First trip to Ireland, help!

Old Feb 22nd, 2003, 06:53 AM
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First trip to Ireland, help!

My husband and I are travelling to Ireland in late May and need some help/suggestions for an itinerary. We'd like to fly into Shannon on 5/17 (the day after I graduate with my Master's degree!)and possibly leave out of Dublin 5/30 or 5/31.

Neither one of us wants to sit in a car and drive day after day, but instead would like to base ourselves in an area for a few days and explore by foot, including some hiking/walking in the beautiful parks. We have tons of information but are having a hard time detailing an itinerary given our lack of experience in Ireland. I've found dozens of websites as well but they still leave us in the same dilemma - we've never been to Ireland before. Can anyone help?

This is a big request, but any suggestions are appreciated!
Ellie is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2003, 10:59 AM
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I met a German tourist in Killarney who had spent almost 2 weeks hiking in the area and admitted he would have to return to see the rest of it.Dingle and Kenmare would be 2 other good towns to base yourself in.
Old Feb 22nd, 2003, 11:40 AM
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Not quite sure where to start. My wife and I visit Ireland every year, always fly into Dublin then go to Kilkenny where we have friends.

My favorite way to see Ireland is by renting your own car and by traveling the backroads, to see small towns, the countryside, etc.

A few suggestions:

Kilkenny is a great town. Has one of the best castles (Kilkenny Castle), the town has a lot of charm, but is a "bustling" small city/town.

Travel through the "Wikelow Gap" if you can. It is a stark and beautiful mountain pass. In the offseason, not many people. Would not recommend going in summer due to lots of tourists. We were there in March of last year, and there was nobody around. Cooler weather but who cares.

The Aaron Islands are truly amazing. We lucked out and went there on a clear day. I believe they are out to the coast in the Galway area. Lots of cool small towns in the area on the way.

It is a little touristy, but a very worthwhile experience. The Bunratty Castle. Dinner is an experience, but a little expensive. You eat in the Great Hall of a huge castle, with live music and entertainment. I believe it is near Shannon.

In the end, it is the friendly people, small towns, and country roads the interest me the most about Ireland.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2003, 11:57 AM
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We were in Ireland last March and if we were to go back, we would stay in Dingle at least a few days. Be sure to drive Connor Pass! We would also stay longer in the Connamara (sp?) We met a lot of hikers there. We also met hikers in Doolin and the Burren. As you notice, the country side was our favorite over the towns ( we got a kick out of the sheep in our roadway!)although Kinsale and Cobh were charming and worth more time then we gave them. Congratulations on your degree and have a great time. Be sure and enjoy the peat fires in the pubs and all the friendly people there.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2003, 01:58 PM
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Ireland has an abundance of "Off and Walking" possibilities. Given you'll be landing in the west, allow me to suggest a book by Brendan Lehane, titled "Wild Ireland - The Sierra Club Natural Traveler" (Sierra Club Books, 1995). This book will provide you with a helpful and informative overview of Ireland's wide-range of back country attractions, from Donegal to the Wicklow Mountains, the Antrim Coast to West Cork. The book is attractively presented, featuring numerous maps, line drawings, and color photos. I think it works as a good companion for any nature lover traveling to Ireland.

Regarding your trip, you might consider the following very rough itinerary, created with out-of-doors activities in mind:

Days 1 - 3: Explore west Clare and the Burren. This is, in reality, two full days, as day one is a time to relax, unwind, get settled in.

Days 4 - 6: Head north to Co. Galway, and explore the wilds of Connemara. Hiking and cycling (even shopping in Galway) opportunities abound in this region. You might even consider a hike up to the summit of Croagh Patrick, located on the Co. Mayo coast. This is a terrific hike and a famous pilgrimmage site.

Days 7 - 8: Take the ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands. Visit Dun Aengus on Inishmore, hike and bike around the island. Perhaps you could visit and explore one of the smaller, less touristy smaller islands, such as Inisheer.

Day 9: A day mainly devoted to driving, as you take the ferry from Aran back to the mainland. From there, head south, cross the Shannon using the Tarbert Ferry, and head further south for the Dingle Peninsula.

Days 10 - 12: Settle into Dingle town and explore the marvelous Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head. Take a half-day trip over to the Blasket Islands.

Days 13 - 14: Leave the Dingle region and head south for Killarney; not the noisy, way-too-touristy town, but its national park. Spend a couple days hiking and exploring the wonderful countryside.

As an alternative to Killarney, spend a couple days further south on and around the Ring of Kerry. Should you decide on this, by all means spend the best part of a day visiting the Skellig Islands, located off the Kerry coast. It's a memorable way to spend a day hiking, birdwatching, and learning about the lives of monks, circa 10th century.

Another consideration is "doing" the very scenic and less visited Beara Peninsula. There is much in the way of hiking possibilities here.

Days 15 - 16: Leave Ireland's wonderful west and head east for Dublin. On the way, consider making a stop in Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland's most famous monastic sites.

Needless to say, you could very well drop a certain location and spend an extra day (or two) in one. For example, sacrifice the Burren for more time in Connemara; or drop your visit to the Aran Islands for more time in the Dingle region. There are countless options, but I trust this will at least give you a good starting point.

Best of luck (What a way to graduate!).
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Old Feb 23rd, 2003, 01:26 PM
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The best free detailed itinarary advise you will ever get comes form this site
Don't overlook Northern Ireland. We spent a week in both the Republic and the North. Both ae equally beautiful. If I had only one week I would spend it in Northern Ireland. They have not had as many tourists over the years due to the "troubles' and are even more friendly and hospitable if that is possible. I think the money goes further in the north as well!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2003, 02:56 PM
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Thanks everybody! Now we can start planning with all of your suggestions. I'll definately check out some of the books and websites, too. The trip to Ireland is the only thing keeping me motivated in my last semester of graduate school!
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Old Feb 24th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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My wife and I will be arriving in Ireland on the 23rd of May. We will be there for 8 nights ~ then on to Scotland. I have had fun researching ~ for about a year ~ the trip and have compiled a rather indepth Itinerary. This is our first trip to Ireland (about 10th to Europe) and we like to stay in one place for at least 2 nights. We travel on a moderate to moderately expensive budget. I used this website and the major travel guides (including Karen Brown). If you have any interest in copy of the Itinerary, let me know ([email protected]). Y'all have a nice trip ~ we will waive as we pass.
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