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My Route du Bonheur

Ireland – Castles of the South

Francis Brennan
By Francis Brennan, Owner of Park Hotel Kenmare

Plan your personalized
itinerary with our concierge

+1 800 735 2478 * *Local charges apply
“I was born in Dublin and for as long as I can remember I always wanted to work in hospitality. Was it because my parents dreamt of building a hotel in the west of the country but never managed to do it? Or because of the suit my grandfather wore that I wanted in a child’s size so I could wear it wandering the corridors of my place. After living overseas, I returned to Cork to work as a hotel manager and then I settled for good in Kenmare, in the south of the country. I got to travel a lot around Ireland when I was presenting “At Your Service”, a hit TV show here in this country. The South I would like to show you has immense treasures. Roam the length of its crests, play golf on the finest courses in the world, and enter century-old castles that recount the very particular history of a country quite unlike any other …”
Suggestion of itinerary
  • 5 hotels
  • from US$ 1,565.96 *
1
165 km
2
170 km
3
270 km
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To give you inspiration, Relais & Châteaux presents the Routes du Bonheur: suggestions for travel itineraries that you can fully personalise according to your wishes and the experiences you would like to discover. Our consultants are available to help customise your route and assist you in making reservations at our properties. It is up to you to reserve any recommended activities on-site or nearby that might interest you.
*Total price provided for information only, based on accommodation for two people in a double room for the number of nights per property as indicated on this page, exclusive of recommended activities, properties that cannot be reserved online and restaurants.


1 Co. Wexford — 1 Night
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Marlfield House

Co. Wexford - Ireland

Hotel and restaurant in the country. To arrive in this part of Ireland from Dublin, pass through the magical countryside of Wicklow, a county nestled between the sea and the mountains and boasting some of Ireland’s most stunning landscapes. Rosslare port is also very close to Marlfield House. It is in this unspoilt, yet easily accessible region that the Bowe family chose to create their gem of a hotel, a model of conviviality and elegance complete with a rose garden and woodland walks. Dining in the conservatory is delightful. Here, life is about enjoyment, don’t we call the Irish “the Latin people of the North”? ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
18 rooms
1 villa
(from) US$ 127.00
Choose Room
Close to the property

House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford

House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford

They have been working with crystal here for over 200 years. Based in the heart of the city, Waterford Crystal marries traditional know-how and modern techniques. The public can view every stage of the manufacturing, from the creation of the moulds to the almost magical, meticulous work of the blowers. Close to 45 000 pieces are produced here annually. I still have wonderful memories of the day I visited when the new modernised site was inaugurated.

Wexford Opera House, Wexford

Wexford Opera House, Wexford

It was Mary Bowe, of Marlfield House, who introduced me to this festival which is unlike any other in the world. Each year since 1951, the Wexford Opera House has put on a programme to discover the overlooked works of the lyrical repertoire. Running on from Massenet, you’ll be carried away by pieces that are both subtle and authoritative. The Wexford Opera House, is a bit like the home of forgotten operas in the heart of the Irish countryside…

1
165 km
2
170 km
3
270 km
2 Ardmore Co. Waterford — 1 Night
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Cliff House Hotel

Ardmore - Ireland

Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Cliff House Hotel is in a stunning location, overlooking Ardmore Bay. The hotel’s architecture is truly extraordinary as it has been built right onto the side of the cliff. The bar and outdoor terrace, the restaurant, spa and each guest room all enjoy exceptional views of the expansive bay. With direct access to the sea, the hotel offers numerous outdoor activities, such as ocean kayaking, surfing, whale watching, fishing and rock climbing. There are many beaches nearby and you can walk to St. Declan’s Well on the famous Cliff Walk. Lismore Castle and the Midleton Whiskey distillery are easy to reach from Ardmore. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
38 rooms
2 villas
(from) US$ 259.67
Choose Room
On the route

Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle

Built in the late 16th century, this fortress with crenellated towers and façades underwent many alterations until the arrival of the Duke of Devonshire. In the early 19th century, he transformed it into a spectacular gothic castle using hewn stones sourced from Derbyshire. These days there is a lovely contemporary art gallery in the West wing. The outer walls overlook a river teaming with salmon and I was lucky enough to land here for a television programme …

Midleton Distillery

Midleton Distillery

Every Jameson fan has heard of this place. Founded in 1825 by the Murphy brothers, the site remains a point of reference. With almost 20 million litres distilled annually, it is furthermore the country’s biggest distillery. The old building is home to a museum where amidst the old stills, we learn about the amazing history of Irish whisky. And, of course, there is a tasting (in moderation) …

Titanic Experience Cobh

Titanic Experience Cobh

The port of Cobh (formerly Queenstown) was where the Titanic made its final port of call on April 11th, 1912. 123 passengers were embarked before the liner set out again to sea. Three days later the Titanic would sink in the Atlantic. Titanic Experience guides us back to this piece of history. The museum is located in the building that was home to the White Star Line in days gone by, and it takes us back a century, shoulder to shoulder with those passengers …

1
165 km
2
170 km
3
270 km
3 Kenmare — 2 Nights
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Park Hotel Kenmare

Kenmare - Ireland

Restaurant and hotel in town. The Heritage town of Kenmare, in mystical Kerry, is home to this Victorian gem. Dating from 1897, the hotel enjoys a splendid location, with manicured gardens running to the lapping shores of Kenmare Bay. This is the Ireland of which you have always dreamed with its rugged coastal drives. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the many mountain and coastal walks in the area, championship golf links and fishing nearby. The SAMAS spa offers a wide range of personalised treatments. At the end of an idyllic day you can watch a classic in the hotel’s small private cinema, enjoying a very rare aged, peaty malt. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
43 rooms
(from) US$ 283.48
Choose Room
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Sheen Falls Lodge

Kenmare Co. Kerry - Ireland

Hotel and restaurant on a river. Surrounded by purple heather-covered mountains, Kenmare is one of the spots in Ireland that the Irish themselves like best. Sheen Falls Lodge is not only perfectly placed for exploring the southwest, the Ring of Beara, Ring of Kerry and the famous Killarney Lakes, but it is also known for its piano-jazz ambience, its collection of old Irish whiskeys, and the dishes prepared with the salmon caught in the nearby river. There are unrivalled views of Kenmare Bay, the McGuillicuddy Reeks and cascading Sheen waterfalls. All of this, combined with outstanding Irish hospitality and Celtic legends, creates a sense of magic that pervades. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
77 rooms
(from) US$ 260.80
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Close to the property

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

I am taking you for a car daytrip along the coast. The 170km long Ring of Kerry is a circuit that has infinite spectacular panoramas over the ocean. A must-do circuit winding from Killarney to Killorglin via Kenmare and Waterville. On the way, you will discover my favourite beach beside Derrynane. Fans of (long) hikes can also venture along the Kerry Way, a walking and cycling trail that leads to truly beautiful wilderness.

On the route

Kiss the Blarney Stone, Cork

Kiss the Blarney Stone, Cork

Some mysteries are hard to explain. Some people believe that the stone was brought back from the Crusades and others claim it was struck by Moses, or blessed by a witch saved from drowning, or it could have been a part of the throne of the Irish kings. All we do know is that men and women have been lining up to kiss this stone for over 200 years. According to the deep-rooted legend, doing so will bring the gift of eloquence. In the past, visitors had to be held by the ankles as they leaned their head forward over the ramparts. These days all you have to do is lie on your back and place your lips on it, while gripping onto an iron railing. It doesn’t really matter, I’ve never kissed it because I already talk too much!

The finest golf courses

The finest golf courses

The famous golfer and winner of 8 Majors, Tom Watson, thinks the Ballybunion course is one of the finest in the world. Located in the Shannon estuary, it runs along this piece of windswept coastline. A few kilometres away, the Waterville course is also very popular with golfing fans. The view from the tee box at the 17th hole is absolutely amazing. Golf World magazine named it one of the finest golf courses in Britain and Ireland. And lastly, who hasn’t heard of Killarney, where the famous Irish Open was held in 2010 and 2011. A course for golfing greats and a region with lovely greens for the fans… 

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165 km
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170 km
3
270 km
4 Ballyfin — 1 Night
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Ballyfin Demesne

Ballyfin - Ireland

Hotel and restaurant in a park. “Yesterday, I saw a most delightful place indeed, much beyond any place I have seen in Ireland – Ballyfin”. The observation by an aristocratic 18th century visitor is still there today. The 600 acre demesne is a place of tranquillity and great natural beauty. Created and refined over the past 400 years with its woodlands, lake, water features, grottos, follies and walled gardens, it provides an idyllic private world for guests to explore and enjoy a range of activities. At its centre is the late Georgian House which has been carefully and thoroughly restored to provide an exceptional level of comfort and luxury combined with all the facilities to be expected in a grand hotel. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
21 rooms
(from) US$ 657.68
Choose Room
On the route

King John’s Castle, Limerick

King John’s Castle, Limerick

Built over the foundations of an ancient Viking fortification, King John’s Castle dates back to the early 13th century. Its impressive round towers and high wall in the Anglo-Norman fortress architectural style still dominate Limerick’s old medieval quarter. The new design launched in summer 2013 uses touchscreens depicting the history and the many battles fought around the site. A real find for adults and kids …

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

The MacNamaras constructed this castle from 1425 onwards, but then it belonged to the most powerful family in Munster – the O’Briens – for a long time. Even to this day, huge medieval banquets are served in an authentic setting. You wander through a rich folk history. A typical 19th century village has been reconstructed in the adjoining park, with farms, a forge and water mills. I am particularly fond of this place and I am on its board of directors.

Discover why booking with Relais & Châteaux is a world of privileges
Texts : © Guides Gallimard
Photos: 2013 Tony Webster