Ireland Itinerary Help

Feb 1st, 2016, 07:14 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Ireland Itinerary Help

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Ireland. Excluding travel days, we have 9 nights. We will be flying into Dublin and out of Shannon. For our first trip, we want to focus on the southwest part of the island. We love exploring the towns, mingling with the locals, enjoying the pubs and live music and dance. We plan to rent a car and have no reservations with driving in Europe (we loved driving the Amalfi Coast) Possible itinerary includes:
1 night Dublin
2 nights Cork
1 night Dingle
2 nights Kenmare
2 nights Galway
1 night Ennis

Would love suggestions on itinerary, i.e. towns, route order in which to see them, sights along the way, recommendation on accommodations. We like small inns and B&Bs. Places with character and charm in or very close to town. A night at a reasonably priced castle as a splurge would be fun too, Would like to keep rates at 150 E or less.

Thanks in advance for your advice. I always get such good tips from this forum.
heharris is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2016, 04:27 AM
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Dublin Accommodation prices can vary depending on what's on in the city but somewhere like the Travelodge on St Stephens green could be a good option.

Cork depends on whether you mean Cork or outside Cork? I like Cobh and Blarney but the tourist choice would be Kinsale.

Kenmare or Killarney would depend on what you want to do and see from this base Kenmare I like Tara Farm which is outside town, Abbey Court gets good reviews in town. Killarney, Sunnybank guest house or the Eviston Hotel.

Dingle lots of people stay in Dingle, I don't any more. I would suggest that you drive the Dingle peninsula figure of eight and consider Ballyseede Castle in Tralee for your castle stay

Galway via Bunratty and the main road up, possibly calling at some Yeat's connections around Gort for Galway Prague House on the Salthill border, The Herons Rest on the Latin Quarter quay or Petra House on College Rd by Eyre Sq.

Down through west Clare for the Burren and Cliffs to Ennis and Grey Gables or Glenomra Hotels in Town are the Old Ground or Temple gate plus others.
Tony2phones is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2016, 04:23 PM
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Hi, we did a similar trip last summer.

Cork was our least favourite and Galway/Connemara the place we liked most.

We also loved riving in Ireland - the roads are so much emptier than here in England. Traffic in Dublin though is very heavy and its not much fun to drive in the capital.

Between Dublin and Cork take a look at stopping in Cashel to visit the Rock of Cashel. We also visited Cahir Castle which we thought was excellent - both are on your route on the motorway.

Consider one night in Cork rather than two. Instead of Kenmare consider staying the next night at Bantry House in Bantry, which we loved and which was an easy walk into Bantry town.

Do look at Airbnb. We stayed in three Airbnb places in our two weeks and all three were excellent and highlights of our trip.

We drove through Killarney and didn't like the look of it at all - it seemed far too touristy and commercial.

Between Ennis and Galway do visit the Cliffs of Moher, which were spectacular.

We stayed at Norman Villa in Galway, part art gallery, part B&B and I'd recommend it to anyone. Again an easy walk to great restaurants and the town centre.

Get hold of a good road atlas and wherever you can stick to the coast roads and the Wild Atlantic Way. Check out accommodation using TripAdvisor. A hire car we used another time had an excellent road map of Ireland which highlighted the most scenic roads.

In terms of order it would be:
Galway/Ennis depending on the time of your flight home

If I was doing it again I'd probably do:
1 night Dublin. Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle next day
1 night Cork. Cobh, Blarney Castle, Charles Fort, Kinsale, take your pick but travel to Bantry via the coast
1 night Bantry. Beara Peninsula
2 nights Dingle Peninsula. Ring of Kerry one day and Killarney national Park the other
1 night at either Bunratty Castle Hotel or Ballinalacken Castle near Doolin (Not been to either but they look like something you might like and Bunratty Castle was excellent as Tony indicates). Depending where you stay try and fit in Bunratty Castle and the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren.
3 nights Galway. Explore Connemara

Hope this helps. Tim
tjhome1 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2016, 05:49 PM
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Just be sure you are comfy driving on the wrong side of the road - and be sure to reserve an automatic if you need one.

Also be aware that country roads can be very narrow - with not shoulders of ditches or hedges instead, And the sheep have a habit of wandering into the road.

Once you are off major highways assume your speed will be 30-35 mph.

(we've done a road trip there just once and loved it. But I've been to Dublin 3 times and would definitely want more than a part of day there - 3 days at least.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 11:51 AM
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Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am now rethinking whether we even got to Cork. If we skipped this town, would you suggest the following order:
Dublin - 1 night
Bantry 1/Kenmare (2)
Dinge 1
Galway 2
Doolin 1
Ennis 1

or would you recommend Dublin, Galway, Dingle, Doolin, Kenmare and Ennis -- we have an early morning flight
heharris is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 12:21 PM
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What is the thinking behind a night in Doolin? nice to visit but I personally wouldn't stay there even if I didn't live under an hour away. Consider 2 nights for Ennis which is the best touring base for the whole of County Clare and the former Shannon region.

If you don't want to Consider Ballyseede Castle rather than a night in Dingle then maybe consider Abbeyglen Castle just outside Clifden as one of your Galway nights as a base for the Connemara?
Tony2phones is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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I think the order doesn't matter hugely but we enjoyed the Dublin/south coast drive we did far better than the Dublin/Galway drive. Also doing the south first means slightly less doubling back if your last night is in Ennis.

Depending on the time of year you travel is a factor too. If it is summer then there is time to drive to your overnight destination after you have seen all the sights you wanted to see that day.

Also I always find having a good map showing the whole island/country is hugely helpful in working out an order and a route and then using AA route planner to refine the detail.

You have plenty of castle options now! Tim
tjhome1 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 10:21 AM
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Current thinking now is 1 night Dublin, 2 nights kenmare staying at Shelburne lodge, 1 night Dingle (need recommendation for lodging in Dingle), 1 night ballyseede castle, 3 nights Galway (have reservation at House Hotel in town) and 1 night Ennis (also need recommendation for lodging). Flight out of Shannon at 9 am. Any comments/recommendations would be much appreciated.
heharris is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 12:34 PM
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Ennis accommodation for B&B Grey Gables is central for town Glenomra house just outside town but walkable (maby taxi back) Hotels in Town either the Old Ground or Temple gate would be prime choices.
Tony2phones is offline  
Feb 8th, 2016, 01:13 PM
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You have received good advice from those who have posted so far. I suggest you start by buying the best guidebook and a good road atlas. You can go to and buy the DK Eyewitness Ireland Travel guide and also the Collins Road Atlas -Touring edition. Those two books will serve you well is both planning your itinerary and use during your tour.

As you have only 9 days/nights to tour Ireland and Dublin you are right in considering this a first trip to Ireland. Don't try to take in too much. Ireland has a way of calling you back for a a return visit so just see a comfortable amount in the seven days you have allocated.

As there are just the two of you you may wish to decide what your interests are. Make a 'wish list.' List out all the places of interest you gleaned from the guide book. Then take you seven days and lay out a route that will cover as many o those using my rule of thumb. Tour a maximum of 75 to 100 miles a day which translates to about 3-4 hours behind the wheel. You'll be stopping for photos, for toilet breaks, lunch, site visits so leaving at 9:30A and finishing at 5-6:00P would be a typical touring day.

Day 1 - Have Fintan Murray ( meet you as you exit Customs and transfer you to Dublin city center. Hotel choices would be near Merrion Square or Stephens Green such as Mont Clare Hotel (, Davenport Hotel (www.davenport Use the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour bus ( they have a two-day ticket. It runs every 15 minutes during the day and makes over 20 stops around Dublin. You should take it the full circuit the first time around and mark you map (comes with the ticket) with the places you wish to 'hop-off' and visit and then 'hop-on' again....Great way to get around Dublin and maximize your time. See the Dublin section of the Eyewitness Ireland Guidebook to select your stops on the tour. In the evening you could visit some pubs that offer traditional Irish music.

Day 2 - Continue using the Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing. Visit Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin Castle, National Museum, Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral, to name just a few.. Be sure to walk through the public parks of St. Stephen's Green and Merrion Square and one of my favors Iveagh Gardens. Pub lunches are wonderful with a varied menu in places like the Bailey, Nearys, Davy Byrnes, Madigans and more. For a fun evening do the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl ( It starts at the Duke Pub on Duke Streets.

Day 3 - Pick up your rental car this morning. My recommendation is the Hertz Fully Inclusive Rate through ( as they include all the insurances and also are offering a free GPS rental with reservations made through February for your summer trip. If you are a bit anxious about driving on the left for the first time you might contact Fintan Murray again ( and have him pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Hertz downtown location and the pilot you out of town. This is a unique and wonderful service for the first-timers. He is very reasonable and very professional..

Take the N7 out of Dublin and tour to Kilkenny. En route you may wish to stop and visit the National Stud and the Horse Museum at Tully, County Kildare. This is a source of pride for Ireland and an incredible visit for horse lovers and enthusiasts. In Kilkenny visit Kilkenny Castle which dates to the 12th century. Continue to Cahir in County Tipperary and visit Cahir Castle (related to Kilkenny Castle). A unique place to stay would be in Cahir at Carigeen Castle B&B. It is a real castle at B&B prices ( You could book into a bedroom that was once a prison cell with the cell doors! If you want more comfort Baileys of Cashel Hotel is a very nice family run 4 star hotel (

Day 4 - Continue to Mallow and turn south to Blarney where you can do what every visitor wishes to do and kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle! Continue south to Kinsale, a harbor town with great restaurants. Be sure to visit Charles Fort and hear about the White lady ghost. Kinsale is a harbor town and most folks enjoy exploring the shops, pubs and the wonderful restaurants. A drive out to Old Head to see Old Head golf course and the lighthouse is very worthwhile. For a B&B try Ashgrove Guesthouse ( or Actons Hotel overlooking the harbor ( and there is a unique experience at Perryville House (

Day 5 - Tour along the south coast through Skibbereen to Bantry and Glengarriff where you can boat across to Garnish Island a fun excursion. On to Kenmare crossing the exciting Caha Pass. Drombeg Stone Circle is nearby. One of Ireland largest. On to Killarney through Moll's Gap and a stop at Ladies View overlooking the Lakes of Killarney and Killarney Town. At Moll's Gap there is a farm that does sheep-dog demonstrations. Killarney has the Killarney National Park which is 20,000 acres and includes Muckross House and Gardens, 15th century Ross Castle, and Muckross Abbey. You can take a jaunting cart though the park...great fun! Stay at Joan McCarthy's, Harp B&B ( or Catherine Treacy's Killarney Lodge ( The Killarney Royal is a wonderful small 4 star hotel in the center of town ( Plenty of Pubs here for traditional Irish music.

Day 6 - Base in Killarney and do a day excursion down the Dingle Peninsula stopping at Inch strand for a stroll on the beach. Continue through Dingle town and enjoy the spectacular views along the Slea Head Drive. Be sure to stop at the Blasket Island Center and learn about what life was like on the Blasket Islands that loom in front of you. On through Ballyferriter and to the Gallorus Oratory a small stone chapel that dates to the 7th century. Te road returns you to Dingle Town. When you return to Killarney you can take an exhilarating drive across the Conor Pass (optional). Stop in Anascaul at the South Pole Inn. Tom Crean one of the Antarctic explorers was from here. Continue north to the village of Camp and stop at one of the oldest pubs in Ireland Ashe's. The road continues to Blennerville and Tralee and returns you to Killarney.

Day 7 - Tour north from Killarney through Tralee to the Shannon River and to the village of Foynes where you can visit the Flying Boat Museum. You'll relive the era of the flying boats as you explore the full size replica of a Boeing 151. The Irish Coffee was invented here. A great stop for the aviation enthusiasts. Take the Shannon ferry from Tarbert in County Kerry to Killimer in County Clare. A 20 minute crossing. At Moyasta you can take a ride on the steam train of the West Clare Railway. Tour north to Lahinch, famous Lahinch Golf Club, visit nearby Cliffs of Moher to view the spectacular cliffs that rise 700 feet from the Atlantic. Be sure to take in the Visitor Center. Tour on to Doolin where you can stay at Atantic Sunset B&B ( or the Hotel Doolin ( Gus O'Connor's Pub is good for music and food. You might also consider Gregans Castle Hotel near Ballyvaughan - wonderful place! (

Day 8 - Tour through the Burren, an area of bare limestone rock with it own micro-climate that allows alpine flowers to grow. Take the route along Black Head for great views of Galway Bay and County Galway across the water. At Ballyvaughn take the road to Pulnabroune Dolmen, a 2500 year old portal tomb. Continue along the shores of Galway Bay to Kinvara where you can view 15th century Dunguaire Castle. On into Galway City. Christopher Columbus stopped here on his way to the New World. My suggestion is to stay in the Salthill area at Carmel O'Halloran's Roncalli House B&B ( or even better continue to Barna Village (another 10 minutes) and stay at the Twelve Hotel..great place and much less expensive that Galway city hotels. ( Great launching sport to tour Connemara tomorrow.

Day 9 - Tour into Connemara. Drive along the shores of Galway Bay and view the Aran islands in the distance. On through Casla to Maam Cross and then left to the town of Clifden. Connemara has incredible contrasts of scenery from purple mountains to deep blue lakes and streams and white washed stone cottages dotting the landscape. From Clifden take the Sky Road to Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. The to Letterfrack and torn down the Lough Inagh Valley and then return to Galway or Barna via Moycullen where you can visit the Connemara Marble factory and the Celtic Crystal factory. Irish music in the pubs of Galway and Barna. If you stay in Barna be sure to have dinner at O'Grady on the Pier for some of the best seafood around.

Day 10 - Drive to Shannon Airport. Turn in the Hertz car. Check in for your flight. If you are returning to the USA you will clear US Customs, Immigration and TSA in Shannon before you board your plane.

Hope that helps!
ballinaraw is offline  
Feb 9th, 2016, 06:34 PM
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shelbourne bed and breakfast is booked and I am so disappointed. Any other B&Bs in Kenmare that you would recommend. I like the idea of being in town or within walking distance.
heharris is offline  
Feb 10th, 2016, 03:20 AM
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You could do a lot worse than the Abbey Court another good option is Sallyport House
Tony2phones is offline  
Feb 10th, 2016, 07:22 AM
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or2nh4me2 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2016, 09:29 AM
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Dingle recommnedation:

We had a fabulous stay at Castlewood House:

Might be over your budget, but worth a look.
Bette is online now  
Feb 11th, 2016, 04:30 PM
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Thank you for all of the recommendations. Do you have any recommendations on where is the best place to stay in Dublin? We want to be in an area where there are a lot of pubs, night life (music), shops and restaurants. To that end, what hotels or B&Bs would you recommend in this area?
heharris is offline  
Feb 11th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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Buswells is my favorite.
flpab is offline  
Feb 12th, 2016, 08:53 AM
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Buswells looks perfect but it is booked. Any other recommendations, please? I read that St Stephens Green Hotel was good but the only hotel with a similar name is Davenport Stephens Green Hotel or O'Callaghan Stephens Green Hotel. Can anyone comment on either of these? We want to be within close walking distance to the lively center. Thanks so much.
heharris is offline  
Feb 13th, 2016, 12:58 PM
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St Stephen's Green has a travelodge, no frills.
I have stayed at The Harding and Jury Inn by Christchurch, not a bad area. Sorry Buswell's is booked but they are very popular. I am spending one night there in Sept but booked it about a month ago to make sure. We have an apartment after that by Smithfield which I like because of the Luas. There is a Maldron hotel there.
flpab is offline  
Feb 13th, 2016, 03:25 PM
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My favorite part of Ireland is West Cork. I would take the advice to stay in Kinsale. We stay in the wee village of Courtmacsherry. I love the seven heads area so much more than Dingle.

Cork city, I agree is not the best. But the county has so much to offer.
JulieEC is offline  
Feb 14th, 2016, 07:08 PM
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We have a 9am flight out of Shannon to the U.S. we will have a rental car to return. If we are staying in Ennis the night before what time should we leave in order to make the flight?
heharris is offline  

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