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Back from Ireland

Old Oct 5th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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Back from Ireland

I just got back from a 9 day Ireland Getaway. It was beyond all of my expectations. I would like to thank all the good people here that gave me such sound advice. A lot of the decisions I made were made as a result of what I have read on this forum.

Hereís a brief breakdown of the trip along with some insight and recommendations.
Flew into Shannon on Aer Lingus. Good flight and relatively good service. Rented a car from Dan Dooley which went extremely smooth. I was off the plane and in a car in less than an hour. Drove straight to Dingle which I thought was a piece of cake. This was the first time I had driven outside of the United States; however, it didnít take nearly as long as I expected to get acclimated to the driving conditions. As a matter of fact, I very much enjoyed driving in Ireland. I found while touring the western region, one can spend a majority of his or her driving time following the coast. I would highly recommend this as the scenery is amazing. The two best choices I made were to rent a car and stay at the B&Bs.

The Milestone in Dingle was wonderful. Spent two night there. Michael and Barbra were, with out a doubt, the most gracious host and hostess I encountered during my stay. Had some wonderful meals in this town and the scenery around the peninsula was beyond description. It was one of the most beautiful drives I had ever experienced.

Thereafter we spend two nights in Doolin. I liked this town very much. I am a huge fan of music and the musicians I heard in this town were fantastic. I hung out McDermotts for the most part as it seemed to be the local hangout. The food was good in this town and our accommodations were fine as well. The Seascape was our B&B. Doolin was a great hub for touring the Cliffs of Mohr and the Burren.

The remainder of our trip took place in Galway. What a great city. It is extremely pedestrian friendly, the food was excellent, and our B&B, St. Judes in lower Salthill, was like a four star hotel. One of the family members had just graduated from Culinary School; therefore, the food was very good. We drove north and spent a day in the Connemara region. I would highly recommend this. One of the only regrets I had was not spending a night or two in Clifden, which is in this region.

Sorry about the long post. I could write for days illustrating some of the wonderful people I met along with the many experiences I will remember for years to come. Ireland is truly a wonderful Country.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 09:33 AM
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jshirema, oh, please do go on for days illustrating the wonderful people you met and your experiences! Loved your trip report and thank you for breaking it up into paragraphs which are easy on the eye.

We're taking our first family trip to Ireland next June and I want to book our accomodations very soon (and airfare).

Good to know you liked Air Lingeus, they have a direct flight from Los Angeles to Ireland. Did you fly from the USA, and which coast did you fly from? I was wondering how long you had been flying when you hopped in the car and drove right to Dingle! How long did it take you to drive from Shannon airport to Dingle?

We're looking forward to Dingle, and County Clare (Burren, Cliffs of Moher) and also Dublin, Newgrange, and the Belfast area (where my grandmother was born and raised.

I have a billion questions, I could go on and on for days! What are your fondest memories of Ireland, and your biggest disappointment? What would you change if you could do it over?

I would love to hear more about the Dingle area; we're spending 3 nights there. Also more about County Clare. Still decising whether to stay in Doolin, Ballyvaughan, Lisdoonvarna, or Corofin.

Thanks!


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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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We flew from Chicago to Ireland. We landed in Dublin; many passengers deplaned, thereafter, we flew onto Shannon. The flight from Chicago to Dublin was about 6.5 hours. The flight from Dublin to Shannon was literally less than 30 minutes

The drive to Dingle was approx. four hours. Iím sure it can be done in less time; however, it will take some time getting used to the driving differences. I thought it took very little time feeling comfortable driving on the left side of the road, and as mentioned, I live in the United States and have never driven in another Country. Simply repeat to yourself, Left and Center (Car on the left side of the road, Driver in the Center of the road). The irregularities in road widths is what required acute senses in my opinion

I printed directions from the Ireland AA sight, which Iím sure were very accurate; however, if your going to Dingle from Shannon, do this: From the Shannon Airport, follow signs to Limerick, when in Limerick, follow signs to Tralee, from Tralee, follow signs to Dingle. I donít mean to oversimplify things, but it was literally that easy. I thought the signage was much better than what I expected.

Roundabouts were not a problem. The exits are well marked before you enter them and if you miss your exit, donít panic, simply proceed around again until you reach the desired exit. Hereís what I did, and I donít think I caused any confusion. After entering the roundabout, if I was going to take the 1st or 2nd exit, I stayed in the outside lane. Anything after that, I got in the inside lane until I was ready to exit.

I have spent some time discussing the driving conditions, because I have heard some horror stories regarding driving in Ireland. All things considered, I thought it was fine and not nearly as nerve racking as I expected. Moreover, I canít imagine touring the country in any other fashion.

My fondest memories include some of the wonderful conservations I had with the Irish folk, particularly in the pubs. I found the people to be unpretentious, unassuming and an absolute pleasure to be around. These people are the salt of the earth. Other great memories include our stay in Dingle. 3 days there is a great idea. It is a wonderful town. Definitely take Slea Head Drive around the Peninsula. Have a meal at James Ashes on Main Street. You wonít be disappointed. On the way out of town, take Conner Pass. Youíll see the signs. It was an unbelievable drive and not quite as challenging as I had read.

The music and people in Doolin were wonderful. Stay on the side of town that is close to McDermotts and Mcganns. This was not as crowded and touristy as the area that was close to the Gus Oí Connors pub. I drove through Lisdoonvarna, and although it was a very nice little town, Iím glad I chose Doolin. But again, Iím a huge music fan. Doolin probably isnít for everyone but it was a nice fit for me

Galway was fantastic as well. In short, no disappointments. Everything was grand. Actually I do have one regret: I stayed at the Great Southern Hotel which is literally on the same ground as the Shannon Airport for my last nightís stay. I did this to decompress before my flight home. Although it was a fine place to stay, it did not have the same warm feeling as the B&Bs.

Have a wonderful trip, if you have any more questions donít hesitate to ask. . I donít know if I mentioned this in my original post, but this was my first trip to Ireland and I feel like I lucked out on my itinerary. As mentioned, one can get some excellent advice on this forum.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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jshirema, thanks for taking the time to give me such a nice reply, very generous of you. Good driving advice.

Very useful bit of advice to stay on the less crowded side of Doolin. It's good to know which side is less crowded and touristy. Ahhh, I have to decide soon which village to stay in for County Clare, I want to stay in them all! Doolin, Lisdoonvarna, Corofin, Ballyvaughan, Kinvara...how did you ever decide? Sounds like you were happy with your decision.

I'm very interested to hear why you preferred Doolin over Lisdoonvarna, since you saw both.

My challenge is to choose a B&B which is close enough to the Burren for convenient walks; which is near enough to fun musical pubs; and which is warm and personal with a bit of Irish.

What are the best areas to stay in Dingle or on the dingle peninsula, in your opinion? Would like a quiet B&B, family-run, conveniently located for musical pubs and nice walks. (Quiet at night is what I meant...we like to sleep after midnight on vacation!)

Thousands more questions but I'll stifle myself. Thanks very much.

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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 05:43 AM
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I chose Doolin because it is well know for showcasing excellent musicians who play traditional Irish music. Although the towns reputation has dwindled a bit regarding the music, when I was there it was excellent. The high season was almost over and according to some locals, the musicians were back to playing the traditional stuff. Iím sure live music is provided on the weekend; however, this time of year, if you were in Doolin during the week, you may have trouble finding music. As mentioned, there are only 3 pubs.

Lisdoonvarna looked like more of an Irish town to me, which is a good thing. Doolin, on the other hand, was very small and had a very small town feel to me. The buildings, such as the B&Bs and Pubs were not connected. Iím sure Lisdoonvarna would be a fine place to stay. I was there for only a couple hours. Enough time for a snack and a pint. The two towns are only about an 8 to 10 minute drive from one another.

Touring the Burren would, in my opinion, entail driving regardless of what location you chose.

In Dingle, the Milestone B&B was fantastic. Michael and Barbra were extremely helpful friendly and accommodating. The breakfast was the best we had while in Ireland. This was about a 20 minute walk from the town center. However, if you are driving, there is a very large parking lot by the pier that is free after 6:00 PM. This was a very quiet, very friendly B&B. I highly recommend it.
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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Hi jshirema:

Sounds like you had a great trip. If you're like me, you start planning your next one when you board the plane for the ride home.

I too, like Doolin probably more than most folks. I think it's a good jumping off spot for lots of things in Co. Clare. I've never stayed in some of the other western villages there so maybe I would like them even more. Of course, Doolin in the high season might be unbearable.

You are right that McGanns and McDermotts are a good choice. In the off season (I've been there in November a couple of times) O'Connors is good and more likely to actually have music. If you are planning a next trip, consider Westport for music. This was probably the best music I've heard while there. Really fine players. That said, I heard an excellent session (that really was a session)in Ballycastle in NI this last time.

Melissa: Aer Lingus is fine, though give yourself PLENTY of time if you are leaving from Dublin. The operation there was incredibly slow. I would arrive 3 hours prior.

Bill
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Old Oct 6th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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jshirema: Thanks for the great info! Your comments have given me a better understanding of the towns near the Burren. Also you might have solved one of my problems. I haven't been able to find a B&B or hotel that is within walking distance of the Burren (areas a biologist would prefer). Maybe that's because there aren't any! (You mentioned you would probably have to drive to The burren no matter where you stayed.

I'll also check out the Milestone B&B in Dingle. Thanks.

Wojazz3, as always you are full of useful info. Appreciate it. Westport you say...having an insatiable curiosity, I must now look that one up, as I don't recall what I read about Westport nor where it is. Glad you enjoyed great music in Westport!
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 12:33 AM
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Melissa-I noticed on one of your replies that you questioned flying out of LAX...I am flying LAX to Dublin...do you live in the LA Area?

This being my 2nd trip to Ireland this year, my husband and I flew LAX-Dublin-Shannon in April on Aer Lingus.

We were very pleased with the entire flight...and, the food was really good.
I like that that FA are from Ireland.
And, its an Airbus with tv screens at each seat.

I can't believe I leave in about a week-
on the 16th!

Shadow
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 02:11 AM
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Shadow, I'm in southern cal so will have to get a flight to L.A. and then on to Europe from there. I am ver nervous about Air Lingus (spelling?) as I've heard many problems with people not getting the seats they want. I have a problem with needing an aisle seat or I panic...claustrophobia. Plus, I get up often, as doc says to stretch my legs on the plane plus there are the necessary calls of nature...I am NOT a camel like hubby. Anyway I heard air lingeus doesn't assign seats in advance, they assign them when you arrive? Plus many people haven't gotten the seats they wanted and families have been separated? It took me 2 years to get over some serious fear of flying. I am thinking I could take Lufthansa maybe but that would make it longer, it wouldn't be direct?
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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Melissa, FWIW, my husband and I have flown Aer Lingus to Ireland 4 times and have always had assigned seats in advance. Twice we booked with travel agents and twice direct with Aer Lingus.
We have always sat together.
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Melissa contact the aerlingus office or go on their web www.aerlingus.com or tell your travel agent. They will give you the seat you want and if you mention any problems you may have they will go out of their way to assist you. the reason people cannot get seats together is that they do not prebook them. My daughter was a very nervous flyer and told the airline and they recorded the fact on their computer. Whenever she had to fly after that they took really good care of her and now she has no problem.
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 10:34 PM
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Melissa-its funny that I meant to say "you MENTIONED flying out of LAX".
Anyway, I am flying LAX to Dublin a week from Sunday (Oct. 16). I was very happy with this flight(Aer Lingus) (same exact flight) in April/May timeframe. My husband and I sat together...we booked our seats when we booked the flight....I booked the flight online but then called Aer Lingus for seat assign. I did the same for the Oct. 16 flight-with my 2 friends coming with me.

I like an aisle too and I HATE flying!
I LOVE airports and the hustle and bustle of it, I love packing and planning the trip. I even like airline food (I've really never had a bad meal on a plane and I've flown alot!).

But, with my mother being 82 and living in Ireland I need to make the trip more now.....I took Ambien on my last flight and it was great-I slept most of the way. In the future I may have to make the trip alone (if my husband or friends) can't come with me....and I dread that...I'd be fine on my own once I get to Ireland (as long as I can stay left on my own!!) but its the flying alone I would hate. Oh well....so far, I always find friends wanting to go!

I live in the Mojave Desert and its a 3 hour drive to the airport.

I am really excited about Dublin this time....hopefully having more time to wander around than I've had in the past.

So, call Aer Lingus to get your seats.
Shadow

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Old Oct 8th, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Thanks everybody! It sounds like the trick is to be sure and pre-book the seats. Usually I book my flights and seats on-line, but in this case, I might ask my favorite AAA travel agent to do it. She is always reassuring and gives me good honest tips. I prefer to book trips on my own, but occasionally use her service for various reasons.

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Old Oct 8th, 2005, 08:47 PM
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jshirema - thanks for the report -and wonderful that you wrote so promptly - I still haven't written my report or my thanks to everyone who helped me plan for our July trip!. Melissa5 -AerLingus was fine - we had family members flying out of both LAX and ORD - individual seat screens only from LAX - food very good, service good, seats assigned in advance for all those who booked directly with Aer Lingus (online or phone) I liked using their website, and price is less, but had excellent customer service on the phone for my many questions. The two who used a web travel booking service were only able to request a seat assignment 24 hours in advance and needless to say, their seats were not choice. There does seem to be an advantage in booking direct - both price and service - so you might want to consider booking yourself, as you say you usually do. Have a great time, planning and traveling.
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 09:08 PM
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GmaMcD: Thanks for the info about flying Aer Lingus. Are you the one who was asking about music/dance shows in Ireland? If you have completed your trip, can you tell us which show you ended up seeing, and were you pleased with it? We want to see an Irish dance show, hopefully not too touristy, and not sure which one to pick. (Bunratty, Dunguaire castle, Bru Boru, Ragus, and there's one in Dun Laughaire or Monkstown...)

Thanks!
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 03:51 PM
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Back to the Doolin info...We'll be staying in Doolin at Cullinan's. Is that on the side of town near McDermots or McGanns? Thanks--and Dawn, if you read this, are you ready to make plans to meet at one of the pubs?? Leaving in 9 days, and can't wait........I'll be posting soon for last minute advice.. Thanks. Pam
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:17 AM
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Hi jshirema,
thanks for the trip report, only 5 1/2 more days until DH and I head out and I love hearing how much you enjoyed your trip. Very happy to hear about Dan Dooly and the driving as DH is so NOT looking forward to all of the driving I have planned the first week!

Melissa5...I am flying Air Lingus out of LAX and my paperwork shows assigned seats.

Shadow...I too will be on this Sunday's flight, seats 21A & 21C. DH has this thing about getting to airports way, way, way ahead of time so if you see a couple that looks as if they have been camping at LAX all weekend waiting, that's us, otherwise I'll keep my eyes peeled for the top secret Fodorite signal. Have a great trip!

Pam...I think near McGann's (and their well received stew). Would love to meet you, but how? We will be coming from Dingle via Tarbert Ferry and Cliffs of Moher so I have no idea what time we will get to Cullinan's. Maybe the first one there can leave a message for the other as to where? Maybe a better way?

Astonishing news!...I am very proud to say that I have everything fitting into a 19" rolling bag and will just be carrying onto the plane a large hobo purse, camera, jacket and scarf (with old pillowcase to roll jacket/scarf into pillow for flight). I didn't think I could do it! Best tip I found was using baggies for everything. The two-gallon ones are perfect for tops and pants.

Sorry for the long post, (see what happens when I don't visit for a few days).

Dawn
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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Dawn-this is too funny...I actually emailed you last night!!!! I emailed you using your address from Pat Preston's (Ireland expert) website!!! (the email came back-you must have changed addresses) What a coincidence!!
I am going with 2 girlfriends this trip (we will be checking in at 2:00-I've done this flight before and they do not open until then but you can line up earlier). Then, we'll have lunch (we are coming from the Mojave Desert and I will be driving 3 hours to get there) and then go to the boarding area.
So, I'll keep a lookout for you....too funny!! We are seats 16 EF&G.
And, we are coming back on Sun. Oct. 30 and I think (from the Ireland Expert post) you are on that flight as well...also out of Dublin at 11:45?
This will be fun!!
This is my 9th trip to Ireland and I get excited every time!!!
Shadow
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 12:13 AM
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Hi Shadow!
Looks like we'll be on the same flight both ways! If you'll be in Doolin on the 22nd, give a shout as PamC and I have a mini GTG going on.

DH is just shaking his head at me,with the "I can't believe it" look. He used to say that I know no strangers, lines in Disney, movies, the store, beaches in Kauai, other flights, handing out Shout wipes in the ladies room...now his new thing is that I am meeting people before we even go...LOL (I live to just drive him crazy!)

Thanks for the info about check in. We were planning on catching the flyaway from VanNuys at Noon but I hope to push that forward to 1pm.

Used to live in Lancaster so I know what you mean about the drive. At least it's Sunday both coming and going so no workday traffic and all of the weekend escape people will be heading toward LA as you head home!

See you at LAX!
Dawn
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Dawn-we won't be in Doolin this trip...I was there in April...cute little town. We went to 2 of the pubs-we stayed at SeaView House. That would have been fun though!!
Mainly going to see my mom this trip who lives in Co. Roscommon, but since my 2 friends are coming with me (for moral support!) we'll have some fun in Dublin first and then come back for a few more days (and maybe the train to Belfast for the day) before we come home.
I live 1 1/2 hours NE of Lancaster!
Yeah, see you Sunday!
Shadow
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