First trip to Ireland

Nov 19th, 2007, 07:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
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First trip to Ireland

My sister and I are planning a trip in May and June 2008. It will be our first trip abroad. We have 3 weeks to 'discover' Ireland. Any suggestions would be helpful and very grateful. We would like to 'do our own thing', i.e.: drive and stay at local establishments. We are travelling from Ontario, Canada.
Thank you for any information.
Lynda_ann is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 12:31 AM
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The last full week of May (ending on a weekend) there's Fleadh Nua in Ennis, County Clare. It' a Spring Trad music & dance spectacular, very close to Shannon airport. Google 'Fleadh Nua' for dates & venues.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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I would highly recommend not doing what most first-timers do to Ireland (or any country) - don't try to see EVERYTHING!

With three weeks, you will be able to see lots. I would recommend picking 7 spots you want to see, in a rough circle or line - and spend at least 3 nights in each spot. We spent 4 nights each in Ennis, Killarney, Kilkenny and Dublin on our latest trip, and it was wonderful exploring the local areas, getting to know the locals, getting lost on purpose, etc.

What are your main interests? Shopping, lonely landscapes, ruined churches, etc.?
GreenDragon is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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one of my close friends is from dublin, so a group of us went to her wedding last august in county clare. her first recommendation was to skip dublin since its the most like any other typical big city. while i DEF dont recommend doing that if its your first trip, definitely don't skip galway either. it was definitely my favorite part, my fiance's family is from there and the pedestrian only streets with pubs, live music, beautiful surroundings was just what i expected an irish city to be. Also, since you will be there in the summer, the beach towns along the west coast that get more populated in the summer are adorable and worth a night on your tirp.
rachelnyc04 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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Loved Dublin. Loved Galway City. But also loved the small towns and villages in the Connamarra area.

In Dublin, we stayed at Bewley's Ballsbridge. It's inexpensive, not posh but excellent for the price, and a short bus ride or about a 20 minute walk into the centre of town. We almost always took the walk because it's through a lovely neighbourhood. Here's the website:

(PS We're from Toronto)
hdm is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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Try and fly into Shannon and out of Dublin or the other way around. That way you don't have to double back to the airport.
Sue878 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Thank you all so very much for responding to my query. My sister and I have a passion for history, anything old, ruins, etc.

Attn.: NEDSIRELAND: The festival you mentioned sounds absolutely delightful. We also love any and all Celtic music, it gets the blood flowing!

Also, I wish to thank you for the links to different websites. If anyone thinks of anything else that may or may not be helpful, please send it along.

Lynda_ann is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 06:34 AM
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well, you love the sort of things I love, so you may find it edifying to read my trip report to Ireland from June 2006. I only had 16 days, but surely you can add to it

It is either here on Fodor's, or here with pictures:
GreenDragon is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 02:25 PM
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I think I can agree with pretty much all other posters. If you have the time, don't forget to take in Northern Ireland. The tourism industry is not so developed there but is not necessarily the worse for that. The Lakelands in Fermanagh are charming and can be easily linked to a visit to Galway and Sligo in the West.

If its remote you want, try Donegal. As an Irishman, I always feel that when you arrive in Donegal, you have arrived in somewhere different - in a good way. As well as ancient stuff, it also has a fantastic National Park called Glenveagh which was assembled by Henry McElhinney of Tabasco Sauce fae, whose ancestors had been evicted from there. Before he died he gave it to the Irish state who have done a fine job in maintaining its wildness and contrasting it with Henry P's neo-classical castle on the estate.

More practically, has a good route planner that will help you gauge how, and how far, to go on each day. If you are not driving yourself the national bus company Bus Eireann offers a comprehensive and good value service - not as fast as the train but with much better coverage.

For the strange coming together of sport, culture and society you should try and take in a hurling or gaelic football game. It is high season in MAy/June and big games can be easily found at weekends. However smaller local games (all over) sometimes offer more entertainment. will explain all.

Have a good visit

Rigarama is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 07:36 PM
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We found 2 weeks in Ireland too long You may wish to split your trip and spend some time in another place - Scotland or England.
danon is online now  
Nov 21st, 2007, 07:48 PM
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I would suggest that you avoid staying in B&Bs that are outside walking distance to the city you are visiting. The countryside is literally dotted with B&Bs. I mean, they are everwhere. However, finding YOUR B&B in the dark of night after having a beer or two at the local pub can be near impossible! I think you'll enjoy your stay more, if you can just walk to your hotel after a relaxing evening.
mkdiebold is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 10:19 PM
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I found 6 weeks in Ireland NOT long enough. To each their own.
IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 11:10 PM
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I would agree to try a side trip to England/Scotland if you are inclined (and flights are so cheap) I did love our time in Ireland but by the end of one week found it just as beautiful but not as much variety as I would have liked. And the diet was pretty uniform, I was craving anything without beef and potatoes. However, if you are looking for less of a sightseeing trip and more of an exploration and time with your sister, then you should be just fine. Keep in mind, I was there with 'locals' so perhaps I should have gone off to explore more on my own.
rachelnyc04 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2007, 09:07 AM
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In my opinion three weeks is definitely not too much time to spend in Ireland. For such a small country there is so much to see and experience, especially the wonderful Irish people.

I have visited Ireland many times and my favorite area is West Cork, particularly Kinsale, a scenic, historic seaside town. Considered by many to be the "culinary capital " of Ireland, there are many wonderful restaurants that serve much more than "beef and potatoes".

Another great little town is Lahinch, in the popular coastal area of County Clare. It is close to the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher (touristy, but well worth seeing if the weather is right), and Shannon airport.

I also would not miss the rugged scenery of Donegal.

Have a wonderful time!
colbeck is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2007, 09:41 AM
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If I added up all the time I have spent in Ireland over the years it would total about 4- 5 weeks and there is so much more we have not seen. We have seen quite a lot of southern Ireland and only a fraction of Northen Ireland.

There use to be a Mussel Festival in Bantry not sure if it is still on it was in the first or second week of May. Plenty of free live music and entertainment and all of the pubs served free mussells that had been cooked in Murphy's beer with large chunks of bread. West Cork is one of my favourite places.
crazychick is offline  
Nov 24th, 2007, 12:02 AM
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to clarify my post, and maybe what others meant also, obviously 3 weeks or even 3 months is not enough to "cover" any entire country, even a small one. but if its your first trip across the atlantic then just thought you might want to do a combo trip since you are coming so far already. either way im sure you will have a great time...and the weather should be as good as its going to get around then as well.
rachelnyc04 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2007, 08:51 PM
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Sorry, but you can never count on the Irish weather to be anything but changeable. Summer 2007 is a good example.

IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 24th, 2007, 09:07 PM
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Several years ago I spent 3 weeks touring Ireland. I arrived in Shannon and made the circle, heading northward first and around and returning to Shannon for departure.

Here is a good site for lodging for you to look at with a map of the places.

Ireland is lovely..beautiful scenery, nice people.Only negative, for me, is driving on the left. I never really get completely comfortable with it.

Enjoy your planning.....
gracejoan3 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I am so envious. Three weeks will be a fabulous trip and I don't think it's too long at all. BUT, keep in mind that you will not be seeing lots of museums --- mostly you will see gorgeous scenery, cute towns, and some castles/ancient sites.

I think an itinerary entirely depends on the type of traveler you are. You could easily do a circuit around the country in 3 weeks, with a few days spent in each area (but like GreenDragon suggested, definitely pick certain cities you want to stay in and spend 2-3 days there). Or, what I would do, is drive for about a week, stopping each day at a different city, and then spend the middle week in one place with beautiful scenery and lots to do (my vote would be in the Connemara or in Donegal), and then the last week driving again for one day at each city. If you click on my name, you can see my trip report where we went to a different city every day but did it in a very slow moving way.

Let us know a little bit more about your interests and your traveling style so that we can help you out on this. Do you travel with lots of luggage or do you travel light? Do you mind picking up every day and moving around or do you want to stay in one place for a while?

You said that you like old sites --- are you expecting museums (because there aren't that many in Ireland) or would you be okay with trudging around ruins (because there is a lot of that). The Burren is amazing for ancient sites and innkeepers in Ballyvaughan can provide you with maps of the megalithic tombs.
akila is offline  
Nov 29th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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First I would like to thank EVERYONE for their help and suggestions. This will be my first, that is correct, my first trip abroad, and I hope the beginning of many more, a very anticipated gift to myself for my upcoming 60th birthday in Feb.

In answer to Akila's query of what do I like, well, I certainly do not like to sit on my duff. My sister and I both enjoy walking and exploring and by that I mean, trekking to various ancient sites, not museums or so-called 'controlled' excursions. Our desire is to 'live' as the 'locals' and not be waited on. We want to see castles, the spectacular scenery I read about, to have an ale in a pub and sing with the patrons of same. Akila has given me much to ponder over, for which I am very grateful. We do not intend to carry much with us, the bare minimum. We also hope to rent a vehicle and just go as we please, or as my late dad used to say, wherever the wind blows us!

Again, many thanks to all. Take care everyone! Lynda_ann

To gracejoan3, thank you for the link to a lodging site.
Lynda_ann is offline  

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