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Need help planning trip to Ireland


Oct 16th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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Need help planning trip to Ireland

Planning on going may 15 to may 28.

Having trouble even after researching where to go

Day 1 arrive 10am Dublin

Day 2. Dublin

Day 3. Pic up car and drive to Waterford. Should I stay overnight or stay in another city on my way to dingle? If so, any suggestions?

Day 4. Drive to dingle. Overnight dingle.

Day 5. Explore slea head, gap of Dunlop,Connor pass. Overnight dingle

Day 6. Drive to kenmare. On way, jaunty car ride. Overnight kenmare.

Day 7. Ring of Kerry. Overnight kenmare.

Day 8. Kenmare?

Day 9. Need help

Day 10. Need. Help

Day 11. Need help

Day 12. Need help

Day 13. Somewhere Shannon where I will be flying home from

We have never been to Ireland and am having a lot of trouble figuring it out. Am I staying too long?

Any help would be greatly appreciated

dac is offline  
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Oct 16th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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To get a better idea of what to suggest for you, could you share some more information? That way we suggest things that match your travel style.

Your age and/or who will be in your party would be a good bit of information to have.

Also, what do you typically find enjoyable to do while on vacation?

Are you a "see everything" person or someone who prefers to take a more leisurely pace? Do you enjoy hiking, photography, cultural experiences, etc?
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Oct 16th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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Thank you for responding so quickly. We are in our 60's. enjoy museums, castles, scenery ,sitting seeing how locals live, walking around quaint towns etc. so I guess a little bit of everything except hiking. We usually travel to France or Italy, so I'm having a problem with Ireland as I'm wondering if it will be too much driving with scenery and nothing else. We usually stay in mid priced hotels but can go higher if it would be must do. Thanks again.
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Oct 16th, 2012, 05:18 PM
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You've got plenty of time to plan this trip, so I might suggest doing something similar to how I planned our two self-drive trips to Ireland.

First, I checked out several Ireland guidebooks from the library. My favorites (due to our interests and the way we travel) were Lonely Planet and Rough Guide. But I consulted many others, including Fodor's, Frommers, Rick Steves, and Eyewitness. I used these books to find specific things and places we wanted to see on our trips.

Once I had the places in mind that I wanted to visit, I consulted a good driving map. (I used Rough Guide, but others such as OSI are good too.) I also referred to the online AA Route Planner for Ireland. Together, these resources let me know whether my plans were feasible and how best to route ourselves. (Note: Trying to cram too much into an itinerary is a BIG problem for most first-time visitors to Ireland. So you are right to be concerned that you will be doing too much driving and not enough sightseeing.)

Finally, once I had my itinerary planned, I booked all of our B&B accommodations. On our first trip, we were traveling with a group of 4, so I needed to make sure we could find places that could accommodate us all. On our second trip, we were a party of 2 traveling in May and I did not want to waste time looking for a place to sleep each day and I wanted to to stay in certain accommodations. If you are not picky with where you stay, you could book your first and last night's accommodations and "wing it" along the road. We were able to find nice B&B accommodations all over Ireland with prices ranging from 25 euros to 40 euros per person per night. (Most of them were in the 30 - 35 euro pp/pn range.)

Hope this info helps.
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Oct 16th, 2012, 05:32 PM
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Thank you longhorn.
I've done mostly everything you suggest. I don't know why I'm having such a difficult time with this planning.

Did you enjoy Ireland in May?
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Oct 16th, 2012, 07:54 PM
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Thank you for the information about your travel style. I think that based on your preferences that the number of days you are planning for your trip is just about right.

I think that spending one day in Dublin is sufficient as long as you are not into shopping and pubs. You can visit Trinity college to see the Book of Kells, stop by the Guinness brewery (which I highly recommend... I am not a drinker, but the museum aspect of the brewery is top-of-the-line.... could have spent all day there), and take in some local color all in a day and a half.

Dublin is not my favorite place, but I am not a big city kind of traveler. So, I don't have much else to recommend for Dublin. I have enjoyed two trips to Ireland. On the first we flew in through Shannon and stayed only in the West for 10 days; we had a fantastic trip. On the second trip, we flew in through Dublin and then went southwest. Other than the Guinness tour, Dublin was not that great for me; I wished we would have flown in through Shannon the second time also. I am sure that Dublin is great for some people, it is just not for me. You may find it differently.

I cannot comment on the Waterford part of the trip; I have never been there. Though, I don't think I would want to go from Dublin, to Waterford, to Dingle all in one day.

Dingle and Kerry are fantastic; you will not regret your choices there. Though I would add Kilarney (to visit the castle and grounds) and Muckross (to visit the house and grounds... and ride in a horse-drawn cart)

If you are staying in Kenmare, there is a really wonderful bed and breakfast called the blue merles (www.bluemerles.com). We stayed there the first time we were in Ireland and absolutely enjoyed the hosts, the house, and our stay. It was the most memorable place that we stayed while there the first time.

Near Shannon, you could go to Bunratty castle. I have been twice, and I enjoyed it both times.

I like longhorn55's advice. Plan your first and last night at a B & B and then just go with the flow. If you want to stay somewhere for two nights because you are enjoying yourself, you wont feel rushed. B & B's in Ireland are fantastic and I highly recommend them over hotels for your stay. It is great to spend time talking to the hosts and getting a feel for local people. They also will have a lot of good suggestions for what to see or where to go.

There are a lot of quaint towns and nice scenery in Ireland. Don't over plan your trip because you might miss something great on the way hurrying to something just ok. Know what you would like to see and do, and then let the rest happen.

I hope you have a fantastic journey!
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Oct 16th, 2012, 10:46 PM
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We stayed in Killarney, Dingle and Galway over 8 nights. Here are some photos and commentary if that helps with the planning:

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Oct 17th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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I think you've a good start to your planning. You may want to switch your Dingle/Kenmare stays - Kenmare is more of a direct route, you basically have to pass near Kenmare to GET to Dingle. It's about a 3.5 hour journey without stops, so plan on a long travel day - you will want to stop frequently!

B&Bs are incredible in Ireland. I spend some time researching each one, and have managed to find some lovely ones.

A day or two in Dublin is fine for a first visit. Trinity college, book of Kells, some people watching, all are great. Traveling from Dublin to Waterford, see if you can make stops at Powerscourt Falls/Gardens, and/or Glendalough.

Waterford - I have only been there one afternoon. Not my favorite Irish city, but the coastline is lovely. Traveling from Waterford across to Kenmare, going along the coast, you can visit Cobh and Cork (The English Market is a wonderful indoor high-end farmer's market).

Kenmare, I enjoyed staying at O'Donnabhain's - right in city centre, but on the third floor over the gastropub, so pretty quiet regardless. It is a lovely town, and a great base to explore the Ring of Beara, and even the Ring of Kerry.

Dingle - also a great town, with many pubs, shops and fantastic scenery on the peninsula. Don't miss Slea Head, Conor Pass (when there aren't mists blocking the view!), the Gallerus Oratory. I also enjoyed the Celtic Prehistoric Museum.

After Dingle I would suggest either/or Ennis or Ballyvaughan. Perhaps up to Ballyvaughan, explore the Burren a couple days, enjoy the sea. Ennis is convenient to Shannon for the last few nights, only about a half hour's drive from the airport, and well placed to explore the southern part of the Burren, Bunratty castle/folk park, Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, etc. You may even have enough time for an overnight trip to the Aran Islands via Doolin.

May is a lovely time to visit Ireland! I went in May of 2011, and had a delightful time. There was yellow gorse and flowers blooming everywhere. The weather was a bit chilly for normal (55 about every day) but I was happy in my fleece jacket, and did fine.

If you wish to check out my trip reports, they are all here and on my website (there are links on the reports here). Enjoy!
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Oct 17th, 2012, 07:42 AM
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Ireland's not big on medieval towns. I've no idea what "quaint" is supposed to mean: but Ireland's generally devoid of pretty towns with any kind of predominantly old architecture - at least by the standards of mainstream Europe.

It does have pleasantish small towns - but their idiosyncrasy lies in lots of differently-painted terraces of (if you're lucky) Victorian shops and houses - though more often tastefulish (and still prettily painted) late 20th century rebuilds. The mandatory European village-centre medieval church, lovingly maintained since around 1100 AD and still in active use, is almost universally absent - as usually, is any other kind of monumental building, except a huge (and usually hideous) modern church on the village or town outskirts.

A few obvious gaps in your list if France or Italy (or even most of rural England) is your model:

- Kinsale. Prettyish, hardly up to the standards of most similar-sized Italian or French tourist hotspots, but its wonderful setting makes up for its architectural mediocrity. Charles Fort on its edge is relatively modern (late 17th century) but architecturally impressive - and with simply glorious views across a wonderful harbour area. Ireland's sea inlets are among Europe's great scenic glories, and really shouldn't be dismissed as just scenery.

- Cashel actually feels a bit like a proper European small town (most of Ireland doesn't), with an ecclesiastical complex (Rock of Cashel) that has Romanesque architecture, decent sculpture and much of the other things you'd expect elsewhere. Terrific associations with both St Patrick and Ireland's ancient High Kings: it really needs to be researched properly before seeing.

- Newgrange. Arguably the world's most interesting prehistoric human construction. Quite unlike Stonehenge - but far, far better interpretation centre

- Museums. Hundreds, but most very third-division unless they correspond to a specific interest of yours. Since you don't mention Irish folk life, a large proportion automatically self-disqualify. The Book of Kells (Trinity College) is fabulous, but like all historical manuscripts you can only see one page at a time, and otherwise Trinity's just another Oxbridge college a few hundred miles away from the other 70. The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle is really Ireland's only world-class museum: possibly the best collection of seriously historic manuscripts on display anywhere, though most are of greater historic importance than beauty.

- Visitable gardens. The most visited is Powerscourt, but if you're interested in gardens, worth creating a list of candidates. All over the country. As with so much, www.discoverireland.ie is a good starting point

One of the problems about planning trips to Ireland is, as you've noticed both in your research so far and in the answers you've been given, that most advice is much, much longer on gushing gibberish about how wonderful the place is than in real examples of sights to see that even approach the interest of a bog standard Tuscan village.

Bluntly: that's because there aren't many. Ireland's scenery (especially its infinitely long coast) is outstanding, many of its visitable gardens will impress Americans, its climate is glorious (I'm serious: practically nowhere in America has such pleasant winters, or such tolerable summers), as long as you keep an umbrella handy, and those of its population a tourist will meet share little (conformity isn't an Irish virtue) but gobsmacking charm. Simply keeping the radio on, and tuned to the talk stations, as you drive round exposes you a world of good-humoured mass intelligence that's worth the time and effort of going to Ireland. And, as everywhere in the English-speaking world, ravenous consumption of local media (including the freesheets lying round the pub) and reading the "what's on tonight in Ballygodhelpus" flyers in newsagents' windows gives you insights and opportunities for diversions you'll never get to know about in places where they speak funny foreign languages. Go to the pub quiz, or watch the school's hurling, camogie or Gaelic football match, for example.

By and large, its larger towns are best avoided, except as a base to sightsee from or as a good source of excellent pubs at night. Their tourist information centres will give you long lists of things in the town to see, most just about worth the three minutes it takes to see them.

Don't waste energy looking for what Ireland hasn't got. Its road system, in parts, is now excellent and underused. Getting to the area round Cork Harbour, or the scenic wonders of the North, is now just as fast from Dublin as Waterford (whose alleged attractions consistently elude me, though its nearby Copper Coast makes for a nice drive and the Gaeltacht immediately west is worth immersing yourself in).

For your general questions:

- Is two weeks too long?
If you're interested in a holiday in Ireland, absolutely not. If you're looking for an English-speaking Umbria, two days would be about right.

- "a little bit of everything except hiking".
That's precisely what Ireland's got (its serious recreational walking's awful). Short cliff walks or beachcombing meanders, however, it's terrific for.

-"if it will be too much driving with scenery"
Plan your days around its motorway system. On it, distances melt. Off it, a 30 mile drive can take most of a morning. Feel free to dump journeys that sound like just driving and stay flexible: the Ring of Kerry when the rainclouds descend can be as dull as any commuter highway in the rush hour

-"Need help planning"
The three key steps in planning an Irish holiday are:
- Remember that Ireland absolutely isn't France.
- Without wishing to patronise, Ireland's real holiday asset is that it has by several million miles the most engaging people in the English-speaking world. Drive to place X, engage with the people in the pub there and the local media and you'll stumble on all kinds of things you'd not thought of.
- The charm's infectious. Look at any tourist-oriented promotional material with your claptrap detectors firmly switched on. It's not just overt tourist advertising that gilds the lilly: all writing about Ireland (including the editorial on this site) consistently makes the banal sound entrancing. There seems to be a rule travel writers everywhere feel obliged to follow: never imply anything in Ireland's less than wonderful. Nonsense, of course (several million Irish emigrants can't be wrong) - but that most certainly doesn't mean two weeks there will be a waste.
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Oct 17th, 2012, 09:05 AM
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I would have to disagree a little bit with almcquiggan here - I think Dublin deserves at least 2 full days. Besides Guinness and Trinity College, I also think that the Jail and Dublin Castle tours are great for an Irish history lesson. We also went to a Sunday service at St Patricks Cathedral (we are not Catholics) and enjoyed that alot. The Jamison Distillery tour was fun also. The touristy part of Dublin is very easy to walk and the people are super friendly. The Temple Bar area is a fun place to people watch. We also thought that the pubs with their music were much livelier in Dublin than anywhere else(Killarney, Kilkenny).
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Oct 17th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Actually, Kilkenny is my favorite medieval town, flanner, but perhaps you've not been? Two cathedrals, an ancient abbey (with a 5th c. carving of Christ), cobblestone slipways and alleys, a more modern castle, restored. And not far from Cashel or Jerpoint Abbey for more exploration.
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Oct 17th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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Thank you everyone for all of your suggestions and comments. I really appreciate you all taking the time to give me more insight into Ireland. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions, but thanks again.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 12:17 PM
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I know this tour is on a differant date but the plan might help you with some ideas & timings
Its a ten day tour that takes in the lake district of ireland which is a bit unusual & beautifull
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Oct 21st, 2012, 04:42 PM
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I wouldn't spend more than a day in Dublin. We left Dublin went to a tiny town on the Shannon called Banagher and from there to Lisdoonvarna which was close to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Stayed at a beautiful B&B called Sheedys Country House Hotel. On to Kenmare. I loved Kenmare, probably my favorite place. You are close to everything but not so overwhelming as Killarney for me. Not a fan of big cities. We went to the Ring of Beara. From Kenmare and to Cashel. Not impressed with Cashel. We actually went back to Kenmare and then drove from there to Dublin in one day. Quite a drive.All in all a lovely trip. Going back in January and am confused about what to see this time. Not even spending one day in Dublin thinking about Galway.
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Oct 21st, 2012, 04:46 PM
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One more thing take your time. Stay more than one night if you can. Don't want to be driving all the time. It's stressful.
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Oct 21st, 2012, 06:41 PM
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Thank you Max. Still working on my trip. Where did you stay in Kenmare? So you would use Kenmare as a base rather then Killarney? why only one day in Dublin?
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