Celtic Ways Ireland
Hand-crafted Tours – Iconic Walking Trails – Mindful Adventure
All you need is taken care of: guiding, accommodation, meals and transfers
Our new Celtic Ways Ireland tours are for the discerning visitor looking for something a little different when they holiday in Ireland. Our interest lies in slow tempo trails that give our guests the space to go deeper into the the story of the places we pass along the way. Sacred spaces like Glendalough, St Mullins, Ardmore, Gougane Barra, Dingle draw us deep into our Celtic past. We do not rush our walks here. These saints chose the setting for their monastic settlements well – all stunning amphitheatres of natural beauty. It pays to rest awhile by the water’s edge and allow these places work their magic!
Whatever your music interests are, be it traditional Irish music, contemporary folk, classical or choral, even rock, we can line up some live events for you. Sport too; there’s nothing quite like going to a hurling match and witnessing the passion and the skill up close. This is the real Ireland, the authentic Ireland, one that has shaped us all. Your time here is your time to re-claim all that has been passed on through the generations.
The key to your holiday with us is where you stay. We can offer you a wide range of accommodation; anything from a private country estate to glamping pods to a 5 star hotel to a log cabin by a lake. We’ll source the best place for you. We do not rush our stay in these locations. We organise your time so that you can settle in one iconic place over a few days and enjoy the unique tours we line up for you, before moving on to your next base.
We have a library of over 100 experiences around Ireland to select from as we craft your itinerary. We listen, then choose the perfect programme for you. Below are sample days on our Celtic Ways Ireland…. a wee taste of places beyond Waterford worth exploring as you tour Ireland!
Kayaking on the River Barrow in Carlow
Move to the rivers flow as you escape to the great outdoors in a way that will live long in the memory. You can walk by the river’s edge or take a kayak. This day is tailor made for you!
Kayak along the River Barrow from Graiguenamanagh to St. Mullins. Graiguenamanagh is a medieval town dating back to 1204, nestled in a wooded valley between Mt Brandon and the Blackstairs Mountains. Soon, you pass under the beautiful and historic 7 arch stone bridge. You are now paddling through one of the most visually appealing river valleys in Ireland, an age-old pilgrim route carved out over thousands of years.
Arriving in St Mullins, you immediately feel that you are stepping back in time. This is a village built on an ancient Monastic site. Tie up your kayak and let the historian within you explore the village. St Moling founded a monastery here at the end of the 7th century. We will have times to visit the ruins of St Mullin’s Abbey, a medieval nave-and-chancel church with a spiral stairway, and St James’s Chapel, a small oratory dedicated to St. James and the people who stopped here on their way to the Camino – Santiago de Compostela.
Seamus and his team in ‘Blanchfield’s old Irish pub will give us a taste of real Irish hospitality. A day you will remember!
A day on the farm – the Baileys Farm Experience in Wicklow
The Baileys Farm experience in Co Wicklow. The Hayden family look forward to welcoming you to their ancestral home. Brothers Joe and Michael Hayden bring 155 years of their family’s passion for farming tradition to life on their personally guided farm visits around their 146 hectare award winning farm. Five hectares of fen bog, natural woodland and wild meadow are protected under Irish and EU law to protect the large and unique variety of flora and fauna which exists there.
The Hayden family farm is home to their 200 cow dairy herd, which produces milk for Baileys Irish Cream. In 2002 this farm was chosen as the international ‘Vineyard’ for the world’s number one cream liqueur and now plays host to the many visitors who wish to visit the natural home of Baileys. No visit is complete without explaining the special relationship that this farm has with Baileys Irish Cream.
On arrival you will be welcomed by a member of the Hayden family and invited to enjoy an intimate morning coffee/tea and homemade fruit scones. Hear the amazing story of generations of this family from those who continue the proud tradition of dairy production.
Take a stroll around this magnificent farm and experience how the greatest and tastiest cream in the world is produced. Meet with the real stars of the show who are our 200 Baileys Ladies. See at first-hand how the richness of farming tradition has been blended with the science of modern food production.
Irish farm life is never far removed from our ancient past and our farm’s connection with our patron saint is unique. Located just beside our farm yard St Patricks Well was blessed by St. Patrick over 1,500 years ago during his mission to bring Christianity to the people of Ireland, this well continues to be a special place of pilgrimage, prayer and healing. This well provided water for local families for thousands of years. Today it represents our link with the beginning of our Christian tradition and is a place of peace and spiritual solace.
Finally Joe will share with you how the rich cream from the dairy herd is masterfully blended with finest spirits including smooth Irish whiskey, velvety chocolate and sweet vanilla flavours and of course a little magic to create the unique taste that is Baileys. You couldn’t leave without tasting the magic formula for yourself.
Stepping into our Celtic past – Gougane Barra in Cork
There’s something about Gougane Barra – it has a serenity that you feel once you arrive. We suggest you walk the Slí an Easa trail with our local guide and experience for yourself the peace and tranquility of this sacred space. The story brings the place to life. Here, by the lakeside, you come face to face with the wonders of our Celtic past.
The hallowed shrine of Saint Finbarr dates back to the sixth century. In this hallowed vault carved out over millions of years, the saint communed with God. The surrounding mountains were his cloister and the lake his sanctuary. Stone cells commemorate his hermitage. Born in the second half of the 6th century AD, in Achaid Duborcon near Crookstown, Co. Cork, to a slave girl and her metalworker husband from Connacht, who had moved to Munster to find work, Finbarr, or Barra, went on to leave a deep spiritual legacy in Cork.
As an adult, Finbarr left home with three unidentified ascetics and spent time in Scotland, including on the Isle of Barra, before establishing various hermitages in his native area, notably at Kilclooney and on the island here in Gougane Barra. The Slí an Easa trail passes some gorgeous waterfalls and takes you to a viewing point that offers magnificent views of the Coomroe Valley. There’s another viewing point later in the walk that’ll treat you to a panoramic view of St Finbarr’s Chapel by the lakeside. Gougane Barra has a mystical charm that leaves you wanting more. You’ll be in no rush to leave!
For the more adventurous, we can arrange 37km guided tour along St Finbarr’s Way. It is a stunning walk but demands more of the walker over it’s mountainous terrain. It presents the most challenging pilgrim path in Ireland and the most rewarding. The ascent into Gougane Barra will live long in the memory.
A day to remember by the Lakes of Killarney – boat and bike ride in Kerry
A boat tour of the Lakes of Killarney, followed by a bike ride through the Gap of Dunloe, showcases the very best of Killarney National Park and surrounding area. From castles, ruins, and quaint cottages to peaceful waterways, mountain views, and wildlife sightings, this trip had everything to make you feel alive all over again.
Your boat trip through the Lakes of Killarney starts at the pier in front of Ross Castle in Killarney National Park. After the boatman loads up the rental bikes into the bow, we say goodbye to Ross Castle and set off on our tour of the Killarney Lakes. Our guide in Killarney will be on hand to have your bikes ready for collection and to make sure you find your way to the Ross Castle.
The first lake we sail across in our little motorized wooden boat was Lough Leane, the Lower Lake. Lough Leane is the largest of the Killarney Lakes and biggest body of fresh water in the region. Small, forested islands dot the lake and the largest one, Innisfallen Island, is home to the ruined remains of Innisfallen Abbey. There is a beautiful mix of stunning views along with stories of bygone days that makes you want to return.
Cycling through the Gap of Dunloe is a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon. From Lord Brandon’s Cottage, the road begins a 5 km climb to the head of the Gap. It’s a tough enough climb but once you stay at a pace that suits you, you will reach the summit. Once you arrive at the top of the Gap of Dunloe, it will take your breath away.
Squeezed between Purple Mountain to the east and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks to the west, this scenic mountain pass is simply stunning. The best part though- it is all downhill from here. Over the next 6 kilometres you will pass alongside small lakes, over stone bridges, past horses pulling jaunting cars, and groups of sheep wandering the roadside.
Back in the national park, we are met with a field full of deer grazing in the late afternoon light. Viewing some beautiful wildlife is a lovely way to end my boat and cycle trip in Killarney.
A trail along the Saint’s Road in Kerry
Many delightful surprises await on the Dingle Peninsula as we take you into hidden valleys, lakes and meandering streams, steeped in history and folklore, stories and anecdotes to touch the soul in so many ways. These two days, we’ll be joined by local guides, Mossie and Helen, seeped in the spirituality and in the pilgrim story of West Kerry. Cosán na Naomh, (The Saint’s Road) situated on the Dingle Peninsula is an old medieval pilgrimage route which leads from the beach at Ventry to the foot of Mount Brandon. The next day, we make our way to the summit of Mount Brandon. Adventure, mindful, spiritual… all rolled into one.
Cosán na Naomh, (The Saint’s Road) situated in West Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula is an old medieval pilgrimage route which leads from the beach at Ventry to the foot of Mount Brandon. The path is 17.7km in length and its goal was to bring pilgrims to the base of Mount Brandon.
People have been traversing this route down the centuries, and indeed it may even have been a pilgrimage route in pre Christian times. This route is interspersed with sacred sites among them the famous Gallarus Oratory and Kilmalkedar Church. There is one such site which has a large boulder decorated with an encircled cross of arcs, and another smaller equal armed cross with an inscription in the Old Irish Ogham script, requesting a prayer for Colmán the Pilgrim!
Mount Brandon is the second highest mountain in Ireland at 3027 feet. It stands at the western edge of the Dingle Peninsula. The mountain has an air of mystery about it as it stands so majestically, often shrouded in cloud and soft Atlantic mists! Legend has it that St. Brendan, who is the patron saint of Co. Kerry, spent three days praying alone on the summit of Mount Brandon, after which he slept and a vision of an angel came to him and promised to guide him to a beautiful island.
It is said he then got his boat and fellow monks ready and set off on his epic voyage, the Navigatio Sancti Brendani, (The Voyage of Saint Brendan) which became one of medieval Europe’s greatest travelogues! On the top of the mountain where this vision took place there are the ruins of a little oratory, Teampaillín Bréanainn to be seen, and a few yards away is a holy well also named after Saint Brendan.
Headland walk by the Cliffs of Moher in Clare
You simply cannot travel to Ireland without paying a visit to Ireland’s top tourist attraction, the breath-taking Cliffs of Moher, situated in County Clare along the Wild Atlantic Way. The Cliffs of Moher have majestically faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years and their beauty is incomparable – it is Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction and when you visit you will understand why.
Our visitors are joined by a local guide, Pat, who leads us from the picturesque village of Doolin across the headland looking out onto the Cliffs of Moher. This pathway leads us off the tourist trail to give you a unique view of the cliffs. Pat’s stories shorten the 8km walk and when you merge with the multitudes of tourists, you sense you’ve had a bird’s eye view of the cliffs that few around you get to share.
The Cliffs rise to 702 feet at their highest point and range for 5 miles over the Atlantic ocean. The sheer scale and dramatic impact of the cliffs never ceases to amaze and delight in equal measure. The Cliffs are also a special protected area (SPA) for seabirds with over 20 species represented. We welcome over 30,000 breeding pairs annually including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons and the ever popular cute puffins. The Cliffs are also home to many rare flora including Cat’s Eat and Sea Pink.
Afterwards, we can arrange for a boat trip to survey the cliffs from below. The view from this unique vantage point is unforgettable. Time for a fresh creamy pint or Irish coffee before evening dinner. It’s all about balance!
Trails of the Vales – This is a sample tour offering that we’ve crafted for Canadian visitors coming into Ireland this summer who wanted something a little different from their holiday here.
All our tours are tailored to suit your interests, fitness levels and budget. For more information email Phil and Elaine at email@example.com