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October Ireland self-drive tour in 7 or 8 days

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Jan 4th, 2012, 10:53 AM
  #1
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October Ireland self-drive tour in 7 or 8 days

My hubs and I are flying to Dublin Oct. 2 or 3 - out of Shannon 11th. (3rd or 4th - 10th on land). I am just now exploring the "must see" spots and what we can actually do in this amount of time. I'm 27 and he's 30, so we're up for an active trip driving ourselves all over creation.

We are starting in Dublin and going south/west to Shannon. I believe its 2 nights in Dublin, 5 or 6 open B&B's. We really need your help in making the trip enjoyable without missing out on too much. Right now we're deciding if we should add the extra day so that we can get to Galway then fly out of Shannon instead of stopping in Shannon.

I know right now, the Dublin hotel would be the Burlington.
A few castles would be nice. Very well received paid "tours" are possible, but we are not the tour group type of people, nor do we want to spend 4+ hours on a guided tour.

We know we want to see:
Kilkenny
Clonmel
Cork
Kinsale or Killarney
Maybe Dingle
Shannon
Maybe Galway

Thanks so much for the input!
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Jan 5th, 2012, 05:52 AM
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With only 5 or 6 nights after Dublin, I would probably save Galway for another trip.

Might I suggest:

Kilkenny (on the way stop at Glendalough, a ninth century monastic sight--great walks to the lake and ruins to explore)--explore Kilkenny--round tower, cathedral, castle and gardens, medieval streets.

2. to Cork via Clonmel

3.4 Killarney via Cashel. Whole day Ring of Kerry or Killarney National Park.

5. Drive to Dingle--explore peninsula, stay in Dingle

6.7 Drive to to Ennis which is close to Shannon for departure day. Explore Shannon area. Bunratty folk Park, LoopHead, Cliffs of Moher, (won't have time for all of the above, but take a look at websites and guidebooks and decide on alternatives for weather.)

I am in the minority, but I think Kinsale is overrated, but if you want to catch a glimpse, you could stop there on your way to Killarney instead of Cashel.

This is just one idea, but there are lots of Irelane esxperts here who will no doubt chime in with thoughts.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Hi, I agree with irishface, but I would skip Cork,and spend a second night in Dingle. Drive from Kilkenny to Killarney, via Cashel.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 05:59 AM
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irishface: This is helpful. What would we miss if we don't make it to Galway and how far is the drive to/from Shannon? I have been reading on the boards that Kinsale is overrated and it doesn't seem worth the drive to get there. Time is better spent @ Dingle? Based on your suggestions below would be a better itinerary?

Dublin 2 nights
Glendalough/Kilkenny 1 night
Clonmel/Cork 1 night
Cashel/Killarney 1 night
Dingle 2 nights
Ennis/Shannon 1 night

I've only just discovered Dingle. Can you point me to some helpful information as to why its the place to spend 2 nights? By the map it looks like a great location. Also what was the best Guidebook? We bought a book already for Dublin since there's so much there, but now we want to get a book that focuses on driving the south and west.

Thanks for all the help!
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Jan 6th, 2012, 06:32 AM
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I'll add my 2 cents for what its worth...Dingle is definitely worth 2 nights if it offers what you're looking for. We loved it for the amazing scenery first of all. The Dingle Loop drive was a great mix of scenery, historical stops to explore, small villages and beaches. We spent nearly an entire day making the drive. Dingle itself has a great collection of shops, pubs and eating spots and is very walkable. We really enjoyed just browsing around the town. Great variety of music to be heard as well. It's harbor location also offered fishing/boating options, kayaking, etc. (Though the weather stopped us from enjoying those things.)

We used both a Frommer's Ireland Guide & Rick Steve's, I thought they were a good combination. But really this forum was the best source of info. You might want to check out my Trip Report (and all the other ones) for info on Dingle or other specific places.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:33 AM
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Do read Maggie's trip report. Click on her name and it will bring up the link. The pictures are great, but the written report will have you falling off your chair laughing. As a matter of fact, I meant to refer you to this report yesterday and got sidetracked (easy to do to a hyper old lady).

You asked about missing Galway. I like Galway a lot; don't get me wrong. I just omitted it as I felt it was adding too much to your loop. The best part of a stay in Galway is a drive through Connemara, but it is a day in itself so would mean a two night stay there.

I use Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness,Fodor's, and several regional guides that I have picked up along the way. I have been lucky enough to live in Ireland and return for visits over the last 45 years, so I have a fair idea of what I want to see and where to concentrate on each trip. Head to bookstore with a good travel section and look through the many guides there. A browse will help you find the book that suits your needs and style of looking. Your local library may also have a selection from which to choose.


The link to Maggie's report is www.maggiemphoto.wordpress.com


This will take you to her blog. Go to archives, click on Ireland. But also read her comments on this forum; click on her name in blue. That will take her to your her report here (Ireland blog)

Not sure why Cork and Clonmel are on your itinerary; if you don't have a compelling reason (and it is YOUR trip, remember), I'd go straight to Killarney from Kilkenny and get two nights there.

Have a great trip!
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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In early days I also used the Irish tourist board in NYC. They had books--some free and some for sale. You could try giving them a call and see if they have any books on southwest Ireland.

Two websites I found that might be useful to you (beware they will make you want to stay for months and see much more!)

http://www. discoverireland.ie (this address had much more than the dicover ireland.com) Dingle and Killarney are both in County Kerry. Lots of great pictures, ideas for activities, some well known and some off the beaten path. I need to check this out more myself.

http://ireland for visitors. com Great piictures and suggestions for ideas.

GreenDragon is a frequent poster here and has several trip reports to Ireland. She also has a website.

There are lots of Irish experts here who can help guide you.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Sorry I screwed up the webpages

http://www.discoverireland.ie

http://www.irelandforvisitors.com
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Jan 6th, 2012, 08:04 AM
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Phone number for Irish tourist board in NYC 1-212-418-0800
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Jan 6th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Some more photos if that helps. We did Killarney, Dingle and Galway.

http://ukfrey.blogspot.com/2011/08/ireland.html
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Jan 6th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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One thing you need to consider is that although Ireland is small and distances are very short - the average driving time is very slow. You do not find major highways connecting all these places but small, often narrow local roads (esp if you want to see any countryside) with LOTS of sheep (yes, wandering onto the road). Plan on an average speed of about 30 mph. then relook at the distances between stops.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 08:22 PM
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You all are so helpful! I will definitely check out the trip reports. As you may figure, its 12:20 EST and I'm still on here so I'm just foaming at the mouth over all of this information.

We don't mind the slow pace of driving. We are very eager to spend time exploring even if its at a sheeps pace.

I've been predominantly using discoverireland because it lets you pick out points of interest and then stick them in an itinerary. Keeping in mind that we don't plan to stick to an exact itinerary, I'm just placing sites/cities in a logical travel order.

Thanks for the photos indy dad!

Irishface, I'm not sure why I have Cork and Clonmel either, other than Blarney. Anyone want to chime in, as to why we should spend a night there?
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Jan 7th, 2012, 06:55 AM
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Personally, I would skip Cork. It is a city, but omitting it, would leave you antoher night in more scenic areas.

If you really want to see Blarney, you could do it on the way to Killarney. I can be casual about dismissing Blarney as I have been several times. (My sibs say kissing the stone is a bit of overkill in my case.) Cashel is a much more interesting castle complex. Driving in Blarney can be a nightmare. However, if you come home and tell your friends that you skipped Blarney,they may shake their heads. It is high on the first timers list of places. Only you can answer how that will be. And as I said before, it is your trip and you can decide for yourself. I would never deride anyone for a decision one way or another.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 08:59 AM
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Whatever you do bear in mind that whilst driving can be slow there are now motorways connecting Dublin like the spokes of a wheel with Waterford,Cork, Limerick and Galway and the roads between those cities are pretty good also (though not of motorway standard) so driving on any of the national primary routes (noted as 'N' roads) and the 'M' (for motorway) routes is pretty quick and efficient. Just don't try and pack in too much. As an Irish person I think you get a better feel for the place by slowing down a little, skip a place or two (you can always come back!) and absorb the slower pace - you get under the skin of the real Ireland much better- enjoy!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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I had a change today to read Maggie's blog and I really loved the pictures and views that were taken by an American traveler instead of the stock looking photography on a lot of travel agent pages.
We are definitely stopping in Shannon instead of cramming in Galway.

Also, another thing came to mind, how did everyone's luggage hold up? We plan to each have 1 carry on bag and then 1 large checked suit case. Anything that we purchase will have to be stowed in one of the three bags. If anything didn't hold up on your trip, we'd like to know because we could ship our purchases instead.
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