Escape the ordinary and be swept away by the charm and timeless elegance of an Irish castle getaway accompanied by your favorite person. From the Cliffs of Moher to Poulnabrone Dolmen, this 4-day Ireland Itinerary is designed to evoke your feelings of wonder as you traverse the stunning countryside and inhale breathtaking historical architecture.
Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort (“Adare Manor”) are the perfect settings if you are looking for a classical venue for a romantic getaway, or just want to spend the night in real-life fairy-tale castles.
The very essence of these castles exudes romance and staying overnight only enhances the enchantment. The extravagant structures are set on sweeping velvety green golf courses. The stone walls are soaked in history featuring interior décor befitting royalty.
The tangible beauty of the properties is only the beginning. The heart lies in the warmth of the staff making you feel as if you are the Earl of the estate from the moment you walk through the doors.
IN THIS 4-DAY IRELAND ITINERARY:
These properties are a short drive from the Shannon Airport with Dromoland being only ~16 minutes and Adare Manor ~33 minutes. You can search for deals on flights here. Once in Ireland, renting a car or arranging private transfers will be your most convenient option. We arranged a tour with Paddywagon Tours, which exceeded all of our expectations. Our guide made our trip to Ireland extra special.
Things to Know Before You Go
The official language is Irish with English being the second official language, the currency is the Euro, Ireland is an EU member state, and driving is on the left side of the road.
“Slainte” meaning “Cheers” is a word you’ll hopefully become familiar with. Be prepared for heavy downpours, but don’t alter your plans because of it. The weather fluctuates frequently alternating between sunny, rainy, and foggy, to sunny again. We never went anywhere without our rain jackets.
Dromoland Castle Hotel
The 16th-century Dromoland Castle Hotel is a real-life fantasy castle hidden away on a 450-acre meticulously manicured estate with an emerald green golf course, a beautiful lake, and entrancing gardens. Driving up the long road toward the magnificent castle is spellbinding. The medieval architecture, appearing both imposing and dreamy, is matched with all the modern luxury comforts while still maintaining the historical feel.
Playing a challenging game of golf on the championship quality golf course designed by renowned golf course architects, Ron Kirby and JB Carr, while being captivated by the stunning view of the castle in the backdrop, is a memorable experience. The view from Hole 7 was my personal favorite.
Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort
Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, technically a manor house, is just as glamorous as a castle. It was explained to us that the difference between a castle and a manor house is that a castle is a defensive structure designed to keep people out as a manor house is built to invite people inside.
Adare Manor brings new meaning to the word “luxury.” It’s one of the most memorable places we have ever had the pleasure of being a guest. The impressive manor house is set on a lush green golf course and along River Maigue. The vaulted lobby of Adare Manor is exquisitely decorated and dominating. The Gallery, the perfect room for a traditional Irish breakfast or afternoon tea, is the second-longest room in Ireland.
The stones of Adare Manor were laid in tribute to a love story between Lord and Lady Dunraven. When the Lord fell ill and was unable to stay active outdoors, the Lady endeavored in turning their Adare House into Adare Manor to keep him occupied. The massive scale of the project, which started in 1832, provided employment to the surrounding community as the terrible potato famine devastated the country from 1845-49. Sadly, Lord Dunraven passed away before it was completed. You can learn more about the history of the manor house by taking a fascinating tour during your stay.
The masterful design creates a Calendar House with 365 windows, 52 chimneys, 7 pillars, 4 towers, and I believe we were told 12 original bedrooms. The Manor House remained in the Dunraven family until 1982. 50 rooms were added in an attachment after the house was converted to a luxury hotel, and just recently another 42 rooms were added. Staying in one of the original rooms is also an option, and an experience I recommend.
The initial prestigious 840-acre championship golf course, completed in 1995, was designed by the legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Senior. The hotel was recently renovated and refurbished, along with the golf course that was recreated by renowned golf course architect, Tom Fazio. Each hole is distinct with Pure Distinction bent grass.
Aside from being pampered beyond measure or playing challenging rounds of golf, both properties offer plenty of activities on-site or nearby to keep you busy, such as falconry, archery, fishing, bike riding, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage rides, clay shooting, swimming, and fitness centers.
For the more leisure travelers, there’s no better place to unwind than within the walls of an enchanting castle. Relax during a tranquil spa treatment, and drink afternoon tea with Irish scones snuggled up to your love by the fire.
Cliffs of Moher
Driving to the west coast of Ireland to experience the Cliffs of Moher, a UNESCO Global Geopark site, is a must. The cliffs are an approximate 1-hour drive from Dromoland or ~80 minutes from Adare Manor. Listen to traditional Irish folk music as you drive along the winding countryside roads. Ruins of old rectangular castles and old churches are scattered across the scenic emerald landscape. It’s estimated that Ireland is home to more than 30,000 castles and castle ruins.
The Cliffs of Moher are an astonishing natural wonder standing regal and proud above the Atlantic Ocean. The vertical green and rugged cliffs rise from 390 feet up to 702 feet near O’Brien’s Tower. Standing near the edge of the cliffs is dramatic. The view quite literally took our breath away. The wind is fierce. The spray from the crashing waves down below is powerful. You may feel the mist of the water hitting the cliffs while you stroll along the trails above the cliffs. Keep an eye out for Atlantic Puffin that may soar above your head if you’re visiting around or after the end of March.
O’Brien’s Tower is a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien. You can climb up the tower for a small fee to admire views of the cliffs from a slightly higher vantage point.
If you’re visiting from around March through October, you can witness the Cliffs of Moher from sea level by taking a cruise. A combination tour featuring a cruise around the cliffs and taking you to Aran Islands is a popular day trip.
More Things to See Nearby
The Poulnabrone dolmen is a large prehistoric portal tomb with a massive flat stone resting on top of upright stones slanted inward at an angle. This monument rests on a rocky and uneven limestone plateau believed to have been built during the Neolithic period between 4200 and 2900 BC. While Ireland is home to many dolmens or portal tombs, this is the most iconic. This, along with exploring Burren National Park, makes for a great detour on your way to the Cliffs of Moher from either hotel.
Bunratty Castle is a 15th-century well-preserved tall stone rectangular-shaped castle (get tickets to skip the line here). The O’Brien Earls of Thomond first lived in the Bunratty Castle and then moved to the Dromoland Castle. The Bunratty Castle displays narrow spiral stairwells, a magnificent Great Hall, a room with multiple large rectangular tables, bedrooms, a private chapel, a dungeon that drops straight down, and expansive countryside views from the rooftop. It is a perfect stop when traveling between Dromoland and Adare Manor. You can also come back to Bunratty Castle to attend a medieval feast in the Great Hall.
The Folk Park surrounding Bunratty Castle is a village museum of the everyday life of Irish people living a century ago. Walking around the village of small cottages with traditional Irish thatched roofs made me feel like I had been placed back in time. The mostly single-room homes were furnished as they would have been long ago. Some of the homes had lofts reachable by ladder.
Stroll around the quaint town of Adare with thatched roofed buildings that often win “Tidiest Town” awards.
The historic 18-hole golf course of Adare Manor Golf Club, easily mistaken for the golf course at the hotel, has 120 years of history with the initial 9-hole golf course being completed in 1900. What makes this golf course memorable and unique is that the ruins of Desmond Castle and an old abbey are a part of the golf course greens. The course is a ~16-minute walk from Adare Manor Hotel, and only ~€35 per person.
Winetraveler Tip: Consider surprising your special someone with this getaway. Driving up to a castle for the first time is even more magical if your special someone has no idea where they are headed. I surprised my husband with this itinerary for a milestone birthday, and watching his face as we pulled up to each property was the highlight of the trip for me.
Sumptuous dining fit for royalty awaits you at Dromoland’s Earl of Thomond Restaurant, and The Oak Room at Adare Manor, the latter being a One Michelin star restaurant. Soft lighting, dining by candlelight, historical charm, unparalleled service, and gourmet entrees with the highest levels of presentation and quality set the mood. The chefs searched Ireland locating the best local growers and producers ensuring the use of only the finest ingredients. Their extensive wine lists feature many varietals, vintages, and price points from wines by the glass under €15 to bottles over €3,000. Sommeliers are eager to assist you in your selection.
Winetraveler Tip: Request a table on the completely enclosed terrace of The Oak Room. The stone walls, vaulted ceiling, and arched windows make this an exceedingly romantic setting. Adare Manor offers an Irish whiskey tasting experience in the estate’s impressive wine cellar. Casual dining options are also available at both hotels.
Winetraveler Tip: For the more budget-conscious travelers, a visit during the off-season may offer big savings. We saved 50% on the cost of our accommodations during our visit in the late fall than had we visited during the summer. Note that in the winter not all activities may be available.
Traveling with Little Winetravelers?
If little Winetravelers are accompanying you, kids are graciously welcomed at both estates, although some areas have age restrictions, such as The Oak Room accommodating children 6 years of age and older. Baby cots can be reserved. If you desire a date night with your love, reservations can assist you in arranging childcare.
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