First Trip to Ireland, Advice

Old Dec 11th, 2005, 07:28 AM
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First Trip to Ireland, Advice

8 of us are planning our first trip to Ireland in September 2006. We are currently planning a 4 day bus tour and then self-catering for days, hopefully near Kenmare. We want to do some family research, day trips, but mostly enjoy the people and the culture.

Should we do the bus tour or just rent a car for the first 4 days? Any recommendations on self-catering accomodations in southwest Ireland? When is the peak season over, in the middle of September? What are the 2 - 3 must see places in southwest Ireland? We have different views on whether we should visit Dublin at all (on this trip)?

Thanks

Clubchump
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Old Dec 11th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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I think the bus trip is a good idea, as you'd cover a lot of ground and both of you could enjoy the scenery. I'd then rent a car and stay in or near Kenmare in a self-catering. I loved the Beara Pen. and Dingle. I don't know if Dingle could be an easy day trip from Kenmare. Maybe some of the experts will chip in with more answers . The rentals usually are for a week. Now about B&B's. There are some really nice ones around kenmare and Dingle. You'll be getting more help I'm sure. Also Killarney might be a good base, as you could do both Kenmare area and Dingle from there. My Best, Joan
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Old Dec 11th, 2005, 08:26 AM
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Hmmm...a bus trip would cover a fair amount of ground but then you'd be ..well..on a bus trip! From what I saw at the main tourist attractions...30 coaches and crowded with lots and lots of tourists. For me, it's not something I would choose.

I have been to The west coast of Ireland a couple of times and it's completely feasible to do the lot by car with a good map and a sense of fun.

In the south-west I recommend seeing the Burren which is a wonderful limestone landscape unlike anywhere else and stopping in Galway which is a really fun town. head to the Roisin Daub pub for some fantastic traditional and not so traditional music!

I can recommend a great touring book which has 25 car tours for an independent traveller published by the AA. It has itineries, maps, driving times etc etc. It's really good. www.theaa.com for more info on their guides.

You can also check out the ireland section of my website for some more ideas and places to stay.

http://www.mcdougalladventures.com/category/ireland

Have fun. It is a wonderful country!
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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I would hire a car, as the bus tours just pass through places and you dont actually get to experience the place properly. have a look at this link for Ireland SW, enjoy your trip, and maybe i'm biased but I think you should give Dublin a whirl( i'm a Dubliner)
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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http://www.corkkerry.ie/

oops sorry forgot to post the web link in my previous post.
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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Here are a few things to chew on from my point of view:

If you are going to rent a car for any period of time, rent it for the whole time. No reason to waste time speeding by beautiful sights in a bus and sharing intimate moments with a couple hundred of your closest tour bus friends. Also, the car rental rate for anything over a week will be much better than for 4 days. Addtionally, one of the main tourist sections for the tour buses to visit is the SW, so you would likely be retracing some steps. Rent a car!

Most self catering places rent by the week, so you may have a hard time finding a place to stay for four days. September is considered shoulder season by some places though usually sort of a high shoulder season. Here are some websites that I know of:
http://www.shamrockcottages.co.uk/
http://www.selfcatering-ireland.com/

It sort of depends what you are looking to do in when you travel as far as Must See goes. I would consider the Dingle Peninsula, Killarney National Park/Gap of Dunloe, Beara, Mizen Head high on the list. There are lots of other things too depending on your interests.

Dome people love Dublin, others don't. If you have a strong interest in Irish history, it's a must.

Hope this gets you started.

Bill
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 08:44 AM
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OK, that's supposed to be some people, not dome people. Please send a new set of fingers.

Bill
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Bill (dome)-- I always enjoy your sense of humor in your various posts (as well as your advice and trip reports).

Cheers,
Sue
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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Bill--
Forgot to add:
new set of fingers on way.......
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Thanks Sue. I'll need them soon.
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 04:06 PM
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Hi clubchump,
Before anyone can advise on taking a bus tour or not one has to know what is on offer. The C.I.E. bus tours for 2006 are now listed on the web and I think there are 16 different tours. Read through them and decide what you want to do.(www,cietours.ie/home/)and click on Ireland tours.
You can also get a bus ticket to travel on the whole bus network to wherever you want to go. (www.buseireann.ie)
Its a holiday - let someone else do the driving, the money will be there when we are gone so spend it while you can before someone spends it for you.
www.bedandbreakfast.net might be useful.
www.goireland.ie
For self catering etc. have a look at www.nci.ie/holiday
If you want to make an Irish cake etc www.irelandofthewelcomes.com
For Dublin (www.visitdublin.com)
Whatever you do have a great time and splash out - it will make you feel good.
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Old Dec 14th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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clubchump, in dingle we stayed in a self-catering apartment here http://www.dinglemarinalodge.com/ they have two for around 90E a night. If you're planning to head to Kinsale by any chance I would recommend this place that I think should sleep around 6-8 people http://www.kinsale.ie/pisces.htm it is across from the Spainard and has AMAZING views. Finally the other website I use for all around the world is www.vrbo.com. Most people here will respond fairly quickly and if they can't help you most are very helpful in recommending other places that can accomodate your party. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Dec 14th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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You will have a wonderful time!!
We used the Dooley's B&B guide after realizing that our cottage by the sea was a empty sad house on a sandy inlet. And the B&B's were all WONDERFUL and we only had one say they were full when we called - and that was July.
But the car ... get the full insurance on one intrepid soul. Then you won't mind rubbing bushes and walls as the bus tour people take up yours and their side of the road. Only travel the Ring of Kerry from Kenmare to Killarney - NEVER go against the bus traffic on the edges of the Killarney mountains. But if your driver has nerves of steel and is willing to drive - never make any noises of criticism or complaint - they are a saint for driving - buy their meals and drinks every day!!!!!!!
Don't go to Dublin unless you are a Joyce buff - stay in the west and southwest - you will see so many different things and love them all.
Don't miss Kinsale. Start with Durty Nelly's after you land at Shannon - have a pint and stretch your legs next door at Bunratty Castle - it's five minutes from the airport.
Take the train on Dingle - it's charming.
Oh - I'd say so much more if I thought you'd really need the info - Ireland is one of those places you just wander about in. You'll love!!
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Old Dec 15th, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Well, the money won't be there when you are gone is a lovely sentiment, but you would like to be there while you are still here. All that said, if you were going to be traveling for quite a while, then a bus tour might be an option, but bus tour for four and drive for four makes no sense to me. Do one or the other.

As far as driving the RoK clockwise against the bus traffic, I've done it many times. Good timing helps. If you get a reasonably early start from Kenmare (9ish), and when you get just past Waterville, take the Skellig ring and then head out to Valentia. We've never had a problem. You'll hardly ever see a bus. I'd rather do that than be stuck behind a bus the entire ride. The toughest part of the ride with tour buses coming at you is actually the ride from Killarney to Kenmare. The rode is very narrow and winding. Try not to hit that part of the ride between 4-6PM. There will likely be a number of buses returning to tourist central (Killarney) at about that time.

Bill
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Old Dec 15th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Probably shouldn't have hit post yet. I have to agree that the driver is a saint (it's usually me). However, I think there is a lot more to Dublin than James Joyce. Kilmainham Gaol is one of the most moving (and perhaps disturbing) places in Ireland. The cathedrals are beautiful, a Sunday walk in St Stephen's Green ... well you know .... I find I enjoy Dublin more every time I visit. It grows on you. OK, there's my advertosemnt for the city, but I will also say, it takes some time to enjoy and figure out what you want to do. I would think that you would need to devote a minimum of two days there which may cut into your 8 day schedule too much.

Bill
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Old Dec 15th, 2005, 04:07 PM
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Thanks everybody!To clarify one point, our stay is for 11 days, 4 on the bus tour and then 7 days in the southwest. We were looking for a bus tour that might cover some areas north of Kerry and Cork. Then day trips in the southwest.

Clubchump
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Old Dec 15th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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Rent car. Try pre-renting through British Air and maybe you'll end up with an automatic BMW!
Don't worry about the roads/driving.
Try September. Good weather; less crowds
Unfortunately most places, music doesn't start until late at night.
Take very good maps; intelligent navigator; look at driving distances online first--then lengthen a bit.
Ireland is wonderful; go for it.
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