Irish Rover

Irish Rover

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tourhub | Brightwater Holidays | Irish Rover | BIFG
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8 Days
From

$4084

$3880

Irish Rover

8 Days Starting and ending in Horley, Gatwick RH6 0NP, UK

Visiting: Belfast, Mount Stewart, Antrim, National Trust - Rowallane Garden, National Trust - Castle Ward, Malahide Castle & Gardens, Dublin, Hunting Brook Gardens, June Blake's Garden, Killruddery House & Gardens, Powerscourt House & Gardens, Mount Usher Gardens, Cork, Garnish Island, Blarney Castle & Gardens

Tour operator:

Brightwater Holidays

Tour code:

BIFG

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

6 - 25

Physical rating:

Low, Gentle

Age range:

1-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Please contact Brightwater with any specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Small Group

Activities:

Sightseeing, Walking

From:
$4084
$3880 (USD) including Flights from the UK The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$204

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Just like the Van Morrison song, this Irish Rover is wrapped up in glory – the glory of some of Ireland’s finest gardens. A rich feast of horticultural excellence awaits, with memorable and beguiling gardens, enthusiastic and skilful owners and an ever-changing backdrop of lush green hills, fertile fields and glittering seascapes. Our north to south journey is packed full of gems yet relaxed and unhurried, taking in the very best that the Emerald Isle has to offer.



We begin in Northern Ireland at the dazzling and idiosyncratic garden of Mount Stewart, truly one of the great gardens of the world. We also visit romantic Rowallane and atmospheric Castle Ward.



We move on to Dublin where we meet Helen Dillon, the doyenne of Irish gardeners, at her new private garden, to which we have privileged access. We also meet June Blake, a passionate plantswoman who grows a unique mix of bamboos, ornamental grasses and perennials, her brother Jimi Blake at Hunting Brook, with its fusion of prairie and tropical planting and Carmel Duignan at her Italianate villa. We visit Malahide, one of the oldest and most historic castles in Ireland, with its own splendid botanic garden and Powerscourt, one of Ireland’s most famous gardens with magnificent vistas over the surrounding countryside.



Continuing south we call in at Mount Usher, a wild and informal garden with some rare and exceptional trees, on our way to the lively and cultured city of Cork. From here we tour Ilnacullin, with its magical setting on an island bathed in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and the fabulous Blarney Castle & Gardens, home to the famous stone which bestows eloquence on all who kiss it.



Our tour manager is popular garden designer, writer & broadcaster Trevor Edwards, who has clearly kissed the Blarney Stone more than once…

Highlights

  • Exclusive access to the new private garden of Helen Dillon, doyenne of Irish gardeners

  • Exploring the extensive and enchanting gardens of Mount Stewart

  • The historic island gardens of Ilnacullin

  • Historic castle and botanic garden at Malahide

Places You'll See

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Itinerary

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Day 1
Location: Belfast, Mount Stewart, Antrim
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Dunadry Hotel & Gardens
Meals Included: Dinner

We depart from London Gatwick airport on our flight to Belfast (flights from other regional airports may also be available at a supplement – please contact us for details). Upon arrival we will join our coach and transfer to our first visit, Mount Stewart, the dazzling and idiosyncratic gardens which bask in the micro-climate of low rainfall and humid coastal air that exists here. The Italian Garden south of the house is in the form of a giant parterre, edged in startling golden thuja or smouldering purple berberis and filled with plantings of carmine, yellow and scarlet on one side, with cooler blue, lavender and grey on the other. Elsewhere, there is a Spanish garden with huge eucalyptuses looming in the woods behind, and an exuberant and formal sunken garden surrounded by a fine pergola planted with clematis, honeysuckle and roses. The entrance façade of the house overlooks an entirely different landscape, a scene of serenity with noble trees leading gently uphill to a lake. East of the lake are blood-red and orange rhododendrons and the banks of the lake are planted with long drifts of arum lily. This is one of the most attractive and stimulating gardens, where traditional features are carried off with exuberance and panache, and we have allowed plenty of time here to take everything in.
Following our visit, we continue to our hotel, the comfortable Dunadry Hotel, County Antrim, where we will enjoy dinner in the evening.

Day 2
Location: National Trust - Rowallane Garden, National Trust - Castle Ward
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Dunadry Hotel & Gardens
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, following our full Irish breakfast, we will travel to Rowallane Garden. The first impression is one of mystery as you approach the house through a dark tunnel of conifers and rhododendrons, but this is quickly dispelled by the flower-filled spectacle which opens up before you. The liveliest gardening is to be found in the walled garden, where mixed borders are stuffed with big old shrubs and the occasional rare rhododendron animates the scene. Astilbes, hostas, meconopsis, primulas and much else form the underplanting. The walled garden has a kind of inner sanctum, where a lawn is planted with specimen trees and shrubs. Outside the walled gardens a walk through ramparts of rhododendrons leads to a naturalistic rock garden planted with azaleas, daphnes, olearias and pieris. 
In the afternoon we move to the southern tip of Strangford Lough, where Castle Ward sits in a wooded valley with a memorable view towards the lough. Apart from some traces of 18th century woodland, the garden is chiefly Victorian in character. Close to the house is a walled terraced garden filled with exotic planting, Acca sellowiana, Beschorneria yuccoides and large old plants of cabbage palm. Behind a screen of Irish yews a rock garden with dwarf conifers runs along one side of a mid 19th century pinetum with immense Wellingtonias. Perhaps the best thing about Castle Ward, though, are the grand walks in the huge demesne, with delicious views of trees and the lough beyond.
We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.

Day 3
Location: Malahide Castle & Gardens, Dublin
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Clayton Cardiff Lane Hotel, Dublin
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Following breakfast we check out of our hotel and travel south, crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland towards Dublin, where we call in at Malahide Castle. Malahide Castle is one of the oldest and most historic castles in Ireland.  From 1185 until 1975, it was the home of the Talbot family, a remarkable tenure by a single family and one of the longest in Ireland. The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the Boyne, when fourteen members of the owner's family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall, and all were dead by evening, and the Penal Laws, even though the family remained Roman Catholic until 1774. The interior is lavishly furnished with many antiques and paintings of interest. The ornamental gardens adjoining the castle cover an area of about 22 acres and were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot. He was an enthusiastic plant collector who brought specimens from around the world to create the gardens here. The gardens are best described as a small Botanic garden, with in excess of 5000 difference species and varieties of plants present.
Following our visit, we transfer to our hotel in Dublin, where dinner will be served in the evening.

Day 4
Location: Hunting Brook Gardens, June Blake's Garden
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Clayton Cardiff Lane Hotel, Dublin
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning after breakfast we will travel to the private garden of Carmel Duignan, a gardening writer and former television producer who has created a beautiful garden. A self-confessed plantaholic, she has amassed an extraordinary collection of plants from old familiar favourites to plants that are on the cutting edge of tenderness, rarity and current fashion. Old and new have been planted together with flair and artistry and the resulting combination of colour, shape and texture is quite stunning. Of particular interest is the small-flowered clematis and a good range of Pseudopanax.
Next, we are privileged to visit the new private garden of celebrated Dublin gardener Helen Dillon, which has featured on Gardeners’ World. Helen is a world-renowned plantswoman, writer, lecturer and broadcaster who created a garden that was considered to be one of the gems of the horticultural world. Her new project is no less impressive and we will enjoy a personal guided tour with Helen.
Our final visit today is to the gardens of Corke Lodge. The house was built in the 1820s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa and a Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830s Tudor revival mansion built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens. The ancient garden of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline plans and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.
We return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure

Day 5
Location: Hunting Brook Gardens, Killruddery House & Gardens, Powerscourt House & Gardens
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Clayton Cardiff Lane Hotel, Dublin
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, after breakfast, we visit Hunting Brook, home of Jimi Blake, the former head gardener of Airfield Gardens in Dundrum. Hidden in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, near Blessington, the garden is a plantsman’s paradise with contemporary borders, creating a fusion of prairie and tropical planting in a natural setting. There is something for everyone here, from lazy woodland walks through the ancient glacial valley to the remains of a 7th century ring fort, where an extensive range of woodland plants are grown, many of which were collected on various trips around the world. Hunting Brook is now home to Ireland’s largest collection of ornamental grasses with over 200 different species and cultivars.
Following our visit, we continue to Jimi’s sister’s garden at June Blake’s Garden and Nursery. June is a passionate plantswoman who grows from seeds sourced all over the world. Her garden is extensive and sits in the old cut granite farmyard of Tinode House. It is surrounded by majestic old beech and chestnut trees which provide a sheltered environment in which she grows a unique mix of bamboos, ornamental grasses and perennials with many plants offered for sale in her nursery.
Finally, we travel to Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland’s most famous gardens which first began to take shape over two and a half centuries ago. Enjoy the charming walled garden, the striking terraces, fine statuary and varied trees which are linked by carefully designed walks and are all set in the magnificent surroundings of the Wicklow mountains. We return to the hotel in time for dinner.

Day 6
Location: Mount Usher Gardens, Cork
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning after breakfast we check out of the hotel and head south, stopping en route at Mount Usher, a lovely informal garden which dates back to 1850. The garden was inspired by Irish gardening maverick William Robinson who eschewed formal Victorian bedding schemes in favour of a more naturalistic style. There are approximately 5000 different species of plants, shrubs and trees originating from all over the world, including some exceptional species from the southern hemisphere, such as the wonderfully scented Japanese Magnolia obovata and collections of eucryphia and eucalyptus.
We continue south through the counties of Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford and on to our accommodation at the Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel, just outside Cork. Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.

Day 7
Location: Garnish Island, Blarney Castle & Gardens
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning after a full Irish breakfast we travel west to Bantry Bay and take the ferry across to Garinish Island to visit Ilnacullin, surely one of the high points of our visit to Ireland. Some gardens become so well known that their reputation quickly outstrips the actuality. Ilnacullin is, if anything, even more beautiful than one expects it to be. The garden, commissioned from Harold Peto, was made for Annan Bryce in 1910. The elegant Italianate folly overlooking a sunken garden is familiar from countless photographs with the Caha Mountains behind. The beauty of Ilnacullin comes from its wonderful intermingling of the formal and the wild.
In the afternoon we visit Blarney Castle and Gardens, which is perhaps most famous for its stone, which legend tells has the power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it. However, the Castle is also surrounded by 60-acres of parkland, gardens, arboretums, avenues and waterways which provide a great source of interest and colour.
We return the very short distance back to our hotel, where there will be time for a rest and a reviving cup before dinner.

Day 8
Location: Cork Airport, London Gatwick International Airport
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning after breakfast we travel to Cork Airport in time to check in for our return flight to London Gatwick.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

  • Comfortable coach travel throughout

  • Services of a professional tour manager

  • Meals - as per the itinerary

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Drinks with Meals

  • Entrance Fees

What's Not Included

Check out our Q&As

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    Yes

  • Will I receive more details of the holiday before I travel?

    You will receive detailed joining instructions around 10 days prior to you departure, but you are of course welcome to contact us at any time should you have any queries.

  • What facilities do your coaches have?

    Generally, our coaches have reclining seats, air-conditioning and toilets, however this cannot always be guaranteed as sometimes we have to use smaller vehicles. Toilets are recommended for emergency use only and regular comfort stops will be made throughout your holiday while travelling around.

  • Do I have to go on the included excursions?

    Absolutely not. You are more than welcome to spend the day at your hotel or exploring independently should you wish. All we ask is that you inform your Tour Manager, so they are not left waiting for you to join the group.

  • Is there time to relax?

    Although our itineraries may seem jam-packed, boasting access to some of the most exclusive sites across the UK and beyond, a Brightwater Holiday is just that: a holiday. Each trip will counter in more than enough free-time for you to explore places at your own leisure. And with most nights and the majority of meals being included in our tour prices, you can relax in hand-picked accommodation.

  • Do I need to be an expert?

    Absolutely not! Although some of our tours are specifically focused on one thing, all you need to enjoy a Brightwater holiday is interest and bags of enthusiasm! Even on our most specialist tours, we take travellers from all skill levels, from experts to beginners.

  • How fit or active do I need to be for one of your holidays?

    You need to be able to get on and off the coach unassisted, and most – but not all – coaches have a kneel facility that lowers the front step for ease of boarding

  • Do you have self-drive holidays?

    Yes, we do – tailored to your exact requirements!

  • What’s the luggage allowance on your coaches?

    There’s no fixed limit, but we generally say one large suitcase to go in the luggage compartment and a smaller bag that you can take onto the coach with you. For flight-inclusive holidays, we include a luggage allowance of at least 20kg.

  • Where are your departure points?

    UK garden holidays generally depart from London, with additional pick-ups depending on the route of the coach, while holidays to Scotland depart from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth, with Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen sometimes included. All Eurostar holidays depart from London St. Pancras and flight-inclusive holidays depart from one or more of the main London airports, with regional flights .

  • What about the company that will be kept?

    For single travellers, those with a companion or even those travelling in a larger group, you'll find that the signature of any Brightwater Holiday is the company. You won't ever be travelling with a group of strangers, instead, you'll find yourself surrounded by like-minded people with a strong shared interest who will soon become your firm friends.

  • What is a Brightwater Holiday?

    Bursting with enthralling, educational and enlightening itineraries, a Brightwater Holiday, by its very nature, is packed with bucket-list-worthy destinations, behind the scenes passes and expert-led experiences. From creating bespoke quality garden and special interest tours for groups and individuals alike, we have made it our business to make our guests' travel dreams come true.

  • Why is there a single supplement?

    Unfortunately, single room supplements are charges that are often imposed on us as a company when we book rooms for group holidays. However, most hotels do charge less for single occupancy, and we always pass this saving on to our solo travellers in the form of a modest single supplement.

  • How much are your optional excursions?

    Prices start from as little as £20, but please contact our friendly team for questions about specific itineraries or excursions.

  • Can I pre-book my coach seats?

    Yes, you can. In the case of front seats, guests with limited mobility are given priority. Please get in touch with our friendly team to discuss any requirements you may have.

  • How to get there? Easy!

    With a Brightwater Holiday, the journey is just as important as the destination and we make getting you to your tour start point easy. From organising group flights and individual travel plans, to offering accessible local departure and pick-up points, we go out of our way to ensure that your journey is as convenient and hassle-free as it can be.

  • Do I need to have travel insurance?

    Travel insurance is required for all overseas holidays and is also strongly recommended for UK holidays – primarily to protect yourself against cancellation charges should you be unable to travel.

Reviews of this Operator

Trusted Customer  

Brightwater Holidays offers great value

28-Nov-2019

I would highly recommend Brightwater Holidays. It offers excellent service and value for money. This was my first tour as I normally arrange holidays myself, but this tour - which was to the gardens of Kent and Sussex - was a very pleasant change of pace.

Feefo Trusted Reviews
Brightwater Holidays Customer  

My experience with Brightwater Holidays

08-Aug-2019

The tour was well managed, the sites visited were all interesting and linked to the theme of the Picts and their place in history, the hotel was comfortable and the coach journeys were well paced. I have been with Brightwater before and will certainly travel with them again

Feefo Trusted Reviews
Alan Hawkes (Google Reviewer)  

We were on the Tour...

28-Aug-2022

We were on the Tour of the Outer Hebrides. We had a great experience, in no small part due to the excellence of the tour manager and driver.

Brightwater Holidays Custome  

Wonderful experience with brilliant information

31-Jul-2019

The most important factor was an amazing guide in Alastair Walker whose knowledge and care for clients was fantastic. The whole trips are superbly organised

Feefo Trusted Reviews
David MacLennan (Google Reviewer)  

Noted a comment on taking...

23-Aug-2023

Noted a comment on taking coaches on A814 by a local person who didn't know the facts: When the A82 was blocked and the POLICE divert you onto that road you do as instructed not what a you know are tight roads but they only way to your destination as intructed by officials. We know this route is not suitable for large vehicles but the driver does as instructed by someone in authority.

Eric Webb (Google Reviewer)  

Recent (September 2023) Scottish holiday...

07-Oct-2023

Recent (September 2023) Scottish holiday not so good. Various 'issues' to do with scheduling and organisation. I'm happy to report however that - after an interval - a letter expressing disappointment brought a full response - including a generous refund. So - with fingers slightly crossed - we'll be booking with Brightwater again in due course.

Kevin Barrett (Google Reviewer)  

The recent tour in Northumberland...

30-Sep-2023

The recent tour in Northumberland turned out to be a shambles. Our South London driver took us to Newcastle, but no guide to meet us. Next day still no guide and the bus driver attempted to salvage the tour the best he could despite having no knowledge of the attractions. Fortunately one of the passengers Googled the tides for Holy Island. No holiday guide ever showed up. Coach and hotel were fine. Do these people only offer self guided tours? Take Shearings next time.

ALEXANDRA MCQUEEN (Google Reviewer)  

Been trying to get a...

17-Oct-2023

Been trying to get a reply from them for over a week. Booked Xmas tour, confirmation said pick up subject to numbers, they never said anything when booking and theyve been paid in full. Would not recommend!

Dp Green (Google Reviewer)  

I had heard this company...

20-Feb-2024

I had heard this company was a nightmare to deal with, but thought I'd give it a go. Signed up for a tour, then emailed them about how to pay off the balance. No response to 3 emails. I've never encountered a tour company that ignored questions on how to pay off a balance. Looked into other reviews and found many complaints about cancelled tours and refusals to refund deposits.

Kieran Thompson (Google Reviewer)  

Two of your tour busses...

26-Jul-2021

Two of your tour busses used the A814 from Garelochhead to Arrochar on 24th July 2021. This route is not suitable for large vehicles and your drivers should not have taken the huge coaches that way. There are clear signs at both ends of the road indicating it is not suitable for HGV's. Our car had to go off into the soft verge to allow your coaches to pass. Please amend your routes to avoid this road in future.

Dates & Availability

tourhub Discount Available - Sign In

Instant Booking Available

Thursday - Thursday

Jun 13, 2024 - Jun 20, 2024
$4084 $3880 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$204 (USD)

Including UK Flights

Instant Booking Available

Thursday - Thursday

Aug 08, 2024 - Aug 15, 2024
$4084 $3880 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$204 (USD)

Including UK Flights

Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Brightwater Holidays allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform brightwater holidays, 25 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Brightwater Holidays requires a minimum deposit of 15% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of brightwater holidays charges.

    At 40 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 7 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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