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Lynn_McManus Jul 15th, 2011 08:45 AM

Ireland Vacation
Would like some suggestion for my trip in October 2011. My husband and I are planning our first trip to ireland for our 10yr anniversary. We will be flying into Dublin and flying out of Shannon. We are renting a car and staying for 6 days. We are in our later 40's, very easy going and hip, (well maybe not to a 20 year old ) we enjoy Pubs, Ocean, Mountains and good food. Not looking for tourist traps, more off the beaten path authentic Ireland. We booked a rental car as we would like to take our time and enjoy what works for us. We will head north to Louth because a 200 year old pub with our familys name is located there so this is a must. I have vouchers for B&B's through (myguideireland) travel for 4 days, accomadation for Dublin and Shannon already booked.
With all that said...i would like to see Cliffs of Moher, beautiful coastlines and fun cities to experience in the eveings. I would like to book my B&B's in advance but need your help in counties to fit our needs. Any help would be greatly appreicated.

madamtrashheap Jul 16th, 2011 09:22 PM

You can see a little bit of Ireland in 6 days, and it's a good thing you've already noted what you want to see so you can start to plot a route around these interests. In terms of no "tourist traps", kind of negates a lot of places in Ireland, although if by this you mean no Blarney Stone, then fair point.

So from what I can understand, you are staying in Dublin for only 1 night? If that's correct, then you really won't see much of the city, and there's a bit to see there. But if you're not interested in Dublin, then fair enough.

A few other places to consider could be:
Dingle - yes it's popular, but it's still a cool town and it feels like there are more pubs than people there! (there aren't, but there are plenty for a pub crawl. I could spend the whole 4 days around Dingle Pennisula (and the Blaskets) just exploring, but this might not suit you.
Killarney - great town, again popular due to the National Park, but the scenery surrounding is stunning.
The Connemara - as you alreday have the Cliffs of Moher on you list (do a quick detour to The Burren while you're there for the moonrock landscape), this area is around Galway, so within easy striking distance. Stunning mountains, a coastline as rugged as a lumberjack's chin and islands to visit if you want to get off the mainland. Aran Islans are a great day trip, or Inisbofin is another island destination. You could stay in Galway (fun in the evenings) but if that's too big, then look at towns like Clifden (on the coast) or Clonbur (between the two major lakes).
Lisdoonvarna - a hoot during September when the Matchmaking Festival is on, but outside that it's fairly quite, certainly not "touristy".

janisj Jul 17th, 2011 10:03 AM

Just a quick comment -- 6 days is a very short time to visit places on opposite sides of the country (does that include your arrival and departure days?)

Day 1 is usually a jet lagged fog, and the last day is pretty much lost to packing and getting to the airport. Leaving you 4 days to actually see/do much. Going to Louth complicates things just a bit since Dublin and Louth will eat up 2 or 3 days of your already short time.

happyretiree07 Jul 18th, 2011 11:07 AM

there are small tour companies that offer to set up a route by auto or bicycle and they book your reservations for idea of the is footfallshikingwalkingireland..and I'm sure thereare others...these folks know the best route to set you on...I'm going to Wicklow area ...leaving Friday...I'm sure whatever you do you'll have a memorable trip..oh if you are in Shannon visit Bunratty..great castle, scones and lovely walking through the "village"...

wojazz3 Jul 18th, 2011 12:06 PM

I could have sworn I responded to this .....

Anyway, your 1st night will be in Dublin which will be pretty much a fog as Janis says. You will probably leave Dublin not knowing if you saw it or not. I will say that it took me a couple of visits before I started to appreciate the city.

Realize that as small as the country looks (as Janis pointed out) you will probably be hurried and may spend a good part of the time in the car. It sounds like you have 6 nights (2 reserved and 4 to plan) so we would need some help as to where you will be to give B&B suggestions. If it were me, I would pair nights up at two different locations.

Try to get an early start on your second day and visit Bru na Boinne. Sometimes better known as Newgrange and Nowth, these are fascinating sites but tend to be crowded. There are by guided tour only so get there as early as you can to get the earliest tour.

Since you are going north to Louth, I might consider going to Westport. That will take you a good part of the day to get there but it's one of my favorite towns. The area around Westport is beautiful, not nearly as much tourism especially if you get out to Achill Island (drivable). There is usually some good music in town and though always crowded, Mat Molloy's (of the Chieftan's) usually has a solid group of players. Ocassionally Matt himself shows up.

Based on where you are starting, on this trip, I wouldn't go south of Co. Clare. On your way south you could drive through Connemara and perhaps stay somewhere in or near Galway. You make make as much of the day as you want through Connemara. I always like the from Westport through Louisburgh and over Doo Lough Pass. You would go right by the base of Crough Patrick which is very impressive.

From the Galway Area you could easily do a trip down to the Cliffs of Moher. I find them only appealing early or late in the day. If you wanted to end that day in either Doolin (well know for it's trad pubs) or Ennis and not go back to Galway, that would make sense too. There's a lot to see in the area and even one of the castle banquets, though a bit cheesy, can be fun. I prefer the one at Dunguaire as it is much more intimate than Bunratty. I have not been to Knappogue.

If you are locked into your last night in Shannon, then so be it. If not, I would rather stay in a town like Ennis. It's another great music town with some great trad in the pubs. Try Cruises for instance. Ennis is a short distance to the airport.

Let us know what you think.

Lynn_McManus Jul 19th, 2011 06:07 AM

Thanks to all! I'm working out my route and will post for further "tweeking". Then suggestions for B&B stays will be my next questions. I do like the idea of a few nights in the same place just for a breather. Thanks again.

GreenDragon Jul 19th, 2011 02:53 PM

All second what Wojazz said - Westport is a great area. If you have a chance, Achill Island is gorgeous, full of beautiful cliffs and beaches. Keem Bay is especially breathtaking.

I stayed two nights near Westport, and then headed south to Ballyvaughan and then Dingle in our May 2011 trip - if you search my name for a trip report you can read all the gory details :)

SeeDee Jul 20th, 2011 02:43 PM

As I read it, you only have four nights bookended between Dublin and Shannon so that would leave you very limited scope to base yourself in one location for more than a night.
Looking at your interests - pubs, ocean, mountains, food - plus your desire to avoid tourist traps, could I suggest the following :
Heading north from Dublin (which I would devote some of day 2 to before leaving) the ancient sites at Bru na Boinne should be your first port of call. Having located the ancestral tavern, Carlingford would be a nice place to overnight at the end of day 2.
If you are fans of mountains and sea, take your cue from the famous song on day 3 and cross the border into County Down and explore the Mountains of Mourne. Staying decidedly off the tourist trail, move westward through the drumlin country of County Monaghan and try to reserve a table at McNean's Bistro in Blacklion, Co Cavan for dinner.
Day 4 leaves you within reach of the west coast where you could possibly base yourself in Westport for two nights.
It should be possible to visit both the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren on the day you travel south to Shannon.

stemplar1 Jul 21st, 2011 06:00 AM

Great advice from SeeDee. You don't to end up exhausted. The north antrim coast up to the giant's causeway and Portrush is spectacular - though may be out of your way. Lough Erne is pleasant to, as is Donegal

Lynn_McManus Jul 23rd, 2011 08:59 PM

So here is my itinerary, nothing is in stone except the Dublin and Shannon hotels. Would love to hear any comments or improvements. Thanks in advance,

DUBLIN airport (get car Hertz) to DAVENPORT HOTEL
Temple Bar, Guiness Storehouse, Grafton St., National Museum of History, St. Pat’s Catherdral

DUNDALK, LOUTH Need B&B 1 night
McManus Pub, street walk, Dinner

WESTPORT Need B&B 2 nights
WESTPORT Achill Island, Twelve Pins
Drive to Galway via R335, Louisburgh, over Doo Lough pass to base of Croagh Patrick Mnts.

Kylemore Abbey

Connemara Nat. Park (diamond hill trails) mid way from Westport to Galway via N59

Or do it take the N84 to Galway, check in and backtrack to Park?

GALWAY Need B&B 1 night

Cliffs of Moher mid way between Galway and Shannon (Ennis County)
SHANNON check in Dromoland Castle, go to Ennis, Cliffs @ sunset.45min drive from Shannon

As much as I’d love to go to Dingle realistically its probably pushing it. Good reason to have to come back again.

Itallian_Chauffer Jul 24th, 2011 12:24 PM

Your overall plan sounds fine, but there are some considerations you need to give to implementation ...

In October, the days will be getting shorter. By and large, there are NO street lights on MOST Irish roads and you do NOT want to be cruising around Counties Mayo, Galway or Clare in the dark as a First Time Visitor ...

You neither want, nor need, a rental car while in Dublin. It belongs at the airport until you are ready to'Get Outta Dodge'. Traffic is confusing and fast-paces for folk that are Familiar with the warren of One-Way streets, parking is hard to come by, difficult to find and expensive with a capital 'E'.

The drive from Louth to Westport will take between 1/2 a day and every bit of the day, depending upon stops. So, too, will a daytrip to Achill (a WONDERFUL place, by the way -- if the weather is good).

I urge you to drive down to Galway via Doo Lough, etc. -- rather than backtrack. Ditto for the Cliffs, on the drive from Galway to Dromoland. The Castle is Pricey and has a LOT to see and do on the premises to make the stay worthwhile.


Padraig Jul 24th, 2011 01:27 PM

Dundalk is your problem.

I know McManus's - it used to be my local. While it's okay, it's nothing special, and I suggest that it's not worth compromising your trip just because of the name on the fascia.

The route from Dundalk to Westport is hard work, and has relatively little to offer by way of scenery or interesting stops.

Lynn_McManus Jul 25th, 2011 05:08 PM

Well thanks for the input, i agree about Dundalk, but this is a surprise trip for my husband who has this on his "bucket list" so i just have to do it. He owes me big

Padraig Jul 26th, 2011 01:48 AM

If you really have to go to Dundalk, then you need an itinerary that takes account of that fact rather than one which is made more difficult because of it.

The route from Dublin to Dundalk passes close to Newgrange, so you should consider that as a good option. There are some B&Bs in Dundalk, but not as many as in a town which has lots of visitor appeal. I have no idea of quality, and can not make a recommendation. Good bar-food options in the Windsor (ask locally for directions: it's well-known); a bit more upscale you have Quaglino's, upstairs over the Century Bar (and just around the corner from McManus's).

Just to the north-east of Dundalk you have the scenic Cooley Peninsula, with the attractive small town of Carlingford - a very good half-day tour.

I suggest that you avoid the cross-country route from Dundalk to the west coast. It's much easier to take the motorway options: M1 to Dublin; M50 skirting the city; M4 to Galway.

janisj Jul 26th, 2011 09:30 AM

I agree w/ Padraig. If a certain destination is a "must" then the rest of the itinerary should take that into account.

Dundalk is a given - so adapt your itinerary to that and not to some dream tour of the west coast.

derry Jul 27th, 2011 08:59 PM

how wonderful!! happy anniversary!! - cant help with BB but it sounds like you will be traveling north - i would suggest some sites in northern ireland - Giants Causeway, Belfast (murals)and Derry-walking tour of the walls Cliffs of Moher are beautiful!! many other not too well known - we saw the Sleive League Cliffs in Donegal i think - higher and lots of history attached in Dublin - tour the Dublin Castle if you like history other suggestions are great too!! have fun!!

Lynn_McManus Jul 30th, 2011 06:13 PM

THANKS EVERYONE, you have given me some very experienced guidance. I will certainly consider more north touring as long as I'm there. I do still have a couple months to hash everything out. I'm so excited just to be stepping on Irish soil, the rest is a bonus. Thanks again!! happy trails

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