Ireland - 2 week itinerary help!!!!

Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:43 PM
  #1  
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Ireland - 2 week itinerary help!!!!

I have been working on this 2 week itinerary for our 1st Ireland vacation with a vengeance. I am sorry for the long post but it explains all of my concerns. We are traveling in September. We are flying in and out of Shannon.

My original included all of this plus Dublin and the east and southeast. WHOA!!! Don’t know what I was thinking. But, with the help of message boards like this, I am learning.
As my husband will be doing all of the driving, my major concern is that he not spend the majority of his vacation behind the wheel.
I have narrowed to this but still have reservations. Any and all help is immensely appreciated. I think I am almost there.

Questions:
1. Should I include Donegal in this trip? I gave up Newgrange but am feeling that Days 7&8 will just be driving all day. Is it as far as I think?
2. If I cut Donegal out, does this need to be rearranged and where should we spend more time?
3. The southwest coast seems to be a draw for me but it seems driving intensive so I thought it would be better to drive and stay as we go. Is it possible to centrally base here for the Beara, ROK and Dingle peninsula?
4. Any suggestions for combining more nights in one place rather than moving almost every night?
5. Can I do a better job with the accommodations? All suggestions welcome.
6. In September, are reservations necessary?

Day 1- Arrive Shannon, Spiddal stay at Cois na Tra???
Day 2 & 3- Overnights-Ashford Castle tour Connemara ( this is out of my control)
Day 4: Leave Cong for Achill Islands possibly 1 night here (Bervie’s) or accommodations in Westport???
Day 5 & 6 : Depart Achill Island for Donegal for 2 nights at Donegal Manor Guest House or Ardlenagh View B&B???
Day 7: Depart Donegal for Cork - need a midpoint stay here, (drive coastal or central)
Day 8: Arrive Cork-Tour Cork, Cobh Harbor, overnight Kinsale Landfall House??
Day 9 epart Kinsale for Beara Peninsula stay in Kenmare Abbey Court????
Day 10: Ring of Kerry Area -stay at Rossbeigh Beach House or Beach Cove House
Day 11: Dingle overnight at Cill Bhreac House
Day 12 & 13: Depart Dingle for Ennis 2 nights (this is adjustable)
Day 14: Depart for Home 1:00pm
irishgreen is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 03:11 PM
  #2  
 
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Unless you have a special reason for staying in Spiddal, I would stay closer to Galway. Our first trip to Ireland we stayed in Spiddal, and then we realized what a trek it was to get into Galway, which has a lot to offer. The next 2 times we stayed at www.bayberryhouse.com. Marie and Tom are the best hosts. Last time we were there one of the couples we were traveling with have an injury and had to go to the emergency room (which took most of the day) and when the rest of us were going to dinner, Marie offered to pick up our friends and drive them to our restaurant. Although with only one night you're not going to see much of Galway. Ashford Castle is lovely as is Cong and Connemara. As far as Achil Island, it's nice as long as you have a good clear day. Westports a fun town but the drive from Westport to Donnegal (if you're not able to get off the beaten path is very long and not very interesting. Before my first trip to Ireland one of my Irish friends tried to tell that I was not going to be able to get from one place to another in the time I thought I could. Even on main roads you just can't make any time. I would suggest that you consider either only going as far as Westport or even leaving Cong and heading South and leave more time and enjoy the towns you're in. And as far as leaving 2 nights at the end for Ennis -- why 2 nights?
mom1emac is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 01:00 AM
  #3  
 
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What time do you arrive in Shannon? How long is your flight? Is Spiddal a must?
I only ask because it is only another 20 miles to go straight to Ashford Castle and bypass Spiddal.

My opinions/answers to your questions-
1. I think you are gonna have to forgo Donegal
2. Yes, you can re-arrange and spread out more evenly for more 2 nighters.
3. hmmm, while I don;t think you are going to be able to do any 3 day stays you can do more two nighters and not a constant drive and go, drive and go
4. (skip for now)
5. work out the itinerary first
6. While not necessary, I pretty much always do my reservations ahead so I can pick my favorites from reading posts here, trip advisor and doing a google on the place itself. I would much rather spend my time exploring and having a pint in a pub then looking up B&B's while there.

So, having said all of that- what if you did an itinerary like this...
Day 1 Shannon to Ashford castle Cong
Day 2 Explore area
Day 3 Cong to Westport though portion of Connemara
Day 4 Westport (explore Achill Island)
Day 5 Westport to Spiddal (driving remaining portion of Connemara)
Day 6 Spiddall to Dingle
Day 7 explore Dingle (Slea Head drive?)
Day 8 Dingle to Kenmare via ROK
Day 9 Kenmare – explore Beara
Day 10 Kenmare to Kinsale or Cobh
Day 11 Explore Kinsale or Cobh and surroundings
Day 12
Day 13 Cobh to Ennis (100 miles)
Day 14 Ennis-Shannon-fly Home

This itinerary gives you more two nighters with a one night in the middle and one at the end. I left day 12 open because you could add that in anywhere and turn one place into a 3 day stay- giving you 2 full exploration days or maybe add a 3rd one day stay and follow the N71 from Kenmare to Schull and continue on the next day to Kinsale or Cobh (as you mentioned liking the sw coast)

Hope this helps
Dawn
12perfectdays is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 11:42 AM
  #4  
 
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Dawn has given you a pretty nice taste of the west tour without huge driving distances in between. I think the notion of moving 20 or 30 miles to stay at a B&B further along the RoK doesn't make much sense and she has cleaned that up for you nicely. I agree that dropping Donegal is probably best especially if you want to cut down on driving and add more multi night stays.

Here is a thought though. Every town that she has listed is a lovely town to visit and stay in. That said, they are all the standards. Actually, there is nothing wrong with it but perhaps, step out a bit on one of the areas and choose a town less famous for it's tourism attractions. Granted, Ennis is only recently getting tourist attraction, so I would say that is a nice change ... Perhaps though, instead of Kinsale, Clonakilty or Baltimore. Sneem instead of Kenmare (I know of a neat place between the two but closer to Sneem) ... the Bervie instead of Westport ... Castlegregory instead of Dingle. Well, you get my point.

As for the extra day, with 4 (an arguably including Westport) nights in the Connemara region, maybe find a night to spend out on Inismor. That's always a different experience and quite beautiful.

Just some thoughts.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 03:16 PM
  #5  
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Thank you all.
This is my first trip and I am finding the planning very difficult. It is not like going to a city or town and planting yourself and all of the reading stresses the driving times as inaccurate. It is great to hear from someone who has driven from Westport to Donegal.
I have been AGONIZING over the distances.
My flight is 6 hrs but overnight from the States. We arrive @6;00 am . Spiddal is not a must. Just looking for an overnight. Ashford reservations are for our 2nd night.
Also, I believe Galway has a festival at that time.
So your recommendations are:
2 nights Ashford
2 nights Westport
1 night Spiddal or Castlegregory
2 nights Dingle
2 nights Kenmare or Sneem
2 nights Kinsale or Clonakilty or Baltimore
1 night of choice
1 night Ennis

Is one night in Spiddal enough to see the Cliffs,the Burren and the Aran Islands?

For stays in these smaller towns, are there dining facilities nearby or would we have to eat and finish our evening and then head to our accommodations?

Any feedback on any of these accommodations I have listed?

Does anyone have any experience with the fly/drive ? Is it a moneysaver? Or are you better doing it separately?
irishgreen is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 04:17 PM
  #6  
 
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irishgreen,
It would be 2 nights Dingle or Castlegregory (just over the Connor Pass from Dingle)

You would drive through the Burren on your way to Dingle/Castlegregory from Spiddal but you would need a full day for Inish Mor. (meaning 2 nights in Spiddal area)

While Spiddal is certainly close enough to Connemara airport for a flight to the island or to the ferry out there it would be tough to leave Spiddal for Castlegregory/Dingle, it's 140 miles of driving plus car ferry time not including time at the cliffs or stopping to walk around the burren.
I mean, it's do-able but the day would be a literal drive and see day and if you decide to do it I would suggest leaving your b&b no later than 8am, 7am would be better.

If you decide to stay in Castle Gregory at the Shores, you might see if Annette is doing dinner that night.

In Ireland, we found that even a town with 10 houses always had at least 3 pubs- no worries on food or stay.

I do agree with Wojazz on smaller and less "standard" areas but didn't want to throw you off too much and stuck with places you had mentioned, glad he brought it up.

On our 1st trip (also our 1st overseas trip) we did a much more "Wonder Bread" tour with baby steps venturing out of our shell and as we passed through some amazing little towns and places that are hardly mentioned, that's when I knew I would be back- I leave in 2 weeks and already have the beginnings of a 3rd trip itinerary planned of yet more places to see (Baltimore, Sherkin Islands, Donegal, Antrim coast, Glens...(sigh)

Dawn

Just know that you can't do it all at once and plan on a 2nd trip.
12perfectdays is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 04:20 PM
  #7  
 
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Posts: 355
Westport B&B we decided on...
http://www.boulevard-guesthouse.com/
12perfectdays is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 12:01 AM
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Posts: 746
Hey Dawn....I know you are getting excited...won't be long now.....
I checked out the Boulevard as I am a B&B fanatic.....it looks great!! I have stayed at Carrabaun House twice while in Westport...it has a great view of Croagh Patrick...BUT, I would stay at The Boulevard next time to stay in town...so, let us know what you think...but I remember you do a GREAT trip report so I'll be waiting to read it...
I leave April 18 and return the 29th....
Can't wait!!
Shadow
Shadow is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 06:29 AM
  #9  
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Thank you all again,
Still a work in progress but I am making progress thanks to all of this knowledge that you have.
Dawn, I see that you are going from the south to Donegal and farther north on this trip. If I may ask, how many days will you be in Ireland? Are you driving or taking a tour?

I am thinking of adding 2 extra nights in between Cong and Westport to accommodate Donegal. Any thoughts?

If I add the extra night after Spiddal and stay in Doolin or Ennis or Kilrush or Kilkee, I could do the Burren and the Cliffs at that time instead of driving directly to Dingle. Would that make the drive easier to Dingle?
Any suggestions as to the stopping off point?

We depart for the states @ 1:30pm on our last day therefore we should stay kind of close that is why I am thinking Ennis for the last night.

I am checking out the Boulevard and the Carrabaun.
I read a post re the Boulevard. Is it true that they do not make your bed? First trip so please oblige me- will we be expected to make our beds ourselves in these B&B’s and guesthouses? I don’t want to disappoint my hosts so please advise if there are any other customs that I should know.

Thanks again and again. This would be the revised after all the suggestions:
1st night- ???
2 nights Ashford
Possibly 2 nights Donegal
2 nights Westport
1 night Spiddal or Castlegregory
1 night between Spiddal and the Killimer ferry
2 nights Dingle
2 nights Kenmare or Sneem
2 nights Kinsale or Clonakilty or Baltimore
1 night Ennis
irishgreen is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 355
irishgreen,
No, I too had to remove Donegal and N.I. from my thoughts this trip. We are doing a self drive and will be there 17 full days (pooh on Aerlingus for not having Saturday flights as I had planned for 20 originally)

DH is a driver by trade and my hardship in planning our Ireland vacations center around having to have at least the last 3 days be without a car for his sake. He knows that even at home I don't care to drive much so his willingness to be the driver for all that we will drive is in itself a testament to being a great DH!

This trip we will be arriving in Shannon from LAX (10 hours) at Noon and taxi to Bunratty for an overnight to do the touristy thing and have dinner at the Castle Banquet.

Day 2- Bus from Bunratty to Kerry airport, pick up car and stay 2 nights in Killarney (DH's favorite from last trip) where by a strange twist of fate we will be meeting up with friends that are using my 1st itinerary from 2005 for their 1st trip. (It was only after we both finished our itineraries that we realized we would be in the same place at the same time)

3 nights Glengariff in Beara
2 nights at the Shores in Castlegregory outside of Dingle
2 nights in Oughterard (north of Galway)
2 or 3 nights Westport
1 or 2 nights Sligo (so far, for the 1st time ever and against all of my OCD-ness, we are leaving the Sligo one or two nights to chance and whim and will decide as we go whether to stay a 3rd night in Westport)
3 nights Dublin (drop car Sligo and take train into Dublin where our 2 full days are filled with an escorted day tour of Antrim and one of Wicklow)

as for your latest itinerary have you changed your flight? It seems to be longer. You added in Donegal but I cannot see what you have taken away.

because you seem locked in to Ashford Castle on day 2/3 and need a one nighter there anyway, what if you went from Shannon to somewhere near the cliffs on day one (Wojazz, ideas??) Then the next morning you could go from there and take the coastal route up to Galway and on to Ashford Castle, from there you could do the 2 days in Westport area, 2 days in Spiddal (do Inis Mor, 2 days in Castlegregory (Dingle) (see Burren on way from Spiddal to C.G.), 2 days in Kenmare area, 2 days in Cork area and last in Ennis.

I would check aaroadwatch.ie for Baltimore to Ennis mileage if you choose that instead of Cork as it will place you much farther south on smaller roads. (unsure)

As for the B&B's I think it can go either way. If it a more traditional B&B they may not make the beds and pick up after you each day of your stay and when you need more towels you just ask, others will. Last visit our beds were made and room freshened each day for the ones we chose BUT I have been to B&B's where that does not happen and find it best to just ask if you are unsure. No tipping necessary.

Dawn
12perfectdays is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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Posts: 296
You can add extra day at Kenmare and spend it at Killarney (Killarney National Park/Gap of Dunloe (I especially loved the boat part- the views from the lakes are breathtaking)/ Ross Castle/
Muckross House(excellent tour) and Abbey)

On your way from Kenmare to Kinsale if you don’t mind driving few more hours you can visit Mizen Head. I was so happy we went there.
travfirst is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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Before you choose Carrabaun in Westport you should check Trip Advisor's ratings: http://tinyurl.com/ypmd34

There have been a lot of complaints here and there about that B&B.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...Text=carrabaun
IrishEyes is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 07:01 AM
  #13  
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Thanks again veterans.
It seems like this will the first of many trips . So much to see and hubby and I are coast fanatics. LOVE the ocean!!

I am thinking of adding 2 days on to accomodate Donegal. Right now we have 13 days and nights. Am thinking of 15 days and nights. I am not counting our departure day in as we fly out @1:00.

ONce I finalize the dates in every area then I can get booking our accomodations.
At least I no longer have 1 night in every area. That's progress.

Dawn, I hope that you post a trip report. Would love to read it.
irishgreen is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:41 AM
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For your first night, I would suggest staying close to the Shannon Airport because you will be tired from the flight and, since this is your first trip, it will take a little while to get used to driving on the left. You could stay in Ennis or if you wanted to splurge, you could stay at Dromoland, or you could stay near Bunratty and visit the Castle. I also like the idea of staying near the Cliffs of Moher or the Burren since that is a short drive, maybe in Doolin or Ballyvaughan. All of those spots are within an hour drive on good roads and a nice introduction to driving in Ireland. If you haven't already done it, I highly recommend going to AA Ireland and mapping out your driving distances. Remember that those driving distances are going to be short --- so add 40% more to each of those distances. Donegal is far --- but more importantly, it is difficult driving on very steep and hilly roads so allocate more time than you think to getting to the main Donegal sights (i.e. Slieve League Cliffs). My husband and I split driving on our trip and DH drove the Donegal portion (click on my name to read my trip report), and he was EXHAUSTED by the end of that day because it was such difficult driving.
akila is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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Hi irish:

You could stay in Doolin the first night. The village of Doolin is tiny and made up of mainly B&Bs and three pubs, all of them having music. Gus O'Connor's is the most famous and usually the most crowded, but is worth stopping by just to see where the Doolin music scene first really kicked of. McGann's and McDermott's are the other two, McDermott's is the calmest and is referred to by many as the "locals" pub. Well, there aren't that many locals anyway, but all three are certainly fun. Doolin's main advantage is it's proximity to the Cliffs. There is also Lehinch and Liscanoor, neither of which I've stayed in. Liscanoor is quite close to the cliffs but I have no idea if there is much going on in the evening. You may not care on your 1st night because you may want to just fall asleep.

I agree with akila that Donegal is a long drive. You would have to figure thatthe first day would be driving there (sure, it won't take all day if you drive straight through, but do you really want to do that?) and the the second day will be you day to see the largest county in Ireland, most of which is covered by slow moving roads. I think you need to save that for another trip.

Since you are a big coastal fan, Dingle needs some time. I love the quiet coastline on the north side. The drive out to Brandon point is beautiful and it's not a terribly difficult climb to the top if the wind is blowing less than 100 MPH. The views are beautiful. On the other side is the Slea Head drive which is considered some of the most picturesque anywhere.

I think the coastline along in SW Cork is as beautiful as it gets. Beara, Sheepshead and Mizen Peninsulas are gorgeous. Mizen Head is beautiful, but the tiny little road up to the top of Browhead outside of Crookhaven may top it.

There are boats to Sherkin and Clear island from Baltimore that would give you a different view of Irish life. We went to Sherkin this year and hiked from one side to the other and back. It's an easy hike and very quiet. There's a pub on the island that does a fair amount of music. The boat ride through Baltimore Harbor to Sherkin is only about 15 minutes and it's a beautiful sheltered harbor. The "Beacon" sitting high on the Cliffs at the entrance to the harbor is an interesting sight.

Dawn is exactlt right. You can't do it all in one trip. Plan on more.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 08:18 AM
  #16  
 
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By the way Dawn, say hi to Annette for me. I had a great time chatting with her and most of her family earlier this month. We may just adopt or kidnap her daughter Aideen.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 05:38 AM
  #17  
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I have printed all of this post as a reference guide. Your input is better than all of the books that I have read. I have not as yet figured out all of the sites and drives but this is what I have come up with now. I have added 3 nights to the trip at the beginning .I think the only long drives will be to Killaloe and then on to Dingle now. How does this look?

2 night Doolin –Ballyvara House -Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Aran Islands

2 nights Renvyle- Renvyle House – tour Connemara

2 nights Ashford- tour Cong, Westport, etc

2 nights Donegal-Ardeevin B&B - southern tour

1 night Killaloe- Lantern House
2 nights Dingle- Bambury’s- tour peninsula

2 nights Kenmare –Abbey Court –ROK and Killarney National Park

2 nights Kinsale –Landfall House- visit Cobh, possibly Cashel

Last night still up in the air- flying out of Shannon

Thanks again
irishgreen is offline  

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