For this journey into Ireland’s horse country in County Kildare, start at its heart: the flat pastures of The Curragh. World-famous for its thoroughbreds, it’s one of the finest racing tracks in Europe – tour it early in the morning to witness the spectacle of long lines of thoroughbreds training across miles of rich plains. When you’ve explored this Irish landmark, head for some retail therapy at nearby Kildare Village, Ireland’s largest designer retail outlet. Refuel with some croissants in Le Pain Quotidien, the first venue in Ireland for the top boulangerie chain.
After lunch, there’s plenty more equestrian-related enjoyment to be had nearby at the Irish National Stud, where the winners of five Classics were produced and the tale of Colonel William Walker is revealed. A true character, he used astrological charts to determine the futures of his foals – any born under an undesirable chart were sold. Move from horses to horticulture next at the Japanese Gardens. Designed to represent the “Life of Man”, the gardens were created by Japanese master horticulturalist Tassa Eida, and force you to adjust and adapt to a slower, more peaceful pace.
Your next and final stop for the day is the heritage town of Kildare, where you’ll find plenty of great guesthouses and B&Bs for the night. Lots of great restaurants and pubs await, and a stroll around the beautifully restored 18th century market house will nicely round off your day.