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 and 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 worth exploring as you tour Ireland!
Glendalough – where our Celtic story begins!
Glendalough, a name that echoes around the world as a place of profound beauty and tranquility, is located within a valley of two lakes in Co. Wicklow.
This place is a sacred space, captivating in its beauty and in its serenity. In the 6th Century on the lake shore, a Christian hermit named Kevin established a small monastic settlement. This early Christian community became one of the cradles of Celtic spirituality and Irish monasticism.
After Kevin’s death in 618 AD, a great monastery flourished in the valley right up to the 12th Century. The ruins of this monastic city still remain, with a magnificent round tower, a beautiful 11th Century stone church and the high cross that has guided many a pilgrim home for over a 1,000 years.
It pays to arrive here early ahead of the rush of tourists so that you can experience the serenity for yourself. The Glendalough Orange Route takes you on a wonderful ramble along the lower slopes of Derrybawn Mountain. The view of the old monastic setting and Round Tower below will live long in the memory. As we descend, we enter the shaded enclave of the woods before passing Poulanass Waterfall leading to the lower lake.
There’s something about Glendalough… something beyond words. You have to experience it to feel it. It stays with you long after the walking is over!
St Mullins – Valley of the Monks
The Valley of the Monks experience is unique to this mystical place. Here, by the water’s edge, you connect to something deeper in the universe and in yourself. It an adrenaline-fuelled, mindful space if there is such a space! You have the choice of kayaking along the River Barrow or taking the riverside stroll out to St Mullins. Both are breathtaking in their beauty.
Your time here brings you face to face with Ireland’s Pilgrim Past. Through the centuries, pilgrims walked along the banks of the River Barrow en route to Waterford from Dublin before setting sail for Spain to do the iconic Camino de Santiago. Kayaking down the river you sense the spirit of those who have passed this way before. The beauty and the calm is all around you!
The 7km from Graignamanagh to St. Mullins is captivating in its beauty and in its timelessness. If you choose to walk rather than kayak, it is every bit as memorable. It is worth taking our time here. The ‘Valley of the Monks’ draws you in with its own unique brand of peace. It’s good for mind, body and soul.
This place has its own treasured history that can go unnoticed to the passer-by. We will make our way then to Blanchfield’s Irish Pub to sample the unique hospitality of this place for ourselves. You will be in no rush to leave St. Mullins. Memories of this place linger long after you’ve returned home.
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.
The wonders of the Hook Peninsula – Wexford
Rarely will you go for a gentle ramble surrounded by so much history. Tintern Abbey has a way of slowing the pulse right down and invites you to go deeper into the soul of its hallowed land. It’s quiet woodland walks, combined with a stretch of coastline which is particularly beautiful, makes this part of Wexford one of the most scenic areas of Ireland.
The area around Bannow Bay has strong links with the past and there is much to engage the interest of the walker. The Normans first landed in Ireland at Bannow in 1169 and dominate the region for many years. Their influence can still be seen in the wealth of castles and other remains which dot the landscape.
A fine example of their legacy can be seen at the Cistercian monastery of Tintern Abbey founded in the 13th Century by William, the Earl Marshall, and named after Tintern in Wales. The remains consist of nave, chancel, tower, chapel and cloister.
The Bannow Bay trail meanders out to Saltmills, along the edge of Bannow Bay and back to the trailhead at the Abbey covering just over 7km offering panoramic views of Bannow Bay and the Saltee Islands. For those who would like a little longer, we can follow the looped Caesar Colclough Trail that extends on another 4km. Or you might just want to walk less and a gentle stroll around the walled garden and monastic ruins.
Time in Tintern Abbey echoes deeply… it is here our story merges with those who have passed this way before. You will be in no rush to leave. Trust us!
Later in the day, we make time to climb 115 steps to the balcony of Hook Lighthouse and soak up stunning views of the coastline. A hugely popular attraction in South East Ireland, experience its stunning beauty for yourself. Hook Lighthouse still stands in all its glory as the oldest operational lighthouse in the world in fitting homage to the many lives it helped save over the years.
The Hook Lighthouse stands proudly at Hook Head, completely intact, and looks magnificent for miles. Constructed with local limestone, Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world, the present structure dates back 800 years to the medieval tower of Hook. The vista out to sea is simply stunning. There is no rush here. Time to soak it all in!
Kilkenny – Ancient Capital of Ireland
It’s worth it to spend a day in Kilkenny. It has a little bit of everything; culture, shopping, beauty, lovely cafes and bars, character… even a distillery or two and a brewery. What could possibly go wrong!
Kilkenny Castle is ideally situated in the heart of Kilkenny City, which allow visitors to explore this vibrant and compact city. Step back in time and enjoy the wonder and history of this prestigious stately home. You will be warmly greeted and accompanied throughout your bespoke tour with one of the Castle’s most experienced guides, who will enthral you with wonderful stories of the very powerful and influential Butler Family.
The castle itself, stand on a height and was built by William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke in the 12th century to command the crossing of the River Nore. In the 14th century, Kilkenny Castle became the principal Irish residence of the powerful Butler Family, Earl, Marquess & Dukes of Ormonde, for almost 600 years. Today, visitors can experience the exuberant spirit of the Victorian age, faithfully brought back to life in the restored Period Rooms of Kilkenny Castle.
This magnificent Castle has many hidden gems with some very special pieces from the Ormonde Collection available to us for viewing in the Duchess Closet of the west wing. We can arrange for our visitors to get privileged access to this collection affording you the opportunity to handle some of these pieces, which may include weaponry, family photographs and special family pieces.
After lunch or a visit to the renowned Smithwick’s Brewery, we recommend a visit to Ballykeefe Distillery. Set in the picturesque Irish countryside, close to Ireland’s medieval capital Kilkenny city, Ballykeefe Distillery produces a range of super-premium spirits in our eco-friendly on farm distillery.
For centuries there were thousands of small family farm distilleries dotted across Ireland, a tradition that was lost for well over 200 years. Ballykeefe Distillery is the first to revive that historical legacy of Irish Whiskey being produced on a working family farm, beginning operation in August 2017. A single estate Whiskey distillery, where all grain is sown, grown, harvested and distilled at Ballykeefe.
Discover the origins of Irish Whiskey here at Ballykeefe Distillery. The tour will be a journey through every part of the Ballykeefe operation, which has revived the lost traditions of a family farm distillery, with a unique commitment to environmental protection, carbon neutrality and sustainability. No visit would be complete without sampling the end product. It would be a shame not to!
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!
Celtic Adventure through Ireland’s Ancient East This is a sample tour offering that we’ve crafted for Canadian visitors coming into Ireland in summer 2024 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