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Just Returned From Ireland - Any Questions??

Just Returned From Ireland - Any Questions??

Apr 17th, 2003, 10:23 AM
  #1  
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Just Returned From Ireland - Any Questions??

Hello my Dear Fodorites,

I have just gotten back from a lovely vacation in Ireland (April 1 -16). We toured in the following areas and I am more than willing to share experiences for any or all.

Areas: Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Connemara, Galway, Donegal, Northern Ireland - Derry & Giant's Causeway, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny.

Had great weather (little to no rain) and drove all over, literally. If I knew more about web sites I'd post my own but until then just email me or ask stuff here.

Thanks again for all the great advice I got from you on this site. If anyone is even thinking about going - STOP! Don't think, just go...

Cheers!
Wendy
[email protected]
waffle18 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 05:10 PM
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We'll be headed to Connemara this summer, staying in Roundstone for four days. What were some of your favorite things to see or do, places to eat,options to hear good music? Any other tips or suggestions would be appreciated!!!
Wren2 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 04:18 PM
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Wendy, I am soon off to Killarney, its local sites, the Ring, and with good weather a day of Dingle driving. Can you recommend a good lunch stop midway thru the Ring, and likewise around Dingle? (Preferably good seafood and items not having the word "blood" in them? And must we really avoid the local shrimp, as advised in print?)

Which way around the Ring and Dingle routes (clockwise or counter) did you take and were those good choices? Any exceptional shops, ruins, offbeat sites, nooks and crannies you discovered in those circular routes? Thanks for the offer of info.
phillymazes is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 04:49 PM
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Also, Wendy - I posted a query here about traveler's checks. Did you use them in Ireland or have any experience of them being a problem, not universally accepted?
phillymazes is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 09:40 PM
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Where did you stay in Dublin?
Downingcd is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 10:11 AM
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Wendy, Share away...tell all. Especially interested in hidden sights and trad. music pubs. What were they highlights and not to be missed. Going in June, can't wait!
chip is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 12:20 PM
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Glad to see the interst! I'll try my best and also look for a summary of my trip posted here in a bit.
w
waffle18 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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Wren2

We drove through Roundstone as a daytrip and stopped only for a bite to eat. Unfortunately the place is practically shut down until the summer months, which is definitely not April when we were there. So, no music, no hotels nor visitor centers open; just beautiful bog land with a few farmers taking advantage of the sun. We had lunch in a pub, I cannot remember the name of it though it is the last pub on the left side of the road as you go through town going up hill. The pub owner told us the hotels aren’t even open until the summer and he himself lived in Oughterard. Lunch there was typical pub food but it hit the spot. In case you didn’t know, The Matchmaker was filmed in Roundstone so if you watch that movie you’ll get a feel for the town and surrounding countryside. It’s a good place to base yourself as it’s out of the way but still close to Galway and Clifden, the two closest major towns. Beola for seafood, we were told, was a great place to eat – obviously it wasn’t open then.

The following places are one’s we’ve visited in the past though and are worth the trip. Please remember that I am partial to castles and my husband and I like to drive the small back roads of Connemara, stopping when we like and taking reams of photographs.

Dan O’Hara’s Farmstead on the main N59 road between Galway and Clifden.

Aughnanure Castle in Oughterard – look (but don’t touch!) for the sleeping bats behind the doors, so cute!

Galway, Clifden and Spiddal are all great places to visit. Galway for the shopping and night life especially, Clifden for a beautiful medium sized town (it’s going through a lot of construction right now so about half of the place was closed down when we went through), Spiddal for a small seaside town. We’ve enjoyed a few great dinners in Boluisce in Spiddal and we love shopping at Standan’s.

The Aran Islands are definitely worth your time and makes a great daytrip or two. Be sure to either rent a bike to tour the island (or horse and cart to go to the fort) and get to the ferry early (go out of Rossaveel, not Galway).

I’ve have yet to get to Kylemore Abbey but it’s on the list for next time…

I hope this helps a little. Perhaps a few others who’ve been through Roundstone during the summer months can add on?

Have a great trip and be sure to let us all know how it went when you get back.

Cheers,
Wendy
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Apr 19th, 2003, 01:31 PM
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phillymazes

I’m not a huge seafood person either so I can’t really say one way or the other about the shrimp. Does anyone out there have any thoughts on this?

The best part, I thought, of the Ring was the road from Kenmare to Killarney. The rest of the Ring left me a bit disappointed after hearing so many people rave about it. Not that it wasn’t beautiful, it is Ireland after all, just not the experience so many other have talked about and that I was expecting. Perhaps I’ve just seen too many other places in Ireland before doing the Ring? Hard to say. But the N71 IS amazing and worth the trip even in the busiest of tourist season. We Ringed clockwise (starting in Kenmare and finishing there a day later). I must say that if we had to stop along the way I’d pick either Sneem or Cahersiveen as they are the two largest places on the Ring. Unfortunately we didn’t stop anywhere along the Ring. I personally love Kenmare and we did stop there for lunch. Ate at Purple Heather which has good food for being a pub with higher than average prices.

Killarney was a buzzing town and I would hate to be there in high tourist season. It was neat and rustic seeing all the pony and traps but I can only imagine the gridlock during the summer. Yikes! On another trip we visited Muckross House and Farms. I preferred the Farms to the House but that’s another story which I’ll only go onto if you want to hear it. Both are still, in my opinion, worth at least one visit. Also enjoyed Ross Castle in Killarney. Wish we had had the time to visit the ruins on the island so you’ll have to let me know about them once you get back.

What I loved was the “Ring of Dingle” we did after the RoK (not to be confused with the LotR hee hee). We stayed in Dingle Town in a guesthouse called Miltown House on the far end of Dingle. It was a beautiful B&B, huge rooms, big comfy beds, great breakfast and a view of the harbor. SO worth the price. Of course we were there in April so if you want this place better book early as I’m guessing it fills up fast. 066/915-1372
We stopped at Dunbeg Fort which really isn’t much of anything but since only E2 per person it was a deal. Slea Head has amazing views and we also went up to Dun an Oir which I have no idea about as the marker for it had been completely smashed up. Again, great views though. Since we only took a day to breeze through we’ll be going back for more indepth exploration for certain. Louis Mulcahy’s pottery showroom is out this way and prices here are the best in Ireland. If you decide to wait then you’ll only pay a couple euro more for his stuff anywhere else in the country. But here is where they have sales if any are going. Be sure to go upstairs, most of the stuff is up there.
Dingle is a place I’ll definately come back to if only to visit the places I missed the first time. We mostly like to drive the little roads and stop when we like taking pictures as we go. We drove the Conor Pass which is not for the faint of heart but worth the shrieking (mine not my husband’s who did an amazing job of driving) for the views.

We did bring traveler’s checks and cashed them as we went at the banks. No problems at all but admittedly we did not try to pay anyone with them. I had brought about 100euro with us in cash, $300 in Traveler’s checks and the rest used the credit card.

Hope this helps a bit. Have a great trip and be sure to post your thoughts here once you get back.

Cheers,
Wendy
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Apr 19th, 2003, 01:33 PM
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Downingcd

Stayed at the Four Seasons in Dublin. Could not MORE highly reccommend this place for a special night away from it all. Heavenly.

Wendy
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Apr 19th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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Wendy-I was in Roundstone last April, and didn't notice that anything was shut down. Weird.

Where did you go in NI? What'd you think?
Ann41 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:37 PM
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Ann

The big hotel on the main street was definately shut as was the restaurant next door. There is a local potter who we could see whorking through the window but his shop was not open - we chose not to disturb him. There's a center of some sort that brand new at the end of town, I think it is some sort of artist center with silver jeweler, pottery shop, etc. and it was most closed although we were able to drive through the gates and back out. Maybe you were there later in the month? It is weird.

I liked NI a lot. We didn't stop in Belfast because Pres Bush was in town that evening and we knew there would a bunch of security due to the very verbal anti-war sentiment. Not that we saw much of it... The roads are in much better condition in NI as well as being better signposted. I wish now we had spent more time but I suppose it's a good excuse for going back. I really liked the Giant's Causeway although my husband didn't as much as I. Also liked Derry but really needed a tour (or a stop in the Tourist Office at least) but, again, we just went on into Donegal. Dunluce Castle was really neat but we were too late for the tour and didn't even get inside. Again, next time!

w
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Apr 19th, 2003, 09:05 PM
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Wendy...I'm very interested in hearing more about your experience and assessment of Muckross House. Please elaborate and tell me what to expect. Thanks.
Martha
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Apr 20th, 2003, 07:41 AM
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I was there a little later in April--around the 24th, and ate at the hotel--Eldon's. Maybe they open after Easter.
Ann41 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2003, 08:52 AM
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Ann,

I bet you are right about the after Easter openings. I noticed many more places, from sights to B&Bs, were opening up only after Easter. Thanks!

w


marthag,

I went to Muckross House and Farms one July and the place was crawling in tourists. So much so that we couldn't even join a tour group of the house itself. Busses of French tourists were there and so all the tour guides working were doing the tour in French (and it had been too long since high school French for me! hee). Ended up buying a rather large book of the place figuring I'd be at least able to read about it later. The end of the tour/walk takes you through the kitchens in the basement where there is a craft shop (surprise, surprise) with many of the craft persons themselves doing their thing. I enjoyed watching them but the prices! Oy! Overall the house was amazing and modern considering it's age and it's worth a look, especially if you can get a tour. I'd go back but not during the high season.

I really liked the farms though. Since the house is basically how a wealthy English land owner would live in the late 1700 to 1800 (?), the Farms are set up as Irish Farmers would have lived at the same time. There's a small farm (as most Irish were), a medium and then large farm [probably more English or English-siding Irish anyway ] Having grown up on farms myself it was neat to see the houses, gardens and farming equipment. There were animals which each farm would have had. When we were there every animal but the pigs had babies (well I didn't see any piglets...) from chickens to cows, to donkeys and draft horses - even the dog had puppies. I really enjoyed it. Each farmhouse too had period furniture and a farmer's wife baking brown bread over the peat fire and setting it out for her guests.

You can buy a ticket to only the Farms, the House or a combo ticket to both. The combo ticket is the best value, of course, but remember there is a good bit of walking involved for both sights. My guess is the kids will have the best time on the Farms and the adults with the House.

Hope this helps,
wendy
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Apr 20th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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Ardfert
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Queen Victoria of England stayed in Muckross House in August 1861 having travelled from Dublin by train.This boosted the tourist traffic in Killarney and it has never looked back,being the biggest tourist resort in Ireland outside of Dublin.Many on this site favor Dingle over Killarney but overall the Killarney area and especially The National Park, has more to offer.Muckross House itself was once owned by a family from California.You can read more about it by doing a search on www.google.com.You can get details of almost every part of Ireland,including photographs,on that site.
 
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