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Galway, Dublin, Doolin - Reserve or Stay Clear?

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Oct 19th, 2013, 05:42 PM
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Galway, Dublin, Doolin - Reserve or Stay Clear?

I need some recommendations for a two week, first trip to Ireland. After talking to many travelers and reading guidebooks and Fodor posts, I think we'd most enjoy Galway and there-abouts. Yet, here in my home state, I find myself recommending that visitors avoid many of the towns mentioned on-line and in guidebooks, as they just don't seem authentic!

What do you think?
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Oct 19th, 2013, 07:42 PM
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First, the best input I can give you is that there is no right or wrong answer to what to do and see. I may recommend things that others absolutely hate, and vice versa. It all depends on what you like and want to do. So, my opinions are just that...opinions.

I just came back from two weeks in Ireland. I spent three nights in Galway, and was very glad I did. I used Galway as my base for seeing Connemara, which, in my opinion, is the prettiest area of Ireland. Galway has some great pubs with authentic Irish music (try upstairs at Crane Bar), restaurants, and shopping. I loved Galway.

I flew into Dublin and spent three nights there. Two nights would have been enough for me.

I really enjoyed staying in Dingle. Pax House, while expensive, is easily the nivest/best b&b I stayed at in Ireland. I found some really authentic Irish music at Mighty Sessions pub. The drive around the peninsula was beautiful, and Dingle is a decent base to see a few other towns.

I spent one night in Doolin, which serves as a good base to see the Cliffs of Moher. I highly recommend the boat that cruises along the base of the cliffs. I saw the cliffs from the top, but seeing them from below puts their size into perspective. Gus O'Connors is the real deal for a great Irish pub.

That's it for starters. I'm sure others will give you their input, and you'll have plenty of good information. By the way, what time of the year are you going to Ireland?
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Oct 20th, 2013, 03:48 AM
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Galway is a Good base for the surrounding areas. Connemara and north west Clare. Connemara deserves some time of its own, maybe a couple of days around Clifden. Clare has a whole lot more to offer than a couple of points on the north west coast. Along with tourist central Moher and Doolin there are points of the Burren apart from the typecast Moonscape, the south of Clare around Loop Head and the East over here by Lough Derg remain relatively undiscovered.

Split the trip from Galway into Kerry some where between the Ennis,Quilty line and Adare/Listowel. Dingle is compulsory.. everyone who has never been there will tell you that as will those who have never experienced the less seen areas above Galway and in the low south west. It is Not a touring base and I generally recommend driving round there between the split night and Killarney/Kenmare. (not sure what other towns gary saw but definitely stayed in one of most expensive ever B&B's on the whole island).

From Killarney/Kenmare see Beara, same size as Dingle but a totally different feel, Ireland as it was 40 years ago (or Dingle 30 yrs ago before St Rick of Steves and the Dolphin).

Cork area has become popular around Kinsale (the only place in Ireland worth stopping to eat if you believe the press) but personally I prefer the atmosphere of Cobh (or Blarney after the tour bus's have wandered off). Then back to Dublin via Cahir and Cashel up the M8.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:26 AM
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Galway is a thorough waste of time. There is absolute nothing there to see.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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Thanks so much, gary and Tony, It seems that Connemara area at least is a must-see. pov, how long did you spend in Galway?
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Oct 21st, 2013, 01:19 AM
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http://goo.gl/maps/iSQcB might give some points for Connemara.. You have to excuse the partially sighted and Tourism Ireland for less independant information.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 03:37 AM
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Hey, thanks Tony! I also read some of your comments to other posters, and they're also very helpful. My in-laws recommend not renting a car, but they're elderly, and their eyesight and reflexes aren't sharp. We're now thinking of flying into and out of Shannon, and spending our entire two weeks on the western side, saving Dublin and the environs for another trip.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 03:39 AM
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Also, what do you think of the Aran Islands?
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Oct 21st, 2013, 08:48 AM
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I loved our day spent in Inishmor. Beware the ferry ride over though. Even though it was a beautiful day (Nov 2011), the water was choppy and our 45 minute ferry ride left most people sick to their stomachs. I'd recommend a good motion sickness pill. I would go back to the island but I know my wife will never set foot on a ferry boat again. The ferry was an hour plus bus ride from Galway so you won't need a car to get to the ferry.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 09:09 AM
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Don't worry about popov's post . . . He tends to post sarcastic/semi-useless stuff (just take a look)

>>We're now thinking of flying into and out of Shannon, and spending our entire two weeks on the western side, saving Dublin and the environs for another trip.<<

I think that is a excellent idea. Most of what you want to see/do is in the West/Southwest and the travel is slow so 2 weeks based in 3 or 4 places out west would be terrific.
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Oct 21st, 2013, 09:39 AM
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http://www.bushq.com/find/frame/main.asp?BizId=1790
This website gives you some great tips on things to see on the west coast.

You can take any of these day tours from the Galway bus station. I loved doing Inishmor with them. It included the rt bus ride to the ferry and the ferry fee plus to our surprise a small bus took us on a tour of the island. 45 euro but we would have spent more doing on our own. There was another tour we took and it was only 20 euro and was all day to the south of Galway. I liked it because we were using public transportation only on this trip.

Lahinch is one of my favorite places. Sorry to hear the owner of the surf shop passed this week. One of the best golf course in Ireland.
Galway is ok for the day to shop and eat but is really mostly a good base.
Cork has the English market and great pubs. I loved visiting Cobh since my rellies left from that port. Very historical. Barney has the woolen mills and some nice pubs. I have seen the castle once and that was enough. Kinsale is nice but very touristy. I like the smaller places but love the city for the nightlife. I am one of the few that could stay a week in Dublin and be very happy. I have still not seen everything on my list and have been four times there. Saying that because "authentic" means different things to people. The cliffs from Inishmor are my favorite.
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 01:51 PM
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You don't need to rent a car. You could do all the key places without a car on tours but if you really want Ireland through glass there are some good video's about. But you will get a lot more from the west with your own transport and SNN is a great place to start acclimatising.

Pushed into a corner on the Aran's I would say take a Combi Cruise to Inis Oirr and Cliffs of Moher with O'Brien line out of Doolin (one of the few reasons to go there). Thats the usual trip we take our visitors on, Inis Mor? spend the night, go out on the late ferry and back to Rossaveal on the early one. Day trips are fine if you are happy hearding with everyone else.
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 05:43 PM
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Wow, thanks for all of the great information!

bean, I feel your pain. I once spent an entire whale watch feeding the fish. Yeesh! Thanks for the warning. I think that we will spend a few days in the Aran islands. I like the idea of renting bikes and just exploring, going to some good pubs and listening to music at night. Definitely more than a daytrip.

I think that we're also going to brave it and rent a car to explore, everywhere but the Aran Islands, of course.

Janis, thank you for confirming that two weeks in the Southwest is a good plan. Probably Galway, the Aran Islands, and one or two other spots for 3-5 days each. Beara and Lahinch (flpab) I'm going to look into, either as overnights or daytrips. Thanks again, everyone!
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 06:35 PM
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Cattail, if you plan to spend 2 weeks in the Southwest (which is an excellent plan), then I would highly recommend an overnight stay on Inishmore. If you have any problems with motion sickness (as I do), you'll want to take something for it before you get on the ferry. But, even for me, the trip wasn't that bad. (And you can always fly there too.) Our overnight stay was so good because it gave us a chance to experience the island WITHOUT the day-trippers being there. We went to a pub for dinner and it was just us and some locals. Also, it gave us a head-start the next day on our sightseeing so we never encountered any crowds, even at Dun Aengus. Aran Island Ferries offers a overnight package which includes the ferry fare and 1 night in a B&B. (They put us in Clai Ban, which was just fine.)
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Oct 29th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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"Thanks so much, gary and Tony, It seems that Connemara area at least is a must-see. pov, how long did you spend in Galway?"

A few hours. That was already far too long. The only saving grace is that we stayed at an absolutely super B&B, Kileen House I think it was, outside of town. Too bad it closed. By far the best B&B I've encountered.

"
janisj on Oct 21, 13 at 12:09pm

Don't worry about popov's post . . . He tends to post sarcastic/semi-useless stuff (just take a look)"

OK, tell us all about the great stuff in Galway. The great shops, the museum, the great architecture, the sights, blah blah blah.

You don't have to spend much time in Ireland to discover that the towns and cities are third rate tourism. You go their for the scenery. That's about it.
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Oct 29th, 2013, 04:15 PM
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Personally we take visitors into Galway for a couple of hours for the blah blah blah.. but then we live an hour away in non tourist East Galway/Clare.

Galway is though a great touring base, has the full infrastructure required to satisfy all but the most demanding or insulated needs.

I will agree that the city could do more to make people aware of what goes on inside the city itself but lets face it at least what you get with Galway is usually genuine,, Unlike a couple of other places that act as jam traps for "believe the hype" tourists. Best tip for anyone staying in Galway city, get a local paper and see what is going on.
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Oct 30th, 2013, 07:43 PM
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Tony, LOL!
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