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bmathes Aug 9th, 2010 01:37 PM

Ireland Trip
Hi All -

Thanks in advance for the tips and advice!

My husband and I are going to Ireland in March 2011, and have started the planning process. I'd love to know your 'must see' cities, sites, towns, activities, and pubs/restaurants -- and what we shouldn't waste our time with.

We plan on renting a car and driving so we have some flexibility. The trip will start in Dublin and then South from there. We'd love any tips on traveling around Ireland. We pack lightly and love a good adventure!!

Thanks again!

freetoroam Aug 10th, 2010 05:30 AM

Need more info to provide worthwhile suggestions -
number of days
will you be leaving from Dublin/Shannon/other
interested in castles/cultural/pub experience/other
any must sees already on your itinerary

bmathes Aug 10th, 2010 06:26 AM

We haven't purchased our flights yet, but ideally we will land in Dublin and leave in Shannon, or vice versa. Ideally we will be landing on a Friday (am) and leaving the next Saturday evening, so 8.5 days.

Must Sees: Round 1 - I feel like these are going to change, ;-)
- In Dublin: Abbey Theatre, Guinness Brewery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College Library, and then the plan was to just walk around and explore the city.

- Wicklow Mountains National Park/Glendalough Ruins - N11 and follow the R755

- Cliffs of Moher

Before I read all the posts on the forum about Ireland we going to drive south and stop in Waterford, but after seeing all the recommendations against Waterford - I willing to skip it now. We also had Cork & Blarney Castle on the list, but most are suggesting skipping that and going to the West Coast. We were not planning on doing the Ring of Kerry, but considering the Dingle Peninsula.

We really want to see historical sites, see the small towns, and enjoy the beautiful country. We love music, pubs and taking photography is our hobby.

I think my fear is we will waste a day doing the typical tourist stuff, and I'd really like to do something that most people don't know about from reading the everyday travel book.

Thanks again for the help!!

My Best,

DeborahAnn Aug 10th, 2010 07:01 AM

Bonnie, as I'm in the process of planning our first trip to Ireland for this September I can't tell you about must sees but maybe I can help with some of your pre-planning basics.

If you are going in March, DST doesn't start in Ireland until March 27 in 2011 so sunsets will be around 6 pm to 6:45 pm before DST in March. Sunrise will be 7am moving up to 6:15 by the end of March. Many of the travel books recommend not driving after dark if you aren't comfortable with driving on the left.

When planning the driving times in Ireland I've been using This will give you a good idea of how long it takes to get from point A to B--and help with your routing. I was surprised how long the driving estimates are given in Ireland, only 35-40 miles per hour on many of my routes.

Some of the tourist sights outside of the major cities have their most limited hours between October-March. We had friends that traveled within Ireland for the first time in February and they found both the limited hours and the lack of daylight to be a negative to their visit. They did however enjoy seeing the attractions when they were less crowded ;;)

I hope you find this information helpful in your planning. Have fun doing your research. Deborah

bmathes Aug 10th, 2010 08:11 AM

Thanks Deborah! That is great info!

I hope you have a great & safe trip! You'll have to post an update of your favorite spots!

freetoroam Aug 11th, 2010 12:12 PM

Based on your add'l info, consider the following itinerary -
Day 1-2 ... Dublin
Day 3 ..... Wicklow, etc. - overnight Kilkenny - visit castle
Day 4-6 ... Stop by Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle on way to Kinsale or Dingle - not really enough time to explore both locales.
Day 7-8 ... Stay near Shannon Airport - e.g. Ennis. Explore County Clare - Cliffs, Burren, Bunratty, etc.
Day 9 ..... Slán abhaile

Keep in mind that driving times are longer than you might think and enjoy your planning / trip.

bmathes Aug 11th, 2010 08:32 PM

Thanks Freetoroam! The forum is full ideas, and your suggestions are great!

maurorudelli Aug 18th, 2010 02:05 AM

I fully agree with you that a day spent doing the usual tourist stuff is nothing but a wasted day.
Here are some suggestions for beautiful places in the west of Ireland which are off the beaten track,sometimes for reasons beyond my understanding :
County Clare :
Loop head peninsula,up to the very tip (the cliffs are even nicer than in Moher)
County Galway :
Mannin strand(Clifden area),Roundstone Bog road to Dopg's bay,Omey Island (near Cleggan)
County Mayo : Minaun Heights (Achill Island),Portacloy (Ceide fields area)
County Donegal :
Maghera strand (near Ardara),Trabane strand (near Glencolumbkille)Portnoo (not really off the beaten track,at least by irish standard, but stunningly beautiful)
Have a nice and interesting trip ,possibly with a little bit of sunshine !

bmathes Aug 21st, 2010 03:19 PM

Thanks Maurorudelli!

maurorudelli Aug 24th, 2010 12:53 AM

I take the liberty of suggesting you to arrive and leave from Shannon and ignore Dublin and the south-west of the country.
I do not mean they are not worth a visit but,as far as I could understand from your 10th August post,the areas you (and me too) are looking for are definitely the West and north -west (county Clare,Galway,Mayo,Donegal).
I can give you some more detailed info on the places I mentioned,if you wish.
I apologize for my poor english ;it is not my mother tongue and I am just trying to do the best I can.

irishiningo Aug 25th, 2010 10:02 PM

Bonnie, I realize you don't know if you will visit Ireland again until you've been, but I tend to agree with maurorudelli in suggesting you take Dublin out of the equation for this trip. Dublin is wonderful for many reasons, but if I had (just) 8 days, I would arrive in Shannon and either spend your time on the Southwest coastline (definitely do Dingle Peninsula over the Ring) or go north toward Donegal.

Skip Cork and the Blarney Stone. If you go North, visit Aughnanure Castle near Oughterard on Lough Corrib. Connemara is absolutely beautiful.

Useless note: some of the best pizza I have ever eaten was up the street from Cahir Castle. The woman who owned it was an Italian immigrant.

Even though the mileage between places may not seem like much, travel is not speedy, and the land is so beautiful you just want to keep stopping and staring or taking photos. The result is that a 2-hour trip turns into a 6-hour trip, so you have to choose between destinations. You say you love a good adventure, so take the road that looks less traveled, stop in older pubs, and talk to the people. Don't tie your itinerary up with too many must-sees.

I'll probably visit Ireland again in 2012, so I hope you will post some sort of trip report when you get back!

irishiningo Aug 25th, 2010 10:05 PM

Please let me stress that the rest of Ireland is also VERY lovely, and you should visit many times to see it all :), but if this is your first trip, the West is where I would suggest you start.

bmathes Aug 30th, 2010 12:50 PM

Thanks again for the suggestions. We've decided to add a few days on to the trip. The tentative plan is:

Day 1 – Thursday: Land in Shannon/stay in Galway
Day 2 – Friday: Galway/surrounding areas for sites/stay the night
Day 3 – Saturday: Galway/Suggestions from Maurorudelli
Day 4 – Sunday: Head to Dingle Pen./Stay the night – not sure if in Dingle or maybe Doolin
Day 5 – Monday: Dingle/Stay the night
Day 6 – Tuesday: Dingle/ Stay the night
Day 7 – Wednesday: Drive to Dublin/ Stay there
Day 8 – Thursday: Dublin – Newgrange/Dublin sites
Day 9 – Friday: Dublin – Wicklow National Park/Dublin Sites
Day 10 – Saturday: Leave from Dublin

This is what we are thinking…. at least for today! We didn't take Dublin out, for a couple of reasons. 1- We aren't sure when we will get to go back 2- We decided that we want to spend a couple of nights in the city. ‘Subject-to-change’ still applies ;-)


bmathes Sep 1st, 2010 02:15 PM

After reading a few more posts I am thinking about making a change...

Day 1 – Thursday: Land in Shannon/stay in Doolin - visit the Cliffs of Moher and move to Galway on Friday.
Day 2 – Friday: Galway/surrounding areas for sites/stay the night
Day 3 – Saturday: Galway/Suggestions from Maurorudelli
Day 4 – Sunday: Head to Dingle Pen./Stay the night
Day 5 – Monday: Dingle/Stay the night
Day 6 – Tuesday: Dingle/ Stay the night
Day 7 – Wednesday: Drive to Dublin/ Stay there
Day 8 – Thursday: Dublin – Newgrange/Dublin sites
Day 9 – Friday: Dublin – Wicklow National Park/Dublin Sites
Day 10 – Saturday: Leave from Dublin

rncheryl Sep 1st, 2010 02:34 PM

Would not suggest you miss Dublin; it is friendly and comfortable. We tried to see the Book of Kells, but were driving (big mistake) and couldn't find it.

Dingle was our favorite, and would recommend you consider a suggestion from Rick Steves:

We also did a pub crawl in Dublin that was very pleasant, with lots of Irish music.

The driving is taxing: very narrow roads in the countryside, driving on the "wrong" side of the road, and oh, those roundabouts.

You cannot possibly have a wrong move, wherever you go in Ireland. The scenery is 40 shades of green and the people are delightful.

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