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Southern Ireland Base(s) of Operation

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Hi all,

In June, my two teen daughters (17, 15) and I are going to Western Ireland. On vacations, we love to wander and adventure, love to stay someplace for a few days at a time instead of moving each day and avoid urban settings--towns are nice, cities we avoid. We love off-the-beaten-path places and avoid the over hyped sites.

I am nearly done with Rick Steve's Ireland 2014 and that has basically led me to focus our upcoming vacation on the South and Western areas of Ireland. We are planning on staying 12-14 days and maybe stay at 3-4 different locations. We will likely land in Shannon and in the South, we want to do Dingle, the Ring of Kerry (which looks like more than a one day adventure), Beara Peninsula, Rock of Cashel and Kinsale/Cobh.

Initially, I was thinking of staying in Kinmare and using that as a base camp for all of these areas, but I am thinking we could do better and avoid much of the travel. Perhaps split the area in two--Dingle/Kerry and Beara/Rock/Cobh. Is this a good idea? If so, where would you stay for both areas? I am especially wondering about Kerry/Dingle to avoid those Kerry bus convoys.

Steve's book doesn't say much about Beara, nor much to the immediate North besides the touristy spots I have already listed. Can anyone tell me if Beara is a nice visit? Is there any other place in that area you would suggest that I might have missed?

Thanks for any advice!

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    First Mistake... St Rick of Steves... You are coming to Ireland which is a totally different place to the one you are currently reading about... Steves book says Nothing about places HE or HIS writers don't like, It will tell you how wonderful and remote (tourist central) Dingle is and other places of favour.

    Balance your research read just one other non self centred, real tour guide. Your local library will no doubt have a few.
    Read the forums for trip reports and itineraries..

    Beara, see the link in answer 5 of http://ireland.activeboard.com/t50006301/bunratty-to-beara/
    The peninsular is the same size as Dingle but without the Dolphin and St Rick so retains Ireland as Ireland used to be without the Tour Bus's souvenir shops and the proliferry of new build bungalows suffered by the more renowned spur.

    Inveragh, Ring of Kerry is best seen off piste as it were and spending a night at the western end with maybe a trip to the Skelligs could be more memorable than just driving the Bus route (Which should be done Counter Clockwise in High season)

    Kinsale has been pushed by Tourism Ireland as the only place on the Island for "foodies" to be honest this former Fishing Port has suffered the tourist hype and lost some charm, the Old Head is now a Golf Club and "Private" Yachts have replaced the smaller fishing fleet and the town is verging on becoming a posh suburb of Cork. It does retain some charm but this needs to be searched out rather than stumbled on.

    Blarney which Steves and his minions dismiss is a nice place to spend the night, outside the 10 till 4 tour bus hours the village ticks along nicely and the Castle grounds are wonderful on a summers day, There is no compunction to snog the rock but the view from the top is worth climbing the narrow twisted tower house stairs.

    Cobh I like, mix with the locals, no pretensions still a working town on the seaboard that gets a little busy when the cruise ships come in and the passengers all grab taxi's to go to Kinsale.

    Any way dyslexia and cfs are setting in so..
    Start by SNN..
    Ennis is a good Irish town to base your 1st night maybe your first 2 nights see some of Clare which is more than 1/2 mile of Cliff and the Burren (which is more than Moonscape by the way)

    2 nights on Dingle (but don't tell anyone I said that)

    Kenmare or perhaps out on the ring for a couple of nights,

    2 more for Beara

    That leaves 4 to get back to SNN or DUB? and 75% of the island unexplored.. until the next time..

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    Unlike many here on Fodor's, I am not a Rick Steves-hater. I think his Ireland book provides some good basic information to get you started on planning your trip, but I think you should supplement it by reading some other guidebooks as well. (I read at least 5 different guidebooks to plan my first trip to Ireland). Since you say you like to "wander and adventure", I would recommend the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books on Ireland. If you are particularly interested in hiking, then the Lonely Planet's "Hiking in Ireland" is a great resource--we found some fantastic hikes to do in County Kerry and County Clare from that book.

    We divided our time along the Ring of Kerry between two places--Kenmare and Ballinskelligs (northern and southern ROK). While we were in Kenmare, we did a day trip to the Beara Peninsula and it was one of the highlights of our trip. May I suggest you just drive around and following signs that interest you. You may never find what you're looking for, but you may find something even better! We saw a sign for a dolmen and drove in that direction. We found a parking area, crossed a stile, walked about 100 yards through a farmer's field (which he had thoughtfully mown into a path for visitors) and ended up seeing an ancient dolmen in his field--with not another soul in sight! Also, I recommend taking the gondola car over to Dursey Island.

    I don't know if you have considered visiting Inishmore, but that was another highlight of that trip. I know there are ferries from Doolin, but we took the larger, faster ferry from Rossaveel and spent the night. (Aran Island Ferries has overnight specials.) Spending a full day on Inishmore biking to the sites such as ring forts, Dun Aengus, and the Seven Churches was so fun!

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    Oh my, I didn't realize I was touching sensitivities by mentioning Rick Steve. No offenses meant. Truth be told, while I have appreciated the books perspective, I have already noticed its significant shortcomings and oversights. LP's Ireland book comes out in March, so I will be picking that one up.

    Tony, the Beara link is great and because of it, we will be spending additional time there. A HUGE thank you for that. I think you are right that time spent in the South is time well spent.

    Longhorn, thanks for your guidance. I haven't yet read up on the Aran Islands and surrounding areas but that's next. I looked at the LP book and it looks awesome. Between you and Tony, we will definitely comb across Beara!

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