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First Timers to Ireland. Starting at Shannon.

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Hi! We're very excited to have the opportunity to visit Ireland next year. We will be arriving mid-July at the Shannon Airport. We have a week before we will be meeting family in Galway so we want to do as much as we can of Ireland's beauty while taking our time to take it all in. We're thinking that we will head from Shannon towards Dingle, Ring of Kerry...

How far from Shannon Airport would you go that first day while still taking in what you are seeing? Where would you stay? We have a 23 year old and an 11 year old. We want to really experience the beauty, fun, and character of Ireland. We'd love to stay in a really neat B and B. There will be 4 of us. Does that require 2 rooms? We are looking forward to good food, wonderful music, laughter, pubs....

If you've done this type of trip before... how long do you think it would take us once we had out in the morning for Dingle (maybe take the boat out), Ring of Kerry..... to enjoy them and then where? Hours, days?

Any rental car suggestions/advice? Thanks in advance!! I know we're going to have lots of questions and I look forward to hearing from your experience.

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    We spent a day in the Burren and loved it--especially our guided hike with Shane Connelly.

    We stayed in Kenmare to drive the Ring of Kerry--it took us 10+ hours to make the loop--with lots of stops, but not every one we had wanted to make.

    In retrospect, we'd have preferred to stay in Killarney--there's more than a day of great stuff to see/do in/around Killarney national park.

    Also loved the Connnemara area--hiking in the NP, Kylemore Abbey, the Killary Fjord boat trip.

    The Dingle Peninsula was fun , too--took much less time than the RoK. Had planned to take an eco-tour by boat around the Blasket Islands, but it was cancelled due to weather, although it looked like a beautiful day to us--but I completely respect the captain's knowledge and decision.

    The Beara Peninsula was fun, too--the drive over Healy Pass was really something! The sculpture trail at the Ewe Experience is something I think kids would enjoy--sort of a treasure hunt. Saw seals on the ferry to Garnish Island. Didn't do the cable car at the end of the Peninsula, but I've seen it recommended.

    In Galway, the 90 minute cruise up the River Corrib to the Lough was popular with families, and we adults liked it, too.

    The Cliffs of Moher are understandably one of the most popular sites in Ireland; we had planned to do a boat trip there, too--but it also got cancelled.

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    We spent a day in the Burren and loved it--especially our guided hike with Shane Connelly.

    We stayed in Kenmare to drive the Ring of Kerry--it took us 10+ hours to make the loop--with lots of stops, but not every one we had wanted to make.

    In retrospect, we'd have preferred to stay in Killarney--there's more than a day of great stuff to see/do in/around Killarney national park.

    Also loved the Connnemara area--hiking in the NP, Kylemore Abbey, the Killary Fjord boat trip.

    The Dingle Peninsula was fun , too--took much less time than the RoK. Had planned to take an eco-tour by boat around the Blasket Islands, but it was cancelled due to weather, although it looked like a beautiful day to us--but I completely respect the captain's knowledge and decision.

    The Beara Peninsula was fun, too--the drive over Healy Pass was really something! The sculpture trail at the Ewe Experience is something I think kids would enjoy--sort of a treasure hunt. Saw seals on the ferry to Garnish Island. Didn't do the cable car at the end of the Peninsula, but I've seen it recommended.

    In Galway, the 90 minute cruise up the River Corrib to the Lough was popular with families, and we adults liked it, too.

    The Cliffs of Moher are understandably one of the most popular sites in Ireland; we had planned to do a boat trip there, too--but it also got cancelled.

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    I did a similar trip a couple of years ago. We landed in the morning, and as you might imagine, were pretty jet-lagged and worn out from lack of sleep. Add to the fact that I was driving on the left for the first time, and driving a stick for the first time in years. Because of this, I kept our first day pretty close to Shannon. After getting lost for a while, we eventually found our way to Doolin. Lunch at a local pub, and then a trip to the Cliffs of Moher for the afternoon. We managed to stay awake long enough to walk around Doolin, enjoy a few pints and a nice dinner. Had a great night's sleep at the Doolin Activity Lodge, and the next day we woke up refreshed and ready for the next stop.

    I guess my main advise to to plan on that first day as a recovery day from the trip. I wouldn't travel too far unless you are accustom to dealing with jet lag and driving on the left. Be flexible that first day, focus on getting your bearings in Ireland and take what you can get :)

    Enjoy your trip, too! We loved Galway, so many things to do and see there...

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