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Ireland February itinerary and what to pack

Ireland February itinerary and what to pack

Jan 2nd, 2001, 07:26 PM
  #1  
dorothy
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Ireland February itinerary and what to pack

hi planning on being in Ireland Feb 15 to 25th with 2 sons 10 and 17 years old.arriving Shannon then going to Bunratty Folk Park and the dinner there that night. then onto Enis where we will see where my grandmother was born and look up some relatives. places that interest us are Loughcrew or someplace like that in the west, Dublin, Ring of Kerry Cliffs of Moher, Kinsale or Cashel and Galway and Doolin. sooooooooooooo much too see and experience soooooooooooooooolittle time especially daylight time. The only thing definite is arriving and departing from Shannon(26th) and i definitely wantto see Enis everything else is negotiable. what is the weather like in February? clothes to pack? like to have a plan that will satisfy all of us and a good balance. any suggestions on places to stay it can be a mixture of b&b's castles inns etc. thanks!!!!! dorothy p.s. is going to Dublin too much on this trip are we better staying in the west?
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 04:32 AM
  #2  
Judy
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Hello Dorothy, I worry about the amount of daylight too! We are going to London the same week as you, and I was concerned about that. As for packing, everyone emphasizes LAYERS and I think that is a cardinal rule for packing in unknown climes! Your trip sounds wonderful, and I hope you have fun, regardless of the weather! Judy
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 04:37 AM
  #3  
Alicia
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I went two years ago and it was very cold and wet. Bring lots of warm clothes. We spent a week at different B&B's and as I remember only one had heat. I had to purchase electric blankets to stay warm at night. You may want to consider very warm pj's or a sleeping bag! Have a wonderful trip.
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 05:53 AM
  #4  
Gina
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I echo the previous comment: LAYERS! When we were in Ireland in February 1999, it was primarily in the 40s, though it dipped into the 30s and got up into the 50s some of the time. We had a gorgeous, bright day when we took a ferry to the Aran Islands. Cold on the ferry, we wore about four layers of clothes, but after biking up to Dun Aengus, our pictures show me with sweatshirt and fleece shirt tied around my waist--we got pretty warm!

So, layer layer layer. A nice set of long underwear or two, sturdy walking pants (cargo-y style), various weights of fleeces (like lighter fleece shirts and thicker fleece jackets, and maybe a vest), and a waterproof or water-resistant jacket for your top layer. If you own Gore-Tex, definitely bring it. It will almost certainly rain while you're there.

Bring good sturdy hiking boots too, again water-resistant if you have them.
I was never cold at night in the B&Bs as Alicia mentions, ours all had heat (and one had a glorious peat fire), but warm PJs are not a bad idea anyway.

If you're going to be there for 10 days, then yes, you do have time to go to Dublin; but I wouldn't rush unless you're desperate to see it. We managed to see the Cliffs of Moher, parts of the Burren (including Poulnabrone Dolmen), Doolin, Inishmor, some of Connemara, Clonmacnois, Newgrange, the Hill of Tara, and a day in Dublin on a six-day driving trip, but it was a breakneck pace and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. (This was also two adult women--you probably couldn't do that hectic a pace with a couple of boys.)

My favorite part of the trip by far was the west country; Dublin's a nice city but I'd spend as much time as possible in County Clare, County Galway, and so on. That's where you truly see the beauty of this amazing and warmhearted country. You'll have a wonderful time!
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 06:25 AM
  #5  
John
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Hi Dorothy:

I agree with the above poster. I would spend as much time in Co. Clare. Cliffs, Doolin. Burren, Galway...etc.
One little point that I found out a bit too late when I was there.....The above poster mentioned "Poulnabrone Dolmen"..It is off the road in the Burren in an open field. I heard, and others who know better can confirm, that you are allowed to go onto the field to view these historic sites. You are just asked to be responsible, like close any gates behind you so the cows don't get out!! We stood on the road and tried to see it, I wish I could have gone up to the site! The Burren was one of my favorite sites. If you want a rec. on a B&B near the Cliffs, let me know!
JOHN
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 07:16 AM
  #6  
Gina
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Yes, you can walk off the road and go right up to Poulnabrone Dolmen. (Where some idiots through the years have insisted on scratching graffiti :: sigh :: ) (It's still stunning, though.)

When John mentions cows, he's not kidding! The Dolmen is on private farmers' land, and they are perfectly amenable to your walking up to it so long as you keep the gates closed (it's also nice to drop a punt or two into the bucket they keep by the gate, since they don't *have* to let people onto their land), and there are quite literally dozens of cows all over the area. We had to practically elbow our way past cows to get to the dolmen. They just regarded us skeptically, as if to say "Tourists..."
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 11:35 AM
  #7  
Cathy
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Folks,
I doubt that bucket is for a finacial contribution. Just observe simple countryside rules and the farmers will be happy. If planning on walking through the Irish countryside in the coming months then bring RAIN proof and MUD proof walking gear,

Have fun

Cathy
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 02:49 PM
  #8  
Dorothy
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Thanks everyone for the layering advice makes sense. Poulnabrone Dolmen??? what is it and where is it????
John yes I'd appreciate a recommendation for b&b near cliffs and i guessone near Polnabrone have to check out exactly what that is first time i heard of it
Gina Boy you certainly did cover a great deal in 6 days any b&bs that you recommend never thought about some not having heat. What was your route and itinerary where did you wish you had stayed longer thanks again. We just got our passports it's getting real and we're so excited any info is greatly appreciated. Doothy
 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 04:35 PM
  #9  
Gina
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Cathy, actually the bucket is most definitely there for a financial contribution, as we spoke with the gentleman who either owns or manages that particular area of the Burren and a friend of his as we got there. They were lovely and quite gracious. They also mentioned that a lot of people do leave the gate open when they go in or out, and were careful to show us how to secure it. I seem to recall they said the punts they collect in the bucket help defray the occasional costs of fixing the gate, since people aren't always exactly gentle with it.

Dorothy--we sure did cover a lot of ground! And we definitely wished we'd stayed longer, but six days was all the time we could spare from our respective jobs. We flew into Shannon, drove up the coast and stopped at the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Doolin. (The Cliffs are truly amazing; you must go!) We stayed in Doolin at the lovely Sea View House run by Darra and Niall Hughes, recommended by several posters to this forum--that's the one with the great peat fire. Spent that afternoon and the next morning wandering around the Burren, castle ruins in the area (Dunguaire Castle is around there but you can only see the outside in winter), and the village of Doolin. (BTW, definitely go to Gus O'Connor's pub for great music and have the beef stew cooked in Guinness. Nothing warms you up on a cold and/or wet Irish day like that does!)

The second afternoon, we drove up the coast, stopping about every three seconds to look at farmhouses and castle ruins, weaving our way around Galway Bay up to Galway itself. For the next couple of nights we stayed at a B&B in a town called Spiddal, west of Galway on the coast road in what's called the Gaeltacht. (Gaelic-speaking region.) From there we drove through Connemara, visited the town of Clifden, and on one day caught a ferry from Rossaveal Harbor to Inishmor, the largest of the Aran Islands. It's a lovely place and worth a visit. If you go, note that the only way up to the old fort, Dun Aengus, in February is either by bike (I recommend it if you're in even remotely decent shape and the weather's good; it's only six miles, and be sure to ask directions toward the "low road" if you don't care for too many hills) or by tour van; the cute pony traps don't run in really cold months. And a word of warning--no food available up at Dun Aengus in Feb.! The restaurant up there is closed, so bring sandwiches or something with you if you're thinking you might get hungry up there. But what *is* open is a nice little shop that has better prices on Aran sweaters than the ones down in the village (or at least they did then.) (I'm wearing mine now, as a matter of fact!)

 
Jan 3rd, 2001, 04:55 PM
  #10  
Gina
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Thought I'd make this two replies since Fodor's tends to belch the really long posts...

Anyway, our B&B in Spiddal was also called Sea View House; it's on the coast road about five miles west of Salthill (which is just outside of Galway to the west). If you're driving west on that road, the Sea View is on your left; you'll know it by the very steep and angled driveway leading in. It's run by a very nice German couple, the Hoffmans; our room had a gorgeous balcony with the most stunning view of sunset over Galway Bay. You'll be likely to be the only guests in February and will get fussed over like their children. (Well, Elizabeth will fuss. Her husband just kinda sits in his chair, watches CNN, and lets her fuss.)

Then, we headed east. We spent one day driving slowly across central Ireland; hit the Galway market scene in the morning (boy, do I wish we'd had more time for Galway city--it's gorgeous), and stopped at Clonmacnoise Abbey halfway across the country. After some false starts at the B&B we were hoping to stay at, we ended up at a place just outside the village of Slane, north of Dublin. (We were interested in visiting ancient passage tombs like Newgrange, so we wanted to stay in County Meath.) I wish I could remember the name, but it was run by an adorable Italian man my friend and I called "Wee Joe." It' a huge place up on a hill outside the town of Slane; if you drive out of Slane heading back toward Dublin, it's about half a mile along the main road on your right after you cross the bridge just past the Slane gates. Slane's a neat little village itself.

So our last day and a half in Ireland we spent visiting Newgrange and the passage tombs, the Hill of Tara, and Dublin itself. (As I said, we crammed a *lot* into our time there!) We only had a day in Dublin(well, late morning and an afternoon, really; we took the early morning bus in to avoid parking problems and then took a 5:30 pm bus back to Slane and "wee Joe's); saw the GPO, site of the 1916 rebellion, the literary museum (Lisa and I are both literary nuts, and she did her thesis on Yeats), and went to see the Book of Kells but the site in Trinity College where it's displayed was temporarily closed.

SO...you might say we did Ireland in a whirlwind. (On our last day at "Wee Joe's," we overheard him tell his wife as we were coming down for breakfast, "They'll not be sitting around long, I can tell ye that!") I'm glad we did as much as we did, because I can't imagine missing any of what we saw; but it really whetted my appetite to come back, stay much longer, see more, and experience things at a more leisurely pace.

Anyway, Dorothy, hope this helps! Oh--you asked what Poulnabrone Dolmen is. It's an ancient portal tomb, probably dating back several thousand years. From a County Clare Web site: "A recent excavation has dated the grave material unearthed here to over 4,000 BC. To date some 22 burials spread over a period of 600 years have been identified. So this was probably a ceremonial cemetary for important individuals. These tombs may also have been the focus of magical or religious ceremonies at certain times of the year, such as autumn or spring, times of
particular significance to a farming group."

It's also just stunningly beautiful, and can look dramatic, unearthly, eerie, and a million different ways depending on the weather and how the light hits it.

Have a *wonderful* time in Ireland!!!
 
Jan 4th, 2001, 12:14 PM
  #11  
Dorothy
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Gina thanks for all the useful info i'm sure we will have a wonderful time.

any suggestions on car rentals. besides car rental and airfare how much money will we need?????? is $2000 for a family of 4 enough. Where do you recommend exchanging dollars to punts??
we're all big husband and son both over6' and i'm 5'7" with luggage are there any medium size cars or is it just little cars or vans???? my 10 year old son's friend told him he heard of a great indoor waterpark in Ireland anyone know anything about that????
thanks dorothy
 
Jan 4th, 2001, 03:14 PM
  #12  
Gina
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Dorothy, my friend handled the car rental; I'll e-mail and ask her what she recalls. We rented a fairly small car because it was just the two of us, but I can't imagine they wouldn't have midsized cars. It's less expensive to rent a manual transmission than automatic, so that's what we did--which stuck my friend with all the driving, since I can't drive stick.

If you're landing at Shannon Airport, there's an ATM machine in the airport itself (basically one huge room once you come out of arrivals, with the rental car desks on your far right and the ATM machine ahead and off to the left)(unless they've rearranged it). We got our cash for the trip that way; simply got punts at the ATM. You get the best exchange rate that way (the daily bank exchange rate), and you don't have to deal with lines at the exchange counter. Just be sure you know your PIN in numbers only--many European ATMs, including this one if I remember correctly, *don't* have both letters and numbers on their keypads like US ATMs do, but only numbers. For example, if you remember your ATM code as ABCD, be sure you know that's 2223. (Took my friend forever to figure out the numbers that matched the letters she'd memorized.)

$2000 for a family of four, for ten days, not including airfare and car rental, should be *more* than enough, particularly if you're not staying at luxury places. We paid about 18 punts each per night for our B&Bs, which was about $25 U.S. at the time; this was for a twin room. So you can probably expect to spend anywhere from $50-75 per night on lodgings if you go the B&B route if you get two rooms (some have "family" rooms as well, but you and your husband may want some time away from all the togetherness!). That leaves plenty for food, shopping, and other random expenses. You won't have too many "admission" fees overall--there's no admission charge to Ireland's natural beauty.

Don't know about an indoor waterpark, but unless your son has his heart set on it, I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to find it. There is so much to see in Ireland, you'll never be able to do and see all that you want to see as it is.
 
Jan 5th, 2001, 04:30 PM
  #13  
Cathy
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Gina,
I still think that pair in the Burren were chancing their arm with you as the National Monuments Authority forbid any charges or donation appeals for such monuments. The land owners here in ireland must provide access to these monuments and they may display signs asking visitors to stay to the path and close the gates etc but they may not charge - the Authority may, although I am not sure about it in 2000/2001 pay the landowners something for the inconvience. There are old laws in ireland about the rights of way through land etc - my father is a landowner and the public are entitled to cross some of his lands to access such national monuments so maybe the pair in the Burren were just seeing what they could get off you !!. Never trust the first word out of an Irishman's mouth !!.

Dorothy Re car rental remember it is expensive in Ireland and the CWD insurance is also expensive and tricky. Get quotes from a range of car rental agencies even though it is technically off season. The water world place your son was referring to may be in
a) Lesiure Land Salthill outisde Galway or b) Waterworld in the Southeast and finally I think there is one somewhere in Kerry - cann't remember off hand but the Tourist Office would be able to help you. By the way you may find a Heritage Card useful for your trip - www.heritageireland.com - This site has great information on heritage cards which allow access to most sites. Re B&Bs or other interesting places to stay try some of the following web sites - your children might like something different ie a farmhouse or ancient manor house www.townandcountry.ie
www.irishfarmholidays.com
www.hidden-ireland.com,

Remember the weather in Feb could be cold and wintery so pack for layers and prepare to change your plans - we have had freezing fog for the last few days which has made travelling very difficult - I con't see 2 feet in front of my car yesterday driving out of Dublin,

Hope this helps,
Cathy

PS The kids might like Kilkenny Castle if you are in tht neck of the woods,
 
Jan 5th, 2001, 07:48 PM
  #14  
Gina
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Cathy, perhaps so. But perhaps I wasn't making myself clear--I didn't say that they were *charging* for access to the land, simply that they told us that the bucket was there in case people wanted to toss a coin in to make up for the costs of more frequent repairs to the gate and suchlike. The law actually forbids even donation appeals from private landowners who are required to allow tourists onto their land? Seems extreme to me.

Frankly, even if they were having us on and they get some sort of recompense from the government for tourists tramping over their land, I wouldn't feel bad about having tossed in a punt. Laws or no laws, it is where these guys pasture their cows (and they were definitely their cows, or else they were doing some serious messin' with somebody else's cattle, which didn't strike me as an Irish trait), and it does get more than its share of tourist damage.

I was thoroughly depressed by how many idiots scratch their names on the dolmen, for example. Do they honestly think it's some sort of open-air bathroom wall? :: sigh :: The neverending human desire to make one's presence known by defacing something.

 
Jan 6th, 2001, 12:52 PM
  #15  
Cathy
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Gina,
I assumed that they weren't charging but leaving the bucket there for a donation ie indirectly hunting that they would like a donation in the Irish way of things is in breach of the law and yes they are not allowed to do that. The legal issue is that the monuments are the property of the people of Ireland and the Irish State and therefore anyone may have access to them (inluding the non-Irish tourists) unless they are found to be destroying them (and yes that destruction on the face of the tomb is too common and childish). But that anyway is the story of rights of access (note just the right to walk up to the monument nothing else) and fees in Ireland. My guess is that the farmers involoved were tired of an increasing number of visitors and were trying to make up financially for it and discourage those who were interested in destroying the site.

There are thousands of such monuments ranging in age from ancient tombs, crannogs, burials sites, mass rockas etc throughout Ireland and most don't recieve more than a 100 or so visitors a year (if even that). Many are undocumented and only known locally, and can be very interesting if you know what you are looking at (or have someone with you who does), hope you enjoyed your time in Ireland - cows and monuments and all,

Cathy
 

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