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Southern Ireland Itinierary Help

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Hi all,

This is my second post here, some of you folks were so friendly and helpful that I am eager for more guidance from those in the know!

My two teen daughters and I are planning a trip to Ireland in late June 2014 for about 12 days. Nothing is solidified yet, so we are still researching. We were initially considering travelling around the entire island to partake in the whole island, but in the end, we prefer to hunker down for 3-4 days per location to both suck up the local flavor and relax instead of driving incessantly. So we are focusing in on the south of Ireland--the Cork--Limerick--Galway corridor and anywhere southwest.

My first question is, give our time limit (12ish days), are we making a mistake in missing something wonderful that falls outside of where we are focusing?

Is Shannon a better alternative airport than Dublin, given our likely location?

Please fill me in on renting a car. I have heard I need to buy insurance and it is expensive. IS this a necessity?

I have heard driving can be not only a hassle but a true frustration, could someone set me straight? Am I endangering my life and my wallet driving myself?

Finally, and maybe most importantly, given the region we will possibly be staying in, where would you suggest going? We have heard of the beauty of Dingle and the Cliffs of Moher, someone here even suggested an island called Inishmore, but any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If we were going to spend 3 days in a place, that would mean 4 stops. Where would you suggest: Cork? Kilarney? Limerick? Galway?

Any "don't miss" sites in this area?

Thanks in advance for any help for us! We are so excited to go to the Emerald Isle!

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    http://www.bushq.com/find/frame/main.asp?BizId=1790

    Check this site out. You can fly into Dublin, take the bus into the city, spend three nights there. Your first day is a wash with jet lag so need a couple to experience the city and history. Hop on hop on bus will be great for your first day there. Go to the tourist office on Suffolk and book yourself a couple of day tours, Newgrange is my fav. You can take the train to a coastal village north or south of the city. Then take the Go bus to Galway. Lots of nice cheap day tours that you can take from this city. The tour to Inishmore is wonderful and magical. If you want to drive rent a car in Galway and drive the coast to Dingle passing the village of Doolin, Lahinch etc. Lahinch is a surfing mecca and your daughters might enjoy that. You can then do the Dingle peninsula or park the car and take a day tour. Day tours give you the flexibility of not being tied down to a 10 day tour but you can at least enjoy the scenery and will have a guide explaining everything since it is your first visit. Once you have your itinerary down we can help you with lodging. Three days is good in each place and you can fly into Dublin and out of Shannon. Do not rent a car while in Dublin.

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    http://www.bushq.com/find/frame/main.asp?BizId=1790

    This is my favorite tour. It was 40 euro but included the ride to the ferry, the ferry ticket and the bus ride around the island. Some of the tours leave you stranded to find your own way around once you get off the ferry. You can rent bikes there. These cliffs remind me of the way the cliffs of Moher were like 15 years ago. Not nearly as touristy but beautiful.

    At the bus station in Galway there are many tours leaving from there. We did a very nice one for 20 euros to the cliffs and the burren. The driver was great and stopped at places I had never been to before so enjoyed it. I am just trying to give you options, we have driven before and done just public transportation. I prefer the latter. Less stress and I got to look at everything.

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    I think your idea of flying into Shannon is a good one if you want to focus on the SW. Save Dublin, and the sights around it, in the SE, and Northern Ireland for another trip.

    We rented a car and made sure to get both CDW and Super CDW insurance, which were highly recommended. DH is comfortable driving on the left, and it only took him a day or so to get used to the narrow roads. We loved the freedom and flexibility of having our own car.

    We spent 34 days in Ireland and two places I wished we'd skipped were Cork and Inishmore.

    ]We loved Kinsale (one full day's worth of sightseeing), Garnish Island (off Glengarriff), driving the Beara Peninsula, Dingle and the Peninsula.

    Killarney is a good base for a full day spent around the Ring of Kerry and 1-2 days in the Killarney National Park (Ross Castle, Muckross House, Gap of Dunloe, scenic drives).

    We spent a full day seeing Galway, and on the way, it was definitely worth a day in the Burren--especially a guided hike with Shane Connelly.

    Loved Connemara--hiking in the National Park, Kylemore Abbey, a boat ride on the Killary Fjord.

    The Cliffs of Moher were stunning, and it didn't bother us that there were lots of other people there. If you want to see gorgeous cliffs with hardly any people, drive (and then hike) up Slieve League--amazing!

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    Krejaton, First, there are no right or wrong answers, just opinions and personal preferences. So what I have to offer may differ from what others have to say, and we all are correct. I recently spent two weeks in Ireland, so my comments are based on that trip.

    Yes, fly into Shannon rather than Dublin, particularly given the areas you want to see.

    I highly recommend renting a car, The freedom it gives you is worthwhile, and you can then tour on your own schedule. Like many, I used Dan Dooley and was very pleased. Apparently, other companies tack on hidden charges and fees, or don't explain what they are doing on their contract. Definitely get the Super CDW insurance. You will scrape against bushes and such, and you may lose a mirror, or as was the case with me, dent a hubcap. The first day of driving was not a fun experience. However, after that, it became quite natural, and I would not let the learning curve deter me from renting a car. Do rent the smallest car you think you can manage. Trust me when I say the road are as narrow as you may have read, so smaller is better. Also, you probably will only average 40mph during your trip, so take that into account when planning your itinerary.

    You are very wise to try to stay in one place for several days at a time. I absolutely loved Galway, and with two teen daughters, I think it would be a great base. There is plenty of interesting shopping to do, lots of good restaurants, and since it is also a college town, there is a lot of young energy. I went to the upstairs room at Crane Bar for traditional music. As a father of two daughters, I can recommend it for you and your girls. It was mostly a younger crowd, and I would have been fine to have my girls with me there. It's not like the bars we have here, where people go there to be stupid and hook up.

    while in Galway, you and your girls may like Trad on The Prom. You can google it to see if what's something you and they would enjoy. They, in particular, might like the entire Salthill area, which is a short walk from the Town Centre in Galway.

    I am not a huge fan of tours, but we took a bus tour of Connermara, out of Galway, and am glad we did. I was able to actually take in the scenery, rather than drive, and the huge vista windows in the bus provided much better visibility that my car windows would have.

    More random thoughts. When you are at the Cliffs of Moher, take the hour boat cruise along the bottom. I also saw the Cliffs from the top, but looking up at them gives an incredible perspective.

    Again, keeping your girls in mind, and especially if they are shoppers, Killarney would work well. I took the Gap of Dunloe tour, which included a bus ride to jaunting carts to a boat ride. It took most of the day, and easily was one of the highlights of the trip.

    Kinsale is good for the better part of the day, and take Don and Barry's Historic Walking Tour. Here is the link, and as you'll see, it is very highly rated on Trip Advisor. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g211878-d1078767-Reviews-Don_Barry_s_Historic_Stroll_in_Old_Kinsale-Kinsale_County_Cork.html

    By the way, I used Trip Advisor extensively to help me plan my trip, and the information was very valuable...as is the information in this forum.

    I spent three nights in Dublin, and if I had to do it over again, I might only have spent one or two nights there. Spending a night or two in Dublin did help my eye get a bit oriented to people driving on the left side of the road. Of course, that contradicts my advice to fly into Shannon. However, if you do fly into Dublin, do not rent a car until you leave, and pick it up at the airport, not in City Centre. You do not, not, not want to drive in Dublin.

    I don't know what kind of budget you are on. If money is not a huge factor for you, stay at the Pax House in Dingle. It simply was, by far, the very best bed and breakfast in which I stayed in Ireland. It is pricey, but you get what you pay for, including a breakfast that is beyond description.

    I agree that Cork is not worth much time. We found Adare to be a cute town for a few hours if you're up that way.

    I also agree with taking day tours from your base towns. You will get a lot more out of a tour of Connemara, or the Burren, by being on a tour which tells you what you're seeing.

    I've run on a lot for now, so I'll end here. However, I'll be glad to chime in with more opinions again.

    How much did I love Ireland? I went in late August, early September, and am going back again in May 2014!!

    One more thing. Check to see if there are any festivals or special events going on where you plan to be visiting, as that may make those places more or less desirable for you, depending on whether you like crowds, etc.

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