Don't miss while in Ireland?

Jan 22nd, 2018, 10:43 AM
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Don't miss while in Ireland?

Hi all. I got such great advice on Fodor's Forum before visiting Tanzania. Am hoping to get some ideas from those of you who know Ireland well. My boyfriend and I are planning our first vacation together abroad...a week in Ireland. We plan to rent a car because we want to have flexibility to take a detour to see something interesting and to reach places that are off the beaten path. We are in our 50s, fit and healthy, love the outdoors and hiking and walking (in fact we prefer a bit of a workout as part of our tourist activities). We also enjoy historic architecture, art and music, picking through unusual shops, welcoming local pubs. Although we are open to super-touristy things, we especially love exploring lesser known places. We do not have a step by step itinerary. In fact, we'll plan around the interesting things we want to see. I suspect we'll fly Boston to Dublin so will start and stop there. Other than that, we are pretty flexible. I am hoping that those of you who know and love Ireland, might consider the following question:

What did you do/see in Ireland that you wouldn't trade for the world... A great hike with amazing views or a rolling hills and an awesome castle? A great little town with a fun B&B and local pub where you can get to know the locals and/or galleries, quirky shops, etc.? I realize I have left this pretty wide open. I'd just like you to reflect on the things you did or saw that you just can't say enough about. Any thoughts are most welcome and appreciated. Thanks!!!
hopester is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 01:00 PM
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I live in Waterford so am going to say head down to the south-east.

A week really is not a long time especially if you intend to have a good exploration of Dublin (you could easily spend your entire week there and just do a couple of day trips).

As well as Waterford city, there is the estuary and the seaside towns of the Copper Coast, the city of Kilkenny, and one of my favourite towns in this corner of the country is Cahir which has a great castle and the elegant Swiss Cottage. There are also mountain ranges like the Comeraghs and the Galtys, forest walks a-plenty and riverside walks along the Suir and the Barrow.

And compared to the West there are far fewer tourists.
mjdh1957 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 01:14 PM
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Slea Head in the mist. Climb over the low rock walls on to the downward sloping grass towards the rocks. Care is required.

The Gap of Dunloe, near Killarney, again in the mist. Almost a bit spooky in a 16th century sort of way.
xcountry is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 01:53 PM
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We love:
Slieve League
Loop Head
Mizen Head
Dursey Island (we have never taken the cable car)
The southern coast of Connemara
Dooghlagh Valley
Ballaghbeama Gap
allisonm is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 02:23 PM
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As MJDH says, a week is a short time window and if you dedicate say two days to Dublin, the major challenge for you will be to limit your instinct to try and see as much of the country as possible in the time that remains.
You really need to select a very limited area to explore and have the time to enjoy what that particular region has to offer.
The South East ( perhaps a road trip taking in the counties of Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford, returning to Dublin from Cork) offers a multitude of boxes for you to tick. Outdoor activities are limitless, starting with hiking at Glendalough, the Barrow river walk from Graiguenamanagh to St Mullins, the new Waterford Greenway to Dungarvan. Other places in the region that deserve attention are Hook Head in Co Wexford and the Nire Valley. Kilkenny has plenty to interest fans of history and architecture; plenty of smaller towns - and villages like Borris, Inistoige, Lismore.
The general area around Galway city offers plenty to occupy you for 4/5 days with some of the better known tourist hot spots on your doorstep - the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher/ the Burren, Connemara.
The South West - Killarney, Ring of Kerry, attractive villages of West Cork - is more demanding in terms of travelling time, given your start and finish point in Dublin.
SeeDee is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 03:07 PM
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I thought Newgrange was fascinating.

County Clare is likewise most interesting: Besides the Cliffs of Moher, visit Burren National Park and some of the other ancient Celtic sites ... such as the one pictured below that predates Stonehenge with a 3000 lb. stone somehow staying in place all those years.

Places to stay? Gregans Castle would be my choice in County Clare — and if you're after the ultimate manor house experience, look at Ballyfin.
travelhorizons is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 04:02 PM
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Glendalough - amazing monastery site. Beautiful and peaceful.
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 04:40 PM
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I have a picture taken from a high point above Glendalough. Thirty-three years later I still marvel at the beautiful deep greens of the landscape.
xcountry is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:10 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing this information!
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:10 AM
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Thanks for your description. I can almost picture it.
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:11 AM
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Thanks so much for these suggestions. I look forward to reading about each. I appreciate your help.
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:12 AM
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Thanks so much for your help. Sounds like we'll probably need to make multiple trips...which is okay by me!
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:13 AM
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Thanks so much for your help. That is an awesome picture...very much in line with the kind of interesting things we love to explore.
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:14 AM
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Thanks for your help. I'll definitely do some research and check it out.
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:15 AM
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I appreciate your help. It must be beautiful to have that kind of a lasting impact. Thanks so much.
hopester is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 06:36 AM
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Climbing Crough Patrick on a sunny day was a highlight for myself.
Macross is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 07:17 AM
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I have never felt this thanked.

Last edited by xcountry; Jan 23rd, 2018 at 07:29 AM. Reason: Wrong smiley.
xcountry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2018, 10:04 AM
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I second these sentiments about New Grange (aka Brú na Bóinne) as a fascinating visit. I didn't expect it to be before I went but was thrilled in the end. We took a day bus trip from Dublin which included Tara. It left from the Mespil Hotel and was with New Grange Tours with Mary Gibbons. Mary is a hoot!

We spent 1 week in Ireland. Had 3 days in Dublin and then drove to the Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare which were astounding. Something about the remoteness of that area really appealed to us.

We loved the Burren National Park because it is so different from where we are from. But the highlight of the visit was The Birds of Prey Centre at Aillwee Cave. I'm not into caves at all, so I just dealt with that part of it. But the birds and the bird show was cool. On paper it seems touristy and cheesy but we came away having learned a lot and still speak fondly about it today, 3 year later.

Before I went, I had learned about "rag trees" and "holy wells" so I asked about them to anyone who would listen. I was directed to number of them by the locals (after giving me a quizzical look - most ppl were discouraged from using them in the last century and now many are being "rediscovered"). It made me feel so connected to the people, in visiting the sights. They are not far from town centers or just a few minutes walk away (for instance there is one around the corner from the bookstore in Tara)...they have a historic quality to them, I feel. They have sacred feel about them, with a "history".

Last edited by HunyBadger; Jan 25th, 2018 at 10:09 AM.
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