We booked a private tour with Boru Adventures during our cruise trip in Ireland, at the port of Dunmore East. Since this was a private tour, we were given many options and Boru helped us making a list of attractions we were interested in. Dunmore East is close to the historic city of Waterford, known for its Viking history and Waterford Crystal. I really liked our tour guide/driver, Brian. He was very laid back and helpful. He gave good recommendations and kept everything on schedule, but he didn’t talk constantly like some tour guides too.
Our first stop was Kilkenny Castle. This is a VERY popular castle, so expect it to be crowded. This was our first stop and by having a private driver, we were there before the large tour groups. We were literally there before they opened, so we were the first people to go inside for the day. Win!
There are many castles and abbeys in Ireland. Most of which are in states of ruins. The Kilkenny Castle could have easily been one of them but in 1967, the owner at the time, Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde decided to sell it to the Castle Restoration Committee for £50. Since then, much restoration has been done and the castle and grounds are now managed by the Office of Public Works.
Next we walked around downtown Kilkenny, passing The Tholsel and the Butter Slip. Downtown Kilkenny is best for foot traffic, not so much for cars (there is no parking). So when we walked around, we were in close contact with our driver (by cellphone) so he could pull over when we were ready and we jumped right back in the car.
Next stop, St Canice’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is beautiful inside and out. Next to the cathedral, is a round tower with a Celtic Cross. This round tower is one of only three such medieval round towers in Ireland that can still be climbed to the top. We were given some time to make the climb if we wanted to, but the internal stairs were steep and there was an extra charge to do this. The summit would have given a clear view of Kilkenny and the countryside around.
After leaving the Cathedral, we came to Kells Priory. This was a little hidden gem because it was free, uncrowded, and beautiful. I’m glad our tour guide recommended this to us. The priory was expansive and there was a lot of information available.
There are so many trails to take and interesting things to see here. There’s a mill, and a river as well. You can even find the original tombs of the prior and prioress that was buried here. There were lots and lots of sheep laying about, making the place feeling quite enchanted.
Moving on, now we are at the Viking Triangle. The Viking Triangle is basically a little area that has many museums and displays of the Viking history. In this area, there’s the Reginald’s Tower, the Medieval Museum, and the Bishop’s Palace Museum. We weren’t in the area long enough to really go into each museum, but I had wanted to do the King of the Vikings Virtual Reality Experience, which apparently is something we should have booked ahead of time because it was sold out when we got there. Nonetheless, it was an interesting area to walk around and the Waterford Crystal is located here as well.
Next we visited the showroom of Waterford Crystal. The oldest piece of Waterford Crystal in the world is the Penrose Decanter and it’s located here.
Now we were starving. Brian recommended to us a restaurant in the middle of this area called The Reg, an authentic Irish restaurant with nice balcony seating overlooking the Viking Triangle. Perfect.
Ireland has the most beautiful coastline. Since we still had a little time to kill, our private driver Brian decided to take the scenic coastal route and stopped at Kilmurrin Beach and Tramore Beach for some photo ops.
As you can see, we did a LOT in one day. This was possible because we of Brian, picking us up at the end of each hike and move on to the next destination whenever we were ready. I definitely feel like it was well worth the cost (which wasn’t much because we shared the cost with 2 other families) to book private than a group tour. Next time, I will know to schedule the VR experience in advance and I hope to do the Smithwick’s Experience, which was closed due to COVID during our visit.