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Need help planning a solo trip to Ireland, first visit

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(I posted this in Europe, forgetting to tag it Ireland, so am re-posting it correctly. Thanks!)

I am comfortable traveling alone, and I do not want a group tour. In my initial research, I found the following Ireland by Rail plan, on Fodor's:

http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/itineraries/ireland-by-rail-17/

I guess I've never heard about the rail system in Ireland, so that's my first question.

Here is the abbreviated plan, and I would love your comments. I am thinking of going this May.

"Fly into: Limerick
Fly out of: Dublin
Total Duration: 10 days
Traveling Ireland by rail is one of the best ways to tour the country. There are no white-knuckle rides as you face large tour buses on narrow, winding roads (and not to mention the stress of driving on the left). You can just sit back, relax, and take in the brazenly scenic landscape while enjoying a picnic lunch on the train. Starting from Shannon, this itinerary hits some of the most popular sites in Ireland, from Limerick and Blarney Castle to the famed Ring of Kerry and Kilkenny, before ending your trip in Dublin."

Day One: LIMERICK
An Introduction to the Emerald Isle

The Hunt Museum features fine examples of Celtic and medieval treasures
Explore the Georgian House and Gardens, a meticulously restored mansion
Time travel back to the Middle Ages at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Day Two and Three: KILLARNEY
Lakes and Mountains Galore

Take in the magnificent lakes of Killarney, all set in the backdrop of towering mountains
Explore Muckross House, an excellent example of an Elizabethan-style manor
Pass through the narrow Gap of Dunloe for a glimpse of the lakes and purple mountains

Days Four and Five: RING OF KERRY
Ireland's Most Scenic Drive

The circular Ring of Kerry is Ireland's most popular drive—for good reason
To get some of the best views along the Ring—get out of your car and hike, walk, or cycle
Boat out to the spectacular Skellig Rocks, just off shore the Ring of Kerry

Days Six and Seven: CORK CITY
Irish Warmth and a Kiss

Ireland's second largest city is a spirited place, with a great pub culture and quirky cafes
No trip to Ireland would be complete without kissing the Blarney Stone
Kinsale, a picturesque port, is famed for its fine dining

Day Eight: KILKENNY CITY
Modern and Ancient Design

Kilkenny has been dubbed Ireland's Medieval City for its time-burnished buildings
Design aficionados will love to explore its myriad of art galleries
Explore Killkenny Castle, an unusual blend of Gothic and Victorian architecture

Days Nine and Ten: DUBLIN
Where the Written Word Comes Alive

Pay homage to Dublin's great literary history
Explore the elegant grounds of Trinity College
Soak up the city's famous Georgian architecture and its lively dining scene


Thanks so much!


PalenQ on Feb 6, 12 at 12:53pm
the rail system in Ireland is very limited to a very few main lines - that said they form an axis the tourist can use and then at the proverbial ends of the lines take buses just about anywhere. Buses are also often quicker on many routes where trains do not do in a direct line.

The main rail line is Dublin to Cork and Killarney and Trallee (jumping off point for the fantastic Dingle Peninsula, by mini bus.

so rail can be useful but it not up to European standards in providing comprehensive coverage to go anywhere - buses are are a crucial link - like if you want to go up the wild west coast, home of Gaelltach (sp?) or Gaellic speaking where Gaellic is often the daily language of many folks in the Dingle Peninsula and Cliffs of Mohair area - do not miss the west coast, the rugged gorgeous west cost from Dingle up to the Cliffs of Mohair and Galway - Galway then has good train service to Dublin.

The other good rail service links Dublin to Belfast in Northern Ireland - the so-called Peace Train and IMO do not neglect Northern Ireland and gems like the Giant's Causeway or even Belfast.

Possible good sources of Irish trains - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. There used to be an Irish Rambler Pass that was good for trains and many buses - contact the Ireland National Board for details if it still exists or ask locally at a bus or train station. Not sold in the U.S. to my knowledge.


Michel_Paris on Feb 6, 12 at 1:03pm
I would rent a car, It is IMHO the best way to see the country. Sure, some of the roads are narrow, but that is part of the experience. Stop when you want to, go where you want to. In Dublin, I would return the car, no need for it there.

The above tour seems to be cities only, you need to get out with the sheep

We started in Dublin and did a clockwise loop of the country, some good memories. Stayed mostly at B&Bs.



mariha2912 on Feb 6, 12 at 1:12pm
This itenerary is very fast paces, personaly I wouldn't enjoy that at all. Of course each to their own. Furthermore I don't quite get the Limerick reference... Bunratty and Folk park on my understanding are not on Limerick, which in general is a dull city. I guess it serves as a point to start early next morning towards Killarney?
2 days at Killarney don't do it justice at all. Cork city 2 days? Well depends on how much you want to take in.. Dublin only 2 days no way!



PeaceOut on Feb 6, 12 at 1:48pm
I definitely do not want to hire a car.

I appreciate your suggestions!

I guess I didn't flag this as a post about Ireland. Maybe I will re-do it that way. Follow me there?

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