Please help an Ireland first timer!!!

Oct 7th, 2005, 07:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 29
Please help an Ireland first timer!!!

My soon to be wife and I will be going to Ireland on our Honeymoon this January. I have heard both good and bad things about going there in january, but frankly, I don't car when I go as long as I get to go. I have never been and have always wanted to. All my family is from Ireland and we look forward to just kind of exploring on our own. So, is january an awful time to go? What should we expect? We are flying into Shannon and were planning on just using one hotel as our "homebase" for the entire trip, which will be 8 days. Is that a bad idea? Can we drive out of Ennis every day and get to all the places we want to see? I know there is a limited amount of daylight atthat time of year. Should we stay in Ennis 3 days and check out that area, then stay somewhere further north the next 3 and check out that area, or is it possible to drive to Donegal from Ennis in enough time to explore up there and drive back. Thanks for any advice anyone may have!

Epcotmikey is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 599
Congrats on both the trip and the wedding.
If you can see what you want without moving around that would be fine but personally I like to do alternating days. One day day sightsee. I also wouldnt want to stay in a hotel in Ireland as the bed and breakfasts (the good ones anyway) can really add to your trip.I also prefered staying in the smaller towns. We left our itinerary open so that we could linger in a place a little longer if we wanted to or leave a little sooner if we didnt like it as much. It also made wrong turns more enjoyable. Donegal is hands down my favorite county in Ireland. It is worth the trip but unless you made your plans based on visiting Donegal it would be a bit far for you IMO. You could do something like this...Ennis 1 day..Westport 2 days...Donegal 2 days...Galway 1 day...Ennis 2 days. IT would be a complete 180 from your original idea. You said you could see all the places you wanted to see from Ennis...if you could elaborate we might be able to come up with more ideas for you.
For what its worth January should be fine as rain doesnt seem to affect the pubs or the craic in Ireland!
panhandle is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,414
Hi epcotmikey:

First, congratulations on your weeding. I think going to Ireland will be a great honeymoon.

With eight days and such short days, I suggest that you move around a bit if you want to see some of the west. Ennis to Donegal and back on even a long summer day is not possible. It would probably be dark by the time that you got there.

You might want to stay in B&Bs rather than hotels, though at that time of year, a sizeable percentage of them are closed and many hotels gibe some good off season deals. None-the-less, B&Bs are much more personal and a joy to stay in. You really get to meet the people and in the off season, you are more likely to have some great chats.

If I were you, I would restrict my time to the SW since you are flying into Shannon. Don't even think of heading to Donegal. It's a pretty long drive and you are not likely to find much happening there at that time of year. Finding a B&B open would be a serious challenge.

From Ennis, with limited daylight, daytrips would really be confined to Co. Clare and perhaps over to Lough Derg. This is why I suggest moving around a bit. You don't really want to spend all of your daylight hours driving to a place and have no daylight left to enjoy it. Keep in mind that you probably won't average much more than 35 MPH, so if you see a distance of 100 miles, it's really a three hour drive.

I think you could spend 2-3 days in Ennis, which would be a good choice as at that time of year, it will be much more lively than the small villages. From there, my preference would be to move south and see Dingle. You have a slightly better chance of decent weather as you move south. No guarantee though.

Killarney is likely to have more going on than any other town in the SW at that time of year, though Dingle will probably have some good activity also. Killarney is not may favorite town (the town sold it's soul to tourism over 100 years ago), but in January, it would be a good choice
just because there would be more activity.

Quite frankly, Killarney is one of the areas where you could spend much of your time as there is a lot to do in a relatively small area. Dingle is easily reachable, as is obviously Killarney National Park, The Ring of Kerry and the Beara Peninsula. All will be relatively free of tourists which will be very nice.

If you want to go north (this would not be my choice in January) you could consider Westport. On a clear day, the drive there from Ennis (by cutting through the Connemara) would be an adventur in itself. Beautiful scenery along the way. Your choice would be to either go south or north IMO, both would not make for a very relaxing honeymoon. As a generalization (not entirely accurate) the further north you go, the less you will find open.

You didn't mention Dublin so I presume you don't plan on going there. If you do, and have not yet made reservations, look into flying into Shannon and out of Dublin. I won't cost anymore and of course, Dublin is always buzzing.

Many of the sites will be closed but the good news is that the best site, (or sight) the scenery is always open. You can expect it to be pretty cold and probably quite windy along the coast. Bring layers and some rain gear. An umbrella will probably useless the first time you hit a stiff wind, which will probably be the first day.

OK, that's a start. Think about what you really want to see and ask some more questions. Regardless of the time of year, you can always have fun in Ireland.

wojazz3 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Thanks for the quick replies! Well, here is the thing...We are flying in and out of Shannon and my primary interest is West and South Ireland. However, My great Grandmothers house is located all the way up in Creeslough and I would love to go see it. I wanted to do the B&B thing but alot of them seem to be close in January and I worry that we will get somewhere and be stuck without a place to stay. I think for the most part we want to see Clare, Galway, Kerry, and Cork with all the scenery within. We are both more "country" oriented anyway and what I want to do most is see small towns, go into small town pubs and just meet and talk with locals. Sorry I wasn't so specific in my initial post. So any more sugestions about the B&B's, small towns to go to in South and West Ireland, and if it is possible to just get up to Creeslough just for the day. Any other suggestions anyone has regarding any of it will be helpful! I am feeling like we should just skip trying to go North at all? Thanks again all!
Epcotmikey is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 10:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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OK, Creeslough is even worse. That is a huge haul and would take you most of the daylight hours in each direction with little stopping in between. Unfortunately, the only flights into Donegal airport within Ireland are from Dublin. The only marginally reasonable way I could see to do this would be to fly into Dublin, catch Aer Arann to Donegal and make the short trip to Creeslough from there. Well, kinda of short. Probably a little over an hour. The road that runs on the north side of Glenviegh National Park is quite good especially by Donegal standards. From there you could start heading south on the next day.

You could probably spend the entire time winding your way south to Co. Clare. I think it would be tough to get much time in the SW if you make it to Donegal. You just need to make some choices there.

To be honest, I kind of like the plane trip thing and then heading south. It's a crazy adventure, but it could be fun. I really don't think there is any other feasible (or intelligent) way to get Creeslough in. Be aware that there is the possibility of snow up there.

Panhandles itinerary could be worked into this. I like the two nights in Westport idea. From Creeslough though, you might want a one night stop in between. From Letterkenny, you could make Westport, but it would be a pretty long drive.

You will probably have a tough time finding B&B's open in Donegal in January. Letterkenny may have some options. I just checked and there are a number of B&Bs around Letterkenny that are open in January.

Let us know what you are thinking.

wojazz3 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I will add my Ireland observation. I only been to Ireland once so i am by no means an expert!

Rented a home in West Cork. It worked out very well becuase I sas travleing with my wife's elderly parents.

Here is what we did.
Landed in Shannon and headed over to Doolin, Cliffs of Moher. Stayed at Moher Farmouse bNb Very nice home just down the road from the Cliffs. Next day headed down to Dingle via Connor Pass (must do!) Spent the day touring with the Rick Steves Book. Left late that aftrnoon and headed out to find our house in West Cork.
Arrived late, had a bit of trouble finding home, but the owners left the house lights on and the peat fire was just the ticket for a rainy night!
It rained for the rest of the week. The home made it bareable for the in-laws..... Hot meals and great Irish tea at night....but made for a very tireing day trips out and back to see the sights.

I would highly recommend staying at BnB's and eating in pubs. You wil meet the friendliest people in the world and can spend more time in places that strike your fancy!!

Have Fun!

bmw732002 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 495
Dingle is only a two and one half hour drive from Shannon and you can spend two or three nights there then down to Kenamre via Killarney with a drive thru the the Nat. Park and thru the Mts. From there you drive out to the Peninsulas on day tours. I have been to Ireland many times but never in the dead of winter. I can't imagine walkng along the Cliffs of Mohr at that time of year. Pack for the worst Wx you can imagine and hope for the best. Have fun and Congrats.
JOHNOD is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Epcotmikey, congrats and have a romantic honeymoon. You have gotten lots of good advice here. May I make a suggestion? You will be able to relax and enjoy each other more, and find those special moments together in pockets of "Hidden Ireland", if you break up your hotel stays like this: 3 nights in 1 hotel; 3 nights in the next hotel; 2 nights in the last hotel.

When you plan a trip with only 1 or 2 nights in each place, you will end up feeling like you always have to get someplace, you are always travelling, never quite settling down. On a honymoon I suggest you make time for settling down.

Instead of driving around getting lost all the time, if you stay at fewer destinations, you will have time for those romantic walks, relaxed moments.

Anyway that's my advice. I have planned independent trips to Costa Rica and Italy which were relaxed and romantic. When we were younger I planned a frantic trip to beautiful New Zealand, and although it was beautiful, we barely had a moment to slow down and be romantic, we were always driving on to the next place.

Have a great time! The others on this site know Ireland well. I'm in the midst of planning our first trip to Ireland and I keep hearing about how slow the driving is, with narrow roads only wide enough for 1 car but 2 cars must fit down them, one going in each direction, and hedges creating lots of blind curves. Anyway this is what I keep hearing. If this is true, you can ask the others, keep in mind driving will be slow and will necessitate the driver's close attention.
Melissa5 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Posts: 29
This is all very helpful, thank you so much! Ok, now let me ask this...If I stayed in Clare for 4 nights, and say Kerry for 3 nights...would I be able to see godd portions of both areas with daytrips? While in Clare will I be able to make it into Galway and see a bit of that area? While in Kerry, will I be able to get to Cork and see that area? It looks like I will have to eliminate the North from my schedule per your advice and I appreciate it.
Epcotmikey is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 374
May I wish you and yours every good wish for the future. You are a man of taste choosing Clare for your honeymoon.There is so much to see and do that your time will be enjoyable. To help you on your way have a look at
Also if you want the best in irish music and Dancing enquire about Cois na hAbhna on the Gort Road, Ennis.
CU is offline  

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