A grand day for a train trip

by Ian Begley

CHOO! CHOO! Ireland’s first luxury sleeper train has finally launched in Dublin with a six-day trip costing as little as €7,700.
Yes, you read that right: €7,700.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian was launched last week and includes 10 carriages, 20 en-suite cabins, two dining cars and an observation car, all refurbished by specialist outfitters.
Two-day trips cost €3,160, four days cost €5,420 and six days cost €7,722. On board the passengers will have double or twin cabins with goose feather and Irish-made down bedding.
It’s inaugural journey from Heuston Station took 40 guests on a six-night Grand Tour of Ireland. Marking a new era in luxury rail travel, Belmond Grand Hibernian is the first luxury sleeper train to travel throughout the Island of Ireland.
The train’s contemporary interiors are elegant yet relaxed, evoking the sense of travelling in an Irish country house with genuine and warm service provided by the train’s crew.
Throughout the inaugural six-night itinerary, covering 2,217 kilometres, guests will first travel from Dublin to Cork where they will visit the Jameson’s Distillery, followed by a private visit of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone before the grounds are open to the public.
Belmond Grand Hibernian then heads west to Killarney and its National Park for a boat tour of the spectacular Lough Leane. As the train heads north, a walking tour of the creative city of Galway is followed by a full day visit to Ashford Castle for a lunch and walk around the property’s stunning grounds.
The elegant, midnight blue carriages then travel to Northern Ireland and Belfast for a visit of the award-winning Titanic Experience.
The train then returns south to the Viking port of Waterford for a visit to the House of Waterford and Curraghmore House, home to the Waterford family. The journey then ends in Dublin.
Head chef Alan Woods has created mouth-watering dishes showcasing the best of Irish produce with a contemporary twist. On the menu are dishes such as seafood chowder, Roast Killarney Venison, Donegal Turf Smoked Salmon and Crab Cannon, Skeaghanore Duck Leg Confit and Warm Kildare Wild Elderberry and Plum Compote. All food is regionally sourced from local producers.
Guests can expect to enjoy home-baked soda bread and scones; served with salty butter and homemade jams and fresh cream.
Each carriage is named after an Irish county with interiors reflecting the local flora and fauna and colours inspired by the county’s tartan.
Irish creative flair is also reflected in the staff uniforms, designed in Ireland, using materials such as Donegal tweed.
Kildare, the Observation Car and social hub of the train has the charm of a local Irish tavern, with live entertainment each evening and a varied choice of Irish gin and whiskies for guests to enjoy after dinner is served in the elegant and light-filled dining cars Wexford and Sligo.
The sleeper cars, including Waterford, Leitrim and Kerry, feature 20 luxury en-suite cabins including four double cabins with spacious storage and elegant details such as the Galway crystal jewellery stands and Irish goose feather and down pillows and duvets, made in Westport.
Commenting on the launch, JP Kavanagh says: “As a proud Irishman, I am delighted to be part of the launch of this exciting new train showcasing authentic Irish hospitality, scenery, produce and culture.”
Belmond Grand Hibernian offers two, four and six-night itineraries for up to 40 guests running from now until the end of October.
Guests will be immersed in the rich Irish culture, including history, art and music, or choose to play a round of golf at famous courses along the way.
In 2017, the season will run from 25 April to 14 October.
For more information or to make a reservation for 2016 or 2017 – visit Belmond.com/grandhibernian

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