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madhatt Jun 17th, 2005 11:08 PM

7 days in Ireland
 
We are back from a trip to Ireland June 3 – 10. Landed in Shannon, 2 days each in Doolin, Dingle, and Kenmare with the last night in Bunratty so at to be close to Shannon.

Highlights: the drive around the coastlines at Doolin, Dingle and the Ring of Kerry. We did part of the Ring of Berra and it is not travelled by buses and worthwile alternative to the Ring of Kerry. The beach at Inch (the Strand of Inch) was quite spectacular after the tide rolls out. Kenmare was a nice small town. The gardens on Garinish Island off Glengariff time permitting. Shopping: Doolin Crafts; by far the best store we visited for sweaters and Irish produced fare. Breakfasts were always great.

Difficulties: Rain was a real bore and dampener the first few days. The driving is slow and difficult; but not intimidating for me as long as you were alert and careful. Don’t pay attention to the speed limits: you will almost never be able to drive at 100 km/h (60 mph).

Surprises: After taking the ferry across the Shannon River, we stopped by Glin Castle. While they now rent rooms (280 euros and up), and is only open to residents, the gentleman was gracious enough to give us a tour of the main public rooms downstairs and a history of the castle. It is open for tours by appointment only.

Disappointments: the B&Bs. Don’t let the term mislead you. They have become an industry. In Doolin we stayed at the Daly’s which was recommended by several people on this chat. While Susan is an extremely helpful and nice person, the rooms resemble motel rooms with none of the “old world charm”. Doolin, a small village has 43 B&Bs! You can see these homes/structures going up almost everywhere we drove. The one at Bunratty (Bunratty Meadows) had no common sitting area, no chairs in your room, and was brand new. One exception was the Riverview in Kenmare. A very nice host and a quiet room overlooking trees and a garden.

Recommendations: Go see the Cliffs of Moher in the late evening as recommended on this chat. We went at about 8:45 pm. Hardly anyone there. Dinner at The Lime Tree in Kenmare: a little pricey but very good. The music at McGann’s and eating at O’Connor’s in Doolin.

katya_NY Jun 18th, 2005 03:18 AM

madhatt- thanks for the suggestions! We will be in the same areas in August, and we were thinking the same thing about the Ring of Beara/Kerry.

Thanks!

panhandle Jun 18th, 2005 06:15 AM

Sounds like a good trip...I cant wait to go back again!
On the B&B issue I was a little suprised as to what a B&B was when we arrived but by the time I left my ideas changed.
I had always stayed in Hotels before my trip to Ireland.They are very spacious compared to most of the rooms we stayed in on our trip but their is no sense of home to these places. With a good B&B (I would include Daly's) you should feel like your staying at your aunts house. Chatting with fellow travelers at breakfast,getting suggestions from the "aunt" on things to do for the day,homemade quilts, and graciously accepting that afternoon cup of tea which the "aunt" insisted upon are all part of what makes a B&B great. That doesnt mean they are all great but we actually skipped heading south to Dingle and the Ring of Kerry to return to a B&B in Ballyshannon near Donegal for two reasons....We missed our favorite pub and our favorite "aunt" oh well we will see the Ring another trip I guess!
Was Celtic

IrishEyes Jun 18th, 2005 01:31 PM

madhatt,

A word about B&Bs in Ireland. You are staying in someone's home. B&Bs are an excellent deal: clean, comfortable rooms, a hearty breakfast, friendly & helpful hosts. At the price you are paying (about 35 euro per person including a full Irish breakfast) you can hardly expect “old world charm”.

The B&Bs in the US are different and perhaps you are used to them. They are full of antiques and character but you will also pay much, much more to stay at a B&B in the USA. After all, someone must pay for the historic building & upkeep, antique furnishings, fresh flowers, luxury linens, experienced staff, chef, turn-down service, pillow mint, spa bathroom, gourmet breakfast and charming atmosphere. When I visited Maine, spending ONE night in a B&B cost about as much as half my monthly mortgage payment.

You should not have been staying at B&Bs but at manor houses, castles and "houses of character". There are many all over Ireland but you will pay for them. They aren't cheap. See the following links and check the prices:

http://www.hidden-ireland.com/
http://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/
http://www.cmvhotels.com/
http://www.irishluxury.com/

There are a few exceptions scattered around Ireland of fabulous B&Bs but you need to know how to find them. A good guidebook specializing in them might help. There are various websites you could have visited if you had the time for proper research. You could have also asked for specific recommendations listing your requirements for such establishments.

Perhaps more research and questions would have given you the "old world charm" you were looking for.

BTW, from your pre-trip posting about accommodations in Ireland it seems that you were looking for cheap as opposed to "old world charm". You get what you pay for.

madhatt Jun 22nd, 2005 10:42 PM

IrishEyes,
Thanks for your comments. You are assuming we have never been to a B&B! We have done our share of B&Bs in Scotland & US (breakfast included).

IrishEyes Jun 23rd, 2005 01:50 PM

madhatt,

I WAS assuming that you had stayed at B&Bs before -- just not Irish B&Bs! I know of some that exude "old world charm" but they are a small percentage of the total number available in Ireland. Since it is like finding a needle in a haystack you would need specific recommendations or a guidebook with good descriptions of B&Bs so that you could choose the places that meet your requirements.

On the other hand, paying more money at more upscale manor houses would have assured you of your "old world charm" experience.

If you had specifically asked about Bunratty Meadows I could have told you in advance that they had no sitting room or chairs in the rooms. Been there, done that!


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