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please comment on ireland driving itinerary

Old Sep 21st, 2013, 01:14 AM
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please comment on ireland driving itinerary

I have started a new thread after emailing the tourism board in ireland and would like to see if this route can be tweaked a little or whether it is fine as it is.

My husband and I and daughter (20yr) will be starting out and leaving from dublin in feb 2014- six full days and two half days, if that

We love scenery, wildlife and dont drink so we wont be visiting distilleries etc( although we will eat in pubs for the atmosphere and traditional music, if theres any such thing anymore LOL)
I would love to fit in a Tommy Fleming concert ( Tipperary fri 7th feb) but it wont kill me if i have to wait for his next visit to Oz
So far here's what we have planned:

Sunday: arrive midafternoon from London, pick up car from airport and drive to Malahide Castlelodge BnB (booked already), settle in and head back into Dublin for the evening on the train

Monday: drive heading north, principally to visit Newcastle where OHs relatives are from ( doubt that we will see anyone in person) then head on towards the Portstewart area via the Antrim coast road. Overnight somewhere round Portstewart, unless we are delayed back in Newcastle (in which case we will try to find something on the east coast, if possible). Suggestions for accommodation, please. Portstewart of Ballycastle?

Tuesday: explore the Portstewart area, Dunluce ,Giants causeway ( if we didnt see it on the way in) and then head southward. This is where the problem lies. ( Do we have enough time to stretch out as far as Donegal or do we make a straight route down towards County Cork?) Stay the night somewhere around Galway ( although I have read that Galway isnt necessarily a must-see)

Wednesday: explore the Connemara, the burren , cliffs of moher ( if theyre visible) then head down to Kenmare ( have read that this is nicer than Killarney) for the evening or is this too far?

Thursday: drive the ring of kerry or the beara peninsular (which is also meant to be just as scenic) - should we visit the Dingle Peninsular or would the latter be enough?

Friday : Cork, Blarney Stone and whatever else that can be fitted in; Tommy Fleming concert in tipperary that evening if we are within cooee of the place

Saturday: drive back to Dublin to stay the night somewhere either in Swords or similar proximity to the airport maybe even book into an airport hotel - go into Dublin for the evening again..need advice as to which route to take...is there time to drive to Dublin from Cork via the coast past Wicklow or do we head through Kildare ( would love to see the horse stud but not sure if we have time)...theres the Rock of Cashel, too,,might not go in but see the abbey instead

Sunday: we need to be at the airport at 6pm to catch our flight to Paris so Im guessing we need to be at the airport by 3pm..so our time in Dublin city will have to come to an end by 2pm- might try to do the HOHO bus that morning and maybe a quick trip to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College or simply do some walking, if it's fine.

OK thats my very rough itinerary.

This is what the Irish Tourism Board people suggested:
Drive to Newcastle and Portstewart along the Antrim route
then take the M1 from Dundalk to Dublin and then take the M7 to Cork.This is supposedly about a 5hr trip...including a stop at The Rock of Cashel.
Im not crazy about heading back to Dublin and Id love to swing out more to the west - how far west, Im not sure but of course would love to follow the coastal route as much as possible but lakes would be nice, too since we dont live around any at home.

It takes about 4 days to drive right round the island apparently, We have 7 and, of course, cannot hope to do anything like that. The unfortunate thing is that we DO need to be in the north for the sake of the ancestral ties but actually would prefer to be in the southwest! I am very much aware that we only have limited daylight hours in february and could be cursed with rain, as well. I think we need to plan to stay in fairly vibrant areas at night to take advantage of a convivial pub atmosphere at the very least since our actual sightseeing hours will be curtailed somewhat during this trip. We will not be doing any hikes and Im thinking that this will be very much a car trip rather than doing any real wandering along the beaches, if the weather is brutal.

Any advice re the routes to take to ensure that we are actually seeing something other than a motorway would be very much appreciated.
lanejohann is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2013, 07:47 AM
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You have very little time and it will be winter so the weather may be decent to truly awful. I personally don't think you can cover that much territory in such a short time. The driving is slow at the best of times and can be REALLY slow in a winter storm. You only have 5 days for the driving tour so I wouldn't even attempt to go as far as ROK/Beara/Dingle/Cork/Blarney.

I'd stick to the north and as far south as Galway.
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Old Sep 21st, 2013, 08:00 AM
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Ditto on Janisj. You will be in the car for many hours. If you really want to see the concert and explore Cork skip Northern Ireland. The weather might be better in Cork and Kerry. The cliffs are a must for many but there is so much beauty in other parts of Ireland as well. Think about seeing Newgrange and Clonmcnoise. I am always sad when people don't think about these as must see places in Ireland. The motorways are great but I miss the days before they were there. I loved all the little villages we had to pass through. Just don't try and do all of Ireland in six days.
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Old Sep 21st, 2013, 02:54 PM
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I agree with the advice you have received so far. If you try to see too much, you will end up not really "seeing" anything, if that makes sense. They suggest that you figure driving speed to be about 35 mph. I just returned from two weeks in Ireland, and that turned out to be just about right.

I am NOT a fan of tours. I planned our entire two weeks, and taking a tour was not even an option. However, I decided to take a tour of Connemara, and was very glad I did. It allowed me to really enjoy the scenery, as opposed to if I was driving. Plus, the bus windows are huge, made for viewing, so my wife and I were able to see much better than if we were in a car. We also learned about Connemara, more than just seeing the beautiful scenery. In this case, leaving the driving and tour guiding to someone else really was a great idea for us.

We drove the Dingle Peninsula and loved it. I think doing that, and the Ring of Kerry, is just trying to cram in too much.

If you want to stay in Dingle, stay at the Pax House, which was THE best B&B I have ever stayed in, anywhere. However, I agree that trying to get down to Dingle is very ambitious.

If you see the Cliff of Moher, there is a boat cruise along the bottom, which is spectacular, and which really gives you an appreciation for the sheer size of the cliffs. However, if you have even the slightest tendency to get motion sickness, this is not the experience for you.

While Galway isn't a "must see," it is a good base, especially if you take the bus tour of Connemara, or want to tour it on your own. There is plenty of shopping, restaurants, and traditional music (try upstairs at the Crane Bar for the real thing).
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 03:28 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts folks!
Janisj...thats what i thought originally- just go as far as galway and head back east to dublin but what encouraged me to go further south was when i read that people were daytripping out to cliffs of moher from the southwest

not to see the southwest would be disappointment to both me and husband - his mum is from newcastle but his dad is from cork.This may be the only time we get around to going to ireland... thats why we are pretty torn.
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 03:37 AM
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Flpb..thanks for your input...Newgrange is also on the list and im thinking it isnt too far from Newcastle..daughter and i are very much into history and this place sounds interesting..just talked to a an ex co-worker of mine who saw it - so im inclined to put it on our list
I know what you mean about rushing through...i dont know what pace we set compared to other people

we have driven in new zealand south island in a motorhome..took us 18 days or so to pretty much cover everything we wanted to see and yes we did rush a bit on the last bit of the journey but until you actually compare mileage and how long people generally linger at any spot, we dont know what is acceptable to us or what isnt. I am worried about the short daylight hours..no point in stumbling round in the dark lol
it is frustrating..the more you read and see other peoples photos the more you hunger to see what they have
thanks for your comments
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 03:41 AM
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Garyincary..thanks for posting
I read your report before i posted mine
you were lucky to have had more time

...we will be coming from england and then after ireland will be going to france for two weeks so ireland got short changed somewhat...it was almost an afterthought..not a direct destination...hence the short time allocated...
that seems to be the way it pans out with us sometimes~

thanks for the recommendations ..ill note the Pax House b 'n b
Cheers!
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Google thinks you can drive from Newcastle, Co. Down to Cork city in 4 hours; it's mostly motorway. Personally, I would allow closer to 5 hours - and I live in Ireland and know the roads.

If you scratch the Antrim coast, you could drive from Malahide to Newcastle (perhaps with a detour to have a look at the picturesque Cooley Peninsula) overnight in Newcastle, and head for Cork and the southwest the following day.
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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Thanks Padraig for your input!
With heavy heart lol I am letting go of the southwest ( yet to tell OH who is a little more gunho about travel plans )

I spoke at length to the Irish Tourism board here in Sydney and I think we really do have to concentrate on that first bit of the itinerary - our personal must-sees of Newcastle and Portstewart. If we are committed to these areas then I think we should just explore the North and go down as far as Galway and then cut across to Dublin as we head back to the airport.
So now Ill concentrate on revising our itinerary as follows ( using the Irish Tourism Board suggestions of this morning)

Sunday afternoon: arrive midafternoon; settle into Malachid Castle lodge B n b; head into Dublin on the train for an evening visit
Monday: drive to Newcastle; visit Newgrange and stay in Belfast overnight ( the Irish Tourism girl suggested I look up Billy Scott who does a great impartial taxi tour of Belfast) I wssnt all that fussed on spending much time in Belfast but seeing as we are giving up the southwest we shall seek to learn more about the North)
Tuesday: overnight either in Ballycastle or as the girl at the Tourism Board suggested, shuffle over further to Derry way - we can do the Causeway and Dunluce Castle
Wednesday: spend around Donnegal ( once again the suggestion came from the Tourism Board to seek out smaller villages and not stay in Donnegal which is more of the amusement park variety of towns) we might be able to get up to Malins head but Im hoping that the northwest coast is equal to the beauty of the Ring of Kerry and will be my consolation LOL

Thurs: Westport apparently is a great town and so was suggested as an ovenight stop. Im guessing Sligo and the Connemarra is on the list here in whatever order that makes sense

Friday: Galway and its surrounds- however far we can stretch. Galway is supposed to be quite vibrant at night so that might be fun to overnight there- not that we are huge partyanimals!

Saturday: head east to Dublin with a couple of detours yet to be researched: overnight in Dublin outskirts/or near airport: go into Dublin for the evening
Sunday: explore Dublin by day and head to airport at 3pm for a 6pm departure to Paris

If anyone can chip in with tips on this revised itinerary Id be most grateful!
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 07:19 PM
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I have bed and breakfast recommendations for near Derry and near Donegal if you are interested.
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Old Sep 26th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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A quick comment about Galway. You seem to have it pegged just right. I wasn't expecting that much from Galway, and absolutely loved it. It's very walkable, there is great shopping, restaurants (find the Gourmet Tart Company, and if you want a real treat, Sheridan Cheesemongers..there is also a Sheridan's in Dublin), and of course, pubs and music. We saw the real deal in the upstairs room at Crane Bar. It's easy to get to, and just on the outer edge of the touristy area, so you get more locals there. I had an absolutely fantastic seafood dinner at Oscar's, although it is not inexpensive. Galway made a great base for touring Connemara, and I've already posted my great experience of taking a bus tour with Galway Tour Company, of Connemara. You can get a decent b and b for 70 Euros, within very easy walking distance to the heart of the city. Galway was definitely a wonderful surprise for me!!
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Old Sep 27th, 2013, 03:37 AM
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Oh thank you, jaja, that'd be great! Not sure what we will see on the way from Belfast as far as the Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle are concerned - hopefully we wont have to double back but can keep moving westwards. I doubt that weather will permit any real walking/ exploring the Causeway but who knows - could be blessed with that bit of clear weather we so hope for!

Garyincary, thats really heartening to hear about Galway. Now that I have to limit our visit to the north and as far south as Galway surrounds, it is great to know that Galway is, indeed, a place of interest. Thanks for those tips...We will try to get to as many pubs for a meal at night as possible, I think so the Crane Bar sounds perfect!

Has anyone visited WESTPORT? Any opinions re: Belfast?
Thanks!
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Old Sep 27th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Outside of Derry and just outside of Limavady is Ballycarton House...really a bit more like a guesthouse. Absolutely lovely house and grounds, comfy "living room" with big cushy couches and a stone fireplace, with a sunporch just off. She also has laundry facilities available along with many of the amenities. The bedrooms are a bit on the small side but how much room do you need to sleep? http://ballycartonhouse.com .

And a bit north from Donegal on Lough Eske (spelling varies according to which map you are looking at) is Rhu-Gorse. The views over the lough from the bedroom windows are spectacular. One of our favorites. http://lougheske.com .

On one trip we overnighted in Westport but didn't spend much time there....lots of people love it, though. Not been to Belfast.
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Old Sep 29th, 2013, 05:49 AM
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thank you jaja for those recommendations..will note them in travel diary...dont know if i should book now..might leave it til we get on the road and see what time we're making...
have noted the boulevarde guesthouse in westport...and will do the same for galway just so that we can narrow down the options and not dart around after dark
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