Belmond Grand Hibernian has started a new chapter in history as the first luxury sleeper train to travel throughout the island of Ireland. The inaugural journey departed Heuston Station at 14:20hrs on 30 August, taking 40 guests on a six-night Grand Tour of Ireland. The train’s contemporary interiors are elegant yet relaxed, evoking the sense of travelling in an Irish country house on wheels, with genuine and warm service provided by the train’s crew.
Belmond Grand Hibernian will cover 2217 kilometres, as it heads from Dublin to Cork where guests will visit the Jameson’s Distillery, followed by a private visit of Blarney Castle where it is traditional to ‘kiss the Blarney Stone’; kissers of the stone are said ‘to be blessed with the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness’. Belmond Grand Hibernian then travels west to Killarney National Park for a ride on a jaunting cart and a cruise on the spectacular Lough Leane.
In the historic city of Galway, famed for its traditional pubs and lively Irish Folk music guests can enjoy a hearty local lunch before a walking tour of the old city, or visit the Cliffs of Moher.
Leaving the train in Westport, a drive through the dramatic coastal landscape and rolling hills of Connemara takes guests for a day at Ashford Castle, once home to the Guinness family and the setting of many important historical events; now a luxury hotel with an award-winning golf course and Ireland’s oldest School of Falconry.
The train’s elegant, midnight-blue carriages then travel to Northern Ireland and Belfast for a visit of the Titanic Experience before returning south to the Viking port of Waterford for a visit to the House of Waterford and Curraghmore House, home to the Waterford family and completing the journey in Dublin.
Head Chef, Alan Woods, has created mouth-watering dishes showcasing the best of Irish produce with a contemporary twist to ensure guests experience the best of Irish cuisine. Using locally sourced ingredients, dishes include Irish seafood chowder, roast Killarney venison, Donegal turf-smoked salmon and crab cannon, Skeaghanore duck leg confit and warm Kildare wild elderberry and plum compote served in the elegant and light dining cars Wexford and Sligo.
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.
Carriages are named after the Irish counties with interior designs and colours inspired by local scenery and details of each county’s tartan. Irish creative flair is also reflected in the staff uniforms, designed in Ireland, using materials such as Donegal tweed.
The sleeper cars, including Waterford, Leitrim and Kerry, feature 20 luxury ensuite 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 today 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.