First time in Ireland

Dec 7th, 2009, 04:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
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First time in Ireland

My husband and I will be traveling to Dublin Marsh 27-April 2 of 2010. We are a bit overwhelmed by all of the research we have done via travel books, forums, google, etc.

We will be traveling into and out of Dublin (not completely concrete yet but about to book it any day). I should note that this is our first time to Ireland (and to Europe for that matter!).

What would you recommend for first timers - visiting Dublin and taking in the city sights with a day trips (Wicklow, Kildare, etc), or would you recommend taking an open ended flight and seeing other places.

Timing is not entirely on our side for first timers so we don't want to spend most of our time traveling but are willing to if it is "worth it" (I know each person has a different opinion on what is and is not "worth it"). I will also note that we love historic sites (ruins, museums), a good night life (husband is 30 and I am 27), and don't mind a lot of walking/activity.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!!
Kerry_V is offline  
Dec 7th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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Since it's such a short trip, you might well be best off in and out of Dublin, with a day trip or two. The Wicklow mountains and Glendalough are very doable. Maybe the Rock of Cashel or Newgrange. Not everyone likes Dublin as much as I do, but it's a lovely, vibrant city with great museums, and you could easily spend 5 days there.
persimmondeb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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Here's a link to to a LONG, but probably DEFINITIVE 'Visiting Dublin' question:

Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Dec 7th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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I personally would NOT fly in/out of Dublin - you have too little time to do that unless you are willing to miss everything on the glorious west coast.

In fact, I'd give Dublin a miss altogether. I'd fly in/out of Shannon and concentrate all my limited time on the W/SW.

Or at very least, I'd fly into Dublin and out of Shannon, spend only one day/night in Dublin and then head west afly home from Shannon.

But really, if it was me - in/out of Shannon. You'd have enough time for Dingle or Kerry, Killarney and maybe some of Galway
janisj is offline  
Dec 7th, 2009, 08:31 PM
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As janisj suggested, consider flying into Dublin and out of Shannon or vice versa. If you are overwhelmed by the choices and aren't adverse to driving, an easy itinerary would be to follow the first half of Rick Steves' Ireland tour - Kinsale and Dingle are both worth a visit and meet your criteria of historic sites and a good [typical Irish] night life.
freetoroam is offline  
Dec 8th, 2009, 05:06 AM
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Not everybody has as little liking for Dublin as janisj has.

A southwest visit through Shannon is a good experience, but to undertake it in as short a trip as you have scheduled would be fairly hurried -- the "green blur" that people often mention here.

Dublin, with two excursions (perhaps three, if you really want countryside and scenery) can make for a very good experience. I'd put Wicklow, including Glendalough, high on the list, and I'd also recommend Newgrange.
Padraig is offline  
Dec 8th, 2009, 05:39 AM
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It does depend on what you like of course, and if you do not care for cities, that might be a reason to go in and out of Shannon. I've never understood why many visitors give the east coast a miss. It's not as rainy, and Dublin really is a great walking city, of a nicely manageable size, with fabulous museums. The archaeological museum could easily absorb an entire day by itself.
persimmondeb is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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Okay- so we nailed our flight. After reading some responses, we decided to fly into Dublin and out of Shannon. We want to rent a car for as little as possible and take public transportation when we can.

Any insight on the below intinerary would be greatly appreciated.
Fri 3/26 - JFK to DUB

Sat 3/27 - arrive DUB at 5:20 am - drop luggage off, find breakfast, and begin exploring (Dublin Castle, Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green).

Sun 3/28 - AM Trip to Newgrange, PM temple bar area

Mon 3/29 - Day trip to Galway (we hear mixed things about Galway but do not want to miss is altogether which is why I thought about having a day trip)

Tues 3/30 - Train from Dublin to Kilkenny, explore Kilkenny, stay at B&B

Wed. 3/31 - Pick up rental car in Kilkenny (Enterprise) and visit the Rock of Cashel. After ROC drive to Killarney

Thurs 4/1 - Visit either the Killarney National Park, ROK, or Dingle Peninsula (not quite sure yet)

Fri 4/2 - Drop of rental at Shannon airport and fly home (flight at 1:30pm).
Kerry_V is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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Am literally dashing out the door just now -- but my initial reaction is to take a day trip all the way across the country to Galway and back and then down to Kilkenny the next day seems an awful lot of to-ing and fro-ing.

You are spending 3 days inn or based in Dublin and then 3 days for the whole SW part of the country.

Just think about doin the whole driving bit from Kilkenny to Shannon at approx 35 mph.

I think you need a bit more tweaking. I'd either skip Galway or do it by car before flying out of Shannon. I'd cut a day from your time in Dublin - yes it means an additional day of rental car, but you'd need it to see that much territory.

Take the train to Kilkenny on the 29th and move everything up a day . . . .
janisj is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Thanks for the response, janisj. I definitely see your point. I am almost wondering if I should skip Galway altogether - it seems very out of the way from where our path is taking us. We love historic sites, ancient ruins, pubs - would I be doing us a grave injustic by skipping Galway? Any other suggestions for that extra day we would have (maybe Glendaloch and the Wicklow area before going to Kilkenny?).

Thanks again - even though it is still very overwhelming I did manage my way through Fodors and Frommers to get an idea of what we definitely want to see (with little holes of uncertainty in between)
Kerry_V is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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My daughter and I went to Ireland for 2 weeks in 2003. We loved visiting Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. It is where many of the protesters in the fight to free Ireland from England were held in the early 1900's. there is also a museum that has last letters home from these men and other mementos. It was very moving. Also, just my 2 cents but Dingle was my favorite place we went. We took the ferry (boat really) over to the Blasket Islands. Loved it!!!!!!!
lrock is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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I would change around your dates for Galway and Kilkenny.
You can drive from Kilkenny to Galway, taking in the Rock of Cashel en route; would also recommend Birr Castle if time allowed.
From Galway you can travel south to Dingle using the Tarbert ferry across the Shannon estuary and visiting the Cliffs of Moher on your way.
You may have seen enough of the Atlantic Ocean by now and the Ring of Kerry might be a bit of an effort from a driving point of view. Doing Killarney and the lakes might be a better option as you still have to get back to Shannon.
SeeDee is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 11:06 AM
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With your limited time, it will hardly be possible to find a "perfect" itinerary that will be beyond dispute, IMO. You will probably have to compromise anyway.

Since you said that you are interested in historic sites and museums, I'd also recommend the National Museum in Dublin. It's faily compact in size but gives a colorful and concise overview over the different periods in history.

When thinking about which historic sites you plan to visit, you should also check the website of the Office of Public Works. They manage a lot of historic sites, from castles to parks. And especially for that time when you will have a rental car, you might want to use that freedom to visit some locations which are en-route and where not every tour bus will stop:
Not all historic sites are under the management of the OPC, though.

If you wanted to sample a bit of every important era in history, I would also add a big house and park to the itinerary you mentioned about, like Powerscourt, Castletown, or Muckross.

If you want to see a "real castle", I'd probably visit Cahir castle (just a stone's throw South of Cashel) instead of Dublin castle. You will hardly encounter many tourists at Cahir, it costs only a fraction to enter, and the "feel" is much more real. Last time I was there, I had to "share" the castle with probably 2 or 3 other people.

If possible, it could also be a good idea to think about options or the possibility to re-schedule if you run into exceptionally good or rainy weather, i.e. not force yourself to "do" the Ring of Kerry in pouring rain or spend hours indoors when the sun is shining.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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Do check out the Office of Public Works website that Cowboy suggests. I visited Ireland in late September and the places visited under the operation of the Office of Public Works were some of my favorites. The entry fees were minimal, some did not charge at all. At each site we were the only people present besides the OPW employee. After our asking a few questions, the OPW employee walked around with us, giving essentially a private tour. In each case the person was a graduate of history or anthropology, so they knew and loved their subject.
bjl is offline  
Jan 6th, 2010, 01:29 PM
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Kerry -- as you said everyone has their own thoughts on what is good and what is not --

We went in February -- had a huge iteniary planned and scrapped alot of it - lol

if flying into dublin -- once you get in and settled (are you staying at a hotel or B&B)? you can get a 24-hour on/off pass for the bus around dublin - you go - get on where you want and off as many times as you want. This was a wonderful way for us to see Dublin. (We actually flew in/out of Shannon) and took the train over for an overnight stay in Dublin. We saw almost everything we wanted to in 24 hours. Next time i'd stay two days i think -- but loved NOT DRIVING in dublin! it was NUTS...but being from NY -- you are used to massive traffic i think-- but the on/off bus you can go upstairs on the double decker bus and see everything - and great for photos!

We decided on no galway our trip and spent our time in cork/dingle instead -- lovely lovely towns -- to drive from dublin to galway - you'll spend ALL DAY in the car!

The Killarney National Park is nice -- you can get a jaunty cab (horse drawn) and make the park ride in about two hours -if i had to decide between killarney park and dingle -- no choice - dingle is gorgeous! Lots of fun up/down streets - many shops - many pubs - wonderful wonderful seafood - and you can do the drive around the coast there -- lots of sheep on the road!

If you'd like some photos or other info from me - email me at [email protected] = good luck in planning!

you'll love ireland and wish you had planned to stay longer -- it gets in your heart! I can't wait to go back in June!
Irishgal127A is offline  
Jan 6th, 2010, 05:13 PM
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Just wanted to mention that I read a new road opened last month has cut travel time from Dublin to Galway to 2 hours.
1lovetotravel is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 05:29 AM
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Not sure if you've booked your flights yet but I think you are trying to do a lot in a few days. Would you maybe consider flying into Dublin and spending a couple of days ther-easy access walking to Trinity College(Book of Kells is a must see), Christchurch, St Stephen's Green. short bus to Kilmainham etc
i really really recommend Glendalough( I am a little biased as I live in wicklow) but you mentioned historic buildings and there are also lovely walks well marked ranging from 30mi to 4 hours. There are day tours from dublin to Glendalough and the drive is very scenic.
Then consider either Southwest or Galway. I love Galway. You could get the trainfrom Dublin. It''s a small city-lots of heritage and you can get tours from there to Aran islands or cliffs of Moher. Return to Dublin then by train for flight home. I think this would give you a good flavour of Ireland.
Caitriona is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 06:48 AM
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I think that there is some great advice above. I would spend a day or two in Dublin, getting the hop-on, hop-off tour, as suggested. It's a great way to get an overview of the city, see places you may want to stop at longer later, and rest yourself after a long flight. You'll likely be tired from the night of travel.

Trips out of Dublin that I recommend include Newgrange/Tara/Knowth, and Glendalough/Powerscourt Gardens/Powerscourt Falls. The latter is a nice stop on the way to Kilkenny, though be prepared for a decently long day driving through the Wicklow mountains. Watch for sheep!

Kilkenny is a great medieval city, and I love going there. Check out the castle, of course, but also the Black Abbey, St. Canice Cathedral, Dame Kyteler's Inn for trad music, Marble City for great sandwiches. Just south is Jerpoint Abbey.

Next along the way is Rock of Cashel (wonderful view!), Cahir Castle, and Swiss Cottage. Follow along to the west.

Now you have a choice. Ring of Kerry or Dingle? You probably won't have time for both, but I would personally choose Dingle, as the more beautiful, and the shorter drive. Ring of Kerry is popular for a reason, and it begins/ends in Killarney National Park, which has all sorts of attractions (Gap of Dunloe, Ladies' View, Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall). However, I think the more dramatic and beautiful views of Slea Head and Conor Pass are more sublime (these are on Dingle).

Heading north from there, within easy daytrips from Ennis are the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Galway, the Aran Islands, Bunratty castle/medieval feast/folk park. Take your pick It's also close enough to Shannon Airport to drive easily for a morning flight out.

Go over to for more great advice from Michele.

My recommendation (based on 3 trips myself) would be thus:

Fly into Dublin 3/27, explore Dublin
3/28, day trip to Newgrange
3/29, travel to Kilkenny, via Glendalough
3/30, travel to Killarney or Dingle, via Cashel/Cahir
3/31, Dingle or Ring of Kerry, overnight in Ennis
4/1, Explore Ennis (Galway, the Burren, etc.)
4/2, fly out of Shannon

This gives you only the slightest taste of the magic of Ireland, but I guarantee you'll want to come back for more
GreenDragon is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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Hi. I don't think flying into Dublin on the 27th and leaving the next day for Newgrange would give you enogh time to explore the city. Just my opinion but I think Dublin needs a bit more time.
Caitriona is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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I agree, but there isn't really much time to do more than lightly see any one place - unless they pick just two places, and explore each more thoroughly.
GreenDragon is offline  

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