I write this not as a visitor to Ireland from New York, Chicago or LA but as someone Irish who has lived many places and has a fondness for the Irish welcome, the rich and rugged landscape and the Kilkenny countryside. There is a stone hamlet there, a place where the rivers Barrow and Nore meet, where fine Kilkenny stone buildings stand guard with light filled interiors, 11 bedrooms and private beautiful walled gardens.
People sometimes ask where to go and what to do in Ireland and having declared my particular affection and connection to Ballilogue in the Kilkenny countryside here are some of my favourites. Places I go back to again and again, experiences and encounters that both surprise and delight!
MY IRISH VACATION GUIDE.
1. A night perhaps two at The Merrion Hotel close to the Dail (Irish Parliament) to enjoy their spacious rooms, artwork and location in the heart of the city. Visit the National Gallery close by Trinity College with it's wonderful library, Book of Kells and Douglas Hyde Gallery. Have your first pint of Guinness on Irish soil at Kennedy's Bar on Lincoln Place or perhaps the snug at Doheny and Nesbitt's. A delicious lunch at the Chester Beatty Gallery and a visit to Dublin Castle. Coffee at Brother Hubbard's on Capel Street and a slow wander through Temple Bar and the Irish Film Centre.
KILKENNY AND BALLILOGUE:
2. Head south to Kilkenny with a few days privately in the tranquility of Ballilogue, Irish luxury combined with tradition and modernist architecture. Visit one of Ireland's prettiest villages close by at Inistioge, walk the Barrow river paths to St. Mullins stopping for cake and coffee at St. Mullachain's, an excellent dinner in the bar at the Step House, Borris and visit the wonderful JFK Arboretum close to New Ross and the world famous Waterford Crystal in Waterford. A night or perhaps two with private dining, traditional music and storytelling in Mrs. Meaney's Cottage Museum, in your own home from home at Ballilogue all arranged by the lovely team there.
3. Travel south to Cork with it's eighteenth century Butter Market, Crawford and Gluxman Galleries and on to Kinsale by the coast. Ireland's sailing and seafood town on the Cork riviera and the Wild Atlantic Way. Golf at the Old Head of Kinsale and make the journey along the West Cork coast to Timoleague with it's Franciscian Monastery and on to the village of Castletownsend to enjoy scallops and Guinness at Mary Ann's Bar! Explore the breathtaking beauty of Sheepshead Bay and Allihies at the furthest tip of West Cork.
THE RUGGED WEST:
4. Co. Clare is a special and favourite place along the rugged west coast and Wild Atlantic Way! Eat and sleep at Gregan's Castle, explore Doolin and the Burren, walk the Flaggy Shore heading North to Galway and the smaller, gentler town of Westport. A stay perhaps at Ballilahinch Castle and a swim in the Irish sea!
Perhaps dine and stay at the Ballyfin Estate in Co. Laois before the drive back to Dublin airport!
A few ideas and sweet memories for an Irish vacation. See the helpful guide too at Ballilogue.com for Four Perfect Days in Ireland!