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Keeping an open itinerary in Ireland...how does this work?

Keeping an open itinerary in Ireland...how does this work?

Jan 9th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Keeping an open itinerary in Ireland...how does this work?

I am visiting Ireland for the first time next month, and taking my mom and aunt with me. Neither has been out of the country and I want them to have a great time.

We are leaving from Chicago on February 16th and arriving in Dublin in the early morning. We depart on the 23rd, from Shannon. We decided to drive north to see Trim Castle and then stay in Kilkenny for the first night. I already booked that b&b,as I really prefer to have a place already booked for the first night, but we decided to go ahead and keep the rest of the itinerary open because I don't think February will be a very busy time. Our loose itinerary includes a visit to Kinsale, Kenmare, the Dingle Penninsula and/or the Ring of Kerry, and then perhaps ending the trip with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher before flying home.

To be honest I don't really know how to do this! I know that's probably a bizarre thing to say, but I'm an obsessive planner, especially when it comes to my vacations. I find the whole thing a little disconcerning, although I'm assuming I'm nervous for no reason. I guess my questions are how difficult is it to just find a b&b? Also, we prefer a triple room if possible. Are these hard to come by? And when we find a b&b do we just walk up to the door and knock and ask about a room? Is it common practice to ask to see the room firt? If we decide we don't want to stay there will it be really awkward?

Thanks for any advice!
tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 06:59 AM
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I don't think your plan for the first day is a good idea. You and your companions will probably be jet-lagged. It's a big enough task to get to Kilkenny in those circumstances without trying to get in Trim castle. Do Kilkenny castle instead.

I have posted here before that I think the Ring of Kerry is overrated. The best bit is that between Kenmare and Killarney, and that fits naturally into the general route you propose.

Only a few B&Bs offer triple rooms, and it is most likely to be a double bed and a single. The typical B&B is a family house, and the bedrooms are usually not big enough to work as triples.

Yes, you can walk up to the door and ask for rooms, and no, it is not a problem if you ask to see them before booking in. Don't worry about declining a room. Just say it does not suit (invent an excuse if you like, such as that you need a bath rather than a shower). Remember, even if it seems awkward, you will probably never meet the proprietor again.
Padraig is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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Along roadsides, you will see signs advertising B&Bs. There is usually a sign (sometimes in the window) saying "vacancies" or "no vacancies". At this time of year, many will be closed for the winter, but it will be obvious which ones are still open for business. If you see one that looks suitable, you simply ring the door bell and tell them what accommodation you want. It is quite normal to ask to see the room first. Alternatively, you can go to a tourist office and they will find one for you. They only deal with ones that are registered with the tourist board. In general, B&Bs along main roads in tourist areas rely on the passing trade so don't need to pay the tourist board.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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Hi Tracy:

I agree with Padraig on the first day scenario though from what I know, you are a fairly experienced European traveler. Still, I think that is a lot of driving on the first day. I would probably skip Trim. If you decide to go, get in and out of the car a lot.

You can pretty easily find rooms, though finding B&Bs with a triple might be a bit harder. It would probably be best to do some research first for towns and villages that you intend to stay in. Pick out a few in each area that have what you need room wise. Once you are in Ireland, you will probably have a pretty good guess as to where you will end up for the night. Give them a call at that point and get a room. Also, a lot of B&B owners operate in a "network". If you like the one you are at, ask him/her if the have suggestions for the town you are heading to.

Town and Country homes www.townandcountry.ie lists the opening dates and approx prices for the different kinds of rooms available. That can help you get a start to pick some out. You can also order the town and country book for the Irish Tourist board but I understand they are moving quite slowly with requests right now.

Check at irelandyes.com for some suggestions. You might want to order her book as she has very reliable suggestions for many areas. Michele inspects them all personally. She is very responsive and could get the book to you right away.

Just a few ideas.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Definitely head right to Kilkenny. Get situated at your B&B...expect to take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon and then try to stay up until 9 or 10 to try and adjust to the time change.

When you get to Kilkenny, walk around town, visit the castle or relax in a pub. You'll want to be active, but have the option to rest. While in Kilkenny, you can download a draft of my walking tour at:

Here's a link to an article by a traveler who did something similar (they used vouchers, which probably wouldn't be a big advantage in February and if you want to just "walk up"):

The tourists offices can help you book rooms as well. Just realize that in Feb the smaller ones will be closed or some will be on very limited hours.

If a B&B doesn't have a room, ask the host if they can suggest a place nearby...some of them will even call ahead for you. You can also ask your B&B hosts if they have any recommendations for B&Bs in the town you are planning to spend your next night.

It gets dark early in February, so it helps to start looking for your B&B in the afternoon.

Take it slow, limit the amount of ground you try to cover and just enjoy the journey and you'll have a great experience.
yesiree100 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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We (two couples) were in Ireland for 10 days in October, 2004. We booked only the first and last night's lodging in advance (for your last night, there is a hotel across a small parking lot from the Shannon airport -I don't remember the name).

We stopped driving at around 3:00 or 4:00 each day and had no trouble finding a place to stay. Each small town offered many b&b choices. We simply rang the bell and asked to see a room. There is one b&b in particular that we loved - Heath's in Dingle (we would stay 2 nights there - wonderful breakfast!)

If we were to go back, we would do the same thing. It allowed us wonderful freedom to explore. We went with a general itinerary and allowed the weather, our interests and the beautiful sights and people to help us create a relaxed and memorable trip.
pjeanb is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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yesiree's walking tour is quite good. I didn't get to follow the whole tour because it was pouring down rain and it is a walking tour. It's quite easy to follow.

On the jet-lag issue, this varies with people, the general rule of thumb is to try to stay awake the entire 1st day as it allows your internal clock to adjust to the new time. If you take and afternoon nap, most people (not all) tend to get weary at about the same time the next day.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Thank you all so much for your helpful replies.

As for the jetlag, I usually handle it quite nicely thanks to my Ambien! I can usually stay awake for most of the first day, although I may need a small nap in the afternoon. After many trips to Europe I'm rather experienced with jetlag. However, because my mom and aunt have never been out of the country I have to assume that they will have at least some jetlag issues. Because of this I'm trying to plan enough to do the first day to get them moving to avoid some of the jetlag, but I don't want to try to do too much and leave them exhausted. I don't want to nap if we don't have to, although if we do we will certainly set an alarm - I learned this the hard way on my first trip to Europe when our "nap" turned into five hours of sleep that screwed us up for the entire duration of our trip!

My aunt found some info on Trim castle and was interested in visiting, but if the general consensus is to skip it then we may do just that. My first thought was to try to drive all the way down to Kinsale the first night but decided against that because it seemed like too much driving.

Bill and yesiree, thank you for the links! I will definitely check them out.

I think I'm going to do what was suggested above, and find several b&bs in several of the towns I am interested in and write down their information. This way if we end up staying in one of the towns I will at least have a little bit of info.

Thank you everyone for your help. I really do appreciate it. This is going to be quite a different experience for me from what I'm used to, but I think I'm up for the challenge!


tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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My mother and I had really good luck with the "B&B network" traveling in Ireland in September one year. We spent our first night in Adare and after that, the B&B proprietor would call ahead to a friend who ran a B&B in the next town we were staying in. It worked out really well and we stayed in some wonderful B&Bs. Have a great time on your trip and be sure to pack warm clothing!
sunny16 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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If you're aunt liked what she found about Trim. Have her do a little research on Kells Priory near Kilkenny or Barryscourt Castle near Cobh or Charles Fort in Kinsale. They're all on your proposed route and should prove to be worthy substitutes (not to mention the wealth of other possible sites along your route).

Your attitude about the trip is great.

BTW - Sorry about the weird split in my last post, not sure how that happened.
yesiree100 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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yesiree100, thanks for the compliment! Ireland really looks lovely and I think we will have a great time regardless of what we do, so I'm open to anything. Besides, I think deep down I've always been jealous of those that can just "wing it" so here's my chance to try it for myself!

I will certainly research the sights you listed and send them to her as well. As I said before, she has never been out of the country and the one thing she really wants to see are some castles! And to be honest I want them to have a good time so I'm open for whatever. My aunt has had a terrible year, as my 20 year old cousin was killed in a freak accident while at work last April. She has always been interested in my European trips in the past so we decided to invite her along. This trip has given her something to look forward to, especially during the tough holiday season, and I just want her to have a really great time.

Thank you again everyone!
tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Another option would be tio Stay in Trim the first night and visit the castle and also NewGrange which is nearby.That way you dont drive much the first day.The second day yiou could drive to Kinsale which is a very nice place.best regards
tune is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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We will be ships passing in the night. You will probably leave Shannon just before I arrive on the 23rd.

I double checked and it appears you are landing on Saturday 17th. If this is correct, you're OK, Trim Castle is only open on weekends in Feb. You may find that in other castles. Cahir Castle (in Cahir) is open year around and is in excellent condition. http://tinyurl.com/y4w8ng

Jerpoint Abbey is also open year around and though slightly south and east fo your route. Within reasonable driving distance. Barryscourt is closed at that time of year but a number is listed on the Heritage Ireland site to contact them in the off season.

Take a look through the Heritage Ireland (same as link to Cahir Castle above) and see if there is anything that strikes your fancy. Depending on how you decide to get to Kinsale, you could pass by the Rock of Cashel also.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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I just wanted to add a bit about traveling with your mother and aunt. Depending on their ages they may not be able to keep up with you especially on the first day. Jet lag affects older people differently. You should consider that and plan a slow day where they have a napping option. I think you should make a decision to either stay in Trim or Kilkenny on arrival day. If Kilkenny, skip Trim Castle.
IrishEyes is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Wherever you stay for the night get the tourist office in that town to find a place for the next night (that should save you some shoe leather) or research it yourself that night & head for it the next day. If you find somewhere you like stay another night.
A lot of places now have internet phone boxes where you can check out any places you fancy.
johngerard is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 10:04 PM
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Hi Tracy,
That sounds like a lovely and worthwhile trip. I hope your Aunt can find peace in Ireland.

I'd skip Trim castle. We went there in 2005 and the most memorable thing was the guy skinny dipping in the moat. The castle wasn't more interesting than others in Ireland. Just head for Kilkenny and there will be wonderful things to see.

Your itinerary sounds fine. We spent a week in Kenmare in April one year and enjoyed both the Sheepshead Pen. and the RoK. I thought the drive over the middle of the RoK was spectacular. We took my mother-in-law on the boat to climb Skellig and it was the highlight of her trip. She was 75 at the time.

Have a great trip!

rosetravels is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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Always ask for 'Ensuite' (i.e., private bath) accomodation. And ask B&B Owner / Operator for a 'Family Room.'

I research B&B's along my route & list phome #'s before my trip; buy an Eircom Phone card (the kind with the I/C Chip on the card) on arrival or as soon as possible thereafter; and call ahead for the following night. Once I had to wait until I got to Galway and bought one at a convenience store but last time I bought one at Shannon airport. This saved me from having to find a B&B when I got to my destination.

Some B&B's are only open from mid-April thru September.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 06:31 AM
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Thank you again for all the help!

We have decided to skip Trim castle and head down to Kilkenny. I am going to write down some b&b's in some of the towns that I'm interested in so I have a reference if we decide to stay there.

My mom is 50 and my aunt is in her late 40's. They should be able to keep up with me healthwise, as they are both in good shape, but I'm trying to keep things open so that we have time to rest if they don't handle the jetlag very well. One never knows how jetlag will affect them until they experience it themselves!

Thank you again so very much. We are so excited!

tcreath is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Our last visit was for a long weekend (dep Thur, return Tues) at the end of February and weather-wise we were VERY lucky. Every norning there was hoar frost but we didn't get any rain (in Clare & Galway) at all. But in late winter one can't count on the weather being dry.

As you know, in Cork & Kerry you'll be on the coast, so you should have a Plan-B prepared, just in case. There's a reason airfares are so cheap that time of year: Slainte!
NEDSIRELAND is offline  

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