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Two weeks in Ireland

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My mom and I will be arriving in Ireland in mid-January, and at the end of the month she'll head home while I head to Spain. We are going back and forth over everything we can do and see! I'll be 20 but neither my mom nor I are big drinkers, however we would not be opposed to seeing some famous breweries or pubs. I have a friend in Belfast that we'll be staying with, so I think we'll be flying into Dublin. We have extended family in Londonderry/Derry because my great-grandfather immigrated to the USA.
Here is my question for the forum: What are some things in Ireland (and North Ireland) that we absolutely cannot miss? What are some things that, while nice and touristy, we would be better off skipping?

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    hi there spanishsarah
    we too will be doing a trip in winter ( feb) so will be facing the same probs of limited daylight and some options not being available

    we love nature...wildlife ( but wont be hiking this time) we love traditional irish music and will visit pubs for this...we also love history and have planned to watch as many youtube documentaries on irish history as possible before we go ( the bbc ones tend to be quite good)

    i emailed the irish tourism board and they were fabulous..sent out two packages with brochures and booklets on B and Bs ...maps and must-sees of the towns we are heading to

    we have booked our first night malahide ..just out of dublin in order to avoid the traffic and then will be heading by car to newcastle ( we will also try to see newgrange where the kings of tara are supposedly buried)

    im interested in carrickfergus cos i love the tommy flemming version of that song lol but basically our intention is to head along the antrim coast road ...visit the nine glens and then head to derry via ballycastle and portsteward
    we wanted to go southwest where OHs dad is from but ancestral ties also committed us to the north

    having only one week we were urged by all to just do a dublin - to dublin loop via galway

    we will probably stay somewhere near derry after staying in belfast the night before..dont know how much time we will make going the antrim coast route...have to visit dunluce castle too so there are a few stops of an hour or so...depends on the weather too

    if youre in belfast theres a good tour guide by the name of billy scott who does a fabulous taxi tour ..unbiased and knowledgeable ( recommended by the tourism board but ive heard his name mentioned before somewhere too)

    we might try to get as far north as malins head...remote and wild but we love that kind of thing ( we will have OH driving so wont be so scary i hope lol)


    lots of good things have been said about the town of westport so we will make a night stop there


    if i had the time id love to go to the southwest and also visit the horse stud at tully south of kildare...looks gorgeous and you can get close to the horses...im not sure if it is open in winter..someone here will advise

    do get weather forecast before setting outdoors...no sense of going to the cliffs of moher if its bucketting down...or misty so you have to have something up your sleeve there

    lots of the out of the way tour centres close early or dont open in winter..i was told...so you may have to research well before you go...usually those places are fabulous to get local knowledge
    as for bed and breakfast places..if you knock on one door and theyre not 'open' for visitors they will direct you to someone else...thats what the tourism board told me over the phone

    have a wonderful..safe trip ..enjoy the craic!

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    Thank you lanejohann I will definitely email the tourism board! And watching historical documentaries sounds like a great Christmas break plan for us.
    So you would recommend taxi tours over driving ourselves around? And B and B's over hotels?

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