Dates To be announced
8 days & 7 nights in Ireland’s Southwest Coast
$2,100 double or $2,400 single (estimate)
Includes Lodging, Transportation, Activities, and some meals
airfare and restaurant meals additional
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and Ireland’s County Kerry, often referred to as the “Kingdom of Kerry" share many characteristics. Both areas take pride in being seen as somewhat separate from the rest of their state; their inhabitants share an independent streak; they feature remote geography, and wild, unspoiled scenery. Both Kingdoms are traditionally farming areas, though the stony soil and mountainous terrain kept all but the hardiest from settling these areas. County Kerry, on Ireland’s southwest coast, is home to Ireland’s highest mountains, the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, and the land is rugged and starkly beautiful. The coastline, from sandy beaches to dramatic cliffs, is never far away.
Our tour will combine some of Ireland’s best sightseeing opportunities with examination of historical farming methods and current trends in small scale farming and agritourism. Our week in Kerry gives us the chance to delve into the history of the area while touring castle ruins, manor houses, and ancient stone forts. We will learn from local experts, enjoy meals in friendly pubs, and savor beautiful vistas. Best of all, the tour will also raise funds for the Hardwick based Center for an Agricultural Economy. Explore a different culture’s farming and food traditions while supporting those in our own backyard!
An overnight flight from the United States brings you to Shannon for a morning pickup, where your tour guides await you. We travel through western Ireland past rolling fields and castle ruins, through small villages and larger towns. We will stop along the way for a castle tour, to take in the turquoise waters of Dingle Bay, and to enjoy lunch in a pub in Cahersiveen. Eventually our trip takes us to the famed Ring of Kerry along the Iveragh peninsula, and to our home base in Derrynane.
There will be a few free hours in the afternoon as participants manage jet lag: take a nap, join Susan on a walk, or relax and settle in. In the evening we will head over to the Blind Piper pub in Caherdaniel for our evening meal.
Our first full day in Ireland will be spent exploring Derrynane, an area of surpassing beauty and unique ecological ecosystems. We will start at Derrynane National Historic Park with a brief dive into the history of the area. The group will then take a tour with Wild Derrynane. Naturalist Vincent Hyland will share his knowledge of marine and bird life, plants, history and the Irish language as we explore the Seashore Trail.
The Derrynane historic park also includes a subtropical botanical garden, a woodland fairy walk, and a long sandy beach. After lunch at the Ahamore Tea Room, we will head to Gort na Cille farm. This small diversified vegetable and small animal farm features a farmstand and provides educational tours. The owner will share the history of his family’s farm and his experience working the land and finding ways to remain viable throughout the decades.
A full day awaits us as we head over the mountains to the Killarney National Park. Our first stop is in Sneem, at Derreenaclaurig Farmhouse Cheese. A one person operation, the tiny production is made with milk from the farm’s Jersey cow herd. Limited-production cheeses by Mr van der Zanden range from plain and aged to cumin-flavoured and garlic-flavoured.
The remainder of our day will be spent at Muckross House estate. After lunch in the Garden Restaurant, there will be several hours to explore. The traditional farms at Muckross provide a glimpse into life on three different sized farms of the nineteenth century, as well as a school house and laborer’s cottage. Choose among other activities such as touring the Victorian mansion, strolling through the beautiful gardens and arboretum, taking a horse-drawn “jaunting car” ride about the grounds with a guide, or walking along the lakeshore.
Butter-coloured sands, turquoise waters dotted with islands and a backdrop of undulating mountains, Derrynane Bay in County Kerry is something special – a place of extreme beauty on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s also home to a very memorable food adventure – a gourmet fishing trip with Atlantic Irish Seaweed. Boatman John Fitzgerald takes our group out to catch and picnic on sashimi and ceviche Irish-style around the islands of Derrynane Bay. Wild, wonderful and an experience to cherish.
Please note, this activity will only take place if the weather and seas are fine and is subject to the captain’s decision. If conditions do not permit ocean exploration, we will use this chance to further explore the historic sites of the Kenmare area including a stone circle, and Cromwell’s bridge. We might even fit in a woodland walk to a local holy well.
We are off to West Cork for a day of farm and garden tours. The day’s travels takes us along Kenmare Bay and over the magnificent Caha Mountains through the famous hand-hewn stone tunnels built in the 1800s. Our destination is the West Cork Farm Tour. This group will provide a customized tour to share their Irish dairy experience as well as discussion of sustainable farming practices and the rise of farm to plate businesses in West Cork.
On our return we will take a short ferry ride out to Garinish Island. The ferry takes us past Seal Rock, and lands at the island garden, where we can explore the wide variety of plants growing in this very mild climate. We’ll see huge rhododendrons, eucalyptus, and south American plants, a stone tower, and a walled garden. For those disinclined to ferries and gardens, participants can explore Glengariff town on their own.
Dinner will be at No. 35 restaurant, which creates delicious meals from locally sourced ingredients.
Traveling north, we will visit archeological sites in Cahersiveen. We will begin at the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle on the river Fertha, which has been standing since the 1500s, despite the damage done by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1652. We then explore two nearby ancient stone Ring Forts, dating from over 1,000 years ago. A walk up to the Top of the Rock viewing platform, set on a local sheep farm raising heritage breeds, gives us a view from Dingle Bay to Valentia Harbor.
After lunch in Cahersiveen, and time to look through the weekly market, we will tour the newly opened Skellig 618 Distillery. A part of the Cahersiveen revitalization, this venture distills the muinín, or grit, of this rugged landscape to create a unique gin and whiskey. Dinner will be at An Corcan in Waterville.
Our final full day is purposefully unscheduled to allow us another chance at any activities that we cancelled due to weather. Other options include:
Flights to the U.S. will depart Shannon starting midday. We will drive back north through Kerry and Limerick. If departure times allow, we may stop along the way, visiting the Kerry Bog Village Museum, Adare village with its thatched roof cottages, or the Bunratty Folk Park.
We are are happy to talk with any participants remaining in the country for further travel to help you find a way to transition to your next adventure stress free.