Ireland itinerary - almost complete

Old May 14th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Ireland itinerary - almost complete

With the help of a lot of people on this board, we finalized the itinerary for our first trip to Ireland. All B&Bs are booked, but it’s still early enough to make changes if needed (I hope). We’re going in August.

Day 1 – Arrive in Shannon, early am. Stop for breakfast (and coffee) in Shannon at the Oakwood Arms Hotel, then drive to Clifden. I know this is a long drive, but we’re going to make frequent stops, so we’re hopefully going to be fine.

Days 2 and 3 – stay in Clifden at the Quay House, explore Connemara.

Day 4 – drive to Doolin, see the Cliffs in the afternoon, stay at the Cullinan’s.

Day 5 – drive to Castlegregory via the Loop Head and the Tarbert ferry. Stay at the Shores.

Days 6 and 7 – Explore Dingle peninsula

Day 8 – Drive to Kenmare, visit the Ross Castle and Muckross House on the way. Stay at the Shelbourne Lodge.

Days 9 and 10 – Gap of Dunloe (probably with Deros Tours) and Beara peninsula. Stay in Kenmare

Day 11 – drive to Schull, explore Sheep’s Head peninsula. Stay at the Grove House (or the Stanley House?)

Day 12 – explore Mizen Head, stay in Schull

Day 13 – drive to Cashel, visit Cahir on the way , stay in Cashel at the Dualla House

Day 14 – Drive to Bunratty, maybe stop to Adare on the way, stay in Bunratty at the Bunratty Lodge, fly back home next day in the morning.

Hopefully this is not too rushed, and we’ll have enough time to get lost and enjoy small villages and the coast. Now we’re looking into details: pubs for lunch or dinner, traditional music, etc. Any ideas appreciated, thanks.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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xyz99,

I think it looks great. Have a wonderful trip.

Joan
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Old May 15th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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No Blarney stone/castle. No Kilkenny and restored castle. No Waterford and crystal factory. No Kinsale harbour.

There's a medieval village at Bunratty. Also another castle of sorts five minutes drive away (sign posted).

Ireland has lots of nice countryside (so weather can make or break a holiday) but so has many other countries. I'd visit towns and sites.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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The things kaneda mentioned are not compulsory!

You have averted to the one difficulty: getting to Clifden on day 1. That's down to how well you cope with jet-lag. Subject to that, it's a workable programme which I hope you enjoy.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Kaneda,
We enjoy more nature, scenic drives, the coast and small villages rather than cities. We are going in August, and we’ll try to avoid crowd magnets as much as possible. Though I realize, our itinerary is not really “off the beaten path”. So, sorry to disappoint you, but “No Blarney stone/castle. No Kilkenny and restored castle. No Waterford and crystal factory. No Kinsale harbour.”

Definitely not interested in the Blarney stone, and in August that would be a very crowded place, and not interested in the crystal factory tour, either. Kinsale was an option at some point, but when we had to choose between another day on the coast and a town, it lost. Just personal preference. Kinsale is not in our itinerary this time, we are flying in and out of Shannon.

Having said that, we will definitely spend some time in Clifden, Galway and Dingle – I guess these will be the ‘towns’. And we will also visit the Bunratty village. For castles, we will visit Ross Castle, Dunguaire, Cashel and Cahir.

And yes, you are right - weather can make or break a vacation. We’re hoping for nice weather, but we’ll be prepared for rain, too. Thanks for your suggestions, though.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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I think it's a very good itinerary with the possible exception of the 1st day, though I've done crazier things. I agree with kaneda on the point that you may be a little short on rainy day options but that is a small point, I stayed in Castletownshend for a week in February. There are very few rainy day options options there and you can count on rain in February. We had a great time.

I presume what kaneda was suggesting is that you are missing those important sites and they should be included. I'll explain why your itinerary is perfectly fine without them.

First, you'd have to add a minimum of three more towns to your 14 day itinerary. That would make it much more rushed and thus IMO, much less desireable.

Here are the options that make those additions unnecessary

Blarney Castle - Let's see, you have Cahir and Ross, both far superior to Blarney. No brainer, you're fine.

To replace Kilkenny, you can easily go into the town center of Ennis, though smaller, has a similar feel and is quite nice. If you want to see a restored castle, Knappogue is just up the road in Quin. Plus you'll be going to Muckross House. I heard Ennis referred to as a mini Kilkenny and I agree. The town center has narrow cobbled streets lined with pubs and shops and everything you need to have a nice evening.

Waterford is not really considered the most interesting city in Ireland and the Waterford Crystal factory is only a moderately intersting site. Certainly not worth a journey, but a one time stop if you are passing through. Waterford is not considered the best cut crystal in Ireland. Since you will be in Dingle, stop into Dingle Crystal and actually get to chat with the cutter. A much better choice and better crystal.

Kinsale Harbor: Ireland is full of harbor towns. Dingle and Kinsale are similar and this is the perfect example of not having to rush a holiday to try to get both Dingle and Kinsale in. One or the other, and I prefer Dingle slightly. You will also get to see other smaller and tiny harbors by going to Schull, Crookhaven (on Mizen - you must have a pint at O'Sullivan's), Baltimore perhaps (near Schull), Castletownbere ... well you get the idea. No shortage of harbors.

While in Schull, if the weather is good, another nice option is a trip out to either Sherkin (easiest from Baltimore), Clear Island or a trip around Fastnet Rock, one of the most spectacular light house locations you can find.

Not sure which catle is meant by the one near Bunratty. The one IN the Folk Park is Bunratty castle. The folk park is not really a medieval recreation, but more of a 19th century version. Knappogue is the closest other castle.

Again, this is a well paced trip and as almost all trips go, you will miss a few things you wanted to see and see a few things you never intended to see. Have fun.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Padraig and wojazz,
You are so right ¡V the drive to Clifden the 1st day is the only thing that worries me. We¡¦re coming from the east coast, so only a 6 hrs flight and we get in so early¡K.hopefully if we take our time and stop frequently, plus the excitement to be in Ireland and the nice scenery, we¡¦ll get there without a problem.

If/when it rains¡K..well, everybody here says that it does not rain all day long, day in and day out. I guess we¡¦ll wait for the sunny spells and enjoy the rain. Some of our best vacation memories involve torrential rain and misty/foggy places where due to weather, we were the only people around.

Wojazz, thanks for commenting on the itinerary ¡V makes me feel better. True, we would rather see less but not rush it too much. After all, this is our vacation ¡V we live in NY, and rushing every day is a way of life here. A least in vacation, we don¡¦t need to do it.

Ennis sounds nice ¡V we can either do that, or do the Loop Head on the day we¡¦re driving from Doolin to Castlegregory. I was leaning towards the Loop Head¡K..but now I¡¦m not sure anymore. Any thoughts on this?

Thank you for the tip on the Dingle Crystal. That sounds interesting.
Mizen - pint at O'Sullivan's ¡V this is on the list ƒº

I think generally, we have a lot of options of things to see. I know we will not be able to see them all,, and that is fine. No need to drive hundreds of miles to try to see everything.

On our last day, on the way from Cashel to Bunratty ¡V please share your thoughts on the Glen of Aherlow. I saw some wonderful pictures, is a detour worth it? Can we do both the Glen and the Bunratty castle in one day?
Thanks a lot
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Old May 15th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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We drove quite a bit on the first day of our first trip to Ireland and it was absolutely fine. I think it just depends on how well you handle the jetlag. We drove from Dublin to Trim Castle and back south to Kilkenny. It made for a long but fun day.

I can't really give you too much advice or thoughts on your itinerary since it is quite different from ours (we only had 5 days) but I think it looks like you picked some great places.

If you have time, there is a lovely trail that runs from Cahir castle through the woods along a lovely stream...walking on it was walking through the pages of a fairy tale! And there is a wonderful cafe just across the street that sells delicious pastries and hot chocolate, although I'm not sure you will want that in August!

We stayed in Kenmare and loved the Beara Peninsula! Our b&b owner talked us into doing it and we were so glad we did. There was hardly any traffic on it and the scenery was nothing short of amazing.

Tracy
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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Sounds like a great trip!

On our first day we also had a very early arrival. This was perfect for driving thru Burren past poulnabrone dolmen. We were only ones there and no traffic. You end up going right past Dunguaire Castle and there is a car park just across the street so you can take a walk around.

If you find time on one of your days in clifden, we really enjoyed the drive thru the doo lough valley up to Croagh Patrick. The Sky road just outside of Clifden is nice, as is the southern road along the coast to Roundstone.

On way to Doolin you should drive along coast of Black head. We enjoyed music and food at McGann's...an easy stroll from Cullinan's.

The pubs in Dingle are great for music, but if you are not staying in town it may not be an easy drive home afterwards.

On Gap of Dunloe tour, be sure to try an Irish coffee at Lord Brandon's...it was wonderful!

Beara Peninsula...be sure to drive Healy Pass. In Kenmare we enjoyed music at Bold Thady Quills at the Landsdowne Arms hotel.

We also enjoyed the Swiss Cottage which is close to Cahir Castle.

In Cashel, the Bru Boru center puts on a nice show with a fun session afterwards.

I would skip Adare and spend more time in Bunratty at the Folk park, pub, or shopping.

I miss all the excitement of planning and getting ready for our trip last year. You will have a great time no matter what the weather brings...Slainte!
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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By west of Ireland standards the route from Shannon to Galway is easy driving; working around Galway is a bit irritating because of heavy local traffic and poor signage; from Galway to Clifden is fine provided that you do not hurry, and the road is very scenic.

Loop Head is a bit special, and if you want something that is a world (as well as the Atlantic Ocean) away from Manhattan, that's where to go.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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I've been through the Glen of Aherlow and it is a lovely and short drive. It won't add a huge amount of time to your day. There are a couple of nice view points along the way. I would consider Ennis on your last night also. It's not that far from Bunratty (20 minutes) and it's a real town as opposed to Bunratty. You can certainly stay in Bunratty and still visit Ennis.

You may want to consider basing your tour of Bunratty castle on how crowded the place is when you arrive. In August, it could be crazy and I might opt for a trip into Ennis, which will have a lot of tourists, but it doesn't get the tour bus crowd like Bunratty does. It should be less crowded.

Remember about Ennis, I had driven through a few times and didn't get the charm. You have to park the car, get out and walk into the town center. Even from the car parks, you don't really get the feel. I'm a convert. I don't think Ennis is a good choice going to Castlegregory from Galway. You're headed for the cliffs and then down. Ennis would be an hour out of the way.

Bill
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:54 PM
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Agree with Padraig on loop head by the way. A lovely area.

Bill
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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:08 PM
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Wow, this turns out to be a great thread – thank you all!

Tracy, yes – the walk to the Swiss Cottage is on the list. Hot chocolate might be too hot for August, but I’m sure we can get some cold refreshments there. And if we spend too much time in Cahir that day, we can visit Cashel next day.

Chip, for Connemara days, I’m still debating between the drive to Croagh Patrick and a Lough Corrib Cruise. I think it was your trip report that sold me on the drive to Croagh Patrick, though I never thought I would have time for it. The Sky Road is on the list.

The Black Head is also on the wish list (hope we’ll have time for it) and thanks for the McGann's tip. Should we have dinner there or at Cullinan’s? Thanks for all the other ideas, I will add them to my long list of things to do in Ireland.

Padraig, you make my decision process so easy – Loop Head it is . The coast scenery is so appealing to us, you probably figured that out based on our itinerary. Thanks again.

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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:17 PM
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Wojazz,
Ennis and Bunratty for the last day, or Ennis instead of Bunratty – that is great idea. I did not think of it, mostly because I did not realize Ennis is only 20 min away. Thanks a lot, that will definitely give us another option for that day.

For some reason, while I think Bunratty would be interesting it does not necessarily sound like a “must do”. Ennis sounds more appealing.

Thanks for the notes on the Glen of Aherlow. We will probably take that detour. I’m getting very excited about this trip, thanks again.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Xyz,

McGann's has the best Irish stew that I have found in the Calre region. The meat was tender, the gravy broth rich and full, the vegetables plentiful and the mound of mashed potatoes in teh middle had a buttery taste. There was easily enough there for two people of average appetite to share.

Ennis is a favorite of mine. The narrow, cobblestone streets, the ecclectic mix of shops and the friendliness of her people are only a few of the reasons. We often stay there before we fly out of Shannon and have never had a problem getting there in time to do all of the departure drudgeries.

Slan Beo,

Bit Devine
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:25 AM
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A mound of mashed potatoes in the middle of an Irish stew? That's like having jam on mushrooms.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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If you're not dying to see Bunratty, I think Ennis is a better choice. I have been in Bunratty Castle during shoulder season and it was miserable. Inside, the stairs going up are the same as those coming down in one place (or at least they are used interchangeably) and they are narrow spiral castle stairs. If you want to see Bunratty Castle in August, your best bet is to be there when they open.

Croagh Patrick or Lough Corrib is a tough choice. I really enjoyed Lough Corrib and the drive over Doo Lough Pass towards Croagh Patrick is beautiful. I think making the climb would really add value to the experience. The weather needs to be very good for that and you need to have the right shoes. It's a healthy climb.

You might play it by ear nased on weather. If it's misty, you won't see much from the mountain but you could still enjoy the boat trip. Likewise, if the weather is good, but if you are a walker, Croagh Patrick would be hard to beat.

Bill
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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Padraig,

T'was a nice surprise for me, as that was how my gran used to fix it in the long ago. I have had Irish stew all over Ireland and have encountered mashed potatoes in several but none were as good as McGann's. I can still taste the stew, if I close my eyes.

As for jam on mushrooms, you may put anything you like on them, as long as you keep them away from me. I am deadly allergic! Or is it that you are trying to kill me off? LOL

Slan Beo,

Bit
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Old May 16th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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<<McGann's has the best Irish stew that I have found in the Clare region>> That’s all I needed to know (with or without a mound of mashed potatoes in the middle). Dinner problem is solved

And I think we’ll do Ennis instead of Bunratty. For the kind of things we like, it’s a great fit.

Wojazz, I think we will play Connemara by ear. It will be our first vacation days, so we’ll probably take it easy. Weather will matter, too. I’m sure we will enjoy it no matter what – and maybe save some for next time.

Can you please tell me more about the Croagh Patrick hike? How long? How strenuous? Where does it start, how do we find it? Thanks
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