"Canned" Tours of Ireland

Oct 3rd, 2001, 06:18 AM
  #1  
Bob Brown
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"Canned" Tours of Ireland

If you have taken a guided tour through Ireland (only Ireland) please tell me about it. We are in the early planning stages of a trip to Ireland. The issue always is for me one of trying to freelance it as opposed to taking a package tour. My preference is freelancing, but Ireland is one nation I have never visited.

Therefore any suggestions about package tours will be welcome. I want to investigate that option before I decided against it and follow my usual freelancing inclination.
 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 08:31 AM
  #2  
frank
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Bob...Why would you want to take a guided tour when Ireland is so easy to see on your own? There are very good maps available and driving is not a problem. We (in our 60s) did a fly-drive package last year and loved every minute of it. We booked thru Kenny Tours & everything was more than satisfactory. Think about it!
 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 10:03 AM
  #3  
Bob Brown
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Let me add as amplification to my original question that my wife and I have freelanced 4 trips to Europe.
We took two day trips last year.
One tour, from Paris to Veau le Vicomte and Fontainebleau, was well worth it.
The other one was a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg that was a royal ripoff.
I felt like I had been "had". Fortunately, it only lasted half a day, but in retrospect it was virtually worthless.
I am trying to weigh all aspects of a trip to Ireland. Nothing has been included or excluded.

 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 11:24 AM
  #4  
travellyn
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Dear Bob,

I took a "canned tour" to Ireland 5 years ago and hated it. I can't remember the name of the tour company, but they arrange tours for travelling musical groups like church choirs.

I think that this was a particularly bad tour operator, because my 60ish parents later took a very good tour of Ireland with a different company. This was my first experience outside of independent travel.

I think that driving ourselves around Ireland would have been much nicer. We wouldn't have gone to the "classic" tourist spots like Blarney Castle and could have spent time in the countryside or wherever we really enjoyed.

I'd like to go back sometime, and I think 10 days would be nice. I'd take the Michelin green guide and read several other guide books beforehand. We would probably stay exclusively in B&Bs.

We have been told by Irish friends that public transportation outside of city centers is quite poor, and that renting a car is the best choice for independent travel.

travellyn
 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 01:29 PM
  #5  
Cathy
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Bob,

If you don't mind hiring a rental car and tackling the Irish roads then a do it yourself tour is the best option for you - you could pre-book all your B&Bs etc (do a search on this forum lots and lots of good recommendations for B&Bs). The alternative option is a guided tour with a reputable tour for example CIE tours are excellent - Irish owned and operated and years in the business. See their web site at www.cie.ie.

You should also contact the Irish Tourist Board at www.ireland.travel.ie and get them to send you all their brochures etc.

You can if you ant buy a package including flight, car hire and vocuhers for B&Bs and do it yourself. However the vouchers restrict you to where you can stay as all B&Bs don't accept them and anyway there are great deals to be had at the moment.

For further information on Ireland check the following web sites:
Useful Web Sites for Ireland holidays - Ireland and its regions
www.ireland.travel.ie
Ireland West : www.westireland.travel.ie
www.connemarra-tourism.org/
www.connemara-tourism.org/index.html
www.connemara.net/
East Coast/Midlands : www.midlandseastireland.travel.ie
Cork - Kerry : www.cork-kerry.travel.ie
www.dingle-peninsula.ie/
Ireland South East : www.southeastireland.travel.ie
Ireland North West : www.northwestireland.travel.ie
Dublin : www.visitdublin.com
The Shannon Region : www.shannonireland.travel.ie

General Information on getting around and accessing main sites
www.ireland.com
www.heritageireland.com - Great information on heritage cards which allow access to most sites.
www.cie.ie – CIE is the umbrella company for public transport and has links to the bus and rail schedules and Dublin Bus schedules. CIE tours also has specialized section on tours to main attractions
www.aircoach.ie – This is a non-stop bus link to and from the airport to the major hotels.
www.ryanair.ie – No frills cheap airline has fares as low as 9 Irish pounds to airports in the UK & Europe.
www.tourismresources.ie

Accommodation & Restaurants
www.ireland.travel.ie
www.townandcountry.ie
www.irishfarmholidays.com
www.hidden-ireland.com,
www.jurys.com
www.templehouse.ie (Sligo – NorthWest)
www.beourguest.ie
www.family-homes.ie
www.dublinn.com (Kilronan House)
www.castlesireland.com/
www.gsh.ie
www.irelands-blue-book.ie/
www.ballymaloe.com (In Cork – the southern region – it has an excellent restaurant)
www.irishcountryhousesandcastles.com

Passage Graves/Ancient Tombs
www.loughcrew.com,
www.meathtourism.ie
Driving in Ireland
www.roadwatch.ie
Walking Tours
http://www.irishwaymarkedways.ie
Conferences
http://www.conference-ireland.ie or http://www.incentive-ireland.ie
English Tours
http://www.languagelearning.travel.ie
Golf
http://www.golf.travel.ie
Fishing
http://www.cfb.ie

Hope this helps and post if you need more,

Cathy

 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 02:11 PM
  #6  
Angela
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Wow, what a bashing of organized tours! I have done both and enjoyed both. The trick if you plan to do a tour group is to thoroughly investigate it so you won't be surprised or unhappy. Stay away from budget and moderate groups such as Trafalgar, Globus, Insight. Usually their hotels are way outside city centers. Pick a better group which stays at hotels right in town where you can wander off on your own. also the more upscale groups have several local restaurant dinners in the city rather than a meal at your hotel every night that is nothing like the culture of the country. Another tip I have is to pick a tour with several 2 night or more stays in each place. Those 10 city in 7 day tours are a whirlwind pace where you never see anything and you are up early and on the bus early each morning.

I for one prefer doing it myself when I am going to one or 2 locations. ie a week long trip to London with a couple of day trips or a week split between Paris and Nice. However when traveling to several differnt cities in one trip, I prefer a tour so that neither my husband nor I has to do the driving. We realax and nap or whatever on the bus and are refreshed when we get somewhere. (we are not old by the way, we are mid 30s) I mhave taken 2 tour packages and been pleased with both Collette Vacations tour visiting Florence, Venice, Lake Maggiore, Rome, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast in 14 days. AN ONE TOUR YOU WOULD BE VERY INTERESTED IN CIE TOURS TO IRELAND!!!! We took the Cie Irish Heritage package which was rather short, 9 or 10 days and toured shannon then south aroung country to Dublin staying 2 nights at each location. I HIGHLY reccommend it. Another plus with a group is that you go to the head of the line and have reserved seating at oturist attractions! This is a more expensive company but worth it. I have seen many good reports on this board of CIE go to www.cietours.com
 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 02:21 PM
  #7  
Bob Brown
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Thanks for all the good info. I think it is the "wrong side" driving that has me personally concerned. That is why I am looking into the "canned tour" aspects of the trip.
A third possibility (drive it yourself or canned tour being the first two) is to take train/bus trips from Dublin.
Anyone have a feel for the punctuality of Irish trains? I have heard that schedules do not mean much, but I have no firsthand information. Any comments on that issue??

The drive it yourself possibility appeals to me. We just returned from Western Austria where we had a car and drove all over the place. We rented an apartment in Längenfeld in the Otz Valley that was really nice and very comfortable. (Haus Michael is the name of the establishment; it is run by the Schöpf family.) We used that as a base of operations for almost a week. If anyone is interesting in seeing the South Tyrol on both the Austrian and Italian sides, I would recommend Haus Michael in a heartbeat, or less.
It was a tremendous bargain.
 
Oct 3rd, 2001, 02:27 PM
  #8  
laszlo
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Bob, I too was petrified about driving in Ireland, particularly on the left side of the road. My fears were completely unfounded, although leaving Shannon airport driving on the left for the first time did make my head spin for the first few minutes. After half an hour, I felt like an old hand. Best of all, we could stop whenever we wanted and interact with the locals on a one-on-one basis and not from the perspective of an entire bus load full of people. I vote for the car. You can drive as slow as you wish (I'm certainly no speed demon) and often times I pulled over to let others go past.
 
Oct 4th, 2001, 06:15 AM
  #9  
Traveler
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I don't do driving vacations in the US, why would I do one abroad? City stays are fun but I hate doing my own driving anywhere. Getting there is not half the fun, it is flat boring. I would rather sleep in the car and wake me up at the next destination so that I am refreshed. My vote is for the train or the group thing!
 
Oct 4th, 2001, 07:14 AM
  #10  
Topper
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ttt
 
Oct 4th, 2001, 09:42 AM
  #11  
Gayle
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We just returned from a September trip where we drove 1400 miles around the south and SW of Ireland. Mid-50's with a previous 3,000 miles experience driving on the left in England. The only possible advantage we could see to a tour would be that you could see over the tops of the hedgerows from the buses. Believe me, that's not enough advantage! We were able to pre-pick where we wanted to stay - in quiet country house hotels, stop and see sights as we pleased or not, hit tourist sites like Blarney Castle and Kylemore Abbey when they weren't inundated with buses, etc. Actually, as we were leaving Kylemore 3 buses pulled in and I counted 67 people in line for the toilet, and the crafts shop was full of 80 year olds saying to each other "I'm just looking for my husband". All that put my husband off tours for a good long time! One suggestion would be to pre-book and pre-pay for an automatic car. We have done this twice through Hertz. Both times, they failed to have our car, and gave us free upgrades -- once to a Volvo wagon and once to a BMW. The roads are narrow and have potholes, but are not really as bad as some would lead you to believe. We traveled slightly off season, and slightly off the main roads and missed a lot of the horror stories one reads about. I guess the big variable is: how much freedom do you want? Do you want to talk to the Irish in pubs and restaurants, etc, or to other tour passengers?
 
Oct 4th, 2001, 10:34 AM
  #12  
Amazed
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Anyone who would drive 3000 miles or even 1400 on "vacation" is insane. You are spending your entire trip in the car. Try the train, Ireland has very good public transportation as does England.
 
Oct 4th, 2001, 01:16 PM
  #13  
Cathy
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Amazed,

I am amazed that you consider Ireland's public transport system good - I am Irish and have lived in Central Europe for many years before returning to Ireland. There is no way that the Irish network of trains could compare to European networks although the bus network is OK,

Bob - opt for a mixture of escorted tours and drive yourself,

Cathy

 
Oct 4th, 2001, 02:38 PM
  #14  
Kathleen
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My first trip to Ireland was with a SMALL adventure hiking tour. It was a blast, only 11 people, great guide. Our group was small enough to stay in B&Bs, and spend the evenings in the good local pubs. It was a blast, and we went places that most tourists never get, even on their own.

However, every trip since then I've driven myself. The advantages are greater if you can get a car--public transport is a bit limiting. In Ireland most of the attraction (to me) is in the out of the way places in the country side (like the stone circles located a mile up a waymarked path, or the abandoned abbey in a farmers field)

In my opinion, it's a matter of how YOU want to see the country--do you want the hassle of driving, finding a place to stay, eat, plan your route? Or do you want someone else to do all that for you? It's a trade off, but Ireland is by far the easiest country in Europe to do 'on your own'.
 
Oct 17th, 2001, 08:31 PM
  #15  
Sherry
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My husband and I just returned from Ireland and spent the first four days in Dublin on our own and then the last seven days with a tour group touring the southwest - Galway, Tralee, etc. We enjoyed all of our stay in Ireland but Dublin was our favorite because we were on our own and stayed in a wonderful apartment right in the heart of the city center - Molesworth Court Suites. It was small complex but very clean and had a fully furnished kitchen. We could walk to all of the attractions, most only a two to ten minute walk away. We loved it! We could relax and rest during the day because we were in such a central location and didn't feel the need to see everything at once. We couldn't believe our good fortune in finding the Molesworth - it is superb!!
 
Oct 24th, 2001, 06:16 AM
  #16  
Ann
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The best advice I can give about a driving tour of Ireland is this: rent an automatic car. It's a little more expensive, but it will make your trip so much more enjoyable.

A few more things: At roundabouts--ALWAYS yield to cars already in the circle!

If you notice a line of cars forming behind you, pull over to the side and let them pass.

Drive fast on the motorways and slow on the winding mountain roads. My American friends always seem to get this the wrong way round. Haven't figured this one out.

On the motorways, the far right lane is for passing ONLY. Don't sit in it like people do in the U.S. Slower traffic should stay in the far left.
 
Oct 24th, 2001, 06:28 AM
  #17  
Vita
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Except for the last item, that's pretty much how you should drive in the US. Maybe your American friends were nervous on the motorways causing them to drive slower and felt more at ease in the mountains. I agree though, this can be dangerous. I assume that the right lane is the passing lane because people drive on the left side of the road and exits are on the left instead of the right?
 
Oct 24th, 2001, 06:44 AM
  #18  
suec
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Just got back from a "canned tour" in Ireland. Was so nice to sit in bus and not worry about the "roundabout", getting to a place to stay at nite, Narrow roads to Dingle or Ring of Kerry. Stayed at the Ballgarry House Hotel in Tralee, Beautiful place. Driver was so accommodating and took us into town when we wanted. Sang to us during the drive. Just a really nice Irishman and great driver. Stayed in Granville Hotel in Waterford City. Even had waterford crystal glasses in bathroom. Hotel in Dublin was Clontarf Castle and a ways out. My biggest prob was the eve meals were always in the hotel. Would've preferred more free time. Ennis stayed at Old Ground hotel right in town. As a driver in my 60's who has drived across the US numerous times, I watched busdriver navigate the roads and have decided that I prefer to "leave the driving to them"
Do tour first trip and you'll want to go back & do what you prefer. I could've done with Dublin ( another big city to me) and loved the west and southwest part of Ireland. Planning my next trip.....
 
Dec 4th, 2001, 11:03 AM
  #19  
sonya s moore
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i have taken two guided tours of ireland, both with brian moore and i plan to keep taking them. i usually travel alone and am also scared of the
driving thing. bmit has great hotels,
great iteraries, great employees. we got the best seats at cabarets, etc. the tours were different and i really feel like i get to see the best of each
region. i booked with another company in ireland for a tour and the tour was
cancelled by 9/11. i am still trying to get all my money back. bmit does all
the plane bookings for you if you have to have an add on. the other company did not and the trip was a nightmare even before i did not get to go. i
obviously cannot say enough good about
bmit. looking forward to going somewhere with them again next year.
 
Dec 4th, 2001, 11:07 AM
  #20  
Julie
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Can't say anything for or against guided tours in Ireland. But I have been there once and was with a group of friends. We had a wonderful time renting a couple of cars and driving across the countryside. It was even fun to get lost on small dirt roads on mountainsides with only the sheep to notice you!
 

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