Before our arrival in Ireland, I did an online booking of the Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet & Cliffs of Moher excursion offered by Railtours Ireland. This was a two-day excursion that left from Dublin’s Heuston Train Station. It was still Ireland’s low-season (week and a half before St. Patrick’s Day) as far as tourism. As a result, my wife and I were the only clients doing this excursion. A Railtours representative met us at the train station and accompanied us to on the 2.5-hour train ride to Galway.
My wife and I were given four hours to explore Galway City on our own. We were in the tourist district of the city. As such, there were plenty of shops, pubs, and restaurants along the pedestrian-only Shoppe Street.
After our 4 hours of wandering around Galway, a different Railtours representative picked us up at the Galway train station and drove us 1.5 hours by car to Bunratty. We got checked into the very nice Bunratty Castle Hotel and then walked next door to Bunratty Castle for the Medieval Banquet. The banquet was a fabulous evening of dining and being entertained like medieval royalty in the 15th century castle.
The next morning my wife and I were picked up by Railtours to join a group that was doing the one-day version of this excursion. We began with a wonderful tour of Bunratty Castle where my wife and I had dined the evening before. After 30-minutes of narration by a costumed guide, we were given an hour to explore the castle on our own. We saw 500-year old furniture, the dungeon, the Great Hall, and more. We even climbed the narrow circular staircases of the towers to get a view of the surrounding countryside from the roof of the castle. Before walking back to the shuttle bus, we took a walk through the adjacent Folk Park where we were able to have a look inside 19th century houses.
Our group was driven to the small town of Doolin where we had a very good pub grub lunch at Gus O’Connors Pub. With our bellies full, we piled back into the shuttle bus and were driven to the major attraction of the tour – the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher are where the edge of Ireland meets the Atlantic Ocean in the form of 700-foot cliffs. There are several paths that allow visitors to see these dramatic drop-offs. We were given approximately 1.5 hours to explore the area. Everyone was warned to not to stray from the paths because the cliffs are constantly eroding. Occasionally, a chunk of land falls into the ocean. Despite the warning, I saw tourists standing very close to the edge in hopes of getting a radical photo. Dress in layers when going to cliffs because it can get cold and windy. I would have liked to have checked out the visitor center where there are presentations about the geology and wildlife of the area but we ran out of time.
On our way back to Galway from the Cliffs of Moher, we were driven along the coast and through farmlands where sheep and cattle grazed. We saw a famine graveyard where victims of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 are buried. We made a quick photo stop at the Burren, a field of limestone slabs of rock.
We arrived back in Galway about 1.5 hours before our group needed to board the train back to Dublin. My wife and I used this free time to get dinner at a restaurant just off Shoppe Street. Our Railtours guide reserved a railcar for our group and traveled with us on the 7:15 PM train back to Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Railtours Ireland is a class act. Everything ran smoothly. We could just sit back and enjoy our vacation. For those who choose to do the overnight version of this excursion, consider bringing your just your overnight belongings in a backpack. Check with the hotel to where you will return to see if they can hold your large luggage. Otherwise, you will need to pay to leave your luggage at the Left Luggage office of the Galway train station during your free time in the city. The fee was €5 per bag at the time of our trip.