Irish Midlands Heritage Three Day Tour
Go off the beaten track with our Irish Midlands Heritage Tour, ideal for the person who has been to Ireland before and wants to experience something truly local, unique and authentic.
Laois and Offaly are at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East and probably it’s best kept secret. Rich in history and heritage and an outdoor enthusiasts dream, there are lots to choose from including Castles and Big Houses, Ancient Captivating Ruins, Rolling Hills and Landscapes, and amazing stories.
Days start at approximately at 9:00am and finish at 6:00pm. Includes chauffeur driven guide who will accompany you throughout the three days.
Accommodation is not included but can be organised with one of our partners on your behalf.
Our first stop is Mountmellick, once a very prosperous Quaker town, known as Little Manchester for its industries. Some of the residents included the famous Bewleys (tea, coffee, sild), and Pims, (tobacco, snuff, brewing), families. A guided tour of Mountmellick Embroidery Museum which includes a demonstration of the world-famous white on white embroidery.
Next we visit a magnificent 19th century neo-classical home. It took two architects and three Earls to oversee the completion of this amazing building. Stories about the Earls of Portarlington and the local area, a Titanic connection and the last owner, Cholmeley Harrison, who restored Emo Court and donated it to the state will be told on a guided tour. Weather permitting a stroll around some of the vast gardens that they designed nearly two hundred years ago.
The Rock of Dunamase is our next stop, first mentioned by the Greek cartographer. Ptolemy in 120 AD as a Dún or Fort. Today it is the ruins of an Anglo Norman 12th and early 13th century Castle. It was part of the dowry given to the invading Anglo Norman Lord, Strongbow, on his marriage to the daughter of the King of Leinster, Aoife. We overlook the fabulous Irish countryside and can see numerous counties from the top. Legends and folklore surround this fortification. Lunch at a local eatery will be organised.
After lunch we head to a very quaint small village that was first founded in the 7th century. A tribute to Saint Mochua who lived here as a hermit. A wonderful 12th century round tower, one of the finest in the country stands sic storeys and almost 30 metres / 100 feet high. Church to tower house conversion can also be seen here, you will notice parts distinctly part of the original medieval church and others obviously the later tower house, a very unusual conversion.
Our final trip is a visit to Ballykilcavan, a local micro brewery and farm. 13 generations of the same family have lived here since 1639. We will experience an original 18th century stone farmyard, the 19th century stable yard, the walled garden and gardener’s tunnel. Ballykilcavan use their own crop of hops and award winning barley to make their fabulous beers, which on this visit you will witness the process and taste the product.
First stop of the day is the very picturesque town of Abbeyleix, a planned estate town, dating back to circa. 1770. The Viscounts de Vesci, the local landlords, realised the town was low lying and susceptible to flooding, so moved it to a more elevated position. The de Vesci’s were very benevolent landlords and their contribution to the town has left it’s mark on the fabulous architecture.
The local museum, Heritage House tells the stories of the de Vesci’s, Abbeyleix and Laois over the centuries. A short leisurely walk through the town and a stop for a cup of coffee completes our visit.
Our next stop is Donaghmore Workhouse, one of the few remaining workhouses in Ireland. This is where people came and were ‘cared for’ during and after the famine years of the 19th century.
A very important part of Irish history, and a very emotional experience to witness the rooms were the destitute were brought on arrival, the school, the dining room and the rooms were they slept on the floor after walking “the pathway of the dead”. The luck ones who made it to the door of the workhouse.
A specially prepared gourmet picnic filled with local seasonal artisan treats showcasing the best the area has to offer, weather dependent. Then why not discover the unspoiled landscape of the Slieve Bloom Mountains on this half day guided family adventure.
Go off the beaten track and hear stories of the history and heritage of one of the oldest mountains in Europe. In the safe hands of your experienced local guide, Trudy prepare to uncover a wonderful diversity of landscapes with blanket bogs, wooded valleys, mountain streams and old settlement ruins.
After a lunch in Birr the journey takes us to Clonmacnoise, on the banks of the river Shannon. Going back to the 6th century it was one of the most important early Christian settlements in Ireland and Europe. It was a centre of learning people came from all over Europe.
You will see ruins of a cathedral, two round towers, three high crosses, nine churches and over 700 early Christian grave slabs.
Tullamore dew is the perfect place to end the three day adventure. A family run business going back to 1829 when the first production of the whiskey known as Tullamore Dew took place.
Daniel Edmund Williams the famous distiller gave his initials to this world famous drink. You will hear the great stories of Irish Whiskey, and watch the whiskey come to life. Enjoy the amazing experience and sample some of the best whiskey.
The warmest welcome you can imagine awaits you in the Midlands of Ireland !!!