Thursday, April 14, 2011

Castles & Gardens of Beautiful Ireland

Ireland is one of the most picturesque countries in Europe. Almost everyone knows about its green fields and valleys and its quaint villages and towns but did you know this Celtic country has one of the largest concentrations of castle-hotels and guest manor houses in all Europe? Dotted throughout the countryside and near cities, these amazing castles—some, hundreds of years old—have been lovingly and meticulously restored and now receive overnight guests in rooms with modern amenities and all the comforts of a deluxe hotel, but with much more charm! Prices have never been more affordable as this year.

Dromo Castle

If you’re adventurous, you can drive all around Ireland and stay in many of these wonderful properties. I can book a convenient “fly-drive” package combining a car rental with vouchers accepted at many of these breathtaking castles. Ireland enjoys summer days with sunlight until almost 10pm so driving will be mostly done in daylight. If an escorted tour is more to your liking, I can book you on excursions offering castle stays in the itinerary combined with traditional hotel nights.

Ashford Castle

Gardening enthusiasts should know that most Irish castles have gorgeous gardens to enjoy on-site. The country has impressive public botanic gardens to see and, of course, countryside so green you’ll think it’s been painted. A jaunt around the famous Ring of Kerry will be long remembered as a unique site of verdant pastures, impressive cliffs, and ancient castle ruins overgrown with holly. Golfers can enjoy golfing adventures, shopaholics can hunt for fine Irish linen and lace and Waterford crystal, and anyone who loves a good “brew” can head out to sample world-famous Guiness beer.

Getting to Ireland has never been easier and more convenient. The national Irish airline, Aer Lingus, flies from New York’s JFK airport and Orlando; Delta has flights from Atlanta and JFK, Continental from Newark, and US Airways begins service from Charlotte. With two international airports—Shannon in the west and Dublin in the east—you can fly into one, tour all around the country, and fly home from the other! Cross the border from the Irish Republic into the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland and you’ll see what decades of peace and prosperity have unveiled there. If you have some extra time, cross the Irish Sea and combine your Ireland adventure with England, Scotland, and Wales.

Trinity College Dublin

So, as the ancient Irish blessing states, “May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be always at your back.” Call me soon to visit this enchanting country!

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