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Connemarra or Antrim & Glens-12 Perfect Days in Ireland-it's the other 5 giving me trouble...

Connemarra or Antrim & Glens-12 Perfect Days in Ireland-it's the other 5 giving me trouble...

Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 02:25 AM
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Connemarra or Antrim & Glens-12 Perfect Days in Ireland-it's the other 5 giving me trouble...

The Question:
For our 2nd trip DH & I absolutely cannot decide whether to do 6 days leisurely in Connemarra or pass through and head to the Antrim Coast and the Glens...3 long drives in a row, another country/currency, am I crazy to wanna do it all?

When: April 9-27th, 2007

The 12 perfect days already set:
1 night Shannon/Bunratty
2 nights Killarney
3 nights Glengariff (Beara)
2 nights Dingle at the Shores B&B
1 night Oughterard
insert the 5 days here
train to Dublin
3 nights Dublin and fly home

HELP! The troubled 5...
2nd night in Oughterard (Corrib cruise & Cong), 1 night Clifden, 2 nights Westport, 1 night Sligo, drop car and train to Dublin (where we could pick up a train/bus tour of Bushmills, the Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede for the day)
Oughterard to Sligo, 1 night Sligo, 2 nights Portrush, 2 nights Glenariff, drop car Belfast Int'l and train to Dublin ( bonus: saving on car rental & tour cost from Dublin, plus seeing Torr Head and staying IN the Glens!)

Your thoughts/opinions would be appreciated!
12perfectdays is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Minus: Hefty drop off fee for leaving the car in N. Ireland. If you do it drive rather than take the train to Dublin.

N. Ireland is worth going out of your way for.
IrishEyes is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 02:18 PM
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12perfectdays: We had 15 wonderful nights in Ireland in summer 2006. I suggest you choose a more leisurely pace for the 5 days in question.

Here are my thoughts. We enjoyed ourselves the most where we had 3 nights as a base at one b&b, and we had a car to do lots of day-trips from there. It was much more relaxing and we could see the area in greater depth.

Our least favorite parts of the trip were when we tried to fit in too much and we only had 2 nights in a b&b after a long drive. We had along our 2 young adult daughters and everyone ended up squabbling after the long drive.

I "stretched" our trip to include Northern Ireland because that is where my beloved Irish grandmother came from. I am glad I saw where she came from, it was very special. However, if that weren't the land of my ancestors, I would have preferred to leave it out...NOT because it isn't special...it is very special...only because we just couldn't enjoy it at such a fast pace.

I wish I had divided our trip into 2 separate trips: one for the Republic of Ireland, and another separate trip for Northern Ireland.

We whipped through Connemara and greatly regretted that we couldn't spend 3 nights in the area...it was just a drive-through. It is a wild-looking appealing area...

We did the coast of Antrim which is undeniably beautiful, and we walked through the lovely Glenariff forest park...but I would NOT rush through other areas just to get there.

I am not sure if I would do 6 days in Connemara...perhaps 3 days in Connemara and 3 days in Westport, County Mayo would be better... Or 2 days in Connemara and 3 days at your choice of a b&b in County Clare...

We went from Shannon to Dingle to County Clare to County Mayo to Northern Ireland and then flew home from Dublin.

These were my favorite areas, if you ignore the fact that my grandmother was from Northern Ireland, and just look at the pacing of our trip, this is what we enjoyed the most:

3 nights: Dingle Peninsula (Heaton's guesthouse as a base)

3 nights: County Clare
Ballyvaughan as a base; enough time for the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, step-dancing in Kilfenora, pubs with trad music, and Dunguaire castle medieval banquet)

3 nights: Westport, County Mayo
Great base for the attractive and lively mid-sized town of Westport, Matt Malloy's pub (Chieftains fame), Achill Island, and shopping in town.

Many people say you have to fit something in because you might never be back again. HOWEVER the faster you go, the more you will realize you HAVE TO return again, because you will just add on more places that you "almost" saw, and you will want to return to "really" see them!

Everybody is different so you have to figure out your own pace. For us, I have recently vowed, after planning our trips to Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, and New Zealand, that I won't be doing any more 1-night stops (except one at the end near an airport before flying home.) I will also avoid 2-night stops if I can. If an area is worth visiting, usually 3 nights is great...that gives you 2 full days. 1 day to pre-plan. I day to leave free for spontaneous choices on the spot.

Thanks for letting me air my philosophy! Good luck and I know you will love your trip.

Consolation: Once you arrive in Ireland, you will be so enthralled with the ground you are standing on, the things you left out will become pale ghosts that you aren't even thinking about!

And now, to confuse you even more, I would like to say that Northern Ireland has some great places, and many of them are less touristed, which is great. The Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum in Cultra, east of Belfast, was fantastic and far far less crowded than the Bunratty Folk park!

Melissa5 is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 03:47 PM
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Ha! It's your trip report that I keep thinking off and why I don't want to wait for a 3rd trip to see N.I. ! I loved it and you wrote so well about the trip! I remember anxiously awaiting each installment of your report! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, it's what I need so I can decide soon, time is flying!

After our 1st visit, DH & I realized that we did like the smaller towns and out of the way places and I vowed to TRY and slow down (very hard to do as a type "A")but I so WANT to do N.I (insert foot stomp)

If we stay in the west, I had thought of adding a 3rd to Westport but DH is a driver by trade and I do much better on a point to point trip then spokes on a wheel. If we do a Connemara loop, pass Killary Fjord and to Westport, I would never get him back that direction! (my reason for a possible overnight in Clifden, 1/2 way through Connemara).

I do agree with you about the one night stops and have really cut back on that (believe it or not). Maybe you are right. We could always save NI for the next trip. It amazes me how hard this 2nd trip has been to decide on and plan. The first was much easier and the 3rd is pretty much done in my head.

Besides, we could get a peek into N.I. if we do that big day tour from Dublin on the train and bus...and no driving for DH!

Thanks, I'll let'cha know what 'appens!
12perfectdays is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Can I suggest 21 Perfect days????

I share your pain. I'm working on the planning of our NINTH. We're hoping to do 3-4 days in Scotland, 5-6 in NI and Donegal and the balance in Cork and Kerry. Can't seem to get it to work out, yet.

Maybe this will help YOU decide:


Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 12:42 AM
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Dawn, I love the foot stomp!

If you are the type A personality then you are more like my husband. He is very driven on trips. Must wake up with the sun, must eat faster, skip lunch, quick dinner...fit more in...faster, faster...it's not dark yet...Plop! He falls asleep at the end of all this, mutttering about how we could have fit in more "if only we hadn't wasted so much time!!!"

Ahhhhhhh! That is the opposite of my style. Here is my natural vacation style: Sleep in. Linger over breakfast chat. Short walk. Two hour lunch to write in my journal. Time to plan dinner. Time for a bubble bath.

As you can see we are opposites. But to our delight, we have finally gotten our styles together!

I plan the trips, but I carefully choose spots to spend 3 nights where there is lots and lots to do, within both walking distance and within driving distance.

I have learned to expect to do more on vacation, and he has learned to be more patient and appreciate sometimes it's good to slow down, and if he can't tolerate slowing down, he finds something to do on his own.

this way we are both happy! He never runs out of things to do, even though we are in one spot for 3 nights, there are endless choices of things to do.

And if I'm tired, I make sure there is something easy nearby for me...a garden to write in my journal...a walk into town for shopping...in case we need time apart.

It's great! We are both happy! Our kids are somewhat between us both, not as driven as their Dad, but not as dawdling and dreamin' as me.

Anyway what I'm saying is, just because you might have fewer stops, that doesn't mean you are going to be any less busy.

Also as you probably know, Northern Ireland is more expensive than the Republic if you are used to USA dollars due to the exchange rate. Not sure where you live...

Settle on the places that are tugging most at your heart and let go of the rest. You won't regret it!

I don't regret for one minute that we didn't see Dublin or the Rock of Cashel on our first trip...more to look forward to next time! though at the time, when I had to give up the Rock of Cashel, and I was still planning...I think I might have had a little foot stomping as well!

Think about what THIS trip means to you. What have you already done on previous trips? Had enough of big cities? Enough beaches? Enough museums? What do you MOST want out of this trip?

I think our Ireland trip went quite well, but there is always room for improvement even in a wonderful trip. My mistake is that I should have either not gone so far south as Dingle or else not gone as far north as Antrim. I should have given up one or the other...I should have saved it for the next trip.

But it was still a wonderful trip, dear to my heart!

One decision I was very happy with was that...we only needed one big city on our trip...since I HAD to see Belfast where my grandmother came from, that left Dublin out...(for the next trip!)

Good luck! Enjoy!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 05:35 PM
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I lived in Northern Ireland for 3 years, and it's well worth the effort. It will be the highlight of your trip.

And what would make the first 12 days even more perfect is dropping the 2 nights in Killarney, and adding those days to NI.
Ann41 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:03 PM
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From my p.o.v. there's no contest. Connemara is very pretty ... but the Antrim coast is spectacular.
Songdoc is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2007, 11:45 PM
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The Antrim coast is beautiful, but only if you get to see it! We ran out of time, on that portion of the trip...we tried to drive from Bushmills, along the Antrim coast, all the way down to our next b&b in Hillsborough, south of Belfast, and also stopping at the Glenariff forest park for a hike, all in one day... That plan didn't work well. We ended up whipping by beautiful spots on the coast without having time to stop and see them. We did have time for the lovely Glenariff forest park.

But then we saw we were running out of daylight and had to leave the Antrim coast and cut inland to try to reach our next b&b in Hillsborough before dark...Alas, cutting inland was very confusing, with a lot of those circle things, easy to get lost...NOT the best planned part of the trip!

So no matter where you choose to go in Ireland, I know it will be beautiful and special. But you will enjoy it more if you make sure you have enough time there. For us, the Antrim coast would have worked better if we could have actually stopped for a night or two somewhere much closer to Glenarrif forest park on the Antrim coast. I ended up feeling like we had kinda missed the Antrim coast...we did have a good look at Glenarrif forest park, but the rest of the coast was "lost"...in the beginning of the drive it was too misty to see very far...when it got sunnier there just wasn't the time to stop...

And as I mentioned it is a terrible temptation to be forced to drive through Connemara without getting to spend the night there!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2007, 01:19 AM
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We did a driving trip of Ireland in 2002, Dublin, Wicklow, Galway, Conemara, Westport (a friends cristening), Donegal, Antrim coast, Belfast (mother-in-law lives there).

It was all great and do not regret any of our choices, but if I had to chose three highlights it would be (1) Giants Causway and the Antrim coast; (2) Walking in Connemarra; (3) Westport - climbing croag patrick and visiting achill island (Warrior queen Grace O'Maley).

So in my vote, the North is well worth the trip. My other recollection is that the roads are painfully slow, so plan to enjoy the ride as they are not built for speed. Gas up before crossing into NI (fuel more expensive) and agree with irisheyes - return the car in Dublin.
Piedmont_Phil is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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Italian Chauffer- OY! I know- decisions, decisions! I have never been this indecisive in my life!

In Oct. 05 visit we did a bus tour of Connemara and I loved it and have wanted to go back for a closer look, but I HAVE seen it. If we decide to stick with CM (and upon DH checking out the maps)I think we will do 2-Oughterard, 3-Westport and 1-Sligo and on to Dublin where we would do that one big all day tour to N.I. and save an in depth N.I. for a 3rd trip. This would make for a more leisurely pace, something I do not believe I have EVER accomplished before- and still may not.

For N.I. - ironically, dropping a car in Belfast rather than Sligo saves us $40, DH still gets his train ride and the $$$ saved for not having to do the big tour from Dublin can go toward the higher costs in N.I., BUT we would have the 3 days of "runnin' and gunnin'" as the Dingle-Oughterard-Sligo-Portrush averages about 125 miles per day, 2 one nighters, must see everything, everything, everything...don't stop! The Castle, the Distillery, the Causeway, the bridge, Torr Head, the Glens, the forest, the Folk Park...go, go, go!

Ann41- for our 2nd trip we each got to pick a "revisit". DH loved the food in Killarney and enjoyed the town (we hit a quiet weekend last time!) and I chose Dingle and the Shores B&B. So, alas, Killarney it shall remain.

I must call Dan Dooley by tuesday with my decision- aargh! 52 hours until crunch time!

Thanks everyone for the opinions

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Old Feb 25th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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12perfectdays, there are 2 folk parks in Northern Ireland. The one we loved is the Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum in Cultra, east of Belfast. It is spread out, which is wonderful because that means uncrowded...and it really offers a LOT to see. You will need 4 hours MINIMUM for that park, and you won't see anywhere near all of it in 4 hours. You could easily spend the entire day there. For sure plan on having lunch there...they have a little cafe. We spent so many hours in the Folk Park half that we hardly had any time left for the Transport Museum half, which is equally wonderful, having old trains as well as a Titanic exhibit with stuff like some original drawings and posters.

There is another entirely different park with a similar name...we didn't see that one...the difference being there is only one "Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum", look for the words "transport museum" in the name.

Melissa5 is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2007, 09:55 PM
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Dawn, could you tell me more about the bus/train tour of Bushmills, the Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede? Do you have a link? I don't really care about Bushmills, but would love to see the Giant's Causeway. I'd assumed it was something I couldn't do without a car.

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Old Feb 26th, 2007, 01:47 AM
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12perfectdays, how lucky you are to have received so many answers! I posted a question on the forum 2 days ago and though I topped it 3 times I had no reply to it!!!!!
Tere is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2007, 03:54 AM
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Thank you, can't wait to show DH!

Melissa5- yes, that is the one I meant. If we decide to go NI AND have the time, we will drop car off at Belfast City airport and bus to Ulster Folk and Transport from there.

It's about $138 per person and I am with you on Bushmills, I would rather stop longer at Dunluce Castle and do an hour in Glenariff or Cushendun, but beggars can't be choosers.
Lemme know what you decide!

Found you and replied. Just repost with Ireland in the topic and the Irish lovin' fodorites will see it

Aahhh!- only 29 hours 'til decision time!
12perfectdays is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2007, 05:11 AM
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Thanks 12perfectdays, I've seen it already
Tere is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2007, 05:15 AM
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Thanks so much for those links, Dawn! It's given me something to think about. I'd really like to do it. Just not sure whether we can fit it in!

But, even if I don't do it, it may be something my daughter would like to do sometime later.
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Old Feb 26th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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The OTHER Folk Park in NI is the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, Co Tyrone. It is meant to be excellent, with focus on the emigrant experience, circa 1850-1900. It would be a consideration if you were in, or coming from the Sligo / BallyShannon / Donegal area.

Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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12perfectdays, my brain is a little fuzzy, but I seem to remember there might be a train which conveniently goes between Belfast and Cultra, where the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is?? Anyone remember this? (Or you could look it up...) Just a thought...I seem to remember considering a train but we ended up driving.
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