IRELAND 2020

IRISH SPRING TOURS: PINTS & HIKES

12 DAYS IN IRELAND – THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

June 6 to June 18, 2020 (leaving Toronto June 5) SOLD OUT

 

Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • Eleven 3-Course Gourmet Dinners with Wine • Eleven Full Irish Breakfasts • Welcome Reception • Touring the Wild Atlantic Way • Traditional Music Sessions • Visits to Romantic Gardens • Scenic Hikes • Stone Circle • Ferry to Islands • Wine Tastings • Cliff Walks • Daily Pints at Traditional Pubs • A Castle or Two • Private Tour & Tasting at a Small Craft Brewery • Unspoiled Villages • Arts & Crafts Galleries • Fun Picnics • Irish Dancing • Atlantic Sea Kayaking • Visit to Jameson Distillery • A Medieval Walled Town • Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’ • Private Seaweed Tasting & Lecture • Cycling on the Waterford Greenway • Hurling Lesson • Private Coach Transportation • Airport Pick up and Return in Ireland • Great Craic!

“Ireland – where the wit flows as freely as the drink.”


(Note: Move the arrows under the top photo on this page to see all photos)

Our Ireland trip focuses on back-roads and places less known and travelled. Away from the tour buses. We offer a real Ireland experience – tromping about, popping into pubs, and meeting lots of locals. Toss in a ruined castle or two, delicious food – and you’re in heaven. Worry not that you’ll be scaling mountains or carrying heavy knapsacks. Everything in moderation – except for the fresh air and Guinness. Luxury hiking might be stretching it, but you won’t be wanting for good meals and cozy beds. You’ll experience a huge range of terrain, from coastal to mountainous, to pastoral – and maybe a bog or two. Each of the four regions we’ll visit has a different landscape and feeling, which is part of Ireland’s appeal. Travel fifty miles and you’re in another world – with people speaking another strange version of English, and fiercely proud of their place, their songs and, of course, their hurling team.

 

Our second trip with Billy and Kato and once again a fabulous vacation. Their in-depth knowledge of the area and close personal connections with the local population gave us an experience not accessible to the average tourist. Every day brought new and fun adventures with a small, eclectic group of travelers who were a delight to be with. Would we travel with Billy and Kato again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Highly recommended.” The Seybolds, Picton

 

The lively city of Kilkenny is our first stop on the itinerary – staying two nights at our favourite city-centre, boutique hotel. After some free time at castles, churches, breweries, and boutiques, we head into the country for a short hike around a country estate on the banks of the river Nore. Followed by the first of many visits to country pubs. Our Kilkenny dinners will feature city upscale and country charming.

Next, we’re off to the coastal town of Dungarvan, with a few surprise stop-offs, and a riverside lunch at my mother’s favourite pub. Well, one of them! Dungarvan is a soon-to-be-known hotbed for lovers of food and the craic. So much fun to be had in one small place. However, we will tear you away for two spectacular hikes – one a dramatic cliff-top walk with stunning ocean views, the other on the wild Comeragh mountains. For more fresh air, we’ll take a leisurely bike ride along the coast (no cars). Okay, enough exercise – back to The Moorings or Merry’s pub.

 

“We loved Ireland and once again you spoiled us thoroughly! Everything was so beautifully organized with superb attention to detail starting well before our trip. The accommodation was delightful, the wine and food delicious, the itinerary creative and beautifully paced with interests for all, and the other guests a pleasure to be with. Thank you for introducing us with such care and fun to the magic of Ireland!” The Simmons, Ottawa

 

The next four days will be spent in our beloved West Cork, along the Wild Atlantic Way for super-scenic walks around Sheeps Head, and the laneways on Sherkin Island. A tour of the woods at Liss Ard will take us to architect, James Turrell’s famous ‘Crater’. The market towns of Skibbereen and Bantry offer a glimpse of rural Irish life, along with a sprinkling of history, art, and delicious local foods. While the village of Baltimore can boast of having five pubs in a row. It’s also home to our favourite garden and restaurant combination. You’re sure to be smitten by the magical quality of this part of the country. And you’ll not go hungry, nor thirsty. Interested in researching your Irish genealogy? We have the place for you.

On a more sobering note, we will learn about the devastation caused in this part of the country by the Great Famine, and why so many people need not have perished.

Horses, and in particular racehorses, are much loved in Ireland as you’ll discover when we visit one of the richest stud farms in the world. Which happens to be close to the horse museum in Co. Tipperary (not a long way!). Coincidently, down the street is McCarthy’s Bar – unchanged for 100 years, and a favourite haunt of all the big names in horse racing, and a certain Sir Andrew Lloyd. Lunch and a few pints later, you’ll be ready for a mini-hike around some walls – unchanged for 1000 years! All of this happens enroute to Birr – the fourth act of our tour.

 

“Can you imagine playing bocce on a windswept beach in Ireland with the wine cooling in a tidal pool? I can and did!! My tour of Ireland with Billy and Kato was a wonderful experience. I saw the beauty of Ireland, tasted wonderful foods and wines and met the very friendly locals in pubs. Both Kato and Billy are excellent hosts and engage you in activities that are unusual, informative and so well planned. Certainly, a trip filled with lovely memories! You must go!” M. Zuliani, Wellandport

 

Birr, in the often-overlooked central area of Ireland, is home to a very creative family who occupy the local castle (all will be explained on our visit). As will the awesome location of our almost final dinner. Our hotel for two nights has a tree-lined courtyard – perfect for relaxing with a glass, or partaking in a game of bocce.

Other features in Birr are some of the best Georgian architecture outside of Dublin, and birth sights of many interesting people – whom you’ll hear about on our history walk. We’ll be off the tourist trail and probably the only outsiders in the pubs – an opportunity to impress the locals with your stories and songs!

 

“If one is fortunate enough to sign on for one of Kato and Billy’s tours of Ireland, be prepared: for this is not a tour, it is a cultural immersion. Daily you will see and do and go places that are not on the “tourist trail”. You will enjoy beautiful food and really fine wines and your accommodations will be excellent. There will be scenery that nearly stops your heart.You will walk along a rugged cliff top peninsula which drops precipitously into crashing seas and never feel more alive. You may stop along the way into a small and dark pub. A fire will be lit, the Jameson’s will be poured and locals will sing the old songs. Perhaps someone will dance and there certainly will be laughter. Ireland will sing to your soul and free your heart. All I can say is go and soon. Let Kato and Billy show you the true Ireland.” Becky Pace, NY

 

Note: While most of our hikes and walks on this tour will be easy, and not longer than a couple of hours, it is important that you be in fairly good physical shape. We recommend good walking shoes or light hiking boots, and rain wear of course. We will also be cycling one day and on another, seaweed forging in double kayaks – very gently, in well-protected waters.

IRELAND: PINTS & HIKES

June 6 to June 18, 2020 (leaving Toronto June 5) SOLD OUT

18-20 participants

COST: $5,495 per person, based on double occupancy, Canadian currency, including all taxes
Single supplement $1,350, based on Canadian currency, including all taxes

OFFICIAL FLIGHTS (subject to change, posted January 31, 2019)

This is a LAND ONLY TOUR beginning at Dublin airport around 10:30am on June 6

GETTING THERE:  05 JUNE Air Canada # 842 Depart Toronto 11:10pm Arrive Dublin 10:45am (06 JUNE)
RETURNING: 18 JUNE Air Canada # 843 Depart Dublin 12:25PM Arrive Toronto 2:45pm

P.S. A visit to Dublin city would be an easy add-on at the end of this tour. If you are planning to do so, see our Dublin recommendations HERE!

 

TOUR INCLUDES
Tour and host services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly
Eleven 3-Course Gourmet Dinners with Wine
Eleven Full Irish Breakfasts
Eleven Nights in Comfortable Accommodation, Ensuite – 3 and 4 star
Georgian Architecture
Traditional Music Sessions
Visits to Romantic Gardens
Scenic Hikes and Cliff Walks
Visit to a Stone Circle
Ferry to Sherkin Island
Wine and Beer Tastings
Traditional Pubs
Entrance to a Castle or Two
Private Tour & Tasting at a Small Craft Brewery
Unspoiled Villages
Arts & Crafts Galleries
Irish Dancing
Atlantic Sea Kayaking
Visit to Jameson Distillery
Touring the Wild Atlantic Way
Medieval Walled Town
Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’
Private Seaweed Tasting & Lecture
Welcome Reception
Cycling on the Waterford Greenway
Private Hurling Lesson
Airport Pick Up and Return at Dublin airport, connected to the ‘official’ flights
…and carefully curated surprises!

 

NOT INCLUDED
Air travel and medical insurance
Pub lunches and drinks, and after dinner drinks
Personal items
Gratuities for housekeeping, breakfast and lunch service, guides and drivers

 

TO BOOK

1. Email katowake@gmail.com with IRELAND 2020 in the subject headline.

2. Kato will email you back to confirm, and then send you a direct link to fill out a form with Ellison Travel and Tours.

3. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete this form, and send a cheque deposit of $500 per person. (We will email you full mailing details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy below.)
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.

FYI: Due to uncertain future currency rates, your invoice for this tour will permit a price increase of no more than 7%. Once your tour is paid in full, the price advertised is locked in, and no further price increase will be allowed.


CANCELLATION POLICY

Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Up to 90 days prior to departure – 50% refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.
Less than 90 days to departure – no refund. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.

We are very pleased to be working with our excellent travel agents at Ellison Travel & Tours, our official partner with TICO #2392471 : Kelly Richards and Melanie Treasure.

 

 


HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OTHER TOURS?

We must start by telling you that we never set out to conduct tours. However, after a few trials with friends we sensed that there was an interest in our style of travel. Found a niche as they say. Original and generous were the two most used words we heard to describe what we offered, and not surprisingly as our itineraries were of our own making. We did not see the point of taking people to over-crowded ‘guide book’ places. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We still deliver WOWs, but without the hassles and crowds. And ‘generous’ might have something to do with how much wine we were pouring.

We have sought out parts of a country that offer a sense of the whole, thereby delivering the experience without long travel times. Spending less hours on the road attempting to ‘see it all’ gives us more quality time in towns, galleries or cafés. Feet on the ground as opposed to bum on a bus, seeing better over seeing more.

Most of the experiences we offer are either not available off-the-street, or would require a lot of work to secure.

We love the time at table so most evenings we all dine together, at a hand-picked restaurants where we have arranged something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic with seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle.

Have to admit we are not huge history buffs, but we do allow enough free time for those who want to visit churches and museums. Think of us as the anti Trip Advisor – seeking instead the alternative – the unexpected. The kind of tour you’d imagine from a local, as opposed to a Tour company. If you have never travelled with a group before, fear not. Think of the possibilities for fun with a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. It may be the best party you ever attended.

Expect to eat and drink too much – and love every minute of it.

In each of our destinations we concentrate on the things that are special or unique: rural pubs in Ireland as they are the hub of a community, historic grandeur combined with sleek contemporary design in Portugal, and the effortless, indescribable sense of style in France. Crafting beauty in everything is Italy’s great skill, and that includes food and wine. We ask that our travellers take the time to know something of, and respect the culture we are visiting – your comfy Adidas and litre of Pepsi are not a fitting image beside a French bistro.

 

WHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?

Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late – celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation – please do NOT come with us if you want a conventional ‘sightseeing’ tour with no participation on your part.

Finally a word on why we do not publish detailed, daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises – a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them ‘in the moment’. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).

Every tour we’ve run has ‘sold out’ and many guests are repeat offenders.


“It may be illegal to have so much fun in such a short time.”
V. Taylor, Toronto

“It truly was a trip of a lifetime. The people, the history, the food, the gardens, the castles, the beaches, the bocce, the churches, the hikes, the sheep, the music and of course the Guinness and the best tour organizers in the world made for the most spectacular trip we could ever have hoped for.You both are so knowledgeable, kind and thoughtful and always made us feel at home – it was like a group of old friends brought together by you! We are just so grateful to have had the privilege to have shared your Ireland with us.” C. Huff, Prince Edward County

“A simple “thank you” seems most inadequate after the wonderful days we spent with you and the other travelers. Loved the villages, gardens sites and pubs, the fun activities and the delightful company every step of the way. You showed us an Ireland that most visitors would miss, while setting a pace perfect for enjoyment and reflection. Excellent food, ample drink, lively conversation, gorgeous locations, consummate hosts. It couldn’t get any better.”  Bill and Gerry Smyth, Peterborough

“Thank you Billy and Kato for this amazing tour of Ireland and the wonderful friendships which made the adventure even better. Looking forward to booking another trip in the future.”  T. Burnison, St. Catharines

“Billy and Kato’s attention to detail in creating an outstanding adventure speaks miles in the smiles”.  N. Morris, Toronto

“Thank you, both Billy and Kato, for our wonderful experience in Ireland.  It wasn’t a tour, but a trip “home” to meet the locals of West Cork. My wife Diane and I have travelled on a number of tours with highly respected tour companies, but those trips do not compare to the experience of our trip with you to Ireland. It will always be fondly remembered as one of my favourites.” A. Madden, Brampton

“We enjoyed roads less travelled, getting to know both the land and the people, and avoiding heavily tourist circuits. West Cork is a calm slice of heaven. Our travel companions were delightful, funny, and musically gifted. Billy and Kato are warm, genuine, multi-talented hosts who are always ready for fun and conversation. At the end of the trip it felt like we had been friends for years. If you are wondering if one of their trips is right for you…. YES, it will be!!!!  Do it.”  B. Murdoch, Waterloo

“Thanks, Billy and Kato, for a truly wonderful trip. I’ve often dreamed of a vacation that would incorporate fabulous food, wine, culture, scenery and fantastic company – our Ireland excursion was all that and more. Outstanding!” E. Helps, Ariss

“Our trip was fabulous. Scenery, accommodations, company, food, drink and transport all first class. Kato and Billy sure know how to be unobtrusive and charming hosts, catering to the group’s needs and desires.” D. Suarez, St Catharines

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