Ireland June 2024 planning!

Old Dec 30th, 2023, 06:27 AM
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Ireland June 2024 planning!

Hello! This forum was a huge help in planning my family's vacation to Germany and Austria last summer and now I'm back - this time planning our vacation to Ireland! We are a family of 4, myself, my husband and two sons ages 22 and 19. We will have about 9 days - arriving in Dublin, departing Shannon. Looking at a lot of posts and reading a lot online and in some travel books it seems like I need to really narrow down our itinerary. We have never been to Ireland so looking for some advice.

With 9 days and those cities to arrive/depart, is it best to stick to the southern/middle part of the country - Dublin/Kilkenny/Dingle/Galway/Aran Islands? We will be renting a car and are very active - looking for a good combination of outdoor activities mixed with local pubs/nightlife type of things.

Thanks!!
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Old Dec 30th, 2023, 10:43 AM
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We have been to Ireland 3 times. Dublin was our least favorite part. Went down the middle of Ireland north to south to visit relatives sites which was interesting.
But out trip on the west coast was our favorite, into and out of Shannon. Westport (if in Westport don’t miss Matt Malloy’s Pub) Kenmare, and Dingle Penninsula were our favorites, also Achill Island. Killarney and the Ring of Kerry way too crowded with tour buses.
Just one opinion….I’m sure there are many other takes on that beautiful country. I also must add that our biggest surprise was how good the food was. We didn’t expect that at all.
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Old Dec 31st, 2023, 04:37 AM
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TPAYT - Thank you! I was thinking of not spending much more than a day or day and morning in Dublin and concentrate on the South/West part of the country. Do you think Ring of Kerry would be crowded early June and if we went in the morning? Looks beautiful, but nothing ruins a drive like that more than a bunch of tour buses! What would be your recommendation as to cities/towns to make a bases for day trips? I am thinking maybe 3-4 places to stay max (including Dublin). We would get 2 hotels rooms or VRBO/apartment style.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 31st, 2023, 06:10 AM
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First of all, everything will be crowded in June. We go to Europe often and it’s crowded everywhere, especially June thru August.

Next, Ireland has wonderful B&B’s. Maybe a hotel in Dublin, but in the other places this is the way to go.
Here is an example of one of our favorites in Dingle.
https://www.greenmounthouse.ie/

From Dublin I’d head straight to Westport for a few days, then Galway for a couple of days, then Dingle, maybe Kenmare, and end in Ennis overnight before flight home.
There is so much to do & see in these areas. Remember the driving takes longer than you would think.

Again just one person’s opinion.


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Old Dec 31st, 2023, 09:55 AM
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I wouldn't rush away from Dublin. Two highlights for me:

The ancient manuscripts in Trinity College library, including the Book of Kells.

Newgrange, a Stone Age passage tomb. This is an amazing construction, older than the pyramids. It's tricky getting to see it. They don't have reservations, and unless you arrive very early in the morning, you may face an hours-long wait for the mandatory tour, or even find that there are no more spaces for that day. The most certain way to see it is to take a guided tour from Dublin. If you have a car, you can leave very early and hope to beat the crowd. There is no public transportation that will get you there early enough.

https://www.newgrange.com/

We liked Westport very much. I suggest you follow that with a drive along the Famine Road from Louisbourg to Delphi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolough_Tragedy

After this, a drive through the outstandingly beautiful Connemara region will take you to Galway. If you stay a few nights in Galway, you can visit one of the Aran islands. Inishmore (Inis Mór), the most popular of the three, is easily reached from Galway. There are no cars on Inishmore, but you can get around by bicycle or pony cart. There is another impressive ancient construction there, the Dún Aonghasa fortress, on a 100-meter cliff overlooking Galway Bay. These cliffs impressed me more than the famous Cliffs of Moher, maybe because of the wilder landscape and a relatively smaller number of tourists.

As an alternative to Galway, you might instead stop over in Doolin, famous for it's traditional music. I haven't been back there in more than 30 years, and I've heard that it's become much more popular. When we were there, we rode there in the back of a pick-up truck belonging to the bus driver whose last stop was well short of Doolin, where he lived.

From Doolin, you can get a ferry to the smallest Aran Island, Inisheer (Inis Oírr). We walked over much of the island, with its rocky landscape with tiny fields surrounded by stone walls. Doolin is also convenient for a visit to the barren landscape of the Burren, which a 17th century English general described as '
a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him'. The Cliffs of Moher are adjacent to the Burren.


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Old Dec 31st, 2023, 01:04 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip!
We enjoyed Dublin but 1 or 2 nights is probably plenty depending on what time of day you arrive.
We liked Kilkenny just fine but I would pick up the car leaving Dublin and make a beeline for the west coast.

We loved Westport, and Kylemore Abbey but that is a little more out of the way.
We did Slea Head Drive and stayed in Dingle and Killarney. Dingle is the picture postcard town that was what we were dreaming of, we stayed at Pax House, which was dreamy. We did not find Killarney to be bad at all at the end of May. We loved the convenient location and the ease to get into Killarney Park, Gap of Dunloe, Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, and so on. We stayed at the Lake House Hotel, which was so serene and lovely.
Pax House:
https://www.pax-house.com

Lake Hotel:
https://www.lakehotelkillarney.ie

We had thought we wouldn't want to drive the Ring of Kerry because of the time involved and the stress of it, and once we were on the road awhile, we were sure that was the right decision. Don't underestimate the challenges of driving there, left side driving, narrow roads, tractors, sheep, coach buses, etc. In choosing your bases, it is great being near something with a lot you want to do. We looked at the map and would say, oh, that is only 1:15 away. Well, it never was, it would be 2 hours, then the time there, then 2 hours back.After a couple of days we slashed the southern part of our trip off, and were very happy we did. Then we felt like we weren't living in the car and had a lot more, enjoying the moment experiences. We loved the Burren, Cliffs of Mohrer(if timed right,) and Lahinch Beach among many others. We stayed in Kilkenny, Doolin, Galway, Westport, also.

Like any trip, you won't have time for everything, but there are so many great options, you can't go wrong. You will love the hospitality, the friendliness, the vistas, the food and the tranquility! Enjoy!



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Old Dec 31st, 2023, 05:36 PM
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Agree that NewGrange/Knowth is fantastic, although perhaps not easily doable in the OP’s timeframe.

NB: perhaps it’s changed, but when there in May 2023, pre-visit reservations were definitely required.

https://heritageireland.ie/places-to...ge-and-knowth/

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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CaliNurse
Agree that NewGrange/Knowth is fantastic, although perhaps not easily doable in the OP’s timeframe.

NB: perhaps it’s changed, but when there in May 2023, pre-visit reservations were definitely required.

https://heritageireland.ie/places-to...ge-and-knowth/
The last time I was there was a few years ago. Your information is certainly more up-to-date. I'm glad they now have reservations. The previous system virtually required you to take an expensive hours-long tour.
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by CaliNurse
Agree that NewGrange/Knowth is fantastic, although perhaps not easily doable in the OP’s timeframe.

NB: perhaps it’s changed, but when there in May 2023, pre-visit reservations were definitely required.

https://heritageireland.ie/places-to...ge-and-knowth/
That looks like a really interesting place to stop and see. If we were to leave Dublin and head there on our way to the west (not sure of itinerary order yet), how long would that day be? Maybe to go from there to Westport? I don't know if this is feasible or not.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by coral22
Sounds like a wonderful trip!
We enjoyed Dublin but 1 or 2 nights is probably plenty depending on what time of day you arrive.
We liked Kilkenny just fine but I would pick up the car leaving Dublin and make a beeline for the west coast.

We loved Westport, and Kylemore Abbey but that is a little more out of the way.
We did Slea Head Drive and stayed in Dingle and Killarney. Dingle is the picture postcard town that was what we were dreaming of, we stayed at Pax House, which was dreamy. We did not find Killarney to be bad at all at the end of May. We loved the convenient location and the ease to get into Killarney Park, Gap of Dunloe, Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, and so on. We stayed at the Lake House Hotel, which was so serene and lovely.
Pax House:
https://www.pax-house.com

Lake Hotel:
https://www.lakehotelkillarney.ie

We had thought we wouldn't want to drive the Ring of Kerry because of the time involved and the stress of it, and once we were on the road awhile, we were sure that was the right decision. Don't underestimate the challenges of driving there, left side driving, narrow roads, tractors, sheep, coach buses, etc. In choosing your bases, it is great being near something with a lot you want to do. We looked at the map and would say, oh, that is only 1:15 away. Well, it never was, it would be 2 hours, then the time there, then 2 hours back.After a couple of days we slashed the southern part of our trip off, and were very happy we did. Then we felt like we weren't living in the car and had a lot more, enjoying the moment experiences. We loved the Burren, Cliffs of Mohrer(if timed right,) and Lahinch Beach among many others. We stayed in Kilkenny, Doolin, Galway, Westport, also.

Like any trip, you won't have time for everything, but there are so many great options, you can't go wrong. You will love the hospitality, the friendliness, the vistas, the food and the tranquility! Enjoy!
Thanks for the info! The beginning of the planning is always hard - the more I read, the longer the list of things to do and places to see gets long and end up cutting stuff out.

We land at 9:30 am in Dublin. I am thinking of trying to see/do what we want Monday and Tuesday and leave Tuesday afternoon. Of if we try to see Newgrange maybe stay an extra night in Dublin and head there first thing Wednesday?
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 08:19 AM
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A lot depends how tired you are when you land, how soon you can get into your hotel and what the weather is like.

We didn't get to Newgrange but I hear it is fantastic and worthwhile. Monday will be a slow day, knock out one or two of your must dos in Dublin? Early dinner and a nice walk along the river and across Haypenny Bridge. Tuesday, Newgrange and Kilomainham Gaol(jail) It is so interesting and you need reservations. Finish the rest of your list and maybe head out of Dublin first thing Wednesday?

You have a big advantage in flying home from Shannon that you don't spend half a day getting back to Dublin.You are approaching it well, list all of your interests, map it out, and start cutting out the least appealing sites and most difficult routes.
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 05:45 PM
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Yes! Agree with Coral22– Kilmainham Gaol is a do-no-miss! Reservations needed. The tour guide was amazing! Newgrange likewise requires reservations so you can join a group going to the actual sites.
Allow an hour drive from Dublin.
Are you comfortable with driving on the “other” side of the road? If not, allow time to get used to it!
Re Dublin sites, with limited time , imho EPIC museum is quite missable.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 02:19 AM
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[QUOTE=sblack74;17522169]That looks like a really interesting place to stop and see. If we were to leave Dublin and head there on our way to the west (not sure of itinerary order yet), how long would that day be? Maybe to go from there to Westport? I don't know if this is feasible or not.

Newgrange Is only about half an hour from Dublin airport, which is where we rented our car. According to Google maps, it's 3 hours and 20 minutes from there to Westport.

On that trip, which was almost 20 years ago, there were no advance reservations and we had to wait several hours to get in. I've been back twice since then, and wasn't able to get in to the tomb, just the exhibition centre, from which you can see the tomb in the distance. You're not allowed to approach it on your own. Both times I had relatives with me who had never seen it.

"Tomb" may be a bit misleading. The guide told us that when it was excavated, the remains of only a few people were found, which was too few for such a large structure in densely populated area. Even it was only used for chiefs and nobility, it had been there for centuries and should have had more burials. She said that perhaps people were buried there for funeral rites and left there until a propitious time for an actual burial elsewhere. I haven't seen any corroboration of this, so I can't vouch for it.
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Old Jan 4th, 2024, 05:06 AM
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I concur with some of the above advice but with some other considerations. What do your sons want to see? What are THEIR interests?

We've gone to Ireland six times now. During three of those trips, we cycled with our daughters. In a later trip, we spent a week in Dublin with our youngest in pub after pub after pub (no, it did not get old; it's just that my husband and I were OLD). There are still some parts of Ireland I've not seen, but after our last trip that basically took us from Westport, down to Galway, through Dingle, over to Killarney, then to Cork and up to Dublin, I feel for sure we've covered 3/4s of it.

So I'm looking at a trip through your sons' eyes, thinking "What would I like to do if I were their ages?" Well, you probably should not give Dublin short shrift. Your boys will for sure want to walk down Temple Bar, and since both are of drinking age, will for sure want to go into a few places there. I don't care how "touristy" others consider this area to be, there are first-class musicians performing along this stretch. In fact, even if you don't go INTO a bar along there, you can saunter down the lane in an evening and just soak all the music in. I see nothing wrong with getting educated a little about Irish Trad music first. A Traditional Music Pub Crawl is far less a pub crawl than it is an education. We had been very familiar with Irish Trad before we ever booked this type of thing in 2013, and we still learned a lot. And the best part of it was, is that we asked the musicians/tour guides afterward for tips as to the non-touristy venues we should visit afterwards.

We found that using a 48-hr Hop On/Off bus gave us the ability to navigate painlessly key areas of Dublin at will. Yes, we stopped at the obligatory Guinness Storehouse (and made fun of ourselves for doing so). The advertising section was interesting there, though. What great historic PR. And that was our means for getting to Kilmainham Gaol where I had reserved a tour well in advance. We still talk about how surprisingly emotional we get remembering that tour. We were far less emotional about seeing Trinity and the Book of Kells, but there were other stops that vibed for us. As an English major, coming across the Oscar Wilde statue on St. Stephen's Green was serendipitous moment.

Where should you head afterwards? I'd either head to Belfast or Galway, with NO STOPS between. A train in either direction works beautifully and painlessly. In Belfast, you could tour THE BEST of the various Titanic museums in all of Ireland/UK. Amazing town. You could head up to the amazing Giant's Causeway and/or Game of Thrones areas by train, by tour, or by car. But I'm thinking Galway is where you should be headed.

Note that I'm skipping Westport. Hey, we were just there. Loved it. Had a great time. I'm thinking of your boys. I just don't think it would be their vibe. HOWEVER, you might be in time for the Bluegrass Festival there.

Galway would be. We were there three times--twice with our girls when they were not old enough to drink--and we all just felt it was a great place to hang. Do walking tours, explore the university, just people watch. From Galway, your options are endless. Take a car north to Clifton and Connemara, an area we adore and have cycled twice; you can stay in Clifton or elsewhere. Venture south somewhere to The Burren (we did a tour with Sean) and the Cliffs of Moher. Our Aran Islands venture this year was a bust because it's become a tourist runaway train now, but going to the islands from Doolin might be more feasible. Note: We stayed two nights in Doolin ages ago and enjoyed it. I don't know what it's like now.

If you are exploring Dingle, Killarney, Kenmare, things become a tad more difficult. We don't drive in Ireland (we both look at views too much to be safe) but we always felt comfortable cycling roads. Yeah, it's ironic. Conor Pass right before Dingle would have scared the life out of us as cyclists or as drivers. Too skinny, too many tourists driving badly, drifting mists. The Ring of Kerry was easy driving; the scads of tourists would have driven us bonkers. There are workarounds. It's possible to do this area but I think it all involves a lot of car time.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

My Most Recent Trip Reports as reference:
2023--Westport to Galway to Dingle to Killarney to Cork and then Dublin
2019--Belfast to Bushmills to Derry to Belfast
2013--Dublin (really old, but some info still viable)




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Old Jan 4th, 2024, 05:17 AM
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I travel to Ireland to visit family often and one of my favorite things to do on arrival day in Dublin is ditch my luggage at my Airbnb and then take the DART to the coast for a walk and a bite to eat. The sea air always invigorates me and Octopussy tapas bar in Howth is a reliable favorite for a delicious lunch or dinner. With both the LUAS and the DART, traveling about Dublin is quite easy.
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Old Jan 9th, 2024, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
I concur with some of the above advice but with some other considerations. What do your sons want to see? What are THEIR interests?

We've gone to Ireland six times now. During three of those trips, we cycled with our daughters. In a later trip, we spent a week in Dublin with our youngest in pub after pub after pub (no, it did not get old; it's just that my husband and I were OLD). There are still some parts of Ireland I've not seen, but after our last trip that basically took us from Westport, down to Galway, through Dingle, over to Killarney, then to Cork and up to Dublin, I feel for sure we've covered 3/4s of it.

So I'm looking at a trip through your sons' eyes, thinking "What would I like to do if I were their ages?" Well, you probably should not give Dublin short shrift. Your boys will for sure want to walk down Temple Bar, and since both are of drinking age, will for sure want to go into a few places there. I don't care how "touristy" others consider this area to be, there are first-class musicians performing along this stretch. In fact, even if you don't go INTO a bar along there, you can saunter down the lane in an evening and just soak all the music in. I see nothing wrong with getting educated a little about Irish Trad music first. A Traditional Music Pub Crawl is far less a pub crawl than it is an education. We had been very familiar with Irish Trad before we ever booked this type of thing in 2013, and we still learned a lot. And the best part of it was, is that we asked the musicians/tour guides afterward for tips as to the non-touristy venues we should visit afterwards.

We found that using a 48-hr Hop On/Off bus gave us the ability to navigate painlessly key areas of Dublin at will. Yes, we stopped at the obligatory Guinness Storehouse (and made fun of ourselves for doing so). The advertising section was interesting there, though. What great historic PR. And that was our means for getting to Kilmainham Gaol where I had reserved a tour well in advance. We still talk about how surprisingly emotional we get remembering that tour. We were far less emotional about seeing Trinity and the Book of Kells, but there were other stops that vibed for us. As an English major, coming across the Oscar Wilde statue on St. Stephen's Green was serendipitous moment.

Where should you head afterwards? I'd either head to Belfast or Galway, with NO STOPS between. A train in either direction works beautifully and painlessly. In Belfast, you could tour THE BEST of the various Titanic museums in all of Ireland/UK. Amazing town. You could head up to the amazing Giant's Causeway and/or Game of Thrones areas by train, by tour, or by car. But I'm thinking Galway is where you should be headed.

Note that I'm skipping Westport. Hey, we were just there. Loved it. Had a great time. I'm thinking of your boys. I just don't think it would be their vibe. HOWEVER, you might be in time for the Bluegrass Festival there.

Galway would be. We were there three times--twice with our girls when they were not old enough to drink--and we all just felt it was a great place to hang. Do walking tours, explore the university, just people watch. From Galway, your options are endless. Take a car north to Clifton and Connemara, an area we adore and have cycled twice; you can stay in Clifton or elsewhere. Venture south somewhere to The Burren (we did a tour with Sean) and the Cliffs of Moher. Our Aran Islands venture this year was a bust because it's become a tourist runaway train now, but going to the islands from Doolin might be more feasible. Note: We stayed two nights in Doolin ages ago and enjoyed it. I don't know what it's like now.

If you are exploring Dingle, Killarney, Kenmare, things become a tad more difficult. We don't drive in Ireland (we both look at views too much to be safe) but we always felt comfortable cycling roads. Yeah, it's ironic. Conor Pass right before Dingle would have scared the life out of us as cyclists or as drivers. Too skinny, too many tourists driving badly, drifting mists. The Ring of Kerry was easy driving; the scads of tourists would have driven us bonkers. There are workarounds. It's possible to do this area but I think it all involves a lot of car time.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

My Most Recent Trip Reports as reference:
2023--Westport to Galway to Dingle to Killarney to Cork and then Dublin
2019--Belfast to Bushmills to Derry to Belfast
2013--Dublin (really old, but some info still viable)
So much great information! Thank you so much! You are so correct in keeping in line with what my sons would like and your ideas are perfect! We went to Germany/Salzburg last summer and I think we balanced what we wanted and what they wanted really well and hoping to the same. Do you have any suggestions for bike rentals or bike tours? We would defintely be interested in that!
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 04:02 AM
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Re: "Do you have any suggestions for bike rentals or bike tours? We would definitely be interested in that!"

The only Irish place we personally ever rented bikes for a day was in Doolin and that was ages ago. I don't remember the place. The bikes were not great (correct that--mine was horrible, one daughter's wasn't great, one daughter's was OK, my husband's was dandy). I bet you the bike rental there has upped its game. We used it to do a Doolin-Ballyvaughan- Lisdoonvarna-Doolin loop we had done years before with a cycling tour group. I think the routing on these two web pages is similar.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/40264341?lang=en

https://ridewithgps.com/trips/438785?lang=en

But I'd do a Google search of "bike tours in" or "bike rentals in" for whatever area you will be in for one-day things and I'm sure you'll find something.

There's a lovely loop or two up in the Connemara region that would be good for a day's adventure.

When we were up in Northern Ireland years later, we easily imagined cycling the Causeway Coastal Route there. In fact, if I had not been physically disabled that year, I bet you we would have dug up cycles. Outsider Magazine has a good description of that: Cycling the Causeway Coastal Route.

As far as multi-day bike tours, we've gone with Discovery Bicycle Tours Clare/Connemara, Backroads Connemara, Backroads Cork/Kerry years ago. The Backroads ones have changed quite a bit--the Cork/Kerry for sure for the better; the Discovery tour looks quite similar to what we did with them back in the day, a routing I liked the best. I just spotted VBTs Galway/Connemara trip and that's a good routing--similar to Discovery's--and it's quite a decent company. I see many others around so that might be fun to check.

Warning: These trips are pricey, but the way we looked at it was that a) I did not have to be in Trip Planning Goddess mode 24/7--yay!!! b) none of us had to worry about getting any luggage from point A to point B and c) the kids got as much time with us and away from us and away from each other as they needed. Our oldest daughter was a biking beast who would disappear at dawn and be back at the hotel having done extra miles on her own before any other member of the tour. Our youngest either cycled with her father (where they argued about routing all day) or adopted some young married couple as her new besties. We did not do trips labeled as "Family" or "Young Adults"--the girls were just fine meeting and eating with adults, and the adults seemed to enjoy being around fresh energy. The girls sometimes would eat dinner with us or they might sit down next to some elderly couple and treat them as new grandparents. Flexibility. The girls ended up liking to take these trips with us well into their mid-20s. One would drag her new husband along.

Good luck with planning all of this. Even our bad travel days with our daughters remain as precious memories now, and I'm so happy we poured so much money into travel as opposed to bigger house, cars, etc.
AZ




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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 04:07 AM
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My only advice is 1) don't drive after a Atlantic flight 2) in Ireland they drive on the left 3) the roads in Ireland are narrow.

First night, catch the airport bus into Dublin, chill by being out in the air and sunshine, in June book a restaurant for the evening, stay up to eat.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 05:15 AM
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So I have made a few tweaks, but now stuck again. I really want to have Dingle and the peninsula in the itinerary, but don't know how to get it in or what to take out to fit it in. I like to stay more than one night at each location, but not sure if we need to. Any advice would be so appreciated! Thank you to everyone who has been so helpful!!

Jun 3 - Arrive Dublin AM (sleep Dublin)
Jun 4 –Dublin. (sleep Dublin)
Jun 5 – Drive to Kilkenny (sleep Kilkenny)
Jun 6 – Rock of Cashel Drive to Killarney (sleep Killarney)
Jun 7 – Killarney National Park / Falconery (sleep Killarney)
Jun 8 - Killarney AM / Drive to Portmagee PM (sleep Portmagee)
Jun 9 – Kellig Michael Landing Tour / Drive to Doolin (sleep Doolin)
Jun 10 – Cliffs / Aran Islands (sleep Doolin)
Jun 11 – Doolin AM / Drive to Ennis (sleep Ennis)
Jun 12 - Depart Shannon Airport AM

Last edited by sblack74; Jan 13th, 2024 at 05:26 AM.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 09:40 AM
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Hello sblack74!
We are also planning a graduation trip for my youngest (21) from UC Davis this June. My older daughter (34) cannot get away until late June so we're heading to the UK around 6/28. Just beginning preliminary planning. We will probably have about 2 weeks. I may need to start a new thread once we refine our planning a bit, but so glad to see a lot of great info about Ireland trip on yours. Fodorites have helped me immensely in my trip planning.
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