Ireland Top 3

Old Mar 19th, 2003, 11:23 AM
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Ireland Top 3

Would love your opinion on the following:

Top 3 Ireland "non-touristy" towns
Here, I'm talking about a beautiful town with the kindest people and pubs (even though all of Ireland is beautiful and has the kindest people!) that we can lazily enjoy in between our big-city stops

And your Top 3 Ireland cities

Basically, what are your favorite "mix and match" places (couple of big cities, and few smaller towns) for the best Ireland trip and why? 4 of us in our late 20s are going for 10 days. Early stages of planning.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 04:45 PM
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Towns: Ardmore (Co. Waterford), Avoca (Co. Wicklow), Dungarvan (Co. Mayo). Cities: to be quite honest I'm not sure I can recommend any of the ones we spent time in (Dublin - okay for two days, not Cork, Waterford or Galway City) but larger towns we found intersting - Kinsale, Glengarrif, Malahide.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 05:50 PM
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Thank you so much for your reply. Can you tell me why you liked these towns so much? Also, regarding Kinsale, would you recommend it or Kilkenny and why? Where are the other towns you mentioned and why did you like them? I really appreciate your time and help.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 07:00 PM
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We've been to Ardmore in Co. Waterford twice in the last few years. Once in a self-catering cottage very near the ocean and once in a B&B in town. I think we like it because it's quite small, has a great pub - Paddy Mac's, never seemed too busy, the people are lovely, there are great walks along the cliffs and a crafts centre that is small but complete. It feels like a real, Irish village that isn't twee. It's also in between Waterford and Cork.

Avoca is in Ballykissangel country, that's why we went there to begin with. The town can get a bit hectic, we were there in Aug., but after the tour buses leaves it's quite charming. We stayed in a B&B. Again, nice walks, beautiful, lush, green countryside, and we used it as a good base to explore parts of Wicklow (Arklow, Brittas Beach, Mount Usher Gardens, Glendalough).

Dungarvan in Co. Mayo is on the ocean again. We liked the area all around here, we were looking for my husband's family - and found some! We actually stayed in Newport, which was also nice, but Dungarvan seemed brighter and cheerier and was handy to Achill Island which has great beaches and hedges of crocosima and fuschia.

We've been to Kinsale a number of times, this past year in Aug. and it was a bit crazy. Lots of yachts in the harbour, people from all over the world visiting and enjoying the restaurants. We found the best thing was to park our car and just explore the area by foot. Favourite pubs: The White House, The Mad Monk and the Spaniard up on the hill. Lots of people on this site have been there, so will probably get some other tips about B&Bs, etc. We wouldn't recommend the one we stayed in.

We've only been once to Glengarrif to visit Ilnacullin and the gardens but it seemed quite busy in a cheerful way. The drive there was also great.

We always use Malahide now as a base and go in and out of Dublin. It's also very handy to the airport. Great restaurants, harbour and lovely walks along the ocean.

Haven't stayed in Kilkenny for years so wouldn't feel comfortable commenting, although the area still remains as beautiful as ever.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 07:25 PM
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I was just in Ireland in January. My favorite town was Kinsale. It was the smallest town we went too and definitely had the most character. We stayed at Dooneen B&B and the owners were incredible. They gave us a ride to town in the evening for dinner, pointed out their favorite spots and even offered to pick us up when we were done for the evening.
Ireland is wonderful - enjoy yourself!!!
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 07:42 PM
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Dear Kimbers:

How was the weather in January? We have contemplated Ireland in winter, since that is our most convenient vacation time. Please let me know.

Thank you,
MichelleY
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 07:55 PM
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We had incredible good weather... for January. The high temp was 40-50 degrees F (compared to 20s in Chicago at the same time). We had rain only one day out of 6. And even had a couple days that were very clear and sunny.
Everyone we met kept saying how lucky we were with the weather (and we definitely agreed). I think it's just the luck of the draw.
The major upside is that we had many places to ourselves - we only saw two other people at the Rock of Cashel and no one at Lady's View. I didn't realize how lucky we were until a friend was looking at my pictures and commented that it looked like we were the only ones there - a lot of times we were!!
Also we drove around the whole southern half of the country and I couldn't imagine doing that with tour buses during the busy season.
It was my first trip to Europe and I LOVED IT! I would definitely recommend it.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 08:01 PM
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Michelle & Friends: Just a few comments. For unique small towns: consider Thomastown (in southeast - Circle of Friends filmed there), Clifden (Galway cty),Miltown Malbay & Doolin(west coast in Clare Cty).
Re: travels in January, it's less than ideal. You'll miss all the grenery that Ireland is noted for. It's kind of dismal taking hikes amidst bare landscapes and trees.

Re: Top 3 Cities: Galway, Donegal, Dublin
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 10:37 PM
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I can't really say I associate Ireland with cities, other than Dublin. If given a choice, I would always take small town life. But-

A few small to medium sized towns we liked and didn't feel were too touristy:

Cobh, in Co. Cork - just nice overall, for sitting and looking at the water

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford (didn't even know there WAS one in Mayo!) - Fishing town feel with a nice sort of bustling main square

Annestown, Co. Waterford - Typical colorful little town by itself along the sea

Lismore, Co. Waterford - The town just had a different 'feel' to it. I can't explain why. Just felt more, refined, I think.

Already over my limit and I've not made it out of the central south. I'll quit while I'm ahead.
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Old Mar 20th, 2003, 08:29 AM
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I'm sorry - Clifton is right, there's no Dungarvan in Mayo (or at least not one that we visited). Obviously, I can no longer trust my memory on anything. I meant Mulranny in Co. Mayo.
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Old Mar 20th, 2003, 09:48 AM
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Brooke:

Just 3? OK, I'll go the other direction, north and pick a few. I stay in the Cushendun and Cushendall area and it was very charming. Quiet area with beautiful views.

We stayed in Dunfanaghy and it is another out of the way little town. It was the home of one of my favorite scenes where we saw a tractor pulled up to the pub. Apparently the family car wasn't available.

OK, to go way south, I've always had a great time in Kenmare, but I'm sure it gets very busy in the summer months.

Bill
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Old Mar 20th, 2003, 12:40 PM
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Larger towns; Kilkenny Co Kilkenny, Galway Co Galway and Donegal, Co Donegal. All of these have character as well as loads of walk-worthy streets with shopping and nice places to eat/drink. Also surrounding countryside is worth venturing into.

Small towns are harder as there are so many and for different reasons you will like them. I personally liked Inistioge, Co Kilkenny (also where Circle of Friends was filmed), Letterkenny, Co Donegal and Clifden, Co Galway. Great walking towns with a friendly feel as well as shops and pubs to visit and art to view.

Tiny towns (just because the others are sorta major compared to these) Doonbeg, Co Clare (literally, a two ass town), Ardmore, Co Waterford (the White Horses Restaurant - yum!)and Avoca, Co Wicklow (oh so Ballykissangel).

I really could go on and on (Spiddal, Timahoe, Schull, Ballyshannon, Ballyvaughan...)

wendy
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Old Mar 21st, 2003, 08:14 AM
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Just for a change of pace, here are some picks for Northern Ireland:

Belfast

Hillsborough (gorgeous Georgian town)

Portaferry (just another opportunity for me to say "Portaferry Ferry"). Great spot on the Strangford Lough.

Killyleagh. Other side of the Strangford Lough. Oldest inhabited castle in Ireland.
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Old Mar 21st, 2003, 08:19 AM
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Although a bit touristy, I loved Dingle. I felt at home here and very content. I have also heard that Doolin is a great small town with a wonderful pub and people.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 07:51 AM
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Brooke,

Allow me to chime in with a few appealing and non-touristy towns (although such a choice is akin to asking a movie buff to choose his/her three favorite films of all time - it's quite difficult):

Castletownshend, West Cork: First and foremost, the village is located in the beautiful and unhurried West Cork countryside. From here, you can explore some of Ireland's most scenic byways and "back door" attractions, such as Mizen Head and the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear. Moreover, Castletownshend, in addition to being a most attractive village, is home to one of Ireland's best pubs, Mary Ann's (Irish novelist Edna O' Brien called it the "best pub in the world"). Bring your thirst and appetite to Mary Ann's.

Corofin, West Clare: Far removed from the tourist trail, Corofin is the perfect base for trips into the Burren, Ireland's strange, moon-like landscape. Hiking opportunities abound, along with numerous historic sites. Corofin itself contains a tower house, high cross, and other monastic ruins. What's more, it features some quality accommodations, one of which is Clifden House, a wonderful place built in the 1750s. (See www.clifdenhousecountyclare.com). Another place to hang your hat, and more economy-minded, is Fergus View (www.sawdays.co.uk)

*Glencolumbkille, County Donegal: Amenities are a bit sparse in this remote part of the Republic, but there's striking scenery galore. By all means consider a hike along the cliffs of Slieve League, the highest in all Europe. In addition, drive north along the Donegal coast for a visit to Glenveagh National Park. Consider, too, a hike up to the summit of Mt. Errigal, with its Mt. Fuji-like appearance. In the market for some Irish wool? Drive the spectacular Glengash Pass into Ardara, a village featuring some down-to-earth, non-twee character, and some good shopping opportunities.

Finally, allow me to give a nod to a pair of very appealing larger towns:

*Westport, Co. Mayo (features good restaurants and pubs, and it's a good base for the marvelous Croagh Patrick and Achill Island)

*Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh (An underrated delight; Lough Erne is highly scenic and is home to numerous historic attractions)

Best of luck.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 10:15 AM
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Hi Brooke

We've been to Ireland twice and enjoyed it immensely each time. The smaller towns are where the heart of the country is at. We met such wonderful people in each. We loved Kinsale and actually everything on the Ring of Kerry. Cobh is fabulous - the tidal difference is something like 20 feet! We went to church with the families and the dogs and cats went too! I learned much of my ancestors coming to America in Cobh as it was the debarkation point to come to the states. In Miltown Malby many of the townspeople came over to Wilsons to chat with the 4 Americans. In Inschegilla (sp?) we met the restaurant owner, pub owner, funeral director, hotel keeper (all the same person - same place). Near Bunratty Castle we found the delightful Eileen Wolfe's B & B and she and her hubby treated us like warm friends.

Dublin, Cork are big cities that for us had none of the charm of the little villages and towns. The Bed and Breakfast group for Ireland runs a great outfit as the homes are spotless and the food is great! We rented a car in Shannon (automatic) and drove south and around to Dublin just stopping wherever it looked pretty. So yes, we stopped often and then had to go back again to pick up what we had missed the first time.

Next time we're heading north to seel what Donegal, Connemarra and the northern counties are like.

I love to check out the local phone books when there to find my ancestral family name.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 11:05 AM
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Hello, LN...Would it be Inchigeelagh in the middle of County Cork you are referring to? It is my most favorite little town in Ireland. We visit there every two years, because that is the parish of the O'Learys. If this is the little town you refer to, the man in question must be Joe Creedon, owner of Creedon's Hotel and general "man about town"..Thanks for reminding me that we shall be there again in May...Helen
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Old Mar 23rd, 2003, 05:57 AM
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Hi Helen

Yes that would be our town. Delightful little place and I believe that Joe Creedon would be the man. If he has a brother whose a priest in the Washington DC area then he would definitely be "the man".

My husband and I were so very lucky in our travels thru Ireland cause no matter where we stopped we always met such very nice people. We love to ask questions and they to reply and we always had a great discussion within a few minutes.

We also found that most bed and breakfasts in Ireland were operated like small inns and our rooms were always very private and comfortable. It's odd because we aren't really fond of staying in B & b's in the states but LOVE them in Ireland.

And Helen, are you by chance an O'Leary? Are you from the states?

Hope your trip is marvelous and please ask "Joe" if he has a brother/priest in the Washington area.

Ellen
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Old Mar 23rd, 2003, 07:09 AM
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Hello Brooke,

My wife and I have traveled throughout Ireland. Our impression - most folks from the U.S. gravitate to South/Southwestern Ireland. The Northwest is left to the Irish and Europeans.

We agree with DavidD that Westport and Enniskellen are super, with a big nod to Enniskillen in County Fermenaugh. Why? Location, culture, people, diversity of options, hiking, biking, touring, pubs, food, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, ocean beaches, parks, historical sites, non-touristy etc.

From Sligo to Donegal to Enneskillen you will find variety of activity; mid-size city to town life, and countryside living to an active nightlife. In short a consolidated area with a taste of everything Ireland has to offer.

If you are considering self-catering Belle Isle near Enniskillen is a super place to set up base.

There are three disadvantages to Ireland in January - shorter daylight hours, some historical attractions are closed for the season, and the weather (a mite chilly).

Would I head for Ireland in January? In a heart beat. But I would be torn between Scotland and Ireland. So similar, but so different.

Have a great trip.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2003, 09:59 AM
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Hi Ellen...Joe's the Man, and Yes, I do believe he has a brother who is a priest in the US--think it is in D.C. and that Joe and family visited him in 2001(the year Husband and I were there). Yep, I am an O'Leary, although my maiden name is Leary, methinks we are all the same. My great grandfather came over in 1840 (as did my ggrandmother).I hail from Seattle area. E-mail me if you would like at: [email protected] We are going to Inchigeelagh June3rd- I gave some library books to the Normal School there (thru The Irish American Partnership, whose president is Joe Leary, no less!). I shall be seeing Joe and will make sure He is the One...Helen P.S.. Did you visit Carrignacurra, the O'Leary castle just outside city centre(if this wonderful place can be called a "city"), on the Macroom road...
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