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Sceptre Ireland Emerald Castle Package

Old Apr 25th, 2002, 05:35 AM
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Sceptre Ireland Emerald Castle Package

My husband and I are taking the Emerald Castle Package with Sceptre. Our first time in Ireland. It's a self-drive tour. Any experiences with this? If so, how would you make the most of the trip? I'm writing up a general itinerary with a route we want to take. So far, have Clare to Kerry to Cork to Waterford to Dublin to Galway back to fly out of Shannon. Our last night's in Dromoland Castle. Any specific suggestions on B&Bs along this route? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 07:53 AM
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My husband and I did the same self-drive package in March. Looking at your intinerary, all I can say is wow...that is a lot of ground to cover! We took a very different approach, taking our time and exploring in depth just the southwest part of the country. My trip report with specific B&B reviews was posted back in March, but, generally, we spent nights in the following places (in order) Shannon, Dingle, Kenmare, Blarney, Cashel, Dromoland Castle. We didn't have much of a desire to visit Dublin--we knew we had limited time, and that adds a bunch of driving. If I were you, I rethink whether I wanted to spend more time in the southwest, or in Dublin, and then possibly focus on these areas.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 08:21 AM
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G - how many days is your trip? Driving in Ireland is very slow. They have no motorways/superhighways. So, depending on the amount of time you have this may be alot of ground to cover.

That said, I can tell you that Waterford is not worth going out of your way for. It's a very nice factory tour and a showroom. That's all. Cork City is rather industrialized and not a great tourist destination. Also, I personally found Dublin not worth driving 'cross country for, considering how long the drive would take. There is so much to see on the West and SW side of the country - Cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, Dingle Peninsula/Slea Head/Conor Pass, Killarney/Muckross House, Blarney, Cashel, Kenmare, name a few.

Try not to cover long driving distances each day and figure on taking at least twice as long to cover ground as you might be used to in the US. If you would normally take three hours to cover 150 miles, then figure on 7+ hours. You don't want to spend all your time in the car.

Have you checked out Pat Preston's great website?
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 11:53 AM
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kdr/Leslie -
Thanks to both for advice to reconsider driving to Dublin. My husband was doubtful of that as well. Didn't realize I was planning more than we can cover. Our aim is to enjoy ourselves taking our time even if it means covering less distance in the given time we have (6 nights). You can understand though that we want to make the MOST of our trip.
If best, we'd rather see the smaller towns - the hidden "gems" of the country - than the bigger cities. We want a real taste of Ireland.
Specific recommendations/itinerary for SW Ireland then?
(Leslie - I REALLY appreciate your tip about driving times!)
Old Apr 28th, 2002, 03:58 PM
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I have gone through Sceptre Tours several times from Chicago, they are wonderful. Any particular interest in Waterford? the crystal is not any more inexpensive there than in the rest of Ireland. You could see Dublin by not taking the long trip to Waterford. Don't miss Kinsale in Cork. Kinsale is the gourmet food capital of Ireland - you will have a tough time choosing where to have your meals - it is also very scenic. I am traveling again this September and would love to hear of your experinces in Galway - it will be my first to that region. If you have any questions re: the Kerry area - I have been there many times and have family there as resources. I hope you have a wonderful time!
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 09:58 AM
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I agree with the idea of not going to Dublin. It's got a lot to see, but unless you have plenty of time, you'll spend more time just figuring out what to do when you get there than you will actually doing it. It's a big city.

Stay in Kinsale rather than Cork. It is by no means a "hidden gem", but it's really quite beautiful.

I'm not sure when you are traveling, but if it's in the heavy travel months (June-Aug) you might want to do tours of Beara instead of the Ring of Kerry and maybe try the Mizen peninsula (south of Beara). I stayed in Goleen and have some great memories of the area.

OK, all that said, another option is to go north to the Donegal/Sligo area. Much less travelled than the southwest. I could go on forever. I better stop now.

Old Apr 29th, 2002, 03:30 PM
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Any with Sceptre experience:
Is it best to call ahead for reservations at B&Bs or is it possible to find rooms when we arrive?
Here's the new draft of our itinerary:
Shannon area - Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, (where to eat?)
Clare coast - Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, would like to see Doolin
Dingle Peninsula/Kerry - Slea Head, stay in Kenmare?
Killarney - Lakes, Muckross, stay in Blarney?
Blarney/Kinsale - Blarney Castle & Stone
Rock of Cashel
Return to Dromoland Castle.

How's this sound? Realistic? Anything we're missing?
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 03:50 PM
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Hi, I definitly recomend the Greenmont House in Dingle. It's gorgous and it's steps from the town. I know they have a website. I was there for a week, and didn't get to half of the places we wanted to visit. The driving is VERY slow. We flew into Shannon and then drove directly to Kinsale. We then went to Cork, Killarny (Ring of Kerry, at least a 7 hour drive), Dingle, Cliffs of Mohr (beautiful but not alot to do in town other than that, and it is out of the way). I would recomend narrowing down to 3-4 towns if that.
I regret going so many places, I spent most of my days in the car driving!
Cork is a "college/industrial" city.
Killarny is a "touristy" town, but we had fun. Good luck, I love favorite place so far!
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 04:44 PM
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Places to eat near Bunratty – if you would like a quick bite – across the street from Bunratty is a shopping area – upstairs in the store is a café for sandwiches, soups. Durty Nellies Reknown Pub is right next door to Bunratty – has great fishes and chips, burgers. It is very rustic. A fancier bite to eat can be found in any of the hotels near Shannon. Kenmare is a lovely town – good shopping there. Mind that it will take a good day to do the Ring of Kerry as there are many stopping points and the driving is slower due to the winding roads. A tip that was offered to us the last time we went - find out what direction the tourist buses go – and follow then rather than travel the opposite way. You can find this out in Killarney – where tourists obtain their tickets. The Ring of Kerry scenery is outstanding and it will stay with you for a life time. Dingle, Muckross House in one day is a full day. As long as you will be traveling the road from Blarney to Cashel – Cahir Castle is along your way. Your itinerary sounds realistic. You made the right decision in going to Kinsale – it’s a great little town. What is to found in Doolin?
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 04:39 AM
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G: As to whether you need to make reservations in advance, it really depends on when you are going. When we went in March, it was off-season so we had no problems finding places as we went. I had a list of places that looked good in each town, and every night I would call ahead and make a reservation. But, if I were going in this summer, I would be hesitant to do that--the really great places book up, although there are so many B&Bs I am sure you could always find something--but it might take more time than you want.
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 05:26 AM
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FYI: There are motorways in Ireland, just not very many of them. Two, I think.
Old May 2nd, 2002, 12:45 PM
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The busses travel counterclockwise around the Ring of Kerry. I would travel the opposite direction. Even though there are a few heart pounding moments going against the grain. You never find yourself stuck with a view of the backside of a bus for miles and miles.

The road is not that narrow and the bus drivers are used to getting around. Just make sure you have a smaller car. I've always gotten an economy (Nissan Micra sized car) and it was fine. Really, you don't want to be behind a bus on the Ring of Kerry. Start from Kenmare and head along the south coast first. Also, if you start early in the day, you should have better light for photos in the morning on the south side of the peninsula.

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