1st draft Ireland trip

Jul 24th, 2005, 05:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 524
1st draft Ireland trip

This is our 1st draft for June 2006 family Ireland trip.

8-12 people, 3 generations, traveling with hired driver (I know...over-ruled).

Goal is to see some sites new to us and to share some favorites from our 2003 trip with our family.

days 1/2 westport-tour connemara

days 3/4/5 donegal area-tour Belleek, lower lake erne, highlands of donegal, derry-walls/murals, giant's causeway-(a little out of the way but I think we could loop in a day from donegal area?)

day 6 doolin-via burren, cliffs (I know this will be a long day, this is where having a driver will help a lot)

day 7 dingle-slea head loop

days 8/9 kenmare-killarney national park, beara/mizen head

day 10 bunratty-limerick/angla's ashes tour, bunratty banquet (both family special requests)

day 11 depart

biggest questions concern donegal area-
looking for a good location for all 3 nights or considering splitting up days...I have read good things about the following if you would care to comment...
ballyshannon, killybegs, ardara, donegal, letterkenny, dunfanaghy
(to me, a good place to stay would be a quaint, interesting town that would have a nice B&B/guesthouse within easy walking distance to a nice place to eat and good pubs with music)

also thinking about swapping one of kenmare days for extra day in dingle...which was one of our favorites...but would love to tour beara/mizen and the park was also one of our favorites...
any opinions?

thanks for responses to what I am sure will be the first of many questions for this trip!

chip is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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first of all, I really like your itinerary. We are getting ready for our second trip to Ireland (August), so I am definitely not an expert. But I don't think you are overdoing your trip at all, with one possible exception that you mentioned.

Should you add a day to Dingle and take one away from Kenmare? The problem is that one day for either Dingle or Kenmare (wtih KNP and Beara thrown in) is not enough. So with only 3 days, I suggest picking either Dingle or Kenmare (save the other location for your next trip).

That way you have two very viable alternatives. If you pick Kenmare, you will have lots of time for: Beara, KNP, part of the ROK and/or Mizen Head (which we didn't get to see). If you pick Dingle for 3 days, you would have plenty of time to explore the town and Slea Head (and possibly a day trip to KNP--about 2 hours from Dingle). Alternatively, you could linger in County Clare a bit more, spend two days there (and then 2 days in Dingle)--that would mitigate your long drive from Donegal to Doolin and make the Burren and the cliffs a lot more enjoyable.

Either way, I know you'll have a great time.
beach_dweller is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 09:19 PM
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Chip, Letterkenny is an excellent base for Donegal.
IrishEyes is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 03:53 AM
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thanks for the responses!

do you have any suggestions for accomodations/pubs/dining?

also...do you think we could see derry walls/murals and giant's causeway and return to letterkenny in the same day?
chip is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I would like to second the suggestion for Letterkenny in Donegal. It's one of my favorite towns in Donegal and close enough to make that day trip into NI you were considering. Unfortuantery, I don't know of a B&B within walking distance into town. We stayed at Pennsylvania House which is certainly large enough for all 8 to 12 of you and they even have a very large family room (sleeps 5 r 6 I think, it's been awhile since we were there...) upstairs if needed. Not sure how young your "3 generations" cover but for very young children this may not be the best place as there are many knick-knacks around the house and everything is rather ornate. Not my personal style but the place is immaculate and well worth the extra cost, IMO. Older children and well behaved children are certainly welcomed!

Due to the numbers and varied interests, I would also suggest skipping staying overnight in Dingle and basing yourselves nearer to Kenmare. There's more to see and do in this area and so more of you will have find items of interest during your days there. Plus, with less moving from place to place, especially as your trip winds down, you get a better feel for the area, are more relaxed and can take more in. Moving from one B&B to another night after night is hard enough on just 2 people. I can't imagine what it must be like for 8 or more of you! Save Dingle as a day trip - it's not you doing the driving after all!

Have a wonderful time!


waffle18 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 111
hi chip:

letterkenny is indeed a good base for your the northerly part of your trip to ireland. (i live here).

a b&b i would recommend in letterkenny is the townview b&b. i have no connection with the people who own it but i have heard excellent reports on their hospitality and house and it is within easy walking distance of the town. you can check them out at www.littleireland.ie/townview/ if you wish to taxi there after dinner, the taxi will only be around five euro.

restaurants we like here:

the lemon tree (in the main street). homemade food with good selection of starters, mains, and desserts. they also do an early bird menu from around 6 to 7.30 - same food just less expensive.

the oak tree (port road)
sister restaurant of the lemon tree. same type of homemade food. great service. difference is they have a full restaurant licence so you can order beers/spirits etc. as opposed to just wine and soft drinks. btw, they run their early bird menu until 10.30. they are also straight across from the theatre which is handy for pre or post theatre eating. they do lunch too.

sienna (main street)
all day food up unitl around 9.30pm. great evening menu and lovely surroundings. full licence.
they also do sort of tappas type food if you just feel like a nibbling with a drink or wine.

castlegrove house (outside the town - about a 20 euro return trip by taxi).
old country house. very comfortable and warm. beautiful food. very relaxing but a little more expensive (though not too bad). full licence.

bakersville. the best for coffee and cakes during the day. they also do filled rolls, quiche, etc. all their cakes, rolls, breads, etc. homemade freshly each morning. very inexpenisve and very popular. closes around 6pm but beware - so popular they often sell out of their yummy cakes etc. by early afternoon! you will become addicted to their food!


tir na nog (t cheer na noge) - fairly new bar just on the outskirts of letterkenny. really pretty little restored gate house. lovely interior and friendly staff. they have trad. music there regularly and you can check locally what is on.

mcginley's bar (main street).
probably the most popular bar in letterkenny. very well known. live music most nights. varied clientelle from 'suits' to students. good atmosphere for all ages (though the rock night might be too loud for some

welovedonegal is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 111
now to travel around donegal and surrounds.

you can easily do derry from letterkenny. it is only about a 20 minute drive from the town (traffic permitting!). you can walk the walls (the oldest intact city walls in ireland). this is free.

you can look at the murals which are of interest to many. there are many small museums and information centres for you to read and view artefacts from 'the troubles'. i will get you a link for what to see and do in derry if you want.

from letterkenny you can easily do the ulster american folk park just outside of omagh (about one hours drive). very interesting and well worth a visit. from there on the same day you could take in the giant's causeway too. driving up the antrim coast to get there. of course if you were up early enough you could do a quick trip around derry, do the folk park and the giant's causway in one day possibly taking in the tour of the bushmills distillery. it is doable - i know, coz we took our greek friends on this round trip in one day and we were still able to go out to dinner that night back in letterkenny!

there are many places to see in donegal. slieve league (the highest drivable sea cliffs in europe). absolutely spectacular, breathtaking.

from there to killybegs. a little seaside fishing village where you could have lunch in one of the many little cafes or restaurants. (it is here sarah jessica parker holidays).

killybegs to donegal town is only a short drive of about 20 minutes. but you could stop off on the way to go off on side roads to see the likes of inver which is a teeny little village but with very pretty beaches and views (some of the pics of which are on my website). you could also drive down to st.john's point after dunkineely. almost 360 degree views of the sea. lovely.

donegal town is a busy little tourist town with plenty to see and do (boat trip, the castle (get a heritage ticket if you wish to visit heritage sites in ireland - for discounts on entry). from there you can drive through barnesmore gap. huge hills rising either side of the road.

then into ballybofey - a really busy little town which is only about 20 minutes drive back into letterkenny.

a drive from letterkenny to innishowen peninsula is worth the trip with lots of pretty villages and amazing views on the way.

the rosguile penisula is another worthwhile day trip. drive from letterkenny is only about 30 mins to the tip and you can take a drive around the 'atlantic drive' with it's spectacular views from the road high above the sea. stop off at the thatch pub on the atlantic drive for lunch and a heat infront of the fire.

glenveigh national park is well worth a visit and if you were doing this then you could also travel on into the gaeltacht area of donegal. lots of fab scenery and it is here enya was born and her family still live. you can visit her father's bar (now his son's), leo's tavern which is packed with memorabilia of his famous daughter and other members of his and his wife's family, the band clannad.

chip there is so much to see and do in donegal and i have only touched the tip of the iceberg here. hope it is of some help though.
welovedonegal is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 02:28 AM
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Posts: 524
Thank you for the information.
We have already made our reservations.
Maybe you can comment on our choices. Both of the places we chose have restaurants and pubs, not sure about entertainment. would love to hear a personal account of quality... wondering if we should head into Letterkenny for dinner and pubs/music? same for stay in Dunkineely...just wondering if other interesting pubs in that area that you could suggest?

Overnight in Castle Murray House (Dunkineely)
see Glencolumbkille
See the Slieve League sea cliffs
Glenveagh National Park
Overnight in Silver Tassie Hotel (outside of Letterkenny)
Morning guided walking tour of the walls of Derry with local guide & historian
Visit Dunluce Castle
Visit the Giant's Causeway
Return to Letterkenny
Overnight in Silver Tassie Hotel

chip is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 111
chip: castlemurray is just lovely. it is an old farmhouse converted into rooms and restaurant and has a great name. haven't been in it for a few years but the food is still meant to be brilliant. people drive all the way from derry to eat there. we are actually just in the middle of renovating a holiday home for rental in the village of dunkineely. ostensibly to rent as far as husband goes, secretly to go there for weekends myself with husband and family. cunning ploy i'm sure you'll agree. it is a really nice area. you should drive into the village of dunkineely after dinner at castlemurray. there are lots of little pubs there. the one next to the house we are renovating. can't remember what it is called but if you go along the main street in dunkineely it is painted bright orange and it has a boat sitting outside usually. it is so quaint with low ceilings and the people, staff and customers, are so very friendly. (our house is the two storey cream painted old house beside it). i have just found a site you should check out about that area www.holidayhound.com/tours/dunkineely.htm

when you are heading to letterkenny after your stay in dunkineely, you should watch for a signpost (right turn) saying INVER. it is worth a drive down the lane to see this tiny tiny village. i just love it. there is a derelict church with a very old graveyard to explore (if you are into that sort of thing, which i am). the beach there is beautiful.

stop off too in donegal town. you could have have lunch in a little italian cafe there (la bella donna) which is just on your right after the brigde into donegal town. the food is very nice. you can visit donegal castle, the old railway, you can even take a boat trip around donegal bay if you wish.

btw, for all of your trip be sure to have your camera to hand as there are so many pretty sights on your journey to letterkenny.

after donegal town you will pass through barnesmore gap. just before the gap you will see a sign post saying 'biddys of barnes'. this is a very famous pub which you might like to stop off in for a coke or a coffee and a picture opportunity.

next you will come to ballybofey. this is a very busy little town. mcelhineys stores there attract customers from all over ireland. it is jammed packed with clothes, cosmetics, houseware, etc. worth a little nip into if you feel like it.

the letterkenny. you will turn off to the right at the second roundabout to head out to the silver tassie.

will post now incase i have written too much then continue ...
welovedonegal is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 111

silver tassie. i haven't eaten there for some years. check out the menu but if you want to go for something a bit better, go to castlegrove house which is only a little distance from the silver tassie. driving distance i stress not walking. it would take you but a few minutes in the car. the food there is excellent and you will love the old house and the warmth and comfort there. it is just a bit more special than hotel food. i think the accommodation is ok in the silver tassie. i was in one of the bedrooms some years ago at my husband's niece's wedding and it was much the same as any hotel bedroom.

regarding the places you want to visit.

all those you mention are worth a visit. slieve league is amazing but you need to take care - if the weather is any way stormy i would not bother. it is very high up and really scary. but on a good day it is amazing. if you are there, look down into the water and you will see the 'giant's chair' a rock formation sticking out of the water which looks like a huge chair. btw, don't bother doing one man's walk there. it is way too dangerous and as the name suggests, the path is only fit for one man. you can drive almost to the top and when you reach the gate, just get out and open it drive through, but have someone shut it after you and then drive on to the next car park. from there it is but a little walk to the top.

northern ireland sights.

you could easily include a trip to the ulster american folk park just outside omagh on your trip to the giant's causeway. it is wonderful - lots of little houses from days gone by. there is a bit where you get on a coffin ship and get off the other side in america with houses from old america there. you can read about it on www.folkpark.com

we took visiting greek friends on a day trip to include derry, ulster american folk park, the giant's causeway and the antrim coast and bushmills distillery and still made it back to letterkenny in time to eat out for dinner so it is very doable. i haven't been to dunluce castle so i can't comment on that and maybe someone else here can.

do you know the story of the giant's causeway? if you have younger folk it might be of interest to them. i will post it if you are interested.

welovedonegal is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 06:31 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 524
just wanted to thank you for the great info on Donegal...can't wait to explore!
chip is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 111
you're welcome chip. have great holiday in ireland.
welovedonegal is offline  

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