, location, and local demand. We therefore can’t tell you exactly how much your accommodation will cost until your request has been allocated to a specific property.

As a guide, you can expect to pay the following prices, per person per night:

 

Approximate prices, per person per night

Overnight Location

 

Sole Occupancy

Multiple Occupancy

 

(1 person per room)

(2+ people per room)

Hotel

£110 - £190

£75 - £145

UK & Northern Ireland

€130 - €235

€75 - €150

Ireland

NOTE: Prices quoted are for guidance only and may be higher on some occasions, especially for last-minute bookings and when demand is high (E.g. peak season, weekends, holidays, special events etc)

Breakfast will be included unless otherwise noted. The type of breakfast provided will vary from place to place so you may receive either a full cooked breakfast, a continental style breakfast (E.g., toast, fruit, cereal), or a packed breakfast bag or tray (E.g., porridge pot, fruit, granola bar).

FAQs

Do you offer hotel pickups in the departure cities?

The UK and Ireland's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure, we only pick up from our central meeting points. What's more is leaving the city using the most direct route also reduces the carbon footprint of our tours.

Is there parking close to the departure point?

We don't recommend bringing your car into the centre of our departure cities. It can be hard to find parking, and there are excellent public transportation services.

When should I get to the departure point?

Arrive 15 minutes before your departure time. Due to waiting restrictions, we can't wait for you if you're late.

What happens if I'm late or miss the tour?

If you're late for your tour, our cancellation policy applies. 100% charges are applicable, and you will not be entitled to a refund or alternative.

What are your cancellation policies?

Your cancellation terms depend on which tour you've booked.

For one-day tours: You'll receive a full refund if you cancel 24 hours or more before the tour departure

For tours of between two and nine days: You'll receive a 90% refund if you cancel 15 or more days before the tour departure

For tours of 10 or more days: You'll receive a 90% refund if you cancel 21 or more days before the tour departure

For all European packaged tours: You'll receive a 90% refund if you cancel 42 days before the tour departure.

If you cancel inside these notice periods, full charges will apply and no refunds will be issued.

To cancel your booking, email tours@rabbies.com as soon as possible. The effective date of cancellation will be the date we receive written confirmation from you.

Click here to view terms and conditions

Can Itineraries change?

Your tour will always follow the itinerary as closely as possible. Your driver-guide will keep you up to date on the road, and we'll try to get in touch about any large changes prior to your departure.

Can I pre-book a specific seat?

Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable 16-seat mini-coaches have huge windows. So, you'll always get a good view.

Are there toilets on the bus?

Unfortunately, we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you'll have regular comfort breaks.

How do you cater for people with accessibility needs?

We aim to accommodate everyone. To read more information on how we do this, click here to go to our accessibility guide.

Do you take children on your tours?

We regret we don't carry children under the age of five on our scheduled tours.

You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.

How much time do I get off the bus?

We want you to enjoy Britain and Ireland. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of time to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.

Why do you exclude visitor attractions?

We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.

Do we need to bring our own lunch?

You don't need to. We stop in small towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.

Should I tip the driver-guide?

Let's be honest, our driver-guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.

What about travel insurance?

We advise you take out travel insurance.

What is ABTOT?

You're protected by ABTOT when you chose to let us reserve your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we become bankrupt. Read our terms and conditions for more information.

I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, email tours@rabbies.com , or check out our full FAQs .


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