Dublin, Ireland — As you read this, Society of IRT President Eleanor Flagler Hardy and I will soon arrive, or will have just arrived, in one of the world’s most beautiful and beguiling countries — The Republic of Ireland.
We’re here to celebrate with 36 Society of International Railway Travelers guests on the “maiden voyage” of the Belmond Grand Hibernian, the world’s newest, and Ireland’s first, luxury train.
Following a multi-night stay in Dublin’s five-star Merrion Hotel (a Virtuoso partner), we’ll board our “rolling Irish country house” for a seven-day tour of the Emerald Isle in unprecedented comfort and style.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian comprises 5 sleeping cars, 2 dining cars and an observation/lounge. With just 20 cabins for 40 passengers, it’s designed for intimacy.
Our private luxury train will be our hotel on wheels, a veritable “cruise ship on land.”
There’ll be no schlepping bags from city to city. We’ll unpack just once. At night, our train will stop at quiet sidings for restful slumber.
By day, we’ll “go ashore” for a wide range of cultural, historical and culinary events.
Here’s a sampling:
• Jameson whiskey distillery visit and tasting
• Private tour of Blarney Castle and gardens, home of the Blarney Stone
• Traditional pony and cart ride to Ross Castle
• Boat trip on the Lakes of Killarney
• Ashford Castle visit, heart of Connemara, for a bit of falconry, plus a guided hike
• Visit to the soaring Cliffs of Moher or to Galway
No one would call our tour inexpensive. But it’s nice to know the trip includes all meals, off-train excursions, entertainment and drinks.
Personally, I’m especially looking forward to the traditional Irish music performed on board.
Eleanor, for her part, is thrilled with the gardens we’ll see and the hikes we’ll take. She sent a last-minute email to my cousins to track down my Irish roots.
(Unfortunately, it was too late to arrange to meet our long-lost relatives’ home and linen factory in Ballybay.— maybe next time.)
But we’ll console ourselves with our post-tour option: a stay in glamorous Ballyfin, plus a visit to the nearby Powerscourt Gardens (one of the “1,000 Gardens to See Before you Die”) and lunch with an Earl!
There’s been tremendous interest in the Belmond Grand Hibernian — so much so that 2016 trips are sold out.
If you’re interested in a trip next year, contact us ASAP to book 2017: (800) 478-4881, (502) 897-1725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us names of passengers as they appear on the passports, number traveling in your party, your mailing address and phone number. Tell us a few dates that will work for you. (See 2017 dates here.) Once you’ve sent your details, we can put a courtesy hold on your spot.
Cabins are flying out the door — and will book even faster once the international news coverage about our journey hits the presses. Don’t be left at the station!
Meanwhile, check this space three weeks from today for our photos and trip report.