Emerald Isle Explorer
Join us on a trip of a lifetime combining steam travel in atmospheric vintage carriages with beautiful countryside, fascinating cities, lovely hotels, great food and wine - and above all - the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed and stress-free holiday.
In the Emerald Isle of Ireland we can expect a warm welcome wherever we go, with high class hotels, lovely scenery and world-famous tourist attractions. But of course it is the magical whiff of smoke and steam that makes this trip so special, with a series of steam-hauled excursions over the Irish rail network to be savoured.
Throughout the tour we will be working with the volunteers of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), who are – even on an island well known for its hospitality – extraordinarily welcoming and friendly. This tour is planned to be steam-hauled throughout, and some guests will be pleased to know that it is in fact not allowed for a diesel to work with steam so no diesel-assisted sections! The RPSI have a number of steam locomotives and the mainstay for our tour will be old favourite V Class No. 85 Merlin, built in 1932 for express passenger trains. Merlin will be joined by No. 171, Slieve Gullion, an express passenger locomotive built in 1913 which will be making its debut on our tour! It is a highly distinctive design reminiscent of the LSWR T9 with large driving wheels.
The crowning glory of the carriages we will be using is the wood-paneled bar car – the only railway bar in the world to serve draught Guinness (as well as many other drinks!). Passenger carriages will consist of a set of refurbished 1960s Craven coaches. They are different to those used on our trains in the UK as uniquely in Ireland they have a wider 5ft 3ins gauge. The carriages each have 64 seats on tables of four (a whole table can be booked privately for 2 in Pullman Style Dining) and wide gangways and while less decorative than some of our UK coaches they have a very singular Irish ambience, are very comfortable and are excellently looked after by the RPSI.
Your luggage will be transported directly between your hotels so you can relax and savour every moment. This is the case for all guests, regardless of class of travel.
For those who are new to the hotels in Ireland, the hotels are of an excellent quality and all hotels have been hand-picked by our experienced team, who have visited the hotels personally in the past month.
Pullman Style guests will be staying in the most luxurious accommodation. Please note that spaces in these hotels are limited so book early to guarantee the five star options. The highlight for many will be the Mount Juliet Estate outside Kilkenny, described as Ireland’s leading 5 star Estate, set in 500 acres of some of the finest landscapes in Ireland with luxurious accommodation and facilities, as well as multiple dining options including their Michelin-starred restaurant.
Premier Dining guests will be allocated high-end quality four-star hotels. All the hotels have been carefully chosen to either offer an insight into the local railway heritage or excellent facilities among elegant surroundings.
Premium Standard guests will be allocated good quality three or four star hotels with central locations, close to local amenities and often with their own leisure facilities.
Travelling from England – optional transfer
As an alternative to the stress and uncertainty of flying, you may appreciate the convenience and luxury of a transfer by train and ferry from England to Dublin.
On Wednesday 3 May, we will catch the morning train from London Euston to Holyhead, departing at approximately 0900hrs and usually stopping at stations along the way for those outside London. All guests who book this option will have allocated seating and will enjoy a breathtaking journey along the North Wales coast. Once on board the ferry we will head to the Club Class lounge with magnificent sea views, where complimentary snacks, drinks and newspapers will be available. A very civilized way to travel which will make you feel as though your Irish holiday has begun before you even set foot on Irish soil! Upon arrival in Ireland, we will be transferred by road coach to hotels in the late afternoon and dining guests will enjoy an evening meal in their hotel.
On Thursday 11 May, guests who have chosen to travel from London will have another wonderful opportunity to explore Ireland’s Capital City. They will be met at Connolly station and will be taken to their hotels, where an evening meal can be organised for dining guests if required (supplement applies). On the morning of Friday 12 May, after an early breakfast in hotels, you’ll be transferred to the ferry terminal for the crossing to Holyhead. The arrangements will follow as per our outward journey, arriving back at London Euston in the late afternoon.
The cost for this option is £599 per person (single occupancy supplement £89).
What’s included – ferry/train transfer to and from London
- Outward and return train journey on Wednesday 3 May and Friday 12 May
- Ferry crossing in both directions, with access to the Club Class Lounge, on Wednesday 3 May and Friday 12 May
- a meal in the hotel on Wednesday 3 May for dining guests
- one extra night in Dublin on Thursday 11 May
Flights – Guests are welcome to book flights independently (please check first that the tour is going ahead) or we can arrange them at a supplement from the airport of your choice.
- Single room supplement - £350
- Up-grade to Premier Dining - £1000 (additional single supplement £360)
- Up-grade to Pullman-style Dining - £2000 (additional single supplement £660)
Please contact us for recommendations or see similar tours:
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- All visits as outlined in the itinerary
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Train travel