Feb itinerary Dublin and SW Ireland

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Feb 4th, 2003, 05:00 PM
  #1
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Feb itinerary Dublin and SW Ireland

I am planning a week trip arriving in Dublin on Sun am, Feb 25 and departing from Dublin the following Sun am, Mar 2. It is our first time in Ireland and I need help with an itinerary. I have read some travel books (any recommendations?) and am considering:
Sunday: Dublin
Monday: Boyne Valley, Hill of Tara, Kells, Newgrange, night in Slane
Tuesday: Powerscourt House, Glendalough, night in Waterford or Cork
Wednesday: Kinsale, Skibbereen, Killarney, night in Killarney
Thursday: Dingle Pennisula, second night in Killarney
Friday: Bunratty castle, Ennis (looking for family history in County Claire). Night in Ennis.
Saturday: Drive back to Dublin. Evening in Dublin.
Sunday: early departure
Our interests are more small friendly towns, pubs, countryside, nature, history, castles (not much into crystal, shopping, fine dining). Is this itinerary too ambitious? Suggestions for must see places, B&B's to stay in? I'm planning on renting a car - how difficult will the drive through Dublin be on Sunday morning (airport to Trinity College area)? We'll be heading back to the airport early the following Sunday (6:45am flight) so I imagine traffic will be very light... Thanks for your help!
Tobie
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Feb 4th, 2003, 05:37 PM
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Way, way too much (unless you are 25, the flame burns intensely and you can drive a lot faster on Irish roads than we could). You won't average more than 35 mph on Irish highways (roads) and you'll miss a hell of a lot even then. Hill of Tara and Newgrange can easily amount to a day in themselves (or at best two days for your Sunday proposal). And trust me, you won't want to drive to and into Cork City after Glendalough, etc(fast, wild and one-way) once you hit the City. Kinsale-Killarney is do-able, but the last part of your journey will be in mountainous territory and you'll want to get up early. This is no journey for first timers in the dark.

Really can't do the Dingle peninsula justice in a day-it'll be drive, drive when you want to get out and look. You won't average 35 here.

Ennis is a great place to stay. You've probably got your researches lined up, but the library in Ennis is very helpful. Consider staying at the Old Ground Hotel, a nicely furnished old place(18th Century) with a good dining room and a better pub. Ask for the second-floor room directly over the hotel entrance (#118?); it shouldn't be too noisy in March, and has a lovely solarium that overlooks the cathedral across the way. Others will have a different view of your itinerary and much depends upon your inclinations.

There are websites which will help with family history in County Clare--we spent two weeks there in November and hit a lot of graveyards; one of our hosts was a genealogist. A Google search will help. You sure are intending to see the best part of Ireland, IMHO. Concentrate, concentrate.

DES
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Feb 5th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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Tobie:

I agree ... too much. Monday looks like a pretty insane day. You seem to generally be headed SW, so I'm not sure that I would do this day on this trip. Don't get me wrong, this is a great area, but generally you are traveling the other way. Leave it out and visit on your next trip. This would give you an extra day in the SW which would really help. That said, if you must stay in Slane, visit the Poet's Rest pub. Fabulous ambience.

If you stayed in Waterford or Cork and then tried to do Kinsale, Skibbereen and Killarney, you wounldn't be seeing much of the latter. You would probably get in late enough in the day, especially at that time of the year (gets dark fairly early). The drive through Bantry, Glengariff and Kenmare is a breathtaking one, but pretty slow moving. If you get that extra day by not going north on your first night, stay in Kenmare and then move to two nights in Dingle. I think this would be a much improved trip and if your interests are small, friendly towns, Kenmare is a very good choice. The ride from Kenmare into Killarney is wonderful, but the road along the lakes is narrow and twisting. An early start would help you avoid the tour buses.

Everyone has a favorite travel book. Michele Erdwig's "Best Little Guide to Ireland" is wildly popular, especially to first time travelers. She runs a website www.irelandyes.com where you can order it and she will answer your questions personally. I also the the Bord Failte book called Ireland Guide. I found it at Barnes and Noble. The Michelin Green Guide is good, but a little hard to follow becaus eit is in alphabetical order as opposed to arranged by region. The Rough Guides are considered very good but may go into more detail than you will need on this trip. I don't the Ireland one very well. I find Rick Steve's book terribly restricted as he leaves out huge and wonderful sections of Ireland because, as he puts it, he just wants to deliver the best of Ireland. None-the-less, it does have a very good description of the tour around the Dingle peninsula and for that reason alone, (since you are going there), it is probably worth it.

There are lots of other including Fodors of course. I've got a pretty good stack of Irish guides and other Irish photography and history books and have to stop buying them or my bookshelf will collapse.

Have fun.

Bill
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Feb 5th, 2003, 12:22 PM
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I concur with the others: Monday's schedule isn't really doable. I tried to go to Newgrange once, but we were going to have to wait two hours before getting a chance to go through. It is often very crowded, although the time of year you're going, a Monday shouldn't be too bad.

Also, I would avoid staying in Killarney town. Find a nice village somewhere in the area, with a little charm, and fewer plastic leprechauns, fake pubs, and overpriced mediocre food.

It is never easy driving in Dublin, regardless of the time of day, but I would think at 4:30 a.m., your main problem would be avoiding running over young Englishmen passed out on the street from Saturday night's stag party.

Ask for very thorough directions and a map at your hotel to the airport. Once you get outside the city, it's an easy drive to the airport.

There's a hiking trail called the Wicklow Way that you can pick up in a variety of places, including just outside Dublin and in Glendalough. Part of it winds up until you're overlooking the Powerscourt Gardens. It's a good climb, and don't do it if it's overcast, as you can't see a thing (regretably my personal experience).
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Feb 5th, 2003, 02:37 PM
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Tobie, Bill (who has posted voluminously, interestingly and accurately on Ireland) and Ann41 are right on here. They've given you better advice than I have--my previous reference to Sunday should have been to your Monday proposal. Scratch your Monday and head SW. The run west from Kinsale through Timoleague, etc to Skibbereen and further west then north to Bantry is a lovely one. Let me also endorse Kenmare vs Killarney. There's a good B&B in Kenmare--the Rockcrest House, a 5-min walk from downtown. Nice new rooms and the usual substantial, well-cooked Irish breakfast. If you decide to stay in Dingle, try Heaton's Guesthouse; others are very high on Greenmount House, but our pick was Heaton's and it's hard to imagine anything better. Cameron and Nuala Heaton will make the trip worth while.Try the porridge for breakfast!

Personally, I wouldn't drive in Dublin at all. You might consider surrendering your car beforehand and using a taxi to the airport. Driving in Dublin is just too damn confusing, what with the one-way streets and all. Mind, you'll be better equipped for it after a week of SW Ireland roads! Have a good trip.

DES
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Feb 5th, 2003, 02:55 PM
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Tobie -
I have to join the bandwagon here. You are being WAY to ambitious.
1st rule of going to Ireland: Plan on an average of 35mph.
2nd rule : Know your daylight hours ( the sun sets early in February, and trust us - a first-timer does not want to be driving after dark if at all possible. )
3rd rule : Don't just drive by - keep your itinerary realistic. You are going to want to stop and enjoy the sights and scenery. Don't do it all from a car.
4th rule - The Irish move at a much slower pace than most Americans. You need to allow time for that.

Specifically - on your plan: I can't really comment on Sun/Mon - haven't done that section yet

Tuesday: Powerscourt House, Glendalough, night in Waterford or Cork
***** Slane is North of Dublin. Just getting from Slane to Glendalough ( with a short stop at PowersCourt & Glendalough) will take almost the whole day. If you are determined to head on from there - Kilkenny may be a better choice.

Wednesday: Kinsale, Skibbereen, Killarney, night in Killarney
****** the drive time from Kinsale to Killarney is about 3 hrs on its own. Kilkenny to Kinsale - add another 2 or 3. Add in Skibbereen? I think this may have to go - you would not have any time in any place to enjoy. As it is, you will be lucky to get into Killarney before dark.

Thursday: Dingle Pennisula, second night in Killarney
***** Give yourself a break from driving this day - do a bus tour ( deros tours runs one from Killarney to Dingle & back) Otherwise - yet another FULL day of driving.

Friday: Bunratty castle, Ennis (looking for family history in County Claire). Night in Ennis.
****** Head up to Tarbert & take the Ferry - cuts some time, and you will go through Ennis. If you decide to see the cliffs , this would be the time, but you would not be left for time to search for family history - Be prepared with where you will be looking for your history - verify the hours of operations, etc.

Saturday: Drive back to Dublin. Evening in Dublin.
Sunday: early departure


Good luck - post back for opinions on revisions.
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Feb 5th, 2003, 03:00 PM
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OOPs - forgot to mention - In Killarney - I like Crystal Springs B&B (it may now be classified as a Guesthouse) - It is not "in town" but just a couple minutes away - plenty of parking and beautiful rooms & yummy breakfasts.
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Feb 5th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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You could do 1st night Dublin, 2nd night waterford (100 mile drive)or consider Kilkenny 3 night kinsale (85 miles) 4,5,Killarney(63 mile) 6 Ennis 100 miles)7Dublin(150 miles. This would be alot of driving. You may be better off skipping Kinsale and spending 1st night Dublin 2 night kilkenny 3,4,Killarney 5,6,Bunratty area 7 dublin. Check your routes at www.viamichelin.com
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Feb 6th, 2003, 05:53 PM
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Thanks so much for all the input. I am definitely making some revisions. Day 1 will still be in Dublin (Sun - day of arrival) and Monday we will head to Glendalough and Powerscourt (no more going north to Newgrange). Should we spend that night in Kilkenny or maybe Cashel or Cahir or Waterford(I read some other messages recommending those towns). On Tuesday I think we will head to Killarney and go to the National Park in the afternoon. Maybe the Dingle pennisula on Wednesday and go to Ennis for Thursday and Friday. Maybe visit Bunratty Castle on the way to Ennis on Thursday and try to locate some family history in the afternoon. Friday we could go to the cliffs or continue with tracking family history. Saturday head back to Dublin. I will consider renting from somewhere other than the airport (can you pick up a rental near Trinity College - we are staying the first and last nights at my neice's apartment about 1 mile from the college). The suggestion to take a tour for the Dingle pennisula might be a good one also. Thanks for the B&B suggestions - any others? An alternate plan (If I can't find out any more about my family history before I go) might be to spend MOnday in Waterford, Tuesday drive Kinsale, Skibbereen, Bantry, etc suggested above and spend the night in Kenmare. Then on for our two days in the Killarney/Dingle area (maybe we should stay in Dingle and not Killarney) and shorten to one day in Ennis (cliffs would have to wait for another trip). What does everyone think?
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Feb 7th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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I'd stay in Dingle over Killarney-- my Irish friend said, as we drove through, "the best view of Killarney is in your rearview mirror." I don't know if I'd go THAT far, but it is a bit touristy. We loved Dingle- lovely town, beautiful setting.
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Feb 7th, 2003, 09:42 PM
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Tobie,

To paraphrase Rick Steves, by week's end, you're going to need a vacation from your vacation.

It's understandable you're trying to squeeze in as much of Ireland in seven days as possible. But you'd be wise to re-think your itinerary, try to focus on one or two regions and get to know them in more than a cursory or fleeting manner (such as suggested by your proposed travel plan).

As a possible alternative itinerary, consider spending a few days just north of Dublin, in the Boyne Valley. Following that, head south and explore the Wicklow Mountains for a few days, before making the very brief drive back to Dublin. This itinerary requires not a great deal of driving, but situates you in some very attractive countryside, one rich in good lodging and sights to see.

Best of luck.
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Feb 10th, 2003, 10:12 AM
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Ah Tobie, I know what your going through. There has been some very good advice given and the one constant theme is 'don't plan too much. It took me two trips before I realized that I was burning myself and my company out with the excessive touring. David is giving some good advice. Pick a region and stay within that area. There is enough to see and do within County Kerry or Cork to last you the week. Since you are planning on going through Ennis I would personally scratch County Cork on this trip as you would not get the best feel for it. I would work my way over to Kerry focusing on that area, cross over at Tarbert later in the week and spend some time in Clare near enough to Ennis to allow yourselves the opportunity to address the one thing in your itinerary which seems to be necessary. Believe me that, after you arrive and experience Ireland, you will return and then you can explore other areas, because there is enough to see and do in that small island to last a lifetime. Good luck with what ever you decide.
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Feb 10th, 2003, 10:24 AM
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If you do want to stay near Killarny, which isn't a bad idea, as it is really near the Muckross House and some beautiful parts of the Irish Lake District, let me recommend the Lake Hotel which is outside of Killarney, right on the Lake (the road runs behind it). It has been run by the same family for ages and a really relaxed, friendly, not too expensive place to be. A step above a B&B but well worth it for the amazing views, great grounds and friendly welcome. You can then go into Killarney for dinners and shopping if you like or stay out of town for your country enjoyment. Killarney itself is no great shakes, but the surrounding areas are stunning.
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