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 XNUMX minutes of each other, you’ll find two of Europe’s best race courses: Punchestown and 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 XNUMX, along with their war horses, and British soldiers during WWI. Heading through green pastures, fix your sights next on the Ọmụmụ Ihe Ọchịchị Irish. 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 XNUMXth 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 Ugbo Japan, also created by Walker with the help of master horticulturalist Tassa Eida from Japan. It’s a beautiful place to lose track of time.
Points Of Interest: Punchestown Racecourse, The Curragh Racecourse, Curragh Military Museum, Ọmụmụ Ihe Ọchịchị Irish & 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 XNUMX, 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 XNUMXth 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 XNUMX and XNUMX fast “fly boat” services worked these waters, with two horses towing boats at speeds of around XNUMXmph (it took XNUMX 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 XNUMXs, 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 XNUMX 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 XNUMXs, it’s been sinking for more than a century.
Ụbọchị 3: 1 elekere 47 nkeji, kilomita 113, kilomita iri asaa
Points Of Interest: Navan Racecourse, Brú na Bóinne, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, Laytown Strand
Setting the tone perfectly for today’s trail is a gentle wander around XNUMX plants and flowers in Carlow’s stunning XNUMXth century Robinsonian-style Altamont Gardens.
This verdant theme is followed through as you continue on to the “Garden of Ireland”, where Wicklow’s hills bloom with beautiful greens flecked with purple heather. But first, the town of Wicklow regales with somewhat brutal tales from the early XNUMXth century at Wicklow Gaol. Among them, stories of convicts transported from Wicklow to Australia, sometimes just for the crime of stealing bread.
From these so-called ‘Gates of Hell’ back to the heart of Wicklow serenity in Glendalough, famed for its two lakes and spiritual atmosphere. At the monastic village, cast your mind back to what Glendalough must have been like in its heyday – when it was a retreat for peace-seeking monks. But as you wander off into the surrounding hills, spare a thought for St Kevin who was drawn here in the XNUMXth century by the serenity and beauty of the landscape. Walk to the water’s edge at the upper lake, before heading to the fern-green hills around Poulanass waterfall, which cascades gently over mossy rocks.
If you have more time
Treat yourself to a contemporary meal in the welcoming and relaxed setting of Vanilla Pod in Kells.