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Is this 2-week circuit of Ireland reasonable?

Is this 2-week circuit of Ireland reasonable?

Old May 23rd, 2008, 07:11 PM
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Is this 2-week circuit of Ireland reasonable?

I'd appreciate comments about this proposed 2-week driving trip clockwise around Ireland. Our favorite activities are walking and photographing scenery, so I've scheduled a lot of walks. Is this trip too rushed? I'd like to have more time in the Dingle Peninsula and less time driving, but didn't want to eliminate Northern Ireland because I want to experience the Giant's Causeway. Frankly, everything in Ireland sounds so scenic that I don't know how to prioritize.

Mon 9/8: arrive Dublin early morning, rent car and drive south to the Wicklow region for Powerscourt gardens and Glendalough monastic settlement; do a circuit walk. Overnight in Kilkenny.

Tues 9/9: Walk around Kilkenny, then drive to Rock of Cashel. Maybe drive to Thomastown and walk along river 1.5 miles to ruins of Grennan Castle. Overnight in Kilkenny.

Wed 9/10: Drive 3 hours to Muckross House to tour Victorian stately home and living museum of traditional farmhouses; or to walk 3.5 hours around Muckross Lake. Drive 1.25 hours to Dingle town. Overnight in Dingle.

Thurs 9/11: All-day circuit drive and exploration of the Dingle Peninsula. Walk around Dingle town and harbor. Overnight in Dingle.

Fri 9/12: All-day Dingle Way walk from outside Anascaul to Dingle (keep car in Dingle). Get transported to the ruins of Minard Castle, then walk back to Dingle through Lispole (lunch). Overnight in Dingle.

Sat 9/13: All-day Dingle Way walk from Dingle to Slea Head (keep car in Dingle). At Slea Head get transported back to Dingle.

Sun 9/14: Drive north from Dingle via Tralee and Listowel to catch the Tarbert-Killimer car ferry, then drive the coastal route to the Cliffs of Moher. Scenic drive and walking through the Burren from Kilfenora to Ballyvaughan.
Overnight in Galway.

Mon 9/15: Drive through Connemara and County Mayo, including Connemara National Park (1-hour trail through bogs) and/or 4-hour circuit walk of Killary Harbour fjord. Overnight back to Galway or up to Westport.

Tues 9/16: Drive to Northern Ireland, stopping at Donegal for lunch, reach Derry in afternoon to walk around town and walls. Overnight in Derry.

Wed 9/17: Drive to Antrium Coast, visit Dunluce Castle and Old Bushmills Distillery and walk around Portrush. Overnight in Portrush.

Thurs 9/18: Giantís Causeway. Walk about 5 hours. Overnight in Portrush.

Fri 9/19: Drive to Glenariff Forest Park in the Glens of Antrium for 2.5-hour walk. Then drive to Belfast, walk around city, tour Catholic and Protestant Neighborhoods. Overnight in Belfast.

Sat 9/20: Drive to Dublin, turn in car, walk around historic area. Overnight in Dublin.

Sun 9/21: In Dublin visit Book of Kells, take walking tour. More sightseeing in afternoon. Overnight in Dublin.

Mon 9/22: Fly home.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 05:31 AM
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Nice itinerary. If I may, I do have some comments on it:

A word of warning. In the south the signposts are generally in Irish, yet most maps you buy are in English. It can be somewhat confusing. Try to get an Irish language map as soon as you arrive.

Keep in mind that although the distances look small on a map, it takes much longer to get anywhere in Ireland than in N. America. The roads are windy and narrow and go through countless towns and villages. Often the only road is used by four footed travellers as well as vehicles. If a farmer is herding his sheep along the road you will have to sit and wait for what could be a very long time, so add in extra time. One time we had to stop for a couple of hours as a funeral procession had completely closed the Antrim Coast Road as they carried the coffin and walked from the church to the cemetery. You might want to try to "do" less and "see" more.

I would take a day away from Dingle and add more time to Donegal, if you can. The beaches of Donegal are the white, powdery type you othewise find in the Caribbean, so make time for enjoying them. If it's a warm day you won't want to rush that visit. Also, try to fit in a boat trip to the Arran isle in Donegal. That would mean one day in Donegal. Donegal Tweed comes from, yes Donegal, so stop by a shop and check out the wares. And of course Arran sweaters are from here as well.

A nice area in N. Ireland is in Co. Fermanagh. The city of Enniskillen is lovely. It is just across the border from Derry. Belleek china is from that area, though you will find the prices the same no matter where you buy it. The difference is the selection is much better where it's made.

Make sure you stop by Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. If you are brave and aren't afraid of heights try it out. I'm a chicken, so just photographed my husband on it.

FYI it's Bushmill's 400th anniversary this year. Enjoy your tasting at the distillery's in house bar.

The Ulster American Folk Park (formerly the Irish Folk Museum) is well worth a visit. It is located in Omagh between Enniskillen and Belfast/Dublin. You will need at least a couple of hours to do it properly. It covers the Famine, the emigration to N. America as well as the history of Ireland's way of life such as housing etc. You will see thatched cottages inside and out as well as the typical "two up, two down" townhouses of old. Very good.

I would do that rather than "tour the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods" in Belfast.

As to touring the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods in Belfast, I don't think they would be actually signposted as such. Not sure why this would even be part of a travel itinerary.? Just enjoy the city of Belfast itself. It is actually a very beautiful city and much superior to London IMO.

Ferguson's Irish Linen is located between Belfast and Dublin and you might want to check it out. Not sure exactly where, but I remember buying linen there last time I was in Ireland. I believe the town was called Banbridge.

You will love Ireland, and it's people both North and South. If you get lost, don't hesitate to ask for directions as they are so helpful and friendly. Once a police officer told us to follow him and he drove ahead of us to our desired location.

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Old May 24th, 2008, 06:13 AM
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I don't agree with designatedplanner about taking time from Dingle to use in Donegal; that adds to an already fairly full programme.

Another suggestion: the most scenic part of the Slea head route is that beyond Slea Head. When you get to Dingle, make enquiries about arranging a drop and pickup arrangement. Your accommodation provider might prove very helpful on such things.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 01:34 PM
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Thank you both for responding. I am fearful that I'm packing too much in by wanting to circumvent the island, especially since I think I'd like to add "down" time in the Dingle Peninsula or the Aran Islands. Yet I very much want to see the Giant's Causeway! Perhaps using highways to go from Galway to Northern Ireland would help? Or are the highways not speedy or convenient?
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Old May 24th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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There is no fast route from Galway to the Giant's Causeway.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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Hi Lorraine,
It does seem very busy. Have you booked your flights? It seems that flying into Shannon and out of Dublin might work better for you. Then you could skip your first section of Kilkenny and spend more time in the north. Even if your flight is booked, I'd drop the Kilkenny section. As it is now, you're seeing too many different places to really enjoy and experience any one place.

The time in Dingle sounds nice but that's the place where it could be shorter. I'd spend just one night in Galway, if that. Spend time in Westport - it's nicer in many ways. Spend time in Donegal and more time in NI.
rosetravels is offline  
Old May 28th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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Agree that this is a very full itinerary and that you have listed some precise times for things. Perhaps that is the way you travel but in Ireland, I find the unexpected diversions much more memeorable than the arefully planned 2.5 hour walk. Just me though.

If you are not concerned with getting wet on a walk, you should be fine. Ireland isn't that color because of drought. It can can windy, wet and cold. You might want to think about some rainy weather options.

Padraig is right, there is no motorway from Galway to Giants Causeway. I wouldn't go back to Galway if you are headed north on 9/16. Stay in Westport.

In the end, what you are planning can be done, but keep in mind that much of it may not happen the way you plan if you happen upon some magic along the way.

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Old Mar 9th, 2009, 07:47 PM
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This is very similar to what we are thinking about - just wondering if Lorraine ever checks this board and how her trip turned out

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