Ireland -- what to include

Old May 19th, 2011, 03:36 AM
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Ireland -- what to include

I am thinking of taking the family (DW + 9 yo and 12 yo) to Ireland/Northern Ireland for a week in August. We are now based in England (East Midlands area). We might have other opportunities but for now I'll assume this is the only time we'll take a full week--so many places to visit while we are here.

To save costs, I'm leaning towards driving and catching a ferry over. The downside is that would essentially leave us with only 5 real (non-travel) days.

I'm fairly ignorant about what there is no see at this stage (we are fairly recent expat transplants). I'd like to see the outdoor beauty, hike a little, enjoy the people/culture, stay in B&B's etc. What should we try to see?

Although Dublin will likely be our starting/ending point for the ferry, I'm thinking of saving that for another trip when we fly over for a long weekend (and don't have a car). Sound reasonable?

I can see that we won't want to do both the Giant's Causeway in the North and Cork/Kinsale in the South for this trip. Should I focus on the west and south this time?

I'll start doing some reading but I thought I see what the experts had to say. BTW, I've got Rick Steve's Ireland book. Is it worthwhile and as good as any?

Many thanks.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 03:50 AM
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With only 5 days why not concentrate on the East Coast of Ireland. From the East Midlands you could drive to Stranraer and take the ferry to Larne, visit the Giants Causeway and drive along the North Antrim coast road. Then head south to Wicklow mountains and break the journey for 1 night and then head on to Kinsale. Take the ferry from Cork to Swansea and drive home.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 04:14 AM
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Sorry it's Cairnryan to Larne, Stranraer to Belfast but the Caairnryan - Larne is only 1 hour and you are straight onto the Coast road for Causeway.

Unfortunately Cork - Swansea is an 11 hour journey (didn't realise that when I posted)There is also Rosslare - Pembroke which is 4 hours.

http://www.poferries.com/tourist/con...le_CRLA_TR.htm

http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/

http://www.fastnetline.com/

http://www.irishferries.com/gb/index.asp
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Old May 19th, 2011, 09:14 PM
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Any other suggestions?
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Old May 21st, 2011, 12:00 AM
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indy_dad: I always use several guidebooks when planning trips to Europe. Usually I like Rick Steves as well as Fodors, Rough Guide, and others. But for Ireland I was disappointed in Rick Steves guidebook as it led us astray more than once... The best section of the Rick Steves Ireland guidebook is his section on the dingle peninsula. It's a great section. However in my opinion, other parts of his Ireland guidebook led us astray. Since you already have the book, read the section on the Dingle peninsula. But do consider buying another guidebook. I've had a good look at the current guidebooks for Ireland as I'm in the middle of planning our second trip to Ireland. I really like Michele Erdvig's guidebook, which I got through her web-site IrelandYes.com. I also find the new Rough Guide for Ireland is very informative and has lots of choices for accommodations and includes many smaller towns and villages. The Fodors guidebook is informative as always, but doesn't have enough recommendations for accommodations for some of the places we are headed in Ireland.

Since you say you have only about 5 real sight-seeing days in Ireland, I would suggest you focus on only 1 county. On our first trip to Ireland my favorite counties were County Clare, County Kerry, and County Mayo. We also traveled in Northern Ireland and did see the Giant's Causeway and the Antrim coast, but I really loved County Clare the most, if I had to choose my favorite county. I also loved visiting Belfast, and seeing some of the older sections where my favorite Irish grandmother grew up before she emigrated to the USA.

Have fun planning your trip!
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Old May 21st, 2011, 07:26 AM
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@Melissa5 -- thanks. Curious about where RS led you astray. Activities? Lodging? I'm reading it now. Perhaps I'll have a look at another as well.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 07:58 PM
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Rick Steves guidebook for Ireland was very inconsistent when it came to restaurants. Our family actually agreed to stop using the book after several disappointments. (In contrast, when we went to Italy, Rick Steves was right on when it came to restaurants...we loved all of his recommendations for Italy.) Also, I've read through his 2011 guidebook for Ireland in a bookstore, and didn't buy it, because I felt some areas deserved more coverage which he either skipped over or barely covered...and some of the areas which he highlighted we felt were over-rated and too touristy. (I'm not talking about the Dingle peninsula. Rick's coverage of the Dingle peninsula is quite good and thorough.)

Really, your trip will always be improved if you can look at at least 2 different guidebooks. It takes more time to read through, but they will broaden your perspective.

I actually think Rick Steves has begun taking shortcuts. For example he recommended a cafe in Switzerland which he says offers pizza. Yes, they do offer pizza...but I doubt Rick actually stopped and tasted the pizza...it was the worst pizza we have ever tasted on the planet! And the prices weren't great either. It seemed as if he had wandered by, glanced at the menu, and added the place to his book!

I like Rick Steves entertaining style which makes his guidebooks readable. But now if I do buy one, I compare it to other guidebooks and try to broaden my perspective. One of Rick Steves strengths is he tends to do well with telling you how to get someplace, how to get around, how to use the public transport, where to find the laundromat...but he's becoming less reliable in our opinion overall.

Also Rick Steves generally speaking seems to prefer cities, with a few exceptions. But Ireland's charm often lies in the little villages.

OK that's enough on that subject. You will have a fun trip! Enjoy beautiful friendly musical Ireland.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 12:25 AM
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Decisions, decisions. It looks like the ferry cost is comparable to flight costs. So, for "just" the cost of a rental car we could save some time and gain some flexibility by flying to Cork or Shannon.

Shannon or Cork? Does Aer Lingus do open jaw? Doesn't seem to be an option on the website.

With 6 days + travel days, is it reasonable to do Kinsale, Ring of Kerry, Dingle and County Clare? Perhaps that's too much.

Thanks again.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Aer Lingus only sell one way flights for their domestics (i.e. England to Ireland) so flying into one airport and out of another is not a problem (click on one way).

I think with open jaw you could do your planned itinerary.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Yes with Aer Lingus you can fly open jaw. We are flying to London first, then connecting to an Aer Lingus flight into Shannon. Then on the way home we fly Aer Lingus out of Dublin into London to catch our New Zealand flight back home out of London.

Figure out your itinerary and book accommodations BEFORE booking flights...because otherwise you may wish you could change your flights.

If you have 6 nights in Ireland I'd suggest you choose only 2 or 3 "base" accommodations, and do day-trips from your "bases". Go on aa website to check driving times between your bases. Personally with 6 nights I'd only choose 2 "bases", but it depends on your style. Have fun!
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