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Ireland’s Most Exclusive Insider’s Experiences

By Dawn Rainbolt
More by Dawn

As experiential travel becomes a significant trend amongst today’s luxury travel, the hunt is on for exclusive and unique experiences.

Calling on the creativity of our luxury travel designers and the ingenuity of passionate local tourism professionals throughout Ireland, we’ve come up with this list of eye-popping insiders experiences that will amaze and inspire.  

Each of these unique and exhilarating experiences can be woven seamlessly into a bespoke Ireland adventure by our expert team as requested. 

Ireland’s Most Exclusive Insider’s Experiences

Ireland is a place full of intriguing cultural and active experiences throughout the Emerald Isle. Read on for our list of 15 amazing exclusive experiences.

1. Island Light House Exclusive Use

Clare Island Lighthouse

Clare Island Lighthouse clings dramatically to a rugged cliff on the island.

 

For a remote Ireland retreat, enjoy exclusive use of a magnificently restored lighthouse perched on the edge of a 400 ft sea cliff. Once home to the feared Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, the island still houses her castle, as well as the 12th century abbey with a remarkable series of medieval wall and ceiling paintings from animals to men to dragons – and the reputed final resting place of the Pirate Queen. Alongside, discover some of the island’s ancient heritage from the stone age to the medieval age to recent times, as well as flora and fauna on guided hikes.

2. Wild Seashore Foraging

Seaweed foraging

Foraging for one of the many types of seaweed in Ireland’s waters.

 

The coasts of Kerry are rugged, wild and windswept. Meet an equally rugged, wild and windswept local for a day exploring the shoreline, rocks and sandy beaches where he will teach you how to forage for edible seaweeds and learning about the myriad wildlife that live along the coast. Taste this surprisingly delicious superfood and learn about different ways to include it in your diet. During your walk, he’ll regale you with tales of Irish legends to get a true understanding of how the Atlantic landscape impacts local life in these parts.

3. Try your Hand at Hurling

Ireland has two ancient national sports: Gaelic football and hurling – both of which are engrained in the fabric of the land. In fact, each tiny town, village and parish having their own hurling team to cheer on! The medieval city of Kilkenny is in the heart of hurling country – a region where people live and breathe hurling. Meet a local hurler for a tour of the stadium and then get a lesson in the fundamentals of the game!

4. Gourmet Fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way

Gourmet fishing - top insiders experience

Tasty fish caught by you and cooked up on an abandoned island!

 

Among the secret coves and rocky inlets, your mission is to catch and eat a gourmet fish feast. Your skipper will show you the best places to find the catch of the day along the rugged Irish shores before mixing up just-caught fish into delicious seafood dishes such as ceviche. Enjoy your banquet on board or on any number of the beautiful yet deserted islands where you’ll have a beachside picnic all to yourself!

5. Nature & Archeology Hike with a Burren Farmer

Explore the Burren’s landscapes, heritage and archeology through the eyes of a Burren farmer.

 

The Burren National Park is a seemingly barren, rocky moonscape. However, this region is known worldwide as a unique biosphere where over 40 species of Arctic and Mediterranean wildflowers grow side by side. Explore the millennia of ancient human history such as megalithic sites, holy wells and archeological heritage as you walk the land with a local Burren farmer. Perhaps joining him for a cup of tea in his kitchen, you get a real feel for what life is like in the Burren region. Head out to the fields to find out how local farmers maintain long-held (and sometimes lost) traditions such as winterage – the practice of herding cattle to winter pastures, and how through such farmers, the very landscape itself is kept alive.

6. Forage and Make Your own Gin

gin distilling - insiders experiences Ireland

Forage and mix your own gin – and bring home your own bottle to share with friends back home!

 

Though whiskey is perhaps the most famous Irish liqueur, gin is a solid second. Think alcohol and wild landscapes don’t go together? Think again! Head to Ireland’s Ancient East to learn how gin is made. Hike through the hills with an expert guide who will interpret the landscape as you forage for local gin ingredients such as juniper. Then it’s back to school! Attend an exclusive gin school to learn how to use your newly foraged ingredients to distill your very own bottle of gin that to bring back home with you!

7. Moonlight Kayak & Camp Under the Stars in Yeats Country

Moonlight kayaking and camping Sligo

Relax in a luxury tent on a on the quiet shores of lake immortalised by WB Yeats.

 

A perfect welcome to Yeats Country, named after Irish poet WB Yeats who made the region famous, explore the landscapes made famous in his poems such as “The Lake Isle of Inishfree.” After sunset, join your guide for a moonlight kayak along the quiet lake shores to a deserted island. There, enjoy a fine dining and glamping experience as your guide regales you with local tales and legends – then sleep under the stars on this beautiful island!

8. Sea Stack Climbing in the Coolest Place on Earth

Donegal sea stack climbing - insiders experiences

Stand at the top of the world! Or at least, the top of sea stacks in Donegal.

 

Heading into Donegal’s remote Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking) regions, your guide will give you unrivalled insight into the history and culture of the land. Through tales of famine, emigration and community you will come away with a real sense of place and introduction to the Gaelic language. Windswept and rugged Donegal, National Geographic Traveller’s Coolest Place on Earth, contains more climbable rocks than the rest of Ireland combined. Get your adrenaline pumping with a heart-stopping Tyrollean traverse, suspended above swelling Atlantic waves. Rappelling down sheer cliff faces to churning ocean waves, climb to the top of a sea-stack located off a tiny island on Europe’s western fringe – a place that puts the ‘wild’ into Wild Atlantic Way!

9. Stargazing in Mayo’s Dark Skies

Mayo Dark Skies - Insiders experiences

Walk through a canopy of stars in Mayo, Ireland’s wildest corner. Photo credit Brian Wilson

 

Head to County Mayo, among Ireland’s most rural open spaces, for a chance to experience Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park, showcasing some of the darkest and most pristine skies in the world. On a good dark night, you’ll see up to 4,500 twinkling stars, a few planets, the Milky Way and the occasional meteor shower all without a telescope. Light pollution in most urban areas means this is something few people today still get to experience! Join one of the founders of the park for a unique stargazing experience in the most wild and remote Irish national park to revel in this a view few people get to enjoy. 

10. Tailor Made Suit of Donegal Tweed

Donegal tweed - Insiders experiences Ireland

Be a part of the age old tradition of Donegal tweeb by getting a tweed jacket tailored to you!

 

Fancy a bit of Irish tweed made just for you? Head to Donegal, a region renowned for its tweed weavers, for suit a made to measure. You’ll meet with expert tailor who will fit a bespoke suit tailored to you. After a fitting, they will help you choose the perfect pattern as well as all the trimmings: linings, trims, buttons and collars. Though you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the finished garment, the wait is well worth it! Not convinced yet? Did we mention that the president of Ireland is a customer!?

11. Explore an Oyster Farm

Oyster farms Ireland - insiders experience Ireland

Learning about oysters and how important aquaculture is in Ireland.

 

Most people associate oysters with banquets and fine dining. But in Ireland, start at the beginning of the process with a hands-on experience. Pull on the waterproofs and step out into the water with an oyster farmer as he does his rounds. Learn how oysters grow, and about the local aquaculture industry so important to Ireland’s coasts. After learning how to shuck oysters, try a traditional oyster and Guinness tasting, or go upscale and pair oysters with a flute of champagne.

12. Sailing with a Boatwright in Galway

Galway hooker boat - Ireland insider experiences

With the red sails whipping in the wind, take part in the ancient tradition of the Galway hooker!

 

Sail around the edge of Connemara and Galway Bay in a Galway Hooker, a traditional fishing boat unique to the region. Decorated with red calico sails, the boat has become a symbol of Galway. A local boatwright will meet you at the harbour where he’ll introduce you to the his boat as you learn about the long tradition of maritime heritage in Galway. As the expert boat builder, he’ll show you the tools he uses to build and maintain the Galway hooker before you set sail to explore Galway Bay and the tiny but beautiful islands clinging to the shores of Connemara.

13. Foodie Walk in Northern Island

Northern Ireland foodie walk - insiders experience Ireland

Autumn harvest inspired meal as part of a foodie walk in Northern Ireland

 

Tickle your taste buds along the Causeway Coast on a walking tour led by passionate local foodies. Indulge all five senses as you drink in the dramatic landscapes, listen to the sound of crashing waves, feel the soft grass underfoot and smell the seaweed in the air. Then, rub elbows with the producers, artisans, bakers and chefs leading the way for Northern Ireland’s up-and-coming foodie culture as you taste their wares!

14. Birdwatching on a Private Island

Puffins Saltee Islands - Ireland insider experiences

One of the best places for birdwatching – including adorable puffins! Picture by Bernie Brown.

 

The rugged Irish coast is littered with islands big and small. One such group is the Saltee Islands, off the shore of Co Wexford. These privately owned islands are widely recognised as one of the best seabird sanctuaries in Europe – and even the world. While hiking around these deserted islands, you’ll get the chance to spot over 220 species of birds, including the adorably iconic puffin! While you’re there, make a pilgrimage to the throne of the late Prince Michael the First – the island’s royalty!

15. Kayaking the Hidden Coves of the Burren

Experience Ireland’s famous coastline from a different perspective. Meet a passionate kayaking expert to spend the day on the water. Paddle around quaint villages set amongst the limestone mountains of the Burren and stunning views of Galway city forming a picturesque backdrop. Explore rugged coastlines, inlets and islands as you make friends with the seals who love to splash in the bay. Be treated to a luxury picnic lunch on a remote island with expansive views over the bay as you listen to the sound of the waves lap the island’s shore.

Like what you read? Get in touch now to start planning your clients bespoke Ireland adventure.

Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

“American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Ireland.”

View profileMore by Dawn

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