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laplane May 18th, 2010 05:33 AM

Ireland in 9 days: May 2010
When planning a trip to Ireland, the question seems to be: do we try to see as much of the country as we can or see more of one region at a leisurely pace? Because most forum responses encourage a less aggressive itinerary, I thought some might apperciate hearing a contrarian view. We just returned from a 9-day trip driving 2000 km through Ireland and Northern Ireland with the following itinerary:

Day 1: Arrived at Dublin airport; rented car, drove to Tipperary Co; toured Rock of Cashel; spent night in Cahir--not much there but Castle.

Day 2: Toured Cahir Castle; drove to Killarney; hiked Gap of Dunloe; toured Muckross House; spent night in Kenmare at nice Hawthorn House. Great music and dinner at The Coachman's.

Day 3: Drove to Glengarriff and took boat ride to tour Garinish Island; drove Healy Pass on Beara Peninsula; toured Dereen Gardens, then drove to Dingle. Amazing two-night stay at Pax House and best food of the trip at Out of the Blue.

Day 4: Explored the Dingle Peninsula loop, including bee huts, Great Blasket Island Center, Gallarus oratory, taking a break to enjoy the view at the Tig Slea Head.

Day 5: Took Shannon ferry to get to Cliffs of Moher. Most touristy spot we visited. Would have had better lighting later in the day. Then drove through Kilfenora and The Burren stopping for the night in Ballyvaughan at the very nice Rusheen Lodge. Good dinner at Logues Lodge.

Day 6: Drove through westerly side of Connemara loop to lunch in Westport. Saw mountain top--Craogh Patrick, where St. Patrick expelled snakes. Pressed on to spend night in Drumcliffe, where Yeats is buried. Great dinner at Davis restaurant in Yeats Tavern there.

Day 7: Drove around Donegal Bay, hiked around Slieve League cliffs, and spent afternoon in Glenveagh National Park, touring castle and gardens. Had wonderful stay at Saddlers House in Derry with great early bird dinner at The Bay Leaf.

Day 8: Drove to Antrim Coast, which is as beautiful as Dingle. Hiked Giant's Causeway and did rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede. Spent night in Cushendall.

Day 9: Hiked the waterfall trail in Forest Park in Glengariffe, one of the nine glens of Antrim. Drove to Bru na Boinne to tour prehistoric sites of Newgrange and Knowth. Spent night at Hilton near Dublin airport.

Day 10: flew home

Success factors for this kind of trip: 1) having more than one driver. We traveled with another couple, and we alternated driver days. 2) not traveling during the summer crowds--traffic was fairly light with few tour busses. 3) willingness on everyone's part to move to new lodging each night and to get up and go each day. 4) breaking up the drive to enjoy things along the way. We had time to hike, talk to locals, and enjoy the pubs at the end of the day. 5) good navigation--we invested in a good road atlas and seldom were on the wrong road. GPS was not really efficient, but mobile phone with internet access helpful in answering questions and arranging lodging.

The general consensus was we probably wouldn't get back to Ireland again, and we really would have missed something special not to have seen Northern Ireland. If we had had an extra day, we would have spent a second night near Killarney. As an alternative, you could fly into Shannon, see the area there, then fly into Belfast to see Northern Ireland, but having a car is necessary to get around easily. We are in average physical condition for 50-somethings. We also had great weather.

Glad we took: hat, gloves, warm vest, coat/vest with pockets.

Initially scheduled trip for April, which was cancelled due to volcanic ash. Flights day before and after our flight were cancelled, and we got back to US before air space closed once again. Defintely a factor in reducing crowds. Rates were lower than quoted in guidebooks.

No matter what you do in Ireland, you will have a wonderful time!

knwolf May 18th, 2010 05:45 AM

Sounds like you had fun! &&- You definitely saw alot in 9 days. Everyone has their own travel style...and it is good to hear the perspective of a traveler who prefers a more fast-paced, packed itinerary! My husband and I leave tonight for 12 days in Ireland. I appreciate your section on things to bring... I never thought about gloves! We are also staying at Pax House in Dingle and have reservations at Out of the Blue on our anniversary. Glad it was yummy! Thanks again for the well-written travel report! :)

kswaiz May 18th, 2010 08:56 AM

Great trip report! How did you find your day around Donegal? We are doing a similar day in our upcoming July trip to Ireland. Hubby and I are taking our 9 year old son.....we will be leaving Derry and driving to Killybegs for the night. We wanted to do Glenveagh, and Slieve League that day too. Did you find that to be too much? We are 40 yr olds and fit, and my son is a great traveler! This day will actually be toward the end of our 25 day trip around Ireland. I would love a bit more feedback about this day in your trip!! Thanks in advance!

Haven17 May 18th, 2010 07:57 PM

Wow! That is a packed itinerary!

Thank you for posting your trip report. My husband and I are leaving for a nine day trip with my sister and her fiance in a couple weeks, but we're only staying in three different places while we're there. We are definitely into slower travel.

How did you like Connemara? We'll be staying in Galway for a few days and we're not sure if we're going to make it Connemara. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Rosa_Mundi May 18th, 2010 10:16 PM

Thanks for the trip report! I enjoy them all no matter what the style of travel!


tod May 19th, 2010 01:21 AM

You got the most out of your trip and enjoyed it to boot despite having a busy schedule - well done you!
That's the way we like to travel as well. I am so glad to hear you went to Northern Ireland....we thought is was absolutely beautiful!

aussie_10 May 22nd, 2010 11:37 PM

Hope to get to Ireland in next year or so, thanks for your trip report and ideas

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