Ireland Steam Railway Holiday
The word “craic” means – entertainment, fun – and that is, to be sure, what we will enjoy during this springtime trip to the Republic. To Kilkenny, Kerry, Connemara, Galway and the midlands of Eire – a 10 day full on “craic” awaits us as follows:-
We meet at Holyhead in time for the Stena afternoon sailing to Dublin Port. Here (Dublin) our coach, which is with us for the entire tour, will be waiting to transfer us to Dublin Heuston Station. Our first Iarnrod Eireann journey will be to Kilkenny arriving in time for a comfortable mid-evening meal.
Here in Kilkenny you will want to browse a while until, mid-morning, we set off for another village, famous in all Ireland for its football prowess (Gaelic that is!) and for its steam museum and operating 3’ gauge steam railway. Here we sample traditional Guinness (optional), soup and sandwiches in Dick Dunne’s bar. Can’t go to Eire without getting a whiff of the horses – so – to Kildare next for the National Stud – (or Japanese Gardens if you don’t like horses!). By rail back to Kilkenny early evening completes a fine “local” day.
We are off to Kerry, by train from Kilkenny to Waterford, where we break our travels to visit the excellent Waterford and Suir Valley Railway. Then on (by train) to the most famous railway station in all Ireland (possibly the world!), Limerick Junction. Finally to Tralee via Mallow and a lovely transfer day sees us arriving in Tralee comfortably in time for a Guinness!
A relaxed day with time for “local” stuff in the morning before heading to Listowel for the unique Lartigue Railway. This is a superb re-creation of the famous Ballybunion Railway and provides a fantastic insight into how this unusual railway operated.
Today we head to Cork by train and on to Cobh for the excellent “Queenstown” experience in the superbly restored old station building, telling the story of Irish emigration to America. We then head to Killarney for a superb boat trip and complete the day with a scenic drive back to Tralee.
The beautiful Dingle Peninsular is Kerry at its best and is the setting for one of Inside Track’s best days out. We will track the Tralee and Blennerville Railway, trace the line to Dingle, and marvel at the spectacular views around Slea Head and from the top of the Conor Pass. A gem of a day on the Emerald Isle!
Reluctantly we are leaving this lovely area today, heading north to the “midlands” of Ireland. However, this is no ordinary transfer day, as we cross the Shannon at Tarbert, and arrive in Moyasta for the West Clare Railway. The most famous railway in Ireland, in steam, awaits, and we have chartered the train for the morning. Onwards then to Ennis for another railway revival, this time with Irish Railways from Ennis, across the Burren to Athenry. From here our coach transfers us swiftly to Athlone and the superb Radisson Blu Hotel for a three night stay.
Think the scenic part of the holiday is over – no way (!). We set off by train to Galway City. Spend some time here to absorb the atmosphere in Eire’s most vibrant city outside Dublin, then head north through stunning Connemara towards Westport. This wonderfully scenic tour will include photo stops and a refreshment break in Leenane – Eire’s only village on a fjord! From Westport enjoy a terrific rail journey all the way back to Athlone.
The craic just gets better and better. Today we head up to the north coast to catch the iconic branch line train from the middle of nowhere to Ballina. Our coach transfers us from Ballina to Sligo where we catch a train to idyllic Carrick. Let’s sing traditional songs as we sail on the Shannon and then head down to Dromod to meet Michael and his pile of rust. We’ll dine here and then head back to Athlone for a last Guinness (optional!) together.
We are heading home today, the craic is nearly over but we will still have fun as we let the train take the strain heading back to Dublin, allowing us time to enjoy “bits and pieces” in and around Dublin before our coach drops us and our luggage back at the port.
Unusually, for an overseas holiday, dinner is included each evening within the holiday price.
The Clubhouse Hotel, Kilkenny
Describes itself as “Kilkenny’s Vintage Hotel”, and it surely is traditional. Great Irish food, town centre, lovely atmosphere. Perfect for our two night stay. No lift.
The Grand Hotel, Tralee
So traditional it makes the Kilkenny hotel seem modern! Again, lovely Irish food, traditional breakfast, and sited in the heart of Tralee’s historic town. Perfect for our four night stay. No lift.
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone
From colourful, traditional town centre hotels in Kilkenny and Tralee we move up a notch (or 3!) to this place. This is great – town centre – overlooking the River Shannon, lovely rooms, full-on facilities – relax and enjoy an “upmarket” experience. We have two evening meals here dining together to conclude our Irish Craic.