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mpkp Dec 3rd, 2006 06:50 AM

Ireland Attractions we are thinking about
As we plant this trip, I have a list of places I am thinking about seeing. Please let me know if any of these are not worth a stop or worth doing.

Jaunting Car Ride in Killarney

Sciuird Archaelogical Adventures tour in Dingle

Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Aillwee Caves

Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Centre -- we are not going anywhere near Waterford so is this also good?

Spiddal Craft Village

Foxford Woolen Mills

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Glencolumbkille Folk Park Village

Belleek Pottery

Marble Arch Caves

Dunluce Castle

Carrickfergus Castle

Also, I am trying to figure out the must sees and a route to do it in County Clare; County Galway and County Mayo. What route would you take to spend 5 or 6 days there?

Thanks all for your help!

clueless Dec 3rd, 2006 09:20 AM

Archaelogical Tour is great and very informative.

kaneda Dec 3rd, 2006 09:47 AM

How about Kilkenny Castle? Fully restored and in the middle of town.

Dunratty Castle, with a reconstructed village a few miles to the east and another small castle a little further east and then north a few miles (sign posted).

Waterford crystal was disappointing. We saw very little and then you get the chance to buy stuff at top prices.

IrishEyes Dec 3rd, 2006 03:30 PM

I think I would replace Glencolumkille Folk Park (tiny) with the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh in Northern Ireland. I notice that the Giant's Causeway is not on your list even though you will be nearby at Dunluce Castle. It is really a must see.

How long is the trip? I notice you mention 5 or 6 days.

mpkp Dec 3rd, 2006 06:43 PM

Sorry. There are a lot of other places on the list I didn't mention because I knew they were worth doing. I have been agonizing over this trip for months. We have 16 days which is not near enough. I keep trying to figure out how we can do all we wanted to do and am getting close to giving up some of it -- probably the North. At least that was this evening's discussion. What we wanted to do is as follows:

arrive a m May 16. Drive to Dingle. Do Sciuird Archaelogical Tour, Drive Dingle Peninsula, Visit Blasket Islands Center.

By 6 pm on May 17 be in Killarney to start a 3 day walking tour -- 18,19,20.

On the 21st head to County Clare. Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Cliffs of Moher Cruise. Stay in Lisdoonvarna or Ballyvaughn for 2 nights. Next day do the Burren and Aillwee Caves.

On the 23rd stop in Galway for the Irish Crystal Heritage Centre. Then onto Spiddal Craft Village. Spend 3 nights in Clifden and take a day to see the Connemara, Sky Road, Kylemore Abbey etc. The next day Do Croagh Patrick and Achill Island. Ceide Fields sounds interesting but too far away.

On the 26th up to Killeybegs with a stop in Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. Spend the next day in Donegal to see Slieve League and Donegal Castle and Glencolumbkille Folk Park Village.

On the 27th go to the Antrim Coase with a stop in Derry. On the 28th drive the Antrim Coase and see Dunluce Castle and Old Bushmills Distillery and the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge. And don't forget the Carrickfergus Castle, Belleek Pottery Factory Tour and Marble Arch Caves -- possibly on the 30th on the way to County Meath.

One more full day before we leave to do Knowth, Newgrange, Trim Castle and the Hill of Tara.

Whoa! As you can see there is so much to do and I have skipped a lot of stuff. So I am trying to figure out what we should do with the time we have.

It is easy to say that we'll be back -- and we may well be but there are sooo many places to see and we can only go away like this once a year. I am not complaining as I am lucky to be able to do this. We have been to some wonderful places.

I really appreciate all the information y'all give. Thanks!

rosetravels Dec 3rd, 2006 09:53 PM

mpkp - you've really been working on this!

I haven't been to all the places you ask about so my opinions aren't a true review. But I went to the Foxford Woolen Mills and it was their annual vacation. We could still see a fair amount and it wasn't that interesting. We loved Carrowmore! The drive from the Slieve League to Glencolmbcille is stunning. But the folk park is absolutely not worth stopping at. Dunluce was very cool.

One other place we liked a lot is in County Clare - it's a folk village w/ the Brendan ship on display. I can't remember the name right now. That was fascinating to imagine a transatlantic voyage in a tiny boat.

The one day that seems a stretch is to drive from Clifden to Croagh Patrick and Achill Island. Since you'll be in good walking shape, you may just want to hike up Patrick and then have a Guinness. Achill might be too far that day.

IrishEyes Dec 3rd, 2006 10:17 PM

Your itinerary is jam-packed! Your first day in Dingle is too much.

You should note that Belleek is between Sligo and Donegal. It is just a couple of miles from Ballyshannon. I don't know when you might fit in things near Enniskillen like Marble Arch Cave. Since you are doing Aillwee why don't you skip that one? I think I would also skip Carrickfergus Castle. Interesting but not essential.

Sounds like you need a redo or a referee.

Padraig Dec 4th, 2006 12:27 AM

Rosetravels wrote: "One other place we liked a lot is in County Clare - it's a folk village w/ the Brendan ship on display. I can't remember the name right now."

Craggaounowen. It's not exactly a folk village, but a heritage park. I think it worth visiting. Check for yourself:

Sandylan Dec 4th, 2006 04:04 AM

Dingle is certainly worth visiting.If you are coming from Tralee consider taking the road up the Conor Pass if the day is dry.The town itself got a great boost when David Lean made the film Ryan`s Daughter there and you can see some of the sites if you are a film fan.Recent progress includes a luxury icecream company run by 2 Americans.One of them has a beautiful blog at and their Murphy`s icecream is delicious-they sell it in their own shop in the centre of the town.

mpkp Dec 4th, 2006 05:32 AM

Thanks for the replies. Irisheyes my first day in Dingle is misleading as it is for the 16th and the 17th -- we need to be in Killarney by 6:30. We are flying business class and hope to get some (4 hours) sleep so we are hoping not to be complete zombies on the 16th and be able to do some things that day.

Ont the 23rd, we go from Ballyvaughn with a stop in Galway -- how long does it take to drive this? and then to Spiddal Craft Village -- what else might we do this day and end up in Clifden for the overnight? The next full day spend in Connemara. Perhaps instead of spending another night in Clifden, go up to Croagh Patrick, Westport and Achill Island -- maybe overnight on Achill Island and leave from there to go up to Killeybegs with a stop in Carrowmore and Belleek Pottery.

We would then have a full day in Donegal -- Slieve League and Donegal castle -- or something else.

If we don't worry about Marble Arch Caves and Carrickfergus Castle, then we would get down to Meath by noon and could do Trim Castle and Hill of Tara that day leaving the 31st to do Newgrange and Knowth.

I have looked up mileages and distances on AA and nothing was over 3 hours or so but I have been told that is misleading. I never want to spend more than 4 hours traveling from one place to another -- preferably 3 hours. Additionally, I am not a fan of one night stays and this revision would have two of those.

Padraig Dec 4th, 2006 06:26 AM

"...and then to Spiddal Craft Village -- what else might we do this day and end up in Clifden for the overnight?"

Don't expect too much from the craft village; it's mostly a retail operation.

From Spiddal, follow the coastal route to Clifden. Some nice spots on the route, stop wherever you like the look of the place. A stop in Roundstone is obligatory.

clueless Dec 4th, 2006 07:03 AM

On the Archaelogical tour, he will drive you around the the peninsula. So your are killing two birds with one stone.

rosetravels Dec 4th, 2006 07:41 AM

I would agree that 2 nights in Clifden would work. I'd stay the next night in Westport rather than Achill. Achill is very small and I've read that if it's gray out it's dreary. We were there on a sunny day so I don't know but I can tell you Westport feels like a real place, not a collection of B&B's.

The drive from Westport to Killybegs is longer than 4 hours but I don't recall how long. I agree that with the drive time estimate you have to add at least 30%.

Your itinerary may need to follow the oft-given packing advice: pack the suitcase, then take out half. Be sure you have time to hang out in pubs and wander in villages. For me, that's the very best part.

Padraig Dec 4th, 2006 07:55 AM

rosetravels wrote: "The drive from Westport to Killybegs is longer than 4 hours but I don't recall how long."

I think four hours would do it. It's about 120 miles, and mostly on roads where you can average better than 40 mph. Stops are extra time, of course.

mpkp Dec 4th, 2006 08:03 AM

Padraig -- If Spiddal is just a retail place, then I am not interested. When we travel, we prefer to bring home something hand made as a souvenir. We do not care about a lot of souvenirs -- just one or two special ones. And if we can see the artist and meet them, it is better. If Spiddal is just a retail operation, then we do not need to stop there. That would give us more time to get to Clifden by the coastal route. And we will be sure to stop in Roundstone!

Clueless -- that should be my name -- thanks for the information about the Archaelogical tour -- it sounded interesting and makes the time seem mmore relaxing to start!

rosetravels -- I had heard Bervie was a great place to stay on Achill so that is why I thought about stopping there -- but looking at the map I might think about Newport or somewhere more towards Killybegs.

I believe it will stay light until 9 or 9:30 which should help us on this trip. It means if we leave somewhere at 6 we would still have enough daylight to get to the next stop.

Does anyone know how long it takes to drive to Galway from Ballyvaughan? I am thinking about 1-1.5 hours. So if we leave Ballyvaughan by 9:30. we should be to Galway by 11:00. The guided heritage tour sounds interesting -- has anyone done it? It includes the Claddagh Village Exhibit, Galway Hooker Exhibit, Hall of Tribes and Crystal Workshop. I would think 2-3 hours here and on the road for the coastal route by 2:00. With the daylight, we could take 5 hours or so to get there -- using the coastal route.

Padraig Dec 4th, 2006 08:44 AM

"If Spiddal is just a retail place, then I am not interested."

It's not just a retail place. Some craft workers have workshops there. Any time I have been there (admittedly outside peak season) only a few of the workshops were in production. Don't skip it because of what I said. It's on your route, so call in and make your own judgement.

I'd allow 1.5 hours for Ballyvaughan to Galway. If you are unlucky with traffic (and it sure can happen in Galway) you could add 30 minutes to enter the city and find parking.

You can visit Galway Crystal on the way into the city.

Padraig Dec 4th, 2006 09:28 AM

Further to my comments on the craft village at Spiddal, I dug out this piece I posted on another forum some time ago. It wasn't relevant to my original posting to say that the music shop is in the craft village:

One of the best things about Ireland, both for visitors and for residents, is the tradition of friendliness and informality. Studies of visitor reaction generally find that what people like best about this country is "the people".

The rapid economic growth of recent years has been good for most Irish people, but has its downside. People are busier, more hassled, less friendly. The minor social transactions in shops, pubs, hotels, and the like have become more focused, and there is less of the amiable chat that there used to be.

Last week I was in Connemara for a couple of days, not far from Galway city. Galway has long been a favourite place of mine, so I was happy to go in there on a shopping mission. I wanted a recording of traditional Irish song. As "sean-nós" singing is a minority taste even among Irish people, the CD is not widely available. But Galway seemed to be the place to look for it, as the singer comes from a place close to the city. No joy, even in a shop which specialises in Irish music.

What really disappointed me, however, was to notice that Galway has adopted some of the frenetic pace of modern prosperous Ireland. The place is choked with traffic, with drivers competing aggressively for road space; shop assistants just wanted to take my money and dismiss me; people on the streets seemed to want to take short cuts through me. Of course, it's not all bad: I also experienced some of the amiability that I have long associated with Galway. But, for the first time in my life, I was glad to quit the city. I headed back west to Spiddal, the Connemara village where we were staying.

I came across a music shop there, and went in to seek the recording I wanted. No, said the proprietor, he didn't have it, but he could get it for me. No good, I said, I'm leaving in the morning. No problem, he said, he could have it after lunch. So back I went after lunch. He was apologetic. The person who was to drop it into him on her lunch break hadn't been able to make it; could I give him another half an hour? So I took a walk, and when I got back the shop was closed, with a note on the door "back in fifteen minutes". I waited, and he returned, CD in hand, and re-opened the shop. He had driven to the distributor's and collected the disc for me. For a sale worth €15.95.

I'm sure all his margin went on petrol, and he might have missed a customer or two while he was gone. But he had promised to get the recording for me, and promises like that are to be kept. That's the better side of Irish life, and we still have some of it.

Yes, I am really pleased with the addition to my music library. But more than that, I am happy that we still have some of what we used to have.

historytraveler Dec 4th, 2006 11:24 AM


You mentioned The Bervie on Achill Island. We stayed there this past August and it was one of my favorite places in Ireland. Elizabeth is a wonderful hostess. She spent time at each table chatting with the guests. The food was great too. We had a room with sea views and the water comes within 100 yds of your window at high tide. The beach is lovely and you can look across at cliffs which are almost as impressive as those at Moher.This is one of the places in Ireland I can highly recommend. The other would be The Quay House at Clifden.

It seems you have crossed the Foxford Mills off your list. We were not that impressed with it.

Roundstone has a couple of shops I thought were especialy good, The Roundstone Musical Instruments and Malachy Kearns along with an excellent jewelry store nearby.

historytraveler Dec 4th, 2006 11:33 AM

The name of the jewelry shop is Sila Mag Aoide Designs. There are several shops in Roundstone selling a variety of hand-crafted items.

I was not very clear in my revious post but Roundstone Musical Instruments and Malachy kearns are one and the same that is shop and craftsman.

china_cat Dec 4th, 2006 02:46 PM

a little more on Sciurid tour...he does drive you around Dingle a bit, but you really miss out on the best scenery while on this tour. Its an excellent tour, very informative. We took the morning version. Then, after he dropped us off in Dingle town, and we had lunch, we still wanted to drive the peninsula...we hadn't seen the beehives, the stone forts, the beach where Ryan's Daugter was filmed, or the Blasket Island center.

So we spent a full day exploring Dingle, and were glad we did.

Also, doing a jaunting car ride in the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney was great. We didn't do the all-day tour. Just the ride in and out. I think it was maybe a little more than an hour. And very worthwhile.

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