Relish the fast-paced thrills, passions and pure fun of the races on this exciting three-day equestrian tour. From some of the world’s most exceptional thoroughbreds to quiet green pastures and battlefields where war horses have carved a path through the annals of history. This tour will bring you to the heart of Ireland’s horse-country, with plenty of surprises along the way.
Hooves thumping, heart pounding, crowd cheering – get set for the races.
Within 20 minutes of each other, you’ll find two of Europe’s best race courses: Punchestown en The Curragh. With a very different feel, the nearby Curragh Military Museum focuses on the area’s military history in a fascinating exhibition that reveals how these grounds were used for both the Jacobites in 1686, along with their war horses, and British soldiers during WWI. Heading through green pastures, fix your sights next on the Ierske National Stud. Here, stallions mix with stargazing – or at least they used to – thanks to the superstitions of the stud’s founder, Colonel William Hall Walker. The colonel drew up a birth chart for each foal, and if he didn’t like the stars, the foal would be sold. In the stud’s museum you can read the chart of an unfortunate colt called Lord of the Sea: “Saturn in his 5th House… makes him very little good for racing or stud purposes… no good at all except for selling.” Equestrian astrology seems a million miles away at the adjacent Japanske tunen, also created by Walker with the help of master horticulturalist Tassa Eida from Japan. It’s a beautiful place to lose track of time.
Punten fan ynteresse: Punchestown Racecourse, De Curragh Racecourse, Curragh Military Museum, Ierske National Stud & Japanese Gardens
If you have more time
At Goffs, Ireland’s leading bloodstock sales company, eight bloodstock sales are held a year. They’re a thrilling event full of fast-paced action and incredible stallions. In Kilcullen, Berney Brothers Saddlery, founded in 1880, is a showcase of unique craftsmanship, expertise and equestrian knowledge.
Start off with a little retail therapy at Kildare Village, Ireland’s largest designer retail outlet, before refuelling with some croissants in Le Pain Quotidien, the first venue in Ireland for the top boulangerie chain.
Verdant hedgerows line your trail to Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park. Now a vibrant outdoor park with a Famine Cottage, Biodiversity Walk and Fairy Village, Lullymore was once an idyllic monastic retreat. In the early 18th century, all that changed when everyone was massacred except for one monk, Thomas Foran.
Continue your route to be in sight of the Grand Canal – between 1834 and 1852 fast “fly boat” services worked these waters, with two horses towing boats at speeds of around 7mph (it took 13 hours to travel from Dublin to Athy!)
Next it’s Kilbeggan Racecourse, described by the Sunday Times as having a charm that “puts bigger racetracks – like Royal Ascot – in the shade”. Dating back to the 1840s, this course has tons of stories to share, too – next time you’re placing your bets, spare a thought for the Grand National winner of 1916 who had to walk home because of the Easter Rising!
If you have more time
Visit Ireland’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery in Kilbeggan. Book ahead to discover the tricks of the trade, and find out if the distillery really is haunted. Or pop into Roche’s Pub in Donadea. No – you’re not imagining things. This pub is slowly sinking into the bog on which it was built. Built in the 1800s, it’s been sinking for more than a century.
Dei 3: 1 oere 47 minuten, 113 km, 70 milen
Punten fan ynteresse: Navan Racecourse, Brú na Bóinne, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, Laytown Strand
De toan perfekt ynstelle foar it hjoeddeiske spoar is in sêfte doarmje om 5,000 planten en blommen yn 'e prachtige 19e-ieuske Robinsonian-styl fan Altamont Gardens fan Carlow.
Dit griene tema wurdt folge as jo trochgean nei de "Tún fan Ierlân", wêr't de heuvels fan Wicklow bloeie mei prachtige greens flekken mei pearse heide. Mar earst herstelt de stêd Wicklow mei wat brutale ferhalen út 'e iere 18e ieu by Wicklow Gaol. Under har ferhalen fan feroardielden ferfierd fan Wicklow nei Austraalje, soms gewoan foar de misdied fan it stellen fan brea.
Fan dizze saneamde 'Gates of Hell' werom nei it hert fan Wicklow-sereniteit yn Glendalough, ferneamd om syn twa marren en geastlike sfear. Werje yn it kleasterdoarp werom nei hoe't Glendalough yn syn bloeitiid moat west hawwe-doe't it in retreat wie foar frede-sykjende muontsen. Mar as jo yn 'e omlizzende heuvels doarmje, sparje in gedachte foar St Kevin dy't hjir yn' e 6e ieu waard tekene troch de sereniteit en skientme fan it lânskip. Rin nei de wetterrâne by de boppeste mar, foardat jo nei de fern-griene heuvels om Poulanass-wetterfal geane, dy't sêft oer mossige rotsen cascades.
If you have more time
Treat yourself to a contemporary meal in the welcoming and relaxed setting of Vanilla Pod in Kells.