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Great Trip! Report on West & Northwest Ireland

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Oct 15th, 2005, 04:18 PM
  #21
 
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I second (or third or fourth) the trip through Connemara past the fjord and Leenane and up the valley - drive slow and take a lot of pictiures. Westport too is terrific - Matt Malloys is fun, we found the Porterhouse next door even more fun. A trip out to the famine museum in the morning is great, especially as you'll see the fog/clouds lift up on Crough Patrick as the sun hits them. Achill Island too is great - a place we thought we'd like to stay for a month after spending a day there.

Have a great trip!!!
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:14 AM
  #22
 
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NJSally and rogerb, thanks so much for the advice on great stops on a scenic route between Kinvara and Westport...McShane, look what you started, I am so happy, your trip report is really enriching my trip plans!

I am wondering about leaving luggage in rental cars. There we will be, driving along the scenic route with our luggage, then what happens when we stop to look at the beautiful Killary Harbour, for example, or if we stop for lunch in Leenane? Have you all left your luggage locked in the car when driving from one B&B to another? What about luggage theft?

Any thought on this? Another possible choice is to take the fast, non-scenic route between Kinvara and Westport, deposit our luggage in our next B&B in Westport, and then drive back towards the Killary Harbour area (scenic route) to sight-see without the luggage.

The last time I left anything in the car on vacation was years ago,and somebody broke the window of our rental car and stole my purse (which wasn't visible from the outside, but the thief figured we had gone for a hike, which we had, and he figured he could get away with it, which he did!

Ever since then, I never leave luggage unattended in our car (unless I happen upon a parking lot with a security guard on duty, which does happen occasionally). What do you all do, take your chances?

With 4 people in one car, I doubt all our luggage will fit in the trunk. Some of it will have to be visible in the car probably.

Thanks everybody for the great tips.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 04:47 AM
  #23
 
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Dear Melissa6
Well, my sister and I never particularly worried about someone breaking into our car and we practically lived out of it with souvenirs and junk strewn hither and yon until the last day. I had heard that the car park at Croagh Patrick in Murrisk was a high risk theft area. However we were there in the pouring rain, on a morning. Moms were dropping their kids off at the school right next to the car park so I don't think it was risky at that time. None of the other areas, like Leenane, are much of a risk. Frankly we could see our car from the town/shops the whole time. I guess you always have to be wary but it would be a shame to waste all that time getting to a B&B and then backtracking. Just my opinion, Sally
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:27 PM
  #24
 
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Thanks, Sally. Maybe I'll see what other travellers have done about this as well.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 09:38 PM
  #25
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Melissa,
I'm so happy you're considering Westport. The funny thing to me about Ireland is how small it is, yet how different each place is from the area nearby! Doolin/Kinvara/Galway and Westport are all wonderful and very different.

I think I like your plan B trip a lot but I'll want to look at the map. I promise I'll post again later in the week when I have time to carefully think about it. I think what I prefer about the second version is the daytrip to Newgrange and the first night at Ennis.

We never had trouble with our luggage or car in Ireland. Maybe it's that the roads are too slow for a getaway! We had all our luggage stolen in Oaxaca, Mexico (my husband chased them down on the street and retrieved everything - great story.) And in E. Europe I was always surprised when we returned to find our rental car where we left it! Here at home I'd never leave anything in the car at a trailhead but Ireland is safer than home.

That drive via Leenane is great and your husband will like the fjord. We had lunch at the town by the fjord (good lasagne & chips!)

The famine memorial is moving. My husband went on a solo hike above the Doo Lough valley, leaving from the memorial. While he took NO photos of Westport, he took about 50 of that hike - it was quite scenic!

Happy planning - I'll be back!
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Oct 17th, 2005, 01:44 AM
  #26
 
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McShane, your trip report was good for a third read-through! It is now highlighted in green and yellow.

Thanks again and have a good week, I'll be eagerly waiting to hear what you think when you have time. I think the plan below would work and would be great, except I'm a bit worried about if the drive between Westport and Belfast is too long? These would be mainly 3-night stays at one B&B with day-trips nearby:

Fly into shannon. Rent car.
1 night: Ennis or Cashel (Tipperary)
3 nights: Dingle Peninsula
3 nights: Doolin (or Ballyvaughan)
3 nights: Westport
2 nights: Belfast area
3 nights: Dublin (w/ day-trip to Newgrange or Trim Castle)
Fly home from Dublin

Thanks, McShane, amelia also has a nice recent trip report with college-age daughter. So helpful to have these detailed, interesting reports.
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Oct 17th, 2005, 02:53 AM
  #27
 
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McShane,

I am delighted you enjoyed westport.It's a lovely town and there are lots of day trips. I must have been the one who mentioned Moran's to you. We went to a wedding in August and rented an apartment in the laneway across from the porter house. We also had the entire wedding crowd in Matt Molloys back room the next night. Boys will behave once the mother warns them off. We always have one pint at Morans to start the night. What specific restaurants did you eat in?

It's a shame that the Rossmoney seaweed baths have closed it was a wonderful place outside qwestport that had a small salt water pool that could be used for 8-10 euro tp relax with the sauna and jacuzzi. They also had a room with 2 tubs for the seaweed baths tha my other half and I had to ourselves. There are everal hotels that offer these treatments but thia placxe was special overlooking Rossmoney bay.- What a lovely trip you had!
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Oct 22nd, 2005, 04:15 PM
  #28
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Hi Melissa,
I had a lovely week, thanks! I just read Amelia's trip report. What a wonderful trip and a terrific family. I've done long distance biking before. I'm not sure I'd be so cheerful in the rain on those roads.

Siobhan - it was you who recommend Moran's grocery/pub. I took my husband there for a pint after grocery shopping, telling him that one of my imaginary friends had recommended it And darn - I knew you'd ask about dinner - I ended up buying lovely steaks at the butchers and vegetables at the green grocers and cooking in our apartment. We had lunch out every day, and many, many beers, but never dinner. Even though one of your favorite restaurants, I think it was the Lemon Tree, was about 10 steps from our rental.

So Melissa, I think your itinerary looks lovely. We live on the west coast as well so I'm entirely sympathetic about how horrible the jet lag can be. Years ago, on a second honeymoon to Europe, my husband and I stopped at the Cologne Cathedral on our first day. Well I knelt at an altar to have a look and fell sound asleep. According to my husband, someone thought I was having a religious experience and was moved to join me in prayer.

So for that first night Ennis would be lovely and others report that it's a center for great music (AFTER your nap!) On our trip last year we spent our first day at Bunratty (it was in May and it was nearly empty.) We also went to

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Oct 22nd, 2005, 04:42 PM
  #29
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whoops - to finish -
We also went to Craggaunowen and that was memorable. I think that's the place with the recreated Brendan boat. It was quite interesting. You could do a little touring before arriving in Ennis for a nap. But I also have read many reports of travelers who love Cashel - it sounds like a special place.

And Doolin, I would second both Amelia and Bill on pubs and places to stay. O'Connor's pub was jammed in May and it wasn't possible to wedge our bodies in to hear music. In May! The Atlantic view B&B looked nice from the outside and is near the fun pubs. The Doolin craft shop is fun and lunch there is very nice. Lunch nearly everywhere in Ireland is very nice!

So yes, I think your itinerary looks wonderful and it looks like it's a trip that your whole family will enjoy. And the drives don't seem overly long. The one long day will be Westport to Belfast but there's just no getting around that. Perhaps you can plan a mid-day stop somewhere like Enniskillen. We found the N Ireland roads much, much faster so the sooner you get on those roads, the easier the drive. Perhaps Siobhan can advise on the best route between Belfast and Westport.

I think you'll love Dublin. It's quite a lively town with young people but there are so many, many wonderful things to see. You might consider staying just one night near Newgrange, at Slane or somewhere, on your way from Belfast. The tours to Newgrange fill up fairly early in the day in the summer so you'll want to get there by noon for your spots.

You could then turn in your car in Dublin and spend your last 2 nights there blissfully car free. We did OK driving in Dublin but the traffic is legendary.

Your girls will probably love Dublin - my daughter did but of course she was there for 3 nights without us She has photos of herself out on the town with people in penguin costumes. I will mention that in Dublin, in case your husband wanted to spend many, many, many hours at the archaeology museum, there's great shopping right nearby that several of you will love! Not that you'd want to leave him to go shopping... but just in case

Best of luck!

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Oct 25th, 2005, 12:25 AM
  #30
 
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McShane, thanks for your friendly reply full of info. We have decided to keep that last itinerary I posted above, except that we're going to skip Newgrange and spend the last 3 nights in Dublin (family voted!) We still might be able to see Trim Castle on the drive down from Belfast to Dublin.

I'm trying to buckle down and get my B&B's now before I fiddle with the itinerary again! I am a bit worried that no B&B's within 40 minutes of Shannon will want us for only 1 night in busy July! For our first night I will look at B&Bs in Bunratty, Ennis, or Adare maybe. I am hearing that B&Bs are starting to require 2-night minimums.
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Oct 25th, 2005, 03:02 PM
  #31
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Hi Melissa,
I have one more suggestion: a country house near Shannon called Carrygerry House. It is splendid. You could drop off your bags, go tour until naptime, then hang out at Carrygerry House. It's our all-time favorite place to stay with lovely rooms, warm and elegant public rooms and delicious food. http://www.carrygerryhouse.com/index.htm

We've always stayed there before flying home. One night stays are fine, and two rooms isn't much more than a family room. The dinners are very special and the atmosphere will plunge you straight into Ireland. My son thinks it's heaven.
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Oct 25th, 2005, 04:45 PM
  #32
 
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McShane, thanks for the link to Carrygerry House. It looks really great, just the right way to be "plunged" into Ireland!

I have a weird question. I see a dog in the photo on the web-site. I have developed an odd allergy in recent years that I never had as a child...I am NOT allergic to dogs or to their hair, only to something in their saliva! If they lick my hand for example I break out in that spot. If I wash my hands right away it's okay. but if I forget and rub my eyes before washing my hands, then my eyes turn all red and watery and itchy.

So anyway it's not a problem if the dog ignores me. But if the dog insists on coming around me and licking me, then I have a problem. Can't keep rushing to the bathroom to wash my hands every second! It's a bigger problem with dogs who like to jump up on you. If a dog comes sniffing me, I can lift my hands up and if I'm wearing jeans there's nothing for him to lick. But if he jumps up and he's big, he can still reach! Plus if a big dog jumps up you end up using your hands to push him down and darn, then he licks your hand...Sigh...

Okay, don't laugh, this is true. Most dog owners are dog lovers, and have no idea that maybe some people have a reason they don't like dogs licking them and getting friendly! I seriously don't think anyone would believe me if I told them I'm alergic to the dog's saliva, but I have met some other people who have told me the same thing.

So, what is the doggie in the photo like at Carrygerry House? (My daughter will be in heaven if we stay there, she loves dogs and is mad at me that we don't have a dog at home.)

Otherwise it looks like just the sort of place we'd love to stay!

One thing about dogs is maddening to me. You would think a dog could take the hint if you are ignoring him that you don't want to make friends. Unfortunately, the dogs seem to zero in on me becuase I am ignoring them, maybe that makes them more curious, and then I can't get rid of them unless the owner takes them in another room or I leave! I was at a wedding shower recently with about 20 ladies in a room. In came the dog, and everyone wanted to pet him except for me. So he picked me, and wouldn't leave me alone! Ahhhhhh!

I am seriously interested in Carrygerry House. It's the most interesting guesthouse I've seen so far in the Shannon airport area. If you could just let me know what you and your son experienced with the dog?

Oh, also, were there any cats? (hubby is allergic to cats, mostly a problem if the cats are allowed to be on the furniture where hubby has to sit.)

Thanks a million McShane!
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Oct 27th, 2005, 06:07 PM
  #33
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Hi Mellisa,
That's funny about the dog! I don't remember seeing the dog the second time we stayed there. Last year, we'd heard there was a dog so we asked if we could take him for a walk. So he was brought 'round to the front door on a leash for our walk. Which your daughter would probably love to do! Mostly you walk to see the cows and horses. Otherwise, we never saw him - I don't think he goes in the house.

And I don't recall seeing cats anywhere at all. I did spend the afternoon on a couch by the fire. If there'd been a cat - I'm sure my lap would have been discovered!

The owners are wonderful people - the Ennis family - and they'll definitely keep the dog away when you let them know you're allergic.

I should however warn you about the food. It's too good and too much! They serve a prix fixe dinner that is just amazing. First you sit in the drawing room with your glass of wine or cocktail and they take your dinner order. Only when your first course is ready are you seated in the conservatory for dinner. There is TOTALLY nothing like that at home!

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Oct 28th, 2005, 12:09 PM
  #34
 
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Thanks so much McShane, you've been a great source of info. One thing I'm puzzled about, maybe you could clear it up. somebody else told me the Carrygerry house isn't run by the owners, but you are saying it IS run by the owners who are the Ennis family? Can you confirm this or maybe I am confused? The reason I am wondering is when the owners actually run a place it's more personal which I like. It's "their" place. It feels more like home.

Thanks McShane! Sounds like the dog will be fine, no problem with the dog.
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Oct 28th, 2005, 01:41 PM
  #35
 
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McShane, I agree with you on Carrygerry House. What a wonderful friendly family. The little one told me all planes go to America. We turned our car in a day early and walked along the country roads and came back to a great dinner. We did find the stable rooms a little musty. The rooms in the main house were great. People must realize this is not a Holiday Inn( they have their place also), it is a wonderful old, well cared for house and I believe the Ennis family do own it. One of our nights was a Sat. and the dining room was full of locals. They do it every Sat. I'll go back if I can.
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Oct 28th, 2005, 04:56 PM
  #36
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Thanks Chatham,
We stayed in the main house both times we were there and the rooms were fresh and clean. I was very curious about the stable rooms! They look charming. That's a good idea to turn the car in early. I wish I'd thought of that! Did you take a cab to the airport?

Melissa - I'm so happy to be of help. You have me completely hooked on checking on your plans every couple of days! You'll be interested to hear that my lovely daughter liked Ireland so much that she's applying for jobs in Dublin

Carrygerry House - the Ennis family are the owners. I think they bought it just a few years ago when pregnant with their first Very warm and friendly, young and hard working. With great taste in food and design (nothing 'cute' - it's old country elegant.) We found it when we stayed at a nearby B&B and they sent us there for dinner. We sorely wished we were staying there instead of the B&B we were at.

Now it's our treat before flying home - so important to be well fed and well rested for that long day of flying. I also think it's a great idea to stay there the first night. There are a number of sights nearby - Bunratty & other castles.

Well, I'll check back to see how your final plans shape up! And much later to read your trip report.


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Oct 28th, 2005, 11:20 PM
  #37
 
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McShane, planning my trip is WAY more fun when I have friendly experienced travellers like you to chat with about my plans! And when I return, you will get tired of reading my trip report, I do tend to go on in my enthusiasm...but I break it up in paragraphs with subtitles for easier reading.

The Carrygerry house sure sounds inviting except for the musty rooms in the stable. I'm not being picky, I value a homey, friendly accomodation. It's just that hubby and I are blessed with allergies to mold and musty rooms can be uncomfortable. (In addition to hubby's allergy to cats and my allergy to dog saliva!) We always have such fun on trips though, it just takes a bit more planning to make sure there's no cat in the house, etc. It always works out great in the end! That's what fodors is for, right?

How exciting for your daughter to be getting a job in Dublin, might as well be adventurous and travel when you're still young. (My daughter has spoken of travelling after college graduation and getting a job abroad somewhere. Who knows?)
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Oct 29th, 2005, 06:26 AM
  #38
 
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McShane, Yes, we did get a cab to the airiport the next morning. We were there for 2 nights so kept the car for one of the days to tour some. The stable rooms were very clean and nice, I just think they had been closed up for the winter and needed some heat on and airing out. I'd sleep there again just to be able to be at Carrygerry. As we were taking off from Shannon I could see that beautiful yellow manor house and it brought tears to my eyes. The Ennis family did everything they could to make us comfortable and happy. If I get another trip to Ireland I will stay there. Thanks again for your great report. Regards, Joan
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Oct 30th, 2005, 08:05 PM
  #39
 
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Chatham, thanks for your report on the stable rooms at Carrygery house. Perhaps you're right, makes sense that if rooms were closed up for the winter they'd be musty and need airing out. Those winters in Ireland definitely sound damp. I"m glad we're going in July, even though it will be more crowded.

I did e-mail Heaton Guesthouse in Dingle asking about reservations. Wow a decision made. But still can't decide about whether to stay in Ennis, Bunratty, or Adare area after landing in Shannon. (then it's on to dingle.)

Tripadvisor shows that lots of folks have ejoyed Carrygerry House!

McShane, once again, thanks for your trip report. I"m sure it will help lots of people, including it has already helped me a lot.
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Oct 31st, 2005, 10:36 AM
  #40
 
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McShane, back to chat with you. Your trip was well-planned and you all had so much fun. Did you have any trouble making choices in the planning process? I'm going Ahhhhhhhhh! Can't decide!

I did choose Heaton's Guesthouse in Dingle.

I am still sort of ripping my hair out over where to stay near the Shannon airport. I know, it's silly, I don't have the head shape for the bald look, but I always do this right before booking my B&Bs. Carrygerfy House? Glenelg House near Adare? Someplace in Ennis? Limerick City? Limerick countryside? Even Dualla House in Cashel sounds great but it's a 1 1/2 hour drive and we are flying from San Diego...jet-lag... See, my brain is full of choices.

Dublin: sounds like you all enjoyed staying in Dublin? My daughters voted to stay in Dublin city centre instead of the suburbs because they want to see what a big city in Ireland is like. (They want to see the green countryside too.) I'm leaning towards Kilronan House in Dublin.

Thanks for listening McShane! Gotta read your trip report again to remind myself what a fun trip turns out like in Ireland!
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