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Please help plan a week-long Ireland trip in May

Please help plan a week-long Ireland trip in May

Sep 17th, 2013, 08:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,114
Please help plan a week-long Ireland trip in May

We are in the early stages of planning a 16 day trip to Ireland and Scotland for May 2014. Travel may eat up 1-2 days, so we are tentatively allocating 7 days (and 7 nights) for Ireland. This would be our first (and possibly last) trip to this part of the world, and all help from Fodorites is solicited.

First, a bit about ourselves. We are a couple from India in our mid-50's, avid travelers of the independent variety, accustomed to driving on the left side of the road. We are going to Ireland and Scotland purely for natural beauty. Our top preferences would be places of raw natural rugged beauty; less interested in cities and mansions. A little flavour of Dublin would not hurt, as we have heard a lot about it. Intend to hire a car to move around, and stay in B&B's. Prefer not to change beds every night, and use a "base" for 2-3 nights wherever possible.

What is given below is a first-cut draft itinerary. Nothing has been finalized yet. At each place, a long list of possible "sights" are mentioned, fully well realizing that all of these would not be possible. We need suggestions on what to see and what to skip. We agree that "less is more", and do not want a very cramped schedule, although we usually do manage to pack in more than others in our travels. We are reasonably fit, but cannot undertake long and difficult hikes.

Day 1 : Land in Dublin in am. Spend entire day in Dublin. Night at Dublin. Get a flavour of Dublin, and recover from jetlag.

Day 2 : Pick up rental car, drive through Wicklow mountains, Glendalough, Powerscourt Estate, before arriving at Kilkenny. See Kilkenny Castle. Night at Kilkenny. (Note: many of the above sights can be omitted if too tight a schedule; in fact this whole leg can be skipped if we require more time elsewhere).

Day 3 : Drive to Killarney, with a brief stop at Rock of Cashel on the way. Drive through Killarney National Park. Also Gap of Dunloe ? Is it too much to also cover Mizen peninsula this day ? Night at Killarney. (Please suggest other things to do today).

Day 4 : Drive the Ring of Kerry, and anything else which is recommended for the day. Muckross House ? Ross Castle ? (prefer natural scenery to castles and mansions). Night at Killarney.

Day 5 : Drive around the Dingle Peninsula. Night at Killarney or Dingle ? (Would like to avoid shifting base, unless necessary).

Day 6 : Drive to Cliffs of Moher. See a bit of Burren if possible. Night at Ennis.

Day 7 : Drive through Connemara National Park area. Night at Ennis.

Day 8 : Go To Shannon to catch a flight to Scotland. (Assuming that car rental agencies are OK with car pick up at Dublin, and drop off at Shannon).

Please feel free to tear up the above itinerary and suggest as many modifications as possible. If required, we can skip our Day 2 itinerary, and add a day somewhere else.
indiancouple is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I have just returned from two weeks in Ireland. I haven't had time to put together a trip report yet, but am glad to give you my opinions about a few things on your itinerary, in no particular order.

The Gap of Dunloe experience was one of the highlights of my trip. We took a bus to a jaunting cart to a boat, and it was very memorable. However, it takes most of the day, so there's not time to do much else during that day.

We drove the Dingle Peninsula and thought it was wonderful. We stayed at Pax House in Dingle, and that b&b was so outstanding that it was a highlight of our visit.

We visited the Cliffs of Moher. We took the boat ride along the bottom, which leaves around noon, 3:15 p.m., and 5:15 p.m. We also visited the Cliffs from the top. The boat ride was among my wife's favorite experiences. However, if you tend to get a bit of motion sickness, as I do, beware. I think I turned 40 shades of green, to blend in with the rest of Ireland.

I am not big on tours. We planned our trip entirely on our own. We like to come and go where and when we please. However, we took a bus tour of Connemara and for us, we felt it was a great idea. For one thing, we learned so much more about the area then if we were driving on our own. Second, the windows on the bus are huge, so we actually got to see a lot more from the bus, then if we were driving. Since I do all the driving, I was able to look around a lot more while on the bus, then if I was driving. There also were plenty of opportunities to get out of the bus and look around from the roadside. I think that taking the tour of Connemara was one of the best things we did.

As for flying into Dublin and out of Shannon, we rented from Dan Dooley. We flew into Dublin, flew out of Shannon, and did so with no problems and no additional cost.

In terms of whether to stay in Dingle or Killarney, they are very different experiences. If I had to choose one, I would choose Dingle, because of the natural beauty, and quite honestly, because of the Pax House. The views from Pax House are extraordinary, the service impeccable, the breakfasts are the best you will get anywhere in Ireland, and what can you say about a b&B that leaves chocolate at your bedside when they turn down your bed, and has heated bathroom floors? You can review them on trip advisor. We are the same age range as you, and we enjoyed some of the most authentic, traditional Irish music at a pub in Dingle.

I will be glad to write more later. Each person is different, so my opinion is just that...my opinion. However, if I had one week in Ireland, I would spend three days in Dingle, and three days in Galway, using those two places as my bases. I would spend one day and night in Dublin, only to get a flavor of the city. But for me, the other parts of Ireland is what I will remember most.
garyincary is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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You will likely get many responses...and in all likelihood all of them will be worthy!
We went to Ireland for the first, and hopefully not for the last time this past May.
We flew into Cork and rented from Dan Dooley (outstanding service). We drove to Kinsale and stayed 2 nights at the Cloisters B&B which was wonderful. Kinsale is a town worth considering as it is a beautiful harbor town. We then took the Coastal road to Kenmare. You pass through many small towns, the Dromberg Stone Circle is an interesting place to stop along the way. From Kenmare you have a choice of touring the Beara Peninsula and or the Ring of Kerry. After two nights in Kenmare we drove to Dingle and drove around the Peninsula-Sleigh Head Drive. I thought the Views around the Dingle Penisula were the best. We stayed in the Coastline B&B in Dingle which was also outstanding. (Pax has great reviews, my only hesitation would be it's location as it seemed a bit out of town when we saw a sign for it.)
On our drive from Kenmare to Dingle we stopped in Kilarney. Personally we were happy to have stayed in Kenmare which is a small village compared to Kilarney which seemed congested and big in comparison. We also stopped at the Torc Waterfall on the way which offers several different hikes around the waterfall.

After dropping off our car in Cork we took a train to Dublin. ( I mention this as I see you will be arriving in Dublin and driving out). While in Dublin we took a full day bus tour of the Wicklow mountains so we were able to do that without a car.(Like the previous poster, we are not big on tours but this tour took us to places we likely would never have gotten to and provided excellent commentary)

Also,in Dublin we took the Literary Pub Crawl which is led by local actors and combines Irish literature and a Pub Crawl...lots of fun and interesting too! Dublin has a rich history a small city feel to it.
As you can see we missed a lot of areas that we would love to have visited including Galway, Cliffs of Moher, the Connemara area etc.
giro is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 124
Not sure if I would do both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle. It seems like alot of the same to me but others more knowledgeable could advise you better than I. I enjoyed my time in Dublin. I think one can get a good idea of the History of Ireland by visiting places like Dublin Castle and the Gaol. I thought Kilkenny was boring and enjoyed Killarney. Ireland was 2 vacations in one for me. The scenery, castles, and History was one and the Pubs and Irish people were the second. I can't wait to go back.
bean11 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 07:29 PM
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Excellent suggestions above. Please keep them coming. Would like to hear a few more views before I suggest a modified itinerary and seek further opinions.

garyincary, we would love to do the Gap of Dunloe, as we have heard so much about it. We would also enjoy the boat ride below the Cliffs of Moher (neither of us have exhibited any motion sickness in the various cruises we have been on so far). I suggested Killarney and Ennis as "base towns" against Dingle and Galway respectively, only due to various recommendations by posters on this forum (I have gone through a lot of threads posted by others); however, I would have no problems in changing them to Dingle and Galway.

giro, the Slea Head drive and the Torc waterfall are definitely things we want to do. Not sure if we can fit in Cork in the itinerary.

Interesting suggestion from bean11 to do either ROK or Dingle, but not both. Are they similar ?

There are no comments about the Kilkenny portion of our itinerary. Should we retain it, or dump it and add a day to Killarney/Dingle, or to Ennis/Galway ? Or visit Mizen peninsula instead ?
indiancouple is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Please look at prior posts by tony2phones.

I consider him the Irish expert, as he lives there and travels the Isle extensively.

He has maps, places to stay, places not to go and whatnot.

Perfect example, t2p says the Ring of Kerry is rife with tour buses. However, the nearby Ring of Barrea has very few tourists and is just as pretty. I have friends that have taken both trips and swear by Barrea.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 08:29 PM
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Yes Rastaguytoday, I realize that tony2phones is the Irish expert on this forum, and I am waiting for his response too.
indiancouple is offline  
Sep 18th, 2013, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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I'm not speaking from experience but from what I have read in this forum. I did the Dingle Peninsula in 2011 at the suggestion of my driver. His opinion was the ROK was more touristy than Dingle and not as nice. If you decide on Dingle, watch the movie "Ryan's Daughter" before you go. It was filmed in Dingle. I think you would have a great time no matter what you decide. IMHO, I wouldn't do both in your short visit because they would be similar experiences
bean11 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2013, 07:18 PM
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bean11, how about the Ring of Barrea instead of the ROK ? And how do you rate the Killarney National Park, or the Gap of Dunloe ? Definitely wish to see the Dingle peninsula.

Still need suggestions about our Day 2. Should we leave it as it is, or can we go straight from Dublin to Rock of Cashel, and move on to the Mizen area for the night ? Is this doable ?
indiancouple is offline  
Sep 19th, 2013, 06:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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I know nothing about Ring of Bearra other than others speak highly of it. We enjoyed our day in Killarney National Park. The Jaunty Car ride was fun. Muckross House was a nice tour. We only had half a day so we didn't get to see much else in the Park. Killarney had some great restaurants and Pubs.
bean11 is offline  
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