MUST-DO EXPERIENCES ON THE EMERALD ISLE
Ireland has long held a reputation for being a land of enchantment. And rightfully so—the second-largest of the British Isles boasts generous people, rolling green landscapes, magnificent castles, riveting ancient history, and world famous culture. Get up close and personal with a tailor-made
Ker & Downey tour that is full of flavor. By Elizabeth Frels
1. Stay in an original manor house
For the ultimate country getaway, cozy up in one of the Emerald Isle’s many private manor homes. Brimming with warmth, charm, and luxury, these stunning accommodations freckle the Irish countryside. For the best of the best tuck into Ballyvolane Country House, a humble 18th-century home turned award-winning boutique hotel in County Cork. This quirky Georgian manor is the perfect place for combining the creature comforts of home alongside the more unique pursuits of countryside glamping, gin distillery tastings, and salmon sport fishing.
2. Gain special access to the Irish National Stud
Between its legendary K Club golfing green, exciting thoroughbred racetracks, and stunning Japanese Gardens, County Kildare is an essential inclusion on your journey, especially when the owner of the Irish National Stud is on hand to provide behind-the-scenes access to the facility’s tranquil, monastic-style gardens and fascinating Stud Farm. You might even catch a glimpse of a new foal, as well as resident mares, stallions, weanlings, yearlings, and retired national hunt Living Legends.
3. Sail down the River Shannon
One of the most magnificent private yachts on the planet floats on the waters of the River Shannon in County Clare. Hop aboard and sail through the waterways and inlets of this region, participating in creative, exhilarating activities that highlight Irish history, art, architecture, food, and drink. Indulge in a fresh seafood lunch onboard; picnic on the manicured lawns of grand estates and castle grounds; enjoy private painting sessions with local artists; and stop for a gin tasting onshore.
4. Taste the Black Stuff like a connoisseur
Any local will tell you: no visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Indeed, tourists descend upon the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery to sample the world famous stout, a national symbol of Ireland. Bypass the crowds with a private tour and intimate Guinness Connoisseur tasting session in a private bar within the brewery. Next elevate your palate and travel to four of Dublin’s quintessential pubs, each selected for their throwback character and unique history. Along the way, sample a range of Irish Whiskeys—including some of the lesser known with the most deep-seated heritage.
5. Become a Wild Foods master
Blessed with a range of organic and wild foods, BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village has earned its reputation as the county’s Food Village. In this truly hidden treasure in the southern foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, enjoy a tantalizing meal at the Strawberry Tree—the only certified organic restaurant in Ireland—and take the Wild Foods Masterclass with the restaurant’s chefs. Learn about the seasonality of the region’s natural bounty; participate in traditional gathering, cooking, and preserving techniques; and forage along the Irish hedgerows, fields, and woods around Macreddin Village to create your very own Wild Foods dish.
6. Cook with a local celebrity chef
There are many reasons to love Dunbrody Country House Hotel. The onsite pub is packed with local people and underground vibes. The surrounding 300 acres of parkland offer front row seats to the bucolic charms of Hook Peninsula. And the food is to die for. Which makes sense because the hotel is co-owned by Kevin Dundon, a celebrity TV chef. His award-winning restaurant and the Dunbrody Cookery School offer a range of memorable activities for culinary enthusiasts, whether you’re a budding foodie or an experienced gourmand.