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Narrowed down to 3 choices in Cork

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Princess trip and doing mostly ship tours on this sailing. Background - when I was 18, I spent time in Ireland and did Ring of Kerry. We had a few nights in Killarney and while I remember beautiful scenery - I don't remember where all we went. I am mostly into scenery.

 

Fast forward 30 years and doing a British Isles trip.

 

Torn between 3 excursions:

Best of Cork and Country for Small groups which goes to Blarney Castle, Blarney Wooden Mills and Kinsale. I don't want to kiss the Blarney stone but the rest of the area around the castle looks gorgeous. I do not believe I went to this when I was younger. I probably would have kissed the stone back then so I think we missed it. I am not a shopper but have heard that the Blarney Woolen Mills shop is a classy souvenir place.

 

This unique, day-long tour has been perfectly designed for the first time visitor to Ireland, and begins with a scenic drive through the Irish country side, accompanied by your knowledgeable and friendly guide. Soak up the beautiful countryside with its rolling hills, expansive farmland and colorful houses, houses and stop for a photo oppotunity at Charles Fort where you will have stunning views over Kinsale Harbor before arriving in the town itself.

The delightful village of Kinsale boasts a broad and picturesque harbor along with a wealth of well-preserved, 18th-century houses. It was off the coast here that the liner 'RMS Lusitania' was torpedoed by a U-boat during World War I. You will be able to spend time independently exploring the town, or enjoying a coffee in one of the many river-side cafes, before meeting at the motorcoach for the next leg of the journey.

From Kinsale you will travel through the Irish countryside before reaching the outskirts Cork City and continuing to your lunch venue. Enjoy the outskirts of Cork City and continuing to your lunch venue. Enjoy a traditional Irish lunch at a local hotel accompanied by a wonderful group of musicians. 
Following lunch you will have the opportunity for a brief orientation tour of Cork City from the comfort of your coach before . 

Your next stop on this fabulous day out is Blarney Castle, which sits high above Blarney village. Set in a sprawling park, this romantic ruin was once a stronghold of the McCarthy clan, and features 18-foot thick stone walls. The adventurous among you may join the line to enter the castle ruins or to kiss the famous Blarney stone - those who do are said to be endowed with the gift of eloquence (long lines may be expected).  

After touring the castle, castle and the beautiful grounds, you can stroll to the nearby Blarney Woolen Mill Shop to enjoy shopping in this converted mill for traditional Irish goods. The shop here offers Waterford crystal, Irish linen, hand-loomed Donegal tweed, knitwear, bone china and Celtic brooches, so you will be spoiled for choice!
Your day ends with the scenic ride back to Cobh, enjoying the Irish countryside.

 

West Cork's Scenic Wonders: This full day excursion offers proof that the "Emerald Isle" is truly a jewel of a destination. As Ireland's largest county, Cork is blessed with sprawling meadows, rugged mountains, sparkling lakes and quaint towns. And West Cork, with its seaside villages, wind-swept coastline and ancient history, is no exception. Your day includes lots of free time to explore on your own, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring along a camera to capture every memorable moment.

Your visually captivating tour begins as you board your motorcoach at the pier for the 75-minute ride to the town of Clonakilty in Ireland's southwest corner. Perched at the head of Clonakilty Bay, the village dates back seven centuries. Fondly known as Clon by locals, this charming town is also renowned for its hospitality; in fact, Clon is the home of the famous and world's only "Random Acts of Kindness Festival," which aims to celebrate the residents' friendliness and welcoming good nature. Once you arrive, you'll disembark for a comforting cup of coffee followed by a self-guided tour of the town. As you meander along the narrow streets, and take your photos, you'll learn why the Irish Tourist Board has designated Clonakilty a Heritage Town.

Back on the coach, you'll travel next to Glengarriff. As your coach makes its way into town you may notice pockmarks in the gently sloping mountains surrounding this peaceful town; these marshy areas are farmed for peat by local villagers. Nestled at the end of Bantry Bay, this tiny hamlet of only 800 has been a popular holiday destination since the 1700s. Following your visit to Glengarriff, lunch awaits, so you'll be whisked to a local restaurant for a tasty four-course lunch.

Happily fed, you'll return to your coach and continue through your day's final destination, Gougane Barra Forest Park. Covering 1,000 acres in the Shehy Mountains, Ireland's first national park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The large valley, carved out by a glacier during the last Ice Age, is enclosed by the sheer rock faces of the mountains, which rise over 1,200 feet. Make sure to have your camera handy! Barra Lake is home to a peaceful-looking island; according to tradition St. Finbarr, Cork's patron saint, built a monastery here in the 6th century. Today, a picturesque chapel, not part of the original monastery, resides on the island, a reminder of its gentle past. Have your camera handy as you make your way through the park. Sheep, badgers, foxes, rabbits, robins, willow warblers, and cuckoos are constant occupants of the forest.

Your return journey to Cobh will take you through the picturesque Lee Valley, an area of ever-changing scenery.

 

Scenic Killarney: Spend a full day away from the ship exploring some of Ireland's most treasured landmarks, as well as enjoying a drive through magnificent countryside. Your guide and motorcoach driver will meet you at the port, and once everyone is on board you will head out from Cobh, passing small farms and small villages, en route to County Kerry. This fabulous drive climbs the Derrynasaggart Mountains to Killarney National Park, which boasts stunning views of the tree-lined lakes, against a backdrop of mountain peaks.

Stop in a local hotel in Ballyvourney, were there will be a tea/coffee and scones served, to set you up for a day of exploration in the beautiful Muckross and Killarney.

Travel to Muckross, where you will have the opportunity to photograph the glorious Muckross House, a 19th-century manor house that boasts a superb rhododendron garden and sunken garden. Originally a private estate, the house was presented to the Irish government in 1932, and is renowned for its gorgeous views of the second largest of the Killarney Lakes. You will have time for a short walk through the gardens.

Afterwards you will be taken to the center of Killarney town where you will stop for a delicious lunch in a local restaurant before having some free time to independently explore the town itself.

Then stretch your legs as you browse the many quaint shops in Killarney town. Your return journey back to Cobh will allow you some time to relax and enjoy the passing scenery as you think back on your time in Co. Kerry

 

I don't remember how much of Killarney National Park I saw when I was 18. I just remember the whole day being gorgeous. I would re-do Ring of Kerry if that was an option but it isn't.

 

 

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Any comments on those who have done any of these tours is greatly appreciated! Local input is always great. Again - I am into scenery.

 

Edited by Coral

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Without hesitation I would suggest no. 2.  West Cork is beautiful, and Gougane Barra is the jewel.

gouganne_barra_west_cork.jpg

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42 minutes ago, VMax1700 said:

Without hesitation I would suggest no. 2.  West Cork is beautiful, and Gougane Barra is the jewel.

gouganne_barra_west_cork.jpg

download.jpg

Thank you! That was my first thought and then I later changed it to Best of Cork (Blarney Castle).

 

Coming from a local - I appreciate your input and participation in these boards!

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