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Trip Report Ireland trip report

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Thanks to many on this forum, particularly Tony2Phones, we had a wonderful week-long trip to Ireland recently.

We flew into Dublin and out of Shannon. Our itinerary was as follows:
Nights 1, 2, 3: Dublin, Conrad Hotel
Train to Galway
Nights 4, 5: Galway, Park House Hotel
Car rental in Galway
Night 6: Doolin, Daly's House B&B
Night 7: Ennis, Old Ground Hotel

We made a conscious decision not to drive the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula, figuring we'd encounter so many tour buses that the driving would be overly stressful. We didn't regret this decision.

High points included a day trip to Newgrange from Dublin. After much deliberation, we booked a tour with Mary Gibbon. On the day of the tour, Mary didn't join us; her brother, Michael Gibbon, did. He is an archaeologist of some renown, and that was our lucky day. He made a special stop at the neolithic tomb at Dowth on the way to Newgrange. The tour also includes a stop at the Hill of Tara. Michael's commentary, both on the bus and at the sites, was spectacular.

We also particularly enjoyed our day trip to the Aran Islands--rather, to Inishmore, the largest of the islands. We booked a trip from Galway, which includes a bus ticket to Rossvael, where the ferry debarks. (It's also possible to take a ferry from Doolin, but--others can correct me if I'm wrong--I think the ferry from Galway is larger and thus less prone to induce motion sickness.) The island is 9 miles long; we recommend doing what we did, which was to hop on one of the many vans at the dock and take a tour. Ours stopped at key sites and allowed time to walk around--including plenty of time to climb up to the fort of Dun Aengus and lunch back at the base.

Other favorites:

In Dublin, the Book of Kells exhibit (of course) and the Guinness Brewery (of course).

Also in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library. Amazing collection of illuminated manuscripts.

Doolin and the music at O'Connor's pub, which we found superior to the music we heard in Ennis--though it could have been the luck of the draw. Daly's House is the place to stay; Susan Daly is a perfect host.

Lunch at Ard Bia at Nimmo's in Galway

Ross Errilly Friary, Headford, County Galway

Quin Abbey, County Clare

Cliffs of Moher. Spectacular. Definitely worth the price of parking.

We were pleased with all our hotels. The Conrad, near St. Stephen's Green, was in a great location. Park House, despite being near the train station and Eyre Square, was very quiet, and the staff was extremely helpful; the location was very convenient. Daly's House: already raved about it. At the Old Ground, we requested a quiet room and got one--it was also a room of ample size.

Except for one night when we had a hankering for Indian food, we ate pub food and were very happy.

The driving was indeed stressful--the narrow roads are really narrow--and next time we might plan a trip in which we would rely on train and bus travel.

Again, thanks to all those who helped us plan the trip!

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