Saturday 23 February 2019

All aboard! A €2,270 steam train tour is coming to Ireland - with draught Guinness on tap

Guests of the 'Emerald Isle Craic Express' can avail of Pullman-style dining and draught Guinness, Pól Ó Conghaile reports

The Emerald Isle Exporer. Photo: Steam Dreams
The Emerald Isle Exporer. Photo: Steam Dreams
Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer. Photo: Stephen Comiskey
A Craven Coach from the Emerald Isle Explorer. Photo: Stephen Comiskey.
The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

A six-night tour taking to Irish railways this September has a real point of distinction - it's travelling under power of steam.

The 'Emerald Isle Craic Express' is hauled by steam locomotives owned by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), with guests travelling in "beautifully preserved" Craven Coaches, including a bar car serving draught Guinness.

Run by UK tour operator Steam Dreams Rail Co, the trip is planned from September 6-11, with guests staying overnight at luxury hotels along the way.

And the price?

Places on board the real-life Thomas the Tank Engine are available in four different classes, ranging from a 'Non–Dining' option costing £1,195/€1,360pp to full 'Pullman Style Dining' with meals included at £1,995/€2,270pp.

Passengers, most of whom are expected to come from Britain, with some from the US and Australia, will start their journey in Dublin, chugging cross-country on vintage carriages hauled by the RPSI's No.85 Merlin and No.4 Tank Engine.

Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer. Photo: Stephen Comiskey
Craven Coaches, which will be pulled by vintage steam locomotives on the Emerald Isle Explorer. Photo: Stephen Comiskey

Steam Dreams also manages the UK's Cathedrals Express and Flying Scotsman steam train tours, and is returning to Ireland after diverting last year to explore alternative itineraries in Germany, the Lake District and Scotland.

"The romanticism of steam brings me back to my childhood and you don't have to be a train fanatic to appreciate travelling in style," said John Keohane, a former senior bodyguard for Queen Elizabeth II, describing the experience of the 'Emerald Isle Express' on a previous trip to Ireland in 2015.

Setting off to the sound of a whistle, passengers will spend two nights in Killarney and three in Galway - with trips to Cork, Limerick and Westport along the way.

Prices include B&B hotel accommodation, with choices including Aghadoe Heights in Killarney and the g Hotel in Galway for top-end Pullman passengers.

Optional tours include the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands.

“As with our regular multi-day trips to Scotland and Cornwall, we have designed the itinerary to allow flexibility for our passengers, offering them the choice of exploring each destination at their leisure or joining one of our many excursions," said David Buck, Steam Dreams' Chairman.

It's not the only luxury train tour of Ireland.

Belmond's 'Grand Hibernian', which provides sleeper accommodation, has Irish itineraries ranging from €3,700pp for two nights to a whopping €10,100pp for a seven-night 'Grand Tour' with all meals, tours and beverages included.

A separate 'Emerald Isle Express' (video above) run by Railtours Ireland twins an eight-day "exclusive rail-land cruise" with two nights in Dromoland Castle and stays in other luxury hotels like the Merrion and Mount Juliet from €5,499pp.

It is scheduled to depart Dublin on September 22.

Read more:

Dublin from the DART: 10 top stops for a train tour of city and coast

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