Ireland 2024

IRISH SPRING TOUR

Scenic HIKES, Friendly PEOPLE, Perfect PINTS & Delicious DINNERS!

12 DAYS in the SOUTH of IRELAND…THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

Saturday May 18 to Wednesday May 29, 2024 SOLD OUT
Tour begins in Kilkenny at 6:30pm on Saturday May 18, 2024

OR

Saturday June 15 to Wednesday June 26, 2024 SOLD OUT
Tour begins in Kilkenny at 6:30pm on Saturday June 15, 2024


Email us with IRELAND 2024 in the subject headline.email us to get on the cancellation list

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

 

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

Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • 11 Nights Accommodation • 9 Delicious Dinners with Wine • 6 Lunches • 11 Irish Breakfasts • Welcome Reception • Touring the Wild Atlantic Way • Artist House and Studio Tour  • Visits to Romantic Gardens • Scenic Hikes • A Stone Circle • Ferry to Island • Wine Tastings • Beach Walks • Daily Pints at Traditional Pubs • A Castle or Two • Unspoiled Villages • Arts & Crafts Galleries • Half Day Cooking Class at an Iconic Cooking School • Tour at Jameson Distillery • Georgian Architecture • Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’ • A Hurling Lesson • Private Coach Transportation • Return to Dublin Airport • Great Craic! (If you don’t know what that is, you will!)

 

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

V. Taylor, Toronto

 

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. 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, pub-plentiful city of Kilkenny is our first stop on the itinerary, where we’ll spend three nights at our favourite city-centre, boutique hotel. After popping into castles, churches, breweries, and boutiques, we’ll head out for a short hike around a country estate on the banks of the River Nore. Postcard perfect. Followed by the first of many visits to country pubs. Our memorable Kilkenny dinners will mix city upscale with back-street fun, including a private catered dinner in a cultural setting. We’ll participate in a most entertaining history walk of this medieval town and have time for shopping at some of the best craft galleries in Ireland. Interested in researching your Irish genealogy? We have the place for you.

Horses, and in particular racehorses, are much loved in Ireland and we’ll visit one of the richest stud farms in the world. Next, we’re off to a coastal fishing town in County Cork for two nights, with gob-smacking views of the Atlantic. Before we arrive at our seaside hotel, we’ll stop off to see the magnificent gardens of the former castle home of Sir Walter Raleigh. Dinner will be at farm-to-table experience with lots of good things from the sea. Staying with the food theme, next we will spend half a day in the kitchens of the famed Ballymaloe Cooking School. After a tour of their glorious organic gardens you will create a slew of dishes – sure to amaze you and your future dinner guests. Learning will never be so fun!

 

“Our tour with Billy’s Best Bottles proved to be a wonderfully unique travel adventure we have not experienced through our own guided trips or anyone else’s. We joined a small diverse group of interesting and active people keen to learn about the history, food and culture in Ireland. Each meal was accompanied by new affordable wines with some understanding of how to select them in the future. Each day we were exposed to new aspects of Irish culture including a lesson on how to play the national game called Hurling (a cross between soccer and lacrosse), tours of castles, private estates, gardens and private artist studios, a Potato Famine Museum tour (huge impact on Ireland history), among other events. While we had the general itinerary in advance, each evening at our pre-dinner cocktail party, the next days tour was only then detailed. This provided a surprise for the next day that just got better and better each day. There is no way we could have pulled this type of trip together for ourselves and we would certainly travel with Billy’s Best Bottles to one of their other chosen European countries again in the future. We can’t recommend them enough or do justice in a few words to the service and experience we had.” I. Hill, Prince Edward County

 

The next three days will be spent in our beloved West Cork, along the Wild Atlantic Way. You’re sure to be smitten by the magical quality of this part of the country. And you’ll not go hungry, nor thirsty. Before checking into our hotel, we’ll visit a stone circle and have a delicious dinner offering up the freshest seafood and local smoked salmon. The market town of Skibbereen offers a glimpse of rural Irish life, along with a sprinkling of history, art, and fabulous local food. Expect super-scenic walks overlooking the Atlantic coast, and a visit to one of Ireland’s best and longest beaches (beach bocce anyone?) on a small island off West Cork. Traditional music is alive and well, as you’ll discover here. And 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.

 

“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

 

The town of Kinsale has rich historical heritage, and is both vibrant and pictureseque – perfect for our two night stay. We’ll learn more about this medieval seaside town on our dynamic history walk with an esteemed local author. Locals also claim that Kinsale is the “food capital” of Ireland. Let’s say you won’t be disappointed!

Our final day includes a very special day at a luxury Georgian country house – where you’ll be treated as kings and queens, and be wowed by its historic integrity, architecture and gardens – and best of all – the heartfelt hospital of our dear friends. You’ll be sad to say goodbye, but we must whisk you off to our Dublin airport hotel for our last night – meet at the bar and  share a nightcap and recall our favourite memories. The next morning you can take a bus into Dublin, travel elsewhere, or catch your flight back without the stress of getting to the airport.

 

“Everyday I was treated to the best of Irish countryside and life. We toured lesser known parts of this beautiful country and experienced fabulous food and wine, magnificent gardens, stately homes and many other wonderful experiences too numerous to detail. Everyday was filled with surprises that truly delighted. I am the grateful recipient of Billy and Kato’s knowledge and expertise in bringing the finer details of Ireland to life.Hilarie Woods, Creemore

“As always, a very special, intimate experience of another part of the world led by these two remarkable people. Seeing hidden gems, meeting fascinating local people, veering off the beaten track, and discovering the true spirit of the place you are visiting. And doing it all with a most congenial group of people. A travel experience second to none.”   Suzanne Wright, PEC County

 

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, and will email you closer to the tour with what we recommend you pack.

 

IRISH SPRING TOUR!

Saturday May 18 to Wednesday May 29, 2024 SOLD OUT

OR

Saturday June 15 to Wednesday June 26, 2024 SOLD OUT

This is a LAND ONLY TOUR, starting in Kilkenny.
Our tour STARTS at our hotel in Kilkenny on the first Saturday, at 6:30 pm. It would be a natural fit to arrive in Dublin a day or two prior to get over jet lag, and enjoy Dublin.

Transportation to Kilkenny from Dublin is approximately 15 € pp by bus or train – 1.5 hours – and we will reinburse your fare. We will send out emails with detailed instructions closer to the date.

Our tour ENDS at a Dublin airport hotel, to make your return flight as stress free as possible. You could also discover Dublin after the tour or travel elsewhere.

Read our recommendations of what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Dublin HERE!

Group size 18-20 participants  TICO #2392471

COST $7,295 per person, based on double occupancy. Prices are in Canadian currency, including all taxes.
Note: We cannot guarantee 2 large beds for friends travelling together, but will try our best. Ireland often has what is called intimate twins, which means two single mattresses very close together, but ‘dressed’ with separate linens.

Single room supplement $1,895

 

TOUR INCLUDES
Concierge Services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly
Nine Dinners with Wine
Six Delicious Lunches with wine
Eleven Irish Breakfasts
Eleven Nights in Comfortable Accommodation, Ensuite
Welcome Reception
Traditional Music Sessions
Visits to Romantic Gardens
1/2 day Professional Cooking Class
Scenic Hikes and Cliff Walks
Visit to a Stone Circle
Ferry to Sherkin Island
Tour and Tasting at Jameson Distillery
Irish History Talks
Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’ with a tour of a prestigious Stud Farm
Artist Studio & House Tour
Private Hurling Lesson
Georgian Architecture
Lots of pub visits!
Return to Dublin airport hotel
…PLUS carefully curated surprises!

Best Bottles Inc reserves the right to make minor changes in the itinerary.

NOT INCLUDED
Air travel and medical insurance
A few meals not mentioned
Before and after dinner drinks not included in the lunches and dinners
Gratuities for housekeeping, restaurant service, guides and drivers
Personal items
Any additional transfers before or after the tour that are not part of the tour schedule
Transportation to Kilkenny (approximately 15 € pp by bus or train – 1.5 hours) – our tour starts in Kilkenny at 6:30pm on Saturday May 17 or Saturday June 15

 

TO BOOK or BE ON THE CANCELLATION LIST
Email katowake@gmail.com with IRELAND 2024 in the subject headline.
You will be emailed when your spot is confirmed, and when to send in your deposit.

We expect everyone to be in good physical shape – able to easily walk for a few hours a day – and to participate in every daily excursion.

Our official partner for TICO is Ellison Travel & Tours #2392471.
Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.


CANCELLATION POLICY

Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Final payment is due 120 days prior to the tour, and is 100% non-refundable.

FYI: Tours will be cancelled or postponed if Canadian “˜Do Not Travel’ advisories apply to the destination, or if Ellison Travel & Tours deems it unsafe to travel, in which case, all monies paid will be transferred to a future travel credit.

 


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 cafes. 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 – 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 to 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… reconsider bringing your comfy Adidas!

 

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 , and 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 been sold out, and many guests are repeat offenders.

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!

“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

“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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