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Feedback please on 1st timer trip to Ireland

Feedback please on 1st timer trip to Ireland

Old Mar 26th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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Feedback please on 1st timer trip to Ireland

Hi Everyone,

I’m hoping some experts on Ireland can give me some feedback on my 1st draft of our Ireland itinerary. I was lucky enough to get tickets to U2 in Dublin in July so that’s prompted our trip to Ireland this summer. We’re 2 adults, no kids. Ireland has never been real high on my travel destination list so, I’ve really struggled putting together this itinerary. I just have no sense as to ‘how long’ to spend in each place. I'm not real thrilled with the idea of checking in and out so many times but, I don't know how else to do it? I keep reading about how it takes so long to drive 30km so I don't want to spend all our time driving. I feel very out of my element! I have read through the Ireland forum here which has helped tremendously in putting together my rough draft. Our airfare is booked. We depart Boston on July 23rd and arrive in Dublin on July 24th. We return to Boston from Shannon on Sunday, August 2nd. We’re locked into Dublin on July 24-25 but, those are the only two days set in stone. We also have our hotel in Dublin booked as well. We’ll rent a car when we depart Dublin and we'll have it for the remainder of the trip.

July 24: Arrive in Dublin

July 25: Dublin

July 26 – Pickup car at Dublin airport and head for Kenmare. Stop in Cashel along the way & maybe the Blarney Woolen Mills? Not really interested in kissing the Blarney Stone. Hopefully arrive in Kenmare early enough to see the town. I read that it’s not that big so maybe an hour or two?
(Sheen Falls Lodge 1 night.)

July 27 – Depart Kenmare early and drive the Ring of Kerry clockwise. I’ve read that it’s easier to drive clockwise going against bus traffic. True? Entire day focused on the drive and if time, maybe see Killarney National Park and/or city of Killarney. Stay in Killarney 2 nights. (Killarney Park Hotel - 2 nights).

July 28 – Killarney to Dingle/Dingle Peninsula

July 29 – Depart Killarney and head to Ashford Castle, Cong for 1 night stopping in Adare along the way.

July 30 – Depart Ashford Castle and stop in Westport. Continue drive thru Connemara on our way to Ballyvaughn. (Gregan’s Castle - 3 nights)

July 31 & August 1 -- Burren, Cliffs of Mohr, Aran Islands

August 2—return home. Flight departs 1pm


Am I missing anything obvious? Is this too fast paced or too slow? I know there’s a huge movement toward slow travel but, that’s just not our style. We’re kind of in the middle of the pack---not too fast and not too slow. I don’t want to rush through everyplace we go like it’s a checklist but, on the other hand we probably won’t spend hours and hours meandering around either. A happy medium would be fine. How does this sound?

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks very much!
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Old Mar 26th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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First of all, I am COMPLETELY jealous that you're seeing U2 in Dublin. How awesome! I'm hoping to get tickets to one of their US shows.

I'm not an expert, but I'll try to help on the bits I can! First off, I don't think you need to stay in both Kenmare and Killarney. They're only 45 minutes or so apart. Personally, I would drive to Kenmare, stay there a couple of nights to see the national park and/or ROK, and then go on to Dingle for two nights. There's not much to see in Killarney itself. There IS a Blarney Woolen Mills store there (or at least, was two years ago). I don't know if the one you're thinking of is bigger or better, but this one was not worth a special stop, in my opinion. But your interests/likes may be different.

We stayed in Ennis our last couple of nights. It was a good base for the Cliffs and the Burren, as well as for the flight home from Shannon.
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Old Mar 26th, 2009, 03:18 PM
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Disclaimer: I haven't done this part of Ireland yet, but will do so in July, a couple of weeks before your time frame....so I've done a good bit of research. We have a one-week cottage rental near Killarney, then meet family in Dublin, end up in Co. Clare for 3 days and fly out of Shannon.

Most reports I've read would say to do Ring of Kerry OR Dingle Peninsula, not both...especially given how much time you have. Most would pick Dingle over ROK.

What about leaving Kenmare on the 27th, taking a leisurely day to see Muckross, Gap of Dunloe, and eat in Killarney. Drive to Dingle town late in the day (it stays light until late) and overnight there.

Spend 28th driving Dingle peninsula, rather than trying to do it as a day trip from Killarney; enjoy some of the trad music for which Dingle is known that evening and spend 2nd night there.

Killarney to Cong is a long haul (although stopping briefly in Adare is good to break up the drive). Then you plan loop around Connemara and return south to Ballyvaughan area for 3 nights. [We'll be at Gregan's for 3 nights too, July 23-26.]

What about driving Dingle-Ballyvaughan on the 29th via the Tarbert ferry? (you'd miss Adare) Switch to Gregan's 2-night package for the 29th and 30th, seeing the Cliffs and the Burren.

On the 31st take ferry to Aran Islands from Rossveal, west of Galway, ending up at Ashford Castle that night.

On the 1st do your Connemara loop and overnight in Ennis, Bunratty, or even Dromoland Castle? (This isn't much further to drive than your original Cong-Westport-Connemara-Ballyvaughan plan.)

Aug. 2nd fly home.

Alternately, you could stay the 3 nights at Gregan's (29/30/31) and do the Aran Islands as a day trip. Then do your Connemara loop (in reverse?) on the 1st, overnighting at Ashford Castle. This would mean an early departure for Shannon on the 2nd though -- a shame, given the rates, not to enjoy every possible minute there!

Just some thoughts -- trying to get it right is half the fun?!
Good luck fine-tuning your route!
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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I will tell you that I'm over the moon about going to this concert! I'm sure it'll be an incredible experience!

I appreciate your suggestions as well. I'm looking at them as we speak and will post back if I have more questions (which I'm sure I will). AND I completely agree that planning is 50-75% of the fun!

Does anyone have a recommendation in terms of driving maps? Is Michelin the best or are there better options?
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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I got a Michelin map and it worked really well outside the cities. It was no help in Tralee - it just didn't show enough detail. That was the biggest city we drove in. But it worked great for Killarney, Kenmare, Dingle, Ennis, and the surrounding areas. Some people rent a GPS system along with their rental cars, but we didn't do that. I do definitely recommend viamichelin.com for before you go - the recommendation I got on here was to increase the drive times by 50%, and that seemed pretty spot on.
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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If you have a portable (sit on the dash) GPS here, you can load European maps and take it with you...rather than renting it there.
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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Oh wow---so if viamichelin says the drive is 3 hours & 48 minutes (fast route w/o stops) from Dublin to Killarney, that means I should plan on almost 8 hours driving time? Really? !
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 08:54 PM
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Increasing 3 hours 48 minutes by 50% is about 6 hours, not 8. What you want to do is take the mileage (in miles, not kilometers) and divide by 35, which will be about your average mph.
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 11:04 PM
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Right, what jaja said. Increase by 50%, not double. That was easier for me than doing the 35mph math, since viamichelin gives distances in kilometers. For example, it says it's an hour and 41 minutes between Kenmare and Dingle, but it took us a little under three hours (that includes getting lost once, which WILL happen). (We actually took a more southern route that didn't take us through Tralee - the "shortest" route on viamichelin - but it was about the same time as the "recommended" route.)
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Old Mar 27th, 2009, 11:13 PM
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Your first driving day from Dublin to Kenmare is huge. The roads are quite narrow, winding and it just takes alot of time to make that distance. And then to get back in the car the next day for another huge drive may be too much all together.
We also opted for the Dingle Peninsula and it was a beautiful highlight of our trip. We stayed at a lovely B&B in Dingle town and enjoyed the trad. Some of those larger towns don't really have any more charm, just more traffic. Be careful in the roundabouts!
Go to Barnes & Noble to check out the maps. I got a good one, but then I saw one that a friend used and it did have alot more detail. You'll have to open some up to really see which one works for you.
Tell Bono we said hello!
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Old Mar 28th, 2009, 02:27 PM
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This is VERY GOOD feedback. Thanks so much! What about taking a train to Killarney and picking up a car there. That has to be faster, or is it? If we did that we would have to skip Cashel but, maybe we could substitute something else??
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Old Mar 28th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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I'll jump in here again! We took the train from Dublin to Galway and picked up the car there. It's great - you go straight from Dublin city, it's very pleasant three hours and you're there. There isn't direct service to every town out west, you'd have to study the website for connections.
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