© Cosmo Brockway
© Cosmo Brockway
© Cosmo Brockway
Gardens at Powerscourt
© Cosmo Brockway
© Cosmo Brockway
Absorb centuries of architectural history on a series of privileged visits to some of Ireland’s finest estates
View fine art collections and tour beautiful gardens, in the company of specialist guides and owners
Enjoy an exclusive overnight stay at Glin Castle, owned by the FitzGerald family for 800 years
"In many ways, the biggest asset was the presence and leadership of Cosmo Brockway. Personal, unflappable, energetic, kind, thoughtful…"
Customer on previous tour with Cosmo Brockway
Famed for its outstanding natural scenery, ancient past and welcoming people, Ireland is also home to a stunning array of country estates, comprising historical architecture, beautiful interiors and impressive gardens – as well as some fascinating stories from the past and present. This brand new tour features a handpicked selection of the country’s pre-eminent houses and castles, many of which are not frequently open to the public. Private meals and tours with the owners of these historical houses will allow for an intimate and privileged glimpse into lives led behind normally closed doors and authentic interactions with some of Ireland's public figures.
Our first stop is Killruddery House, home to the Brabazon family, Earls of Meath: a wonderful Tudor Revival mansion with an original 17th century foundation, its French-style formal gardens are considered one of the finest examples of 17th century gardening in Ireland.
Named the third most beautiful gardens on earth by National Geographic in 2014, Powerscourt Gardens will welcome us for the afternoon. Laid out in a formal style in 1741 around the splendid Powerscourt House, the estate’s spectacular grounds stretch over 47 acres and include Italian and Japanese gardens.
Tullynally Castle, home of the famous Pakenham family, is filled with eclectic collections, and is only accessible by private arrangement. The gardens are large and full of variety, with Thomas Pakenham, the present Earl of Longford, being a noted plantsman.
We will make our way westwards, visiting Birr Castle, for a visit and private lunch in the company of the 7th Earl of Rosse. The castle, which dates back to medieval times, is well known today because of its royal connection – the present Earl’s brother, Lord Snowdon, was married to Princess Margaret. Yet the property retains an air of secrecy and few people are able to glimpse its fine interiors, virtually untouched, including the Gothic Saloon with its vaulted ceiling and Chippendale furniture.
At the very heart of our tour, Glin Castle, home to the Hollywood actor Dominic West and his wife Catherine FitzGerald, is a stunning late 18th century house overlooking the sea – built “with entertaining in mind”. We will enjoy the castle’s famous hospitality on a private overnight visit, including a tour of its walled garden and wonderful loop walk. Close to Glin, Kilgobbin House, the 18th century dower house built for Adare Manor, is the private family home of the Countess of Dunraven, and features original art and furniture from Adare.
Whilst many of the properties on our itinerary are in private ownership, another splendid house, Doneraile Court, has been conserved by the Office of Public Works. It sits at the heart of a breathtaking estate, through which flows the River Awbeg, immortalised in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.
The largest estate in Ireland, Curraghmore House – grand home of the Marquis of Waterford – features a splendid approach along the river to the castle. After a tour of the ground floor state rooms, we will enter the gardens via the Drawing Room long window, walking up the Avenue for a view back to the house and formal garden. We will also visit the enchanting 18th century shell house.
The final stop on our journey, Russborough House, is a rococo palazzo hidden deep in the Wicklow Mountains. Featuring superb artworks, Italian plasterwork and furniture, the house boasts an interesting and at times dramatic history. Our visit here will take us back into the golden age of the 18th century, making it a fitting finale to our tour of some of Ireland’s most notable historical country residences.
The accommodation on this tour has been carefully selected to complement the daytime visits, with a focus on elegant design, beautiful architecture and excellent locations. A special highlight of the tour will be a private stay at Glin Castle, hired exclusively by ACE for a night. The group will enjoy dinner in the Red Dining Room, overlooking the sea, before staying overnight in one of the castle’s 15 well-appointed and individually designed en-suite bedrooms.
We also look forward to staying at the five-star boutique Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore: one of Ireland’s finest small luxury hotels, it is situated in a traditional fishing village with stunning coastal views. The beginning and end of our tour will be spent in Dublin at Buswells, a classic Georgian hotel in the heart of the city, and The Westin, a luxurious five-star hotel, respectively.
This tour will be led by travel writer Cosmo Samuel Brockway. Cosmo is a travel and interiors journalist, tour leader and, most recently, author of the award-winning book Glorious Hotels of India (2019). He writes for leading publications on interiors, culture and design, including Architectural Digest, The World of Interiors and The Telegraph. A communications manager for luxury concierge company Loyd & Townsend Rose, Cosmo is well acquainted with many of the finest private estates in England, Scotland and Ireland. He has worked with Ampersand Travel as a South Asia specialist and editor, and has led tours across the world, from India to Norway, and the Holy Land to the Greek island of Patmos.
Cosmo has worked closely with ACE in designing this exciting new tour, drawing upon his extensive knowledge of Ireland, personal connections, and a dedicated research trip, to create this special and memorable itinerary. Owners and expert local guides will lead the group on tours of some of the houses and gardens, accompanied by Cosmo, who will also deliver two talks.
Cosmo’s personal highlights include Curraghmore House, with its breath-taking approach –
"The sudden view of the house, which is really more of a palace, is one of Ireland’s great country house moments. The vast porch is topped with a stag and a cross, adding to the visual drama. The interiors are no less spellbinding, with perhaps the most beautiful dining room in Ireland and a fine collection of portraits”. Glin Castle, meanwhile, “stretches back in an unbroken line to a medieval Knight of Glin. The castellated 18th century house overlooks an inlet where the River Shannon meets the wild Atlantic, and the castle is filled with treasures from Irish history. Staying here is comfortable, elegant and fun – with dinner in the Red Dining Room a great highlight."
Included: Return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, breakfast, three lunches, five dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not Included: Travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £565.