Intimate Irish Gardens
June 6 - 14, 2022
Huron Tours & Travel’s long awaited return to Ireland is finally here! We’ve packed more private gardens into this itinerary than any other in our history making for an intimate garden travel experience you won’t want to miss. We’ve included some of the most legendary names in Irish gardening which will offer insight into the historical and cultural significance of gardening in Ireland.
In our usual Huron style we’ve included many special events and wonderful dining experiences in addition to the gorgeous gardens.
This small Group tour will be accompanied by exceptional guides as well as two full time Huron tours tour managers to make sure every second of this luxury tour runs smoothly.
Please review the details below and consider joining us on this memorable garden adventure. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions - the people you speak with on the phone will be on the tour with you.
Happy Travels! - Katie and John Kosta
Monday, June 6
Dublin Airport arrival, private transfer to Iveagh Garden Hotel, private welcome dinner
Arrival at the Dublin Airport (DUB) in Dublin, Ireland where you will be met by your
The charming Iveagh enjoys a wonderful location in the very centre of Dublin within a couple of minutes’ stroll of two of the city’s loveliest parks and a short walk to some of the city’s best shopping, cultural and entertainment districts.
The Iveagh is the perfect mix of historic and modern! The existing Georgian facade combines with a contemporary interior, filled with verdant plants and Art Deco fixtures. It feels at once both sumptuous and totally modern. The hotel's combined restaurant and bar is a lovely place: open and airy with a spacious deck backing onto the Iveagh Gardens' waterfall.
This evening we’ll celebrate our Dublin arrival with a private welcome dinner in one of the Inveagh's lovely dining rooms.
(Meals on flight, welcome dinner included.)
Tuesday, June 7
Private Dublin Tour, St. Patrick's Cathedral, National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, Helen Dillon’s new seaside garden, literary pub crawl
Today is all about the magical city of Dublin. The capital city of Ireland is rich in history, scenery and culture and we will experience all the highlights on our private city tour.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral should be a stop on any trip to Dublin, for both its historical significance and its continuing cultural contributions to Dublin life and we’ll enjoy a lovely tour. Founded in 1191, it is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1700s and he is one of many burials on site.
Our morning will also include a visit to the amazing National Botanic Gardens of Ireland just outside of Dublin’s city center, noted for their fine plant collections which hold more than 15,000 plant species and cultivars from a variety of habitats from around the world. The jewel in the gardens’ crown is a set of exquisitely restored and planted historic glasshouses. Other features include impressive herbaceous borders, a lovely rose garden, alpine yard, pond area, rock garden and arboretum.
After lunch at leisure we’ll visit Helen Dillon’s new seaside garden in Monkstown. Helen Dillon is a world-renowned plantswoman, writer, lecturer and broadcaster and her knowledge of plants and her skill as a landscape designer are unparalleled. Huron Tours has had the pleasure of touring her previous garden and we are delighted to have the opportunity to visit the new location and visit with Mrs. Dillon once again.
Here both the house and garden are hidden from public view behind high, old walls of golden-grey granite which date back to the early 19th-century and the garden’s days as an orchard for a neighbouring property. Those walls define the tranquil, cloistered, almost monastic ambience of the Dillons’ new town garden. Already they’re becoming cloaked with the extravagantly ruffled, scented blooms of David Austin roses, tangles of clematis and pretty flowering shrubs.
The Irish Times was happy to report that Mrs. Dillon is “giddy with the joy and excitement of cajoling a beautiful new garden into existence, as well as the opportunities it provides for experimenting with a host of new plants.” We’re pretty giddy too at the thought of experiencing this new garden paradise.
We’ll return to our hotel this evening and experience an all time favorite Huron event, a private Dublin Literary pub crawl! This is a unique way to experience the city’s pub culture and hear about Dublin’s famous literary sons and daughters. Dinner is on your own after the tour so be sure to consult our restaurant recommendations list included with your final tour documents.
(Breakfast and lunch included.)
Dublin Pub Crawl
Huron Tours has done the Dublin pub crawl a number of times, and are always delighted. We have also tried to incorporate pubs into our tours more often, as we know they are a favorite of our travelers, and a fun way to get to know a city and culure. Pubs are different from US "bars" - pubs offer food, coffee, tea, alchohol of course, but can also be a quiet place to sit and ponder, or catch your breath, or duck out of the rain. Pubs do not have the same urgency as most US dining establishments - it is perfectly fine to nurse a coffee, tea or beer and watch the goings-on.
Since 1988 the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl has been rambling the streets of the capital and bringing the literary history of Dublin to life. Professional actors tell you the story of the gin palace, the long hall and the spirit grocer, while quoting live from the works of Joyce, Behan, Wilde and many more. The tour is a form of street theatre, allowing the audience to stand right up beside the actors and experience the language live on the streets of the city where it was born. No props, no make-up. Just the actor within prompting distance of the spectator.
At one time Dublin had over 3000 pubs where locals could indulge in their favourite tipple. Pubs were places where ordinary ‘Dubs’ could gather, away from the tenements, the screaming children and dire poverty.
More info on the Dublin literary pub crawl can be found here (opens in new window.)
Wednesday, June 8
County Wicklow, June Blake’s private garden, Jimi Blake's Hunting Brook, Powerscourt
Wicklow day! Lovingly known as “the garden of Ireland” County Wicklow is located on the country’s east coast. Wicklow is one of its most beautiful areas in all of Ireland with rolling mountains, pristine beaches and numerous garden jewels.
We begin our visits at June Blake’s private garden. Ms. Blake is a passionate plantswoman who has devoted her time to creating an exciting, experimental and contemporary garden. It is set in the heart of West Wicklow in the grounds of an early Victorian steward’s house surrounded by mature trees and meadows. The gardens cover approximately three acres and contain an eclectic collection of plants from around the world. Areas of bold herbaceous planting mix with a shade garden of ferns, grasses, bamboos and other choice woodland plants, punctuated by enormous granite boulders.
Across from the Blake’s family farm is a wonderful private garden, Hunting Brook, run by June’s brother Jimi Blake. Jimi will host us for a visit and for lunch.
Jimi has spent 25 years collecting the most interesting plants he could get his hands on. At Hunting Brook these come together in a unique fusion of funky foliage, perennial, and woodland styles to make a flamboyant, surprising, experimental garden overflowing with ideas for enthusiastic gardeners. The borders here are some of the best you’ll ever see.
We’ll follow these private garden visits with an afternoon drive across the beautiful Wicklow mountains. We’ll continue into Ashford to visit breathtaking Powerscourt, one of the world’s greatest gardens. With the Sugarloaf Mountains as its backdrop, Powerscourt offers a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statuary, ornamental lakes with secret hollows, rambling walks, walled gardens and over 200 variations of trees and shrubs.
Upon return from Wicklow, the rest of the evening is free.
(Breakfast, lunch included.)
Thursday, June 9
Dublin free day, private dinner
A full day at leisure in Dublin. There are many easy world-class visits to add to your experneice of Dublin. A visit to Trinity College and the book of Kells (Ireland's greatest cultural treasure) is very popular, as is the easy train ride to the postcard-perfect fishing village of Howth. Teeling Whiskey (Dublin's first new distillery in 125 years) has a fun and interesting tour and tasting, and Guinness has an "expereicne" that ends with a pint in their sky-bar with unrivaled views of Dublin. The Irish Emigration Museum can help you research your family roots, or a visit Kilmainham Gaol Museum, a facinating former jail, offers a unique look into Ireland's turbulent history. Huron can help you book these visits, and we’ll include a list of additional ideas in your final tour documents.
Tonight we’ll toast our time in Dublin and our continuing garden adventures with a private evening at Number 25 Fitzwilliam Place situated on one of Dublin's most elegant streets, the famous 'Georgian Mile’. Fitzwilliam Place’s long legacy has taken it from historical family home to exclusive private venue, all while maintaining its common threads of warmth, welcome and sociability.
(Breakfast and dinner included.)
Friday, June 10
Transfer to Cork, Kilfane glen, Kilkenny Castle, dinner
We leave Dublin today and enjoy a morning drive south to Kilkenny en-route to Cork for our continuing garden explorations. First, we’ll have a private visit to Kilfane glen and Waterfall to experience a pristine example of a romantic era garden dating from the 1790s. Untouched for 200 years, it is a picturesque paradise.
Our next visit, Kilkenny Castle, has been named by Architectural Digest as one of the 10 most beautiful castles in the world. The stone castle, which overlooks the River Nore, was built in 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and is home to an impressive collection of art and artifacts. One of Kilkenny’s gardeners will lead us on a private tour of the beautiful and carefully manicured ornamental gardens.
After our visit to the castle we’ll tour charming Kilkenny city, a medieval town with many well-preserved churches and monasteries.
Our final stop today is our home in Cork for the next 4 nights, the River Lee Hotel, an oasis of tranquillity in Cork’s historical city centre, The River Lee is one of the top luxury hotels in Cork, and is part of the upscale Doyle Collection. Here, staff pay great attention to detail, with excellent knowledge of the area. Leisure facilities include a 20-metre pool, sauna, whirlpool tub, and extensive and well-equipped gym. The River Club Bar, Terrace and The Grill room offer glamorous décor and a relaxed atmosphere - the perfect place to eat, drink and be social. Offering a central location, the historic St Finbarr’s Cathedral, pleasant Mardyke river walk, the Cork Public Museum, and award-winning Lewis Glucksman Gallery are all within strolling distance of the property.
We’ll have a multi-course welcome dinner together this evening in the hotel’s award winning restaurant.
(Breakfast, Dinner included)
Saturday, June 11
Morning at leaisure, Ballymaloe visit, Coosheen Gardens
Enjoy a free morning and early afternoon at your leisure in Cork before our visit to Ballymaloe House for a delightful lunch in a lovely setting.
The Georgian house at Ballymaloe is built onto a Norman castle keep and looks out over farmland and gardens, with the East Cork countryside stretching out beyond. Long renowned for its food, the estate also houses a well known cookery school and garden.
After our lunch we’ll pay a visit to the estate’s herb garden. Deep beech hedges dating back to 1870 form the long boundaries of the Herb Garden and divide the main garden into three distinct sections. Here you will find over 70 different herbs including lemon balm, bronze fennel, purple sage, lovage, summer savoury, sweet cicely, parsley, garlic, chives and angelica, all planted in sculpted beds. Beautiful and interesting.
Our private garden discoveries continue next at Coosheen Gardens in Glounthaune. Hester Forde has an insatiable appetite for plants which makes this a must see for the serious plant enthusiast. Situated on the estuary of Cork harbor ‘Coosheen’ houses a unique collection of plants which provide year round interest. The garden is creatively landscaped with raised beds and troughs of rare and unusual smaller perennials, alpines, and bulbs. How lucky are we?!
When we return to Cork the evening is yours to relax or explore as you wish.
(Breakfast and lunch included)
The Irish Hare
The Irish Hare (arguably the oldest surviving Irish mammal)
In Celtic mythology and folklore the hare has links to the mysterious Otherworld of the supernatural. The Irish hare is native to Ireland and carbon dating of fossils show they were present in Ireland as far back as 28,000BC. In Irish folklore the hare is also often associated with the Otherworld (Aos Si) community whose world was reached through mists, hills, lakes, ponds, wetland areas, caves, ancient burial sites, cairns and mounds.
Sunday, June 12
Garinish Island, Bantry House and Garden with Lunch, Farewell Dinner
This morning after breakfast we’ll embark upon a local sailing vessel to highly regarded Garinish Island.
Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, Garinish is a small island known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty.
The gardens owe their existence to the creative partnership, some eighty years ago, of Annan and Violet Bryce, then owners of the island, and Harold Peto, acclaimed architect and garden designer (of famed Iford Gardens in England). The island is renowned for its richness of plant form and color, which change continuously with the seasons. Bryce House, the family residence on the island for many years, is presented as it would have appeared during their lifetime. A selection from their vast collection of important paintings, prints, drawings, and books can be seen on display inside.
Next we’re off to Bantry House and Garden, the stunning stately home of the Earls of Bantry and their descendants, the White Family. Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way overlooking Bantry Bay in the south west of Ireland, the House has been home to the White family since 1739 and was opened to the public in 1946.
The garden and house as we know it today was designed by Richard White, Second Earl of Bantry, in the middle of the 19th century. Richard travelled extensively and greatly admired the Italian and French gardens he saw and tried to recreate his impressions here in the west of Ireland. He created seven terraces with the house itself is placed on the third. Four more terraces rise at the south side of the house connecting the formality of the house with the wilderness of the woodland.
Bantry House has survived more than 200 years, an attempted invasion by the French (1796), strife and famines, world wars and the Irish civil war.
We’ll have lunch together at the house followed by a guided tour given by a member of the White family. A special invitation just for Huron travelers .
Once back at the hotel in the late afternoon we’ll have some time to relax and refresh before our very special Cork sendoff!
This evening, we’ll dine in elegant surroundings at Hayfield Manor House, set high on a hill above the University College Cork campus. Our private dining room overlooks the Manor’s walled garden inspired by Muckross House gardens in Killarney.
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.)
Monday, June 13
Burtown House and Gardens, Lunch, farewell drinks reception
Our garden tour is coming to an end but we have one more visit in store today.
After a leisurely morning we’ll depart Cork. En-route to Dublin we’ll visit Burtown House and Gardens in Athy for a guided tour of the gardens and delightful lunch in the Green Barn. This early Georgian villa was built in 1710 by the Quaker Robert Power and is surrounded by flower gardens, vegetable patches, parklands, woodland walks and a series of secret gardens. An ideal place for our group to wander as we enjoy one last garden on this fabulous itinerary.
Later this afternoon we’ll check-in to the 4 Star Radisson Blu Hotel at Dublin airport where you will have time to relax and unwind before our private farewell drinks reception with canapes. We’ll toast our garden travels and share memories of our favorite moments!
(Breakfast, lunch, reception included.)
Tuesday, June 14
Departures to home
All good things must come to end and we hope you depart today dreaming of your next Huron tour! There is shuttle service from the hotel to the airport terminals that runs through the night and day.
(Breakfast included today.)
A $1,000 per person deposit will hold your space. Please use the link above or below to access our online shopping cart. If you'd like to reserve over the phone, we'd be happy to talk to you and can be reached at either (504) 267-2057 or (800) 734-1192.