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Ireland October Trip Report

Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 02:29 PM
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Ireland October Trip Report

We are back from our 10 night stay in Ireland. It was our first trip to Ireland. We altered some of our trip along the way, and we did not cover as much territory or do as much as we planned because we simply enjoyed the places rather than run all over. I know I will return to Ireland and will have so much more to see and do!

First, we LOVED Ireland! The people really make the country feel like a welcome place. We met so many interesting and friendly people.

We flew non stop from Washington DC. United flies a rather small plane, three a side with no middle section. We had to drive 3 hours to get to Dulles, but it dropped the price for us and having a non stop is always a better choice in my opinion. Food was pretty awful and I did not eat either way on the trip.

We landed and rented a car from Dooley's website, Alamo brand. It was 547 euros for an automatic 4 door car for a week, and all our luggage, which we brought way too much, fit in the trunk. It was expensive but carried all the insurances including tires and glass and I didn't want to have to worry about anything. The car was automatic, which I highly recommend. Driving on the other side of the road and on the other side of the car on VERY narrow roads most of the time, it makes it easier to not have to shift as well with your left hand. Dooleys was quick to get us into the car and we had zero issues with them and luckily no problems or accidents or dings with the car! So, I definitely recommend them. I read loads of horror stories about the car rental agencies in Ireland and we were very pleased with Dooleys.

Driving in Ireland. After about 30 minutes of adjusting the roads, the car and the roundabouts, my husband drove very well and so he drove 100 percent of the time. I drove one time, but he seemed to master it and didn't mind driving, so I was happy to give him the keys. I was the Chief navigator and so we worked well together. We also had the GPS for the week, which I HIGHLY recommend. It did a fantastic job of telling us when to turn on the roundabouts ahead of time and got us everywhere we needed to go. Well worth it. I did the fantastic job of saying curb, ditch, hedge, wall, move right…

Our first night, we stayed in Kilkenny at the Pembroke Hotel. The hotel is centrally located in the town, so easy walking distance to everything. The hotel was clean and comfortable with modern amenities including a/c. Breakfast came with the room was ok, nothing great, but fine. They have some construction going on right now outside the hotel, which sounded like it was literally in the room, but this ended by 5pm. We didn't hear it the next day, but left around 10:30 am.

Kilkenny has a beautiful castle which we toured through and we had lunch at their cafe. The cafeteria had some very nice food and I loved the chicken salad wrap, very good. They offered 3 sides with the wrap and so my plate was full with free dessert and tea or coffee for 15euros. They also had hot food if you preferred.

Next we strolled down to the Smithwicks brewery and did the tour and tasted the beer. We both really liked the Smithwicks Blonde and were schooled on how to pronounce Smithwicks, no H or W, Smiticks. For dinner, we went to a pub called Matt the Millers and they had some Trad music playing which was very nice. Food was good pub food, burgers and beef stew.

I can not believe we made it, staying up as late as we did. I did not sleep on the plane, but managed to stay awake, even with a few beers in me till about 10pm.

Day 2.

We drove to Killarney, our next stop. On the way, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel and did a tour of it. Very interesting place. Next we went to the Swiss Cottage, which was very cute and I can't believe the original owners never slept there!

We took our time and arrived just before dark at the Killarney Park Hotel. (One note, we never drove at night in the dark. The roads are very dark and sometimes animals just wander across which we encountered later in the trip)

The Killarney Park Hotel is very nice! The room we had, room 287, had a fireplace and two big chairs in front of it. It was a spacious room and very country inn like, but also offered a/c.

I mention a/c a lot because even though it was chilly outside, the inside rooms at most places could seem very warm and stuffy. So, a little a/c, moved the air around and kept the room a little cooler for sleeping. We never used heat once on our trip. The staff at the hotel really made the hotel. I could tell it was family owned and the staff was all about service. We stayed 4 nights here and I just loved it. Whenever we get back to Ireland, I will come to Killarney just to stay at this hotel, and also spend another day in the national park. We had dinner in the hotel's dining room which was excellent, and they had a piano player and we sat in front of the fireplace. Really lovely. It was also an easy walk to everything in town from the hotel.

Day 3, we got up and had a fabulous breakfast at the hotel and then headed down to the spa for a massage for me and a thousand flower wrap for my husband. He doesn't love massages like I do, so I signed him up for this wrap treatment and he loved it. Both of us were now relaxed and I am glad we did the spa morning. In the afternoon, the hotel gave us bikes to ride down to the National Park. We rode to the Muckross house where did the tour. Tour is very good. I could live on the lake in the National Park, very nice. It was drizzling outside, so I suggested we do the horse and buggy to the Torc waterfall and pick up our bikes after. My husband agreed and for 40 euros, we had a covered ride around the lake and to the waterfall and back. We then hopped on our bikes and this was the one day, we got totally soaked. I was happy I brought inexpensive ponchos to cover our coats and most of our pants. We were so wet and muddy by the time we got back.

We headed into town for dinner at Bricin where we tried their famous pancake boxy dinner. I had the chicken and my husband had the lamb. Very good and a cute place. My husband had mussels almost every day on the trip as well and really liked the mussels in Ireland.

After dinner, we walked and wound up in a pub with Trad music playing. The hotel attached seemed to have tour groups and so the bar had a lot of people our age, mid 50s and older. The two man band did a great job and sang some lively pub tunes that everyone sang along. We walked back to the hotel late and I have to say, Killarney is a nice fun town.

Day 3, we get up and have another fabulous breakfast and head out driving to Dingle. Dingle was a drizzly overcast day and quite windy when we stopped at Inch beach along the way. As we drove through Castlemaine, and I started singing the song, the Wild Colonial Boy and my husband was like, what is that, and of course they have a Jack Duggan's bar and a sign as you drive through about the Wild Colonial boy.

Okay so we went to Dingle and strolled around town. I bought a silver necklace that has a brooch on it. It is a replica of one that was found a few years ago that was 800 years old. It has a lot of history to the brooch and I thought it was something that would always remind me of our trip. We had lunch in the town of Dingle at Ashe's Bar which served a very nice lunch. After walking around, we realized, we would never be able to drive all the way around and get back before dark, so we took a short cut through Connors Pass. LOL. Now the short cut took us on a one lane road over mountains and had fantastic views, but also had sheep that wandered aimlessly on to the road. It was quite funny and had us laughing and we tried to avoid sheep and still stay on the tiny narrow road. Sidenote, the roads usually have walls of trees and shrubs so close to the road that you can feel the branches hit the car. If you go slightly off the road, you can hit a curb or a ditch. So most of my navigating was saying move right a little, big ditch, curb, etc...

The Connors pass was worth the views and we did get back before dark!

Day 3 continued…arriving back from Dingle, we had dinner at Cronins Restaurant. We ate there because my masseuse at the hotel's family owned the restaurant. They were very nice and the food was good. We then wandered down into Killarney town for a stroll. We had Murphy's icecream which was delicious! At the icecream place, I recognized a woman there because her room was across the hall at the same hotel. They were a nice couple from NJ. We chatted with them awhile and then headed into the same place we went to the night before. Again another two man band, which were not as good as the first night, but we enjoyed our time there.

Day 4. We got up earlier and had yet another delicious breakfast and headed to the Ring of Kerry. Now, we had originally planned on driving the Ring of Beara, but after looking at it on the map and seeing how the Ring of Kerry was right there, we opted for the Ring of Kerry. We drove most of the day, stopping here and there and had a nice lunch in a place called the Moorings. Mostly it was pub type food, but was good. We never saw one bus on the road and as a matter of fact, we were the only car most of the time. I can not imagine how buses drive against cars on what seems like a one lane road. The summers must be miserable trying to drive that loop. But since we didn't hit traffic, we were able to drive it freely, stopping here and there to take a photo. We drove home through the park and lake area.

Dinner tonight is at Lord Kenmares which was nice and food was good. We walked for a bit and stopped into a place called John Reiddy's and it was packed with 20 somethings. Everyone outside said we needed to see it. We spent a while talking to a lady cop outside and she said they fit 1000 people in the place??? Wow. Can't imagine that!

Since we were probably the oldest people in the place, we headed to Murphys pub downstairs from Lord Kenmares and watched some music. The place was crowded and everyone seemed a lot farther along in the drinking than us. Haha. We stopped in some big night club called Mc Sorleys and had a drink after. It was the late night night club. It wasn't busy yet, but the band was pretty good, younger music mostly, but they did a good job. We left and went home!

Day 5 We are headed to Ennis today. We took the Shannon ferry across and I bought the tickets online which was a great thing to do. It was a nice day to take the ferry, sun was out. We then headed to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs are fabulous, really breathtaking and we were so fortunate the sun was out and shining.

As were leaving, it started raining but was still sunny. I saw so many rainbows. Again, we were taken down a one lane road. and I stopped to take a picture of cows and there was a rainbow behind them. I didn't realize it until later.

We arrived in Ennis at the Old Ground hotel for the night. It is a very busy hotel. The hotel itself is older and the room is okay. It is a very large scale hotel for the town and is filled with groups of people. I thought it was okay and the price wasn't bad. Parking is crazy, but my husband got a spot after several loops. Since we had no reservations for dinner this night, we walk a few doors down to Brogans Pub for dinner. Tonight, we meet all Irish people and we had a lot of laughs. We are seated next to a couple from Ennis and wind up talking all through our dinners and buy each other drinks. They were the nicest couple and we are now friends on facebook. After dinner, we decide to stop for one drink at our hotel pub because they were to have music there. Well, the pub is packed and I meet another Irish couple and my husband is chatting up this local guy who was a real character. They smoke cigars together outside. The couple I meet are friends for many years, but the girl definitely likes the guy, so her and I are talking about this. We head to another bar with them which was all locals and they had music. We finally fall into bed late knowing we are to drive to Dublin the next day, with a stop for lunch in Galway. We had a really fun night and know nothing about Ennis except that we had fun with some local people.

Day 6, We drive to Galway. It is a Sunday, and everything seems to be closed. So just as we are about to drive to Dublin, I spot a soccer match. I said let's watch it for a while. It was men in their 20s. My husband played for many years and coached our kids, so he enjoyed watching the game. There was a lot of cursing, and some pushing and fighting. Two guys were thrown out, one from each side. It was fun to watch. We start chatting up one of the guys on the sidelines and talked to him for a while after the game ended and told us everything was open. We just didn't drive through the right area. So, we head into the town and shopped and walked around and again had some Murphy's icecream. (My mom was a Murphy so I took many pictures of the million Murphy establishments in Ireland). We then head to Dublin.

In Dublin, we are staying at the Shelbourne Hotel. This is a Marriott brand hotel and had points to stay for 4 nights. It is a gorgeous hotel and we were given a very nice room on the 6th floor. The room was spacious and had a large modern bathroom. I loved the hotel and the people were top notch. Service was 5 star. I would love to stay there again if in Dublin. I loved the 1824 bar which was like a library in someone's very fancy home. We went there a couple of nights for a nightcap and just relaxed.

We dined at the Saddle Room restaurant which was probably the best meal we had in Dublin. We had the Chateubriand which was outstanding. Breakfast every day was included because my husband has marriott status, and that was fantastic as well.

Day 7. We have tickets for the Book of Kells at Trinity college which we walk to and it is a nice tour. School is beautiful and the library is really something. The history there..

After the tour, we bought tickets for two days on the hop on hop off bus tour, green buses. We hop on to go to Teelings Whiskey tasting. We got off the bus at St Patricks Cathedral, assuming that it was a Catholic Church, but it was not! It was a lovely church with lots of military history in it. We walk to Teelings from here and get lost a little, but then find our way.

Whiskey is not my drink, ever. The tour was interesting, and I opted for the taste of whiskey and a whiskey cocktail. The cocktail was delicious, and that is scary and dangerous. I imagine, I could get pretty blind on the whiskey cocktail that tastes like a lemonade.

I changed dinner plans to Fire tonight which is close to the hotel. Food is very good. The bar downstairs is funky and quiet and a cool place to be. Upstairs is a busy well lit restaurant. The hostesses downstairs gave us a history lesson on Michael Collins and how the treaty was signed right there where the restaurant was about how Ireland would give up it's northern side to Britain and Ireland would get to be the Republic.

Day 8, We head to the Jail for a tour in the morning and hop on the bus and we get Kevin, the most hysterical driver. Kevin had more stories than any Irishman I have ever met. He had the whole bus in stitches with his stories and one liners. We are fortunate that when we left the Jail, Kevin was our driver again!!

The Kil......Gaol, Jail I can't spell the name was an excellent tour. So much history is there, and I just ordered two books to read more about the troubles and the uprising. Really a horrible awful time and so many lives lost.

At night, we head to dinner at Il Vicolleto as recommeded by a TA regular. Excellent Italian food and I was right that by this time, we needed a break from just our meat and potatoes dinners, which I have to say is the best beef I have had in years, so we had many nights of beef and beef stew pies, and lots of potatoes, but tonight is Italian. We enjoyed our meal and headed off to meet our group for the Musical Pub Tour.

The Tour is a two person band, a woman fiddle player and a man guitar and singer.They took us to two pubs and sang and told the story of trad music and Irish people and were entertaining and very nice.

Day 9, my birthday! We have the connoisseur tour at the Guinness factory. This a unique tour with only 16 people and you learn about the Guinness family and their brews and you get to try lots of beer and then learn to pour your own. After, you get another free beer. It is a glorious sunny day, (of course because it was my birthday!) So we have a few beers and I decided to bag the afternoon tea and walk back from Guinness. We stop at Christ Church Cathedral along the way and tour the Viking exhibit and peek in the church. We also stop and do the the Little museum of Dublin tour near our hotel. It is cute and they have a U2 room. I love U2 and have seen them a few times so it is cool to see the exhibit.

We go back to the hotel, to freshen up and pack and get ready for dinner. We head out FX Buckley's Steakhouse on Pembroke street. This is an old school steakhouse. At first, I thought they kind of ignored us and gave us a little table in the corner, but the food was delicious, the waitstaff warmed up to us, and they also gave us a lovely dessert complimentary for my birthday which was very delicious too.

We headed back to the hotel. We talked about stopping in a pub, but by this point we are wearing out. So, we head up to the 1824 bar at the hotel and my husband orders tea and I have a Dinge gin and tonic and we relax and marvel at the beautiful room and talk about our trip!

Day 10 we head to the airport to go home! We stopped in Duty free and picked up some Dingle gin to take home!! Definitely give yourself 3 hours to get through all the security lines. It takes awhile. Having the global entry did help us when it came to the US border entry side. We cut about 40 minutes of lines just having that.

We ride coach in the back, two aisle seats for the ride home. I watched 4 movies. Normally, I like to read on the plane, but just enjoyed the movies.

LOVED our trip. We laughed alot, met some great people, ate some delicious food, stayed in two really nice hotels, experienced another culture and really loved every minute of our vacation which is a great thing to say! We bought a lottery ticket for 100 and something million euros and didn't win, but I said if we won, we would buy a place on the lake in Killarney, maybe..... So much more to see and I look forward to returning someday and seeing so much more! Thanks again for all the help pre trip!

Last edited by girlonthego; Oct 22nd, 2019 at 02:31 PM.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 02:43 PM
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I really enjoyed your report. Ireland is on our bucket list. What were the temperatures like? How long were your road trips? Based on your research and your experience, what time of year would you recommend visiting Ireland?
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Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 03:12 PM
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It sounds like a wonderful trip! When we were in Scotland we had a manual and my husband drove. I was like you and kept saying curb, curb etc lol. We are very used to roundabouts so that helped. Ireland has been on my bucket list for a while,so your report sure made me wAnt yo go NOW😊
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Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 03:41 PM
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I so enjoyed your trip report. We’ve been to Ireland 3 times and went to many of the towns you covered. Our favorite area was the west coast, Westport to Dingle. We were luckier with the weather than you were. One trip in May, 2 in September. Our biggest surprise was the food.
We had heard that the people were wonderful, and they were, but we expected food like Irish stew, etc. so we were overwhelmed by the high quality gourmet meals available.

Too bad you didn’t win that lottery. You could have bought that house on the lake and had a Fodorite
GTG for all of us wanting to return.
Thanks for taking the time to do a detailed, informative post.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 04:49 PM
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Karen, the temperatures were in the 50s to around 60ish (mid October). Rain was on and off and mostly just drizzly. We got stuck in one big downpour and had one sunny day. Every hotel had umbrellas for us to use. The rain is really sporadic. I found it more cloudy than anything else.
In October you need layers. Waterproof is essential for the outer layer.
I found most indoors to be warm and so preferred short sleeves or light long sleeve tops as my bottom layer.
october is off season. So it is not busy at the tourist sights and hotels are better priced. I am glad we went at this time.
We drove only during the day.
First day was an hour and a half drive from Dublin airport to Kilkenny.
Day 2 Itís about 3 hours between Kilkenny and Killarney, but we stopped along the way at Rock of Cashel and the Swiss Cottage. So we arrived late in the day in Killarney, around 6pm.
Day 3, no driving.
Day 4 we drove to Dingle. Day 5 Ring of Kerry. Both days 4 and 5 we started out around 10:30 and returned by 5.
Day 6 we drove to the cliffs of Moher and then to Ennis, a full day.
day 7, a full day drive to Galway and then to a Dublin airport to drop car. Day 8-11 no driving! We were carless in Dublin.

Ireland is a lot of driving and I feel we didnít even scratch the surface of seeing all there is to see. I saw many tour groups and I am glad we were free to do what we wanted when we wanted. I enjoyed planning the trip and I think we did enough to enjoy Ireland without exhausting ourselves.

Hotels and nights:
1st night was a one nighter
2nd-5th night- Killarney Park Hotel -loved
6th night-one nighter
7-11th- Shelbourne- loved
Glad we stayed in two places for 4 nights each.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 03:02 AM
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Enjoyed your report, and jotted notes for a future trip. Our daughter just began her Fresher year at Trinity College Dublin, so there will be many visits to the Emerald Isle over the next four years for us. (And, yes, those 757's that United flies on the IAD-DUB leg are dreadful. The food should not even be served, it is that horrible, too.)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 06:00 AM
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fourfortravel, you will enjoy your trips to Dublin! I hope your daughter likes Trinity. It looks like a very nice school. We walked around the campus and there were a million kids out and about. The school had a good vibe to it.
If you score some Marriott points, the Shelbourne is just down the block and a really nice hotel!
I agree on the flight with United. We took a similar flight to Paris when United was Continental. I couldn't believe they flew such small planes overseas. The United food was really awful. Would have preferred a roll with butter. The dinner I said no to was served at 10:30pm US time right after take off. It seemed a little late for that type of meal and it looked very unappetizing. I said yes to the small icecream cup they gave after. That was good. But the price from Dulles was about 750 round trip and being from Richmond, that was a pretty good price and non stop. I upgraded to Premium economy on the way over and sucked it up to stay in coach on the way back.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 07:32 AM
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Interesting about Fire restaurant. I will check it out next trip. I love Dingle Gin. You can buy in NY or Mass. I bought a bottle of it and Gunpowder last trip to NY but will hit duty free in Dec.


I hate that three/three configuration. The food is just as bad on Aer Lingus. Start planning the next trip. NI is wonderful also.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 09:44 AM
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Iím glad you had such a great time. Ireland is on my list so I will see it eventually. You made it seem wonderful.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 11:32 AM
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"I upgraded to Premium economy on the way over and sucked it up to stay in coach on the way back."

I was in Coach for both legs (moving DD into her housing) and we thankfully had no one between us in the middle on the outbound; though on the inbound to Dulles I had a "real" Airbus on Aer Lingus with the 2-4-2 configuration. I was in one of the 2-seats and for the entire flight the attendant kept referring to me (a female) and the sleeping woman beside me as, "You guys..." "Can I get you guys something to drink?" "What would you guys like to eat?" and so forth. It was so strange.

Macross, I did a whirlwind day trip to Belfast on one of DD's busy campus days. Can. Not. Wait. to return to NI.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 01:22 PM
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I love NI. My one Great great-great grandfather came from Derry, everyone else from other parts of Ireland so want to go there next. He was a quaker.
I love that your daughter is going to Trinity, What a great opportunity.
The little museum and Hatch and sons are on my Dec list. I love U2. I saw them in Nashville last tour. I need to get my list together.. I have been to Kilmainham but husband has not. I waited too long to book a tour last May. Arbour Hill graveyard also. Did you get any orbs on your pictures from there?
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Old Oct 24th, 2019, 07:09 AM
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We had full flights both ways. DH and I took aisle seats across from one another on both legs. I always have to go to the bathroom and hate the middle seat. He is too tall for the middle. I prefer two seaters, but it didn't work out that way!

Macross, I did not see any orbs in the pictures! I went back to look just in case I missed something! I would also love to go to NI and missed much of the west coast which is a shame. 10 nights is just not enough. I would like to see Glendalough, Cork, Westport and more of the west coast, the north coast and Belfast. Of course I loved Killarney too so maybe another stop there. My mom's roots come from the north west. She is not sure, but being a Murphy, her name was on a sign in every town for at least one pub or icecream parlor or both and other establishments. I wish I knew where my dad's mom and grandmother's roots came from in Ireland. My dad's side was in America for a long time, at least late 1800s. It is hard for DH to get off more than two weeks at one time. He said when he retires, we can go longer, lol. That should only be a few more years. Of course there will be less money for these big trips then...
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Old Dec 17th, 2019, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for your trip report-it sounds wonderful!
Just wondering, did you book on your own or was it a package deal?
Thanks for the info!
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Old Dec 18th, 2019, 02:03 PM
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Hi Pam, I booked everything on my own.It takes a little time, but well worth it to do the trip on your own and do what you like to do. We are doing a tour next fall to Israel and Jordan. That's a place I want someone to lead me around and tell me what everything is.
Ireland is a great place to drive around and the people are really great and helpful. They seem to recognize the lost american look.
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Old Dec 21st, 2019, 05:16 PM
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Hi girlonthego. I just found your trip report. It gives me deep longing to go back to Ireland. I never expected to love it the way I do.

Fun Fact: girlonthego and I were in Dingle at the exact same time. We didn't know it, I'm just glad I left her a few things in the shops to buy. (lol). I did buy an exquisite vase from Dingle Crystal that I could not resist. One of my favorite trip souvenirs ever. Outside of Dublin, Dingle and Galway, and a few sights like The Rock of Cashel and the Cliffs of Moher, we went to different areas in Ireland. I was in Ireland for 14 days and still did not see enough. I deeply appreciated my time in Northern Ireland, I too am reading as much as I can about the history.

My paternal grandma emigrated to Michigan from Ireland. I need to dig deeper into my family's genealogy. An amazing museum in Dublin was the Epic Immigration Museum. Our cab driver suggested it, it had not been on the itinerary. I agree with you girlonthego, the Irish people are so friendly and helpful. (and with the most terrific senses of humor).

Thanks for taking the time to write such a lovely detailed trip report.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 08:02 AM
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GOTG, thanks for your fun trip report! We were there just after you on our 12th trip. We have been asked why we go so often, and all I can say is that we love it! Glad to hear you love it too.
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Old Jan 1st, 2020, 07:11 PM
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Thanks ladies!
Iíd go back to Ireland in a heartbeat. It was one of my favorite trips!
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 02:50 PM
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Your post is perfect! Thank you so much. I'm going to visit Ireland too, and this information is really helpful!
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 02:52 PM
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But I still have a few questions. For example, I'm a fantasy writer and I want to relax in some magically beautiful place in Ireland. What would you recommend to visit first?
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 08:36 PM
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Glendalough, which I did not visit is not far from Dublin in county Wicklow. It is on the list for next trip.
The Swiss Cottage in Cahir is very fantasty looking from outside. Worth a visit for a cottage in the woods.
Killarney's National forest has some nice areas to look over.

Just driving in Ireland and winding up on a back road somewhere will give you roaming sheep and countryside.

Lots of rainbows by the Cliffs of Moher.

Ireland is a great place for the magical and mystical.
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