Sunday 18 February 2018

All aboard! Ireland gets its first week-long steam train tour of the modern age...

Steam Dreams

The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill
The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill
Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer.
Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer.
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

The 'Emerald Isle Explorer' embarks on a seven-day circuit of Ireland this June, the longest of its kind "in the modern age".

The seven-day train tour is being offered by Steam Dreams - which runs the UK's Cathedrals Express steam train - and hauled by vintage locomotives owned by The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. 

Prices for the seven-day tour start from €1,695pp (non-dining) with accommodation in "good quality city centre hotels", rising to €2,950pp for a Pullman Style Dining package including six nights' in five-star hotels such as the G in Galway.

The inaugural Emerald Isle Explorer will depart Dublin on Thursday, June 18, starting its journey with an optional day trip to Belfast.

A circular tour of the Republic of Ireland follows, taking in Galway, Killarney, Limerick, Tralee, Waterford and Kilkenny before arriving back in Dublin on June 24.

Locomotives and coaches owned by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) will be used throughout the tour, including one set that is allowed to operate both north and south of the border, and another dedicated set that only travels in the Republic.

Craven Coach 1.jpg
Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer.

Inside one of the 'Craven Coaches'

The Southern Irish set of 64-seat Craven Coaches boasts "a very singular Irish ambiance", according to Steam Dreams, including the only railway bar in the world serving draught Guinness - which will be available exclusively for Pullman Style passengers.

Several optional excursions are available, including  the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, the Ring of Kerry and Waterford Crystal. Similar to the company's multi-day trips in Scotland and Cornwall, the itinerary is designed to allow passengers pick and choose the excursions they like.

News of the Emerald Isle Explorer comes just months after the announcement that Ireland is to get its own version of the Orient Express in summer 2016.

The 'Belmont Grand Hibernian' was launched after Belmond Ltd acquired ten carriages from Irish Rail with plans to transform them into a luxury sleeper train.

The 'Orient Express'-style train will be the first luxury overnight rail experience of its kind in Ireland, with all-inclusive prices starting from €3,200pp.

The full Emerald Isle Explorer itinerary is as follows:

  • Day 1 – Thursday 18 June Dublin to Belfast for day trip 
  • Day 2 – Friday 19 June Dublin to Galway via Athlone
  • Day 3 – Saturday 20 June Galway – day of leisure
  • Day 4 – Sunday 21 June Galway to Killarney via Limerick
  • Day 5 – Monday 22 June Killarney – day of leisure
  • Day 6 – Tuesday 23 June Killarney to Waterford
  • Day 7 – Wednesday 24 June Waterford to Dublin via Kilkenny

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