The art of falconry—in essence, "flying a hawk"—dates back to 2000 B.C. Today it's practiced by a growing number of licensed falconers around the world who teach the basics of raising, training and flying raptors. The five-star Ashford Castle (from €360 per night; ashford.ie) is home to Ireland's School of Falconry, whose birds will accompany guests on instructive walks (from €65) or as VIPs at cocktail hour (€185; falconry.ie). In Sutherland, Scotland, Highland Hawking Holidays offers an intensive six-day course for beginners (£400; highland hawking.co.uk). Dartmoor Hawking in Devon, England, lets visitors fly owls and walk with the sociable Harris hawks (£115). For practiced falconers, the school offers a two-day course on training the fastest, most temperamental bird of all: the falcon (£225; dartmoor hawking. co.uk).