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First Time in Ireland - Itinerary Reality Check

First Time in Ireland - Itinerary Reality Check

Old Apr 9th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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First Time in Ireland - Itinerary Reality Check

Wow, this seems to be the forum for great thoughts on itineraries! I've already made a change based on some feedback I'd received, but want to get as many thoughts as I can. My plans are not to go to Ireland until May 2011, so I've got loads of time to plan! I'll try to keep this brief, because I ramble a bit ...

For travel times, I've looked up distance and time estimates ... and then added an hour to each trip, based on what I've heard. Please tell me if you think I should plan for more time - I understand things are much slower (and not just the traffic) in Ireland!

Land in Cork, take public transport from airport (rent a car in the city to avoid having my first minutes spent in Ireland panicking about driving) spend time acclimating and dealing with jet lag, get used to being overseas for the first time ever. Spend the night in Cork. Will pick up a car in the city either Sunday or before leaving on Monday.

Drive to Tralee (assuming 2 - 3 hours, likely a few hours more if I poke around Killarney a bit on the way). Explore, hang out, etc, spend the night in Tralee.

Drive the Dingle Peninsula. Plan on spending most of the day doing so, leaving me time to stop and look around, or to stop and have a meltdown about harrowing driving on the tiny country roads. Spend the night in Dingle or Tralee.

Drive to Doolin (assuming 3-4 hours from Tralee), spend the night there. Will go to Cliffs of Moher either that day or the next.

(The next part is more flexible at this point - I do want to spend a day on the Arran Islands. Would you recommend getting there from Doolin or from Galway? Does it matter much?)

Drive to Galway, taking a road that goes by the Burren National Park (assuming 3 hours, plus time to get out of the car and gawk at nature in the Burren). Spend the night in Galway.

Spend the day on Arran Islands, spend the night in Galway.

I was originally planning on doing a day trip around Connemara, up to Westport and back, but I was told that is quite ambitious for a day trip. Knowing that I'd like to spend some days not driving, and getting a real feel for a city, I'm cutting that trip out and saving it for next time. So we'll just call this "pretending I live in Galway" day. Spend night in Galway.

Ditch the car, take the train to Dublin. Bum around Dublin, spend the night there.

I plan on spending the rest of my trip in Dublin, flying home on Thursday. I'm saving two separate days to do bus trip/tours up to Newgrange/Monasterboise and down to Wicklow/Glendalough, which leaves me another full day in Dublin to pretend I'm a local.

Comments, suggestions, validation, snide remarks welcome. Thank you for reading and giving me any feedback! It's a year away, and I'm already so excited. Planning has been very fun so far.
corianderstem is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2010, 12:07 AM
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I don't think that any day of your itinerary deserves the usual snide remarks

Starting in Cork is a good idea, IMO. The airport is a small, modern, stress-free facility, with a shuttle bus service to Cork City hotels.
If you want an even "quainter" start, you can also take a scheduled bus from Cork airport to Kinsale. Though I am not sure if there are rental car locations in that village since it's so close to the airport.

Nevertheless, your itinerary has a bit of a focus on the rugged West, and you bypass (except for Dingle) most of the SW coastline. But that is more a matter of taste and preferences than of right or wrong.

You could add a bit more time to the SW if you stayed around there on most of your Wednesday, and didn't head for Doolin until later in the afternoon. In May you will have lots of light for driving until 9pm or so.

The Cliffs of Moher can be easily part of a Burren day trip as your Thursday itinerary suggests. Some Burren sights are a bit inland so you probably want to drive around a bit than just follow the main coastal road from Doolin to Galway.
The website www.burrenbeo.com has a good overview of what you can see and do in the Burren.
Another place worth visiting (at the Eastern edge of the Burren) could be the Dysert O'Dea Archeological centre: http://www.dysertcastle.com/

In any case I usually suggest to take a look at the OPW's website of historic places and sites that are run by this agency. There are, obviously, more sights that are privately-owned but it's a good start for planning and checking out what is around in one geographical area, or on the way from A to B.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 05:28 AM
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I can't comment on alot of your itinerary as I have never been to Ireland. I am planning a trip myslef, however, so I have read alot about it. It is better to do a trip to the Arran Islands from Galway rather than Doolin. The ferries departing from Doolin are dependent on fair weather, and can be delayed if the weather is bad. Good luck planning...sorry you have to wait a whole year!
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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I'd suggest that you proceed to Dingle on Monday. It's an extra hour, but Dingle is a far more appealing place to stay than is Tralee.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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I agree about basing yourself in Dingle instead of Tralee. Much more scenic.

I'd do the Aran Islands trip from Galway, definitely.

Personally, I think Connemara is a thousand times more scenic than The Burren, so I'd be inclined to skip the day poking around The Burren, just get to Galway and then still do your day trip to Connemara. It is a long day trip, but you certainly don't have to go all the way to Westport. You can just go to Clifden, Kylemore Abbey and maybe drive some of the Sky Road to get a feel for the area. Just playing devil's advocate here.
Erin74 is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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This is great. Thank you so much! I had someone else suggest Kinsale to me as well, so I might look into renting a car at the Cork airport and just hauling my cookies there for the night instead.

The other thing I really want to see in the southwest is Skellig Michael, but as it's off the Ring of Kerry area, I assumed that wouldn't be doable. It seems pretty out of the way if I'm not doing the Ring of Kerry.

If I spent another day in that area, would it be reasonable to get down there? I was going to not to the Ring of Kerry just because from reading and seeing pics and what not, I'd decided to do the Dingle Penninsula instead.

Galway - Arran Islands is duly noted, as is the Connemara suggestion. The Burren sounds cool, but maybe not quite as interesting as the other.
corianderstem is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2010, 05:13 PM
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I agree with those who suggest your SW stay be in Dingle rather than Tralee. Likewise Rosseveal (Galway) rather than Doolin for the Adran Islands. If you have a gorgeous day while you are in the Dingle area, take a trip from either Dingle or Dunquin to the Blasket Islands. Great Blasket has not been inhabited since 1953 and the ruins of the tiny village are still there and lots of room to roam. It was a very special day for me when we went from Dunquin.

I have driven around Connemara out to Clifden and back in a day. Even with frequent stops, it was not an impossibly long day. Beautiful scenery, interesting historical places, and some good craft shops along the way.

Have fun planning! (half the fun, in my opinion)
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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After doing so much planning in the first few weeks of my decision to go, I took a step back to let everything "breathe" a bit. (Although since I'm not going until 2011, there's lots of breathing room to go yet!)

I was concerned about being jet-lagged and exhausted and having to deal with the learning curve of driving when I landed, and didn't want to just sleep at a hotel near Cork airport, so I had a lightning-bolt-brilliant idea.

I'm going to reverse my plans, and fly into Dublin to start, so I can be carless while acclimating to Ireland and getting over jetlag - I won't need to pick up my car until a few days later, when I leave Dublin!

In my tiny corner of the world, this counts as a Brilliant Idea.
corianderstem is offline  
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