All aboard Ireland’s most luxurious train which includes 10 carriages, 20 en-suite cabins, two dining cars and an observation car, all refurbished by specialist outfitters.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian’s inaugural journey is a six-day ‘Grand Tour of Ireland’, with 40 passengers departing Heuston Station at 2.20pm yesterday. The experience is akin to “travelling in an Irish country house”. Sporting the famous midnight blue livery of sister train the Venice Simplon Orient Express, the now longest train in Ireland (252 metres) began its maiden journey towards Cork. The first journey will be six days, visiting Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Down, Dublin and Waterford.
Stops along the way will include the Jameson Distillery at Midleton, boating on Lough Leane, a walking tour in Galway, falconry at Ashford Castle, Titanic Belfast, then to Waterford and Curraghmore House. The journey ends in Dublin next Sunday.
Tuesday night’s menu was Beara scallops, Skeaghanore duck with rosemary and orange sauce followed by tarte tatin with Midleton whiskey sauce. After dinner, guests were entertained in the observation car by singer-songwriter Roy Buckley, musician Gerry O’Connor, harpist Floriane Blancke and storyteller Pat Speight.
Two years ago, Belmond Ltd approached Irish Rail to purchase 10 old Mark Three carriages, and this service is the result. Belmond already operates the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the Eastern and Oriental in South East Asia and the Hiram Bingham in Peru, among other luxury trains.
The Grand Hibernian was refurbished and fitted by 40 skilled craftsmen at specialist outfitters Mivan Marine Ltd in Belfast. Predominantly aimed at the US, UK and European markets, Belmond says hundreds of bookings have already been taken. The train’s haulage services and Dublin depot facilities are provided by Irish Rail. It is good to see Ireland’s rather lovely railways getting some of the attention they deserve.
The six-night, ‘Grand Tour of Ireland’ itinerary covers 2,217km, taking in Cork, Killarney, Galway, Belfast and Waterford before returning to Dublin. Costs for the project have not been released, but prices range from €3,160pp for two nights, to €5,420pp for four and €7,722pp for a six-night excursion.