Hi Bob, There's a tour operator called www.special-ireland.com which offers a private tour staying in some pretty special Irish Castles. I haven't used this operator myself so cannot vouch - but the 8 day tour looks decent, if expensive. If you want to blow your budget on the luxury end of Irish travel you might be interested in a luxury train option. www.belmond.com Ireland is a small country and is easy to drive around. A 2-3 day trip from Dublin could take you to Kilkenny CastleRock of Cashel and Cliffs of Moher There are very good guided tours by locals at each location. Take a look at Ireland's Blue Book ( www.irelands-blue-book.ie) for some nice accomodation or book a stay in Waterford Castle and Dromoland Castle.
>Prefer to see castles. The term 'castle' is often misleading. I suspect you are thinking of Medieval stone castles (1100s > 14/1500s) but both Iron Age fortified settlements and large private houses built in the 1700s/1800s (often with towers, battlements etc) can be called 'castles'. The island of Ireland (which is actually two separate countries), like mainland Britain, once had thousands of Medieval castles. But the majority no longer exist or are in ruins (i.e. very little to be seen). Northern Ireland has some excellent Medieval castles but I'll concentrate on the Republic of Ireland because that is what I assume you mean by 'Ireland'. A few castles in the Republic have been restored and are now major visitor attractions (e.g. Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Blarney CastleKilkenny Castle), quite a lot (whether Medieval in origin or not) are now luxury hotels (e.g. Clontarf Castle Hotel, Ashford Castle) and others are open to the public but less well-known (e.g. Trim Castle, Cahir Castle) There are of course a range of organised tour operators so it's really a matter of looking at their itineraries and seeing if any appeal. The official Irish Tourist Office lists them: https://www.ireland.com/en-us/touroperators/ Most large and small-group tour operators, whether 'luxury' or not, offer the visits per tour which will maximise their potential clientele. So you can expect such tours to include only one or two castles/'castles' (usually the most visited) or even none at all. > I am prepared to pay a little for luxury. You could investigate tour operators which offer private 'castle tours': e.g. https://www.irishtourism.com/castles-and-manors or https://www.authenticireland.com/tours/ireland-castle-tours/
If budget isn't a problem you could set your own itinerary with a private tour. There are several operators listed on the site above e.g. https://www.privateirishtours.com/ There are also operators who will help you organise your own independent trip and sort out your accommodation, so you can drive yourself and include the castles and historical sites & sights you want to see. Or you could organise it all yourself, planning your own itinerary, booking your accommodation online (very easy with e.g. www.booking.com ) , using public transport or driving yourself to the places you *really* want to see. History is my primary interest so I'd choose the last option....and have done so more than once. :-)
Bob What an amazing answer Mary! I cannot thank you enough, some truly excellent resources in there! I really appreciate you taking the time to send this out. I found the Ireland.com link awesome. In the end I went with a company called My Ireland Tour as it seemed Authentic Ireland was actually an American company and I prefer to book local. Thank you again. B