How about an Irish heli-golf tour – say, 18 courses in 18 days, ending each round with a pint (or two) and some authentic music at a great local pub?

  • Castle by lake, Ireland
  • Seascape, Ireland
  • Ashford Castle, Ireland
  • Connemara Cows, Ireland
  • Stone wall, Ireland
  • Costal sunset in Ireland

Discover Ireland

The McCarthy clan of New York asked us to help arrange a return to their ancestral roots in Connemara. The result was a unique bespoke luxury holiday in Ireland:

There were nine travellers, and it had been 99 years since their forebears left the old country, so it was only logical (in the Irish sense) that the route should trace a number 9 on the map. Starting in Galway, we headed south, following the road walked by so many who fled the famines, into beautiful Connemara and the Burren. Stops in village pubs for seafood and other local fare were ideal opportunities for everyone to connect.

The phrase “island life” usually conjures up images of palm trees. Not so on the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast, where hand-knitted sweaters, cliff-top paths and stonewalled fields sloping down to the sea create the Celtic version of paradise. After superb home-cooked meals at their cozy B&B, our travellers gathered in the parlour for viewings of Father Ted, reviving fond memories of ancestral expletives. (Fek!)

Walking and biking each day, the group returned to the mainland and headed for riverside Ballynahinch Castle. Here some enjoyed incomparable fishing while others got bogged down (in a good way) walking ancient peat-cutters’ paths. And at day’s end, everyone feasted in the hotel’s acclaimed dining room.

After a lunch at legendary Ashford Castle, two chartered helicopters whisked the family southward – along the straight-ish part of the 9 – above the ancient road that follows the coastal cliffs. Later, travelling in gypsy caravans and historic sports cars, all four generations competed in a treasure hunt leading to an 11th-century castle, where we arranged a private ceilidh with traditional song and dance for the last evening together.

What else could you blend into your bespoke Ireland vacation? Dublin’s Croke Park to watch hurling – not what it sounds like, but in fact the world’s fastest team sport, kind of hockey meets lacrosse, with all the banter and passion you’d expect from inter-county rivals. Toast the winners with a pint of Guinness at Ryan’s, across the river from the hallowed brewery, or Mulligan’s, sanctified by generations of Irish Times scribes.

Better still, we can introduce you to some of the Guinness clan over lunch at one of the family castles. Or join the fun at the Galway Oyster Festival, which celebrates the bivalve molluscs’ annual return with parades, parties and the prying open of shells, all with accompanying libations. 

Wherever you choose to explore in Ireland, we’ll make sure you end up in a pub where the craic is good – in other words, where the stories, jokes and impromptu music-making conspire to lift your soul. 

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