Self-drive tour of Ireland

Old Aug 14th, 1996, 10:43 AM
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Self-drive tour of Ireland

I spent 10 days driving around Ireland myself in May and the first piece of advice I have for you is to budget more time than you think you'll need. For one thing, distances in Ireland are deceptively small on the map; there are very few highways, and quite a large number of the roads are unpaved ("loose chippings" as they say.) A ten mile drive on the map may translate into 30 minutes on the road--more if you add in such factors as the sheep-jam factor, the pausing-to-read-the-legions-of-signs-that-bristle-from-intersection-posts-and-are-only-in-Gaelic factor, and the there's-a-giant-tour-bus-barreling-down-on-me-at-50-m.p.h.-on-this-windy-mountain-road-and-I-have-to-back-up-2-miles-to-the-last-scenic-overlook-to-let-him-pass factor. The second reason you need to budget more time is beacause much of the beauty of Ireland lies in its minutiae--simpel scenes and rolling, cultivated hills stretching out into the distance, or two-miles walks to see a crumbling old abbey, or spending clsoe to two hours chatting
with the pub owner's son at lunch. Taking things slowly, savoring the little moments, and pausing to enjoy life are all as important--and will probably become as memorable moments of your trip--as seeing the Book of Kells or whipping around the Ring of Kerry. As far as sights, etc go, there's nothing that isn't thoroughly enjoyable. A few tips: if you only have time for one, drive aroudn the Dingle peninsula instead of the Ring of Kerry--its much less touristed and similarly spectacular with some incredible ancient sites such as beehive huts culstered in some farmer's backyard and all it taks is a pound to get the famer's yougn daughter to swing open the sheep gate and let you wander around them. The west and northwest of the country is incredible--Galway is a much more vibrant and exciting city than Dublin, the traditional music of county Clare (especially in Ennis and Doolin) is a treat, the errie limestone of teh Burren and the sheer cliffs of Moher, the still only slightly touristed Donegal. Take some
time in central Ireland as well--incredible steaks in the cattlelands around Mullingar, the wide, languid beauty of the Shannon river wending its way southwest, and comfortable small towns like Cahir are skipped over by people on the city-to-city along the shore route. If you're in the area and get a chance, by all means stay at Patricia Cantlon's "Cullintra House," a200-year-old farmhouse well off the beaten path somewhere in the backwoods near Inistioge (near Kilkenny) where the gracious hostess (whose dignified, intelligent demeanor is complemented by the dirt under her nails from taking care of a farm "on the side") will treat you to friednly conversation and a deliscious four-hour feast that will keep you up until early morning (her number's 051/23614). I could go on, but you get the idea. Have a wonderful trip (oh, and make sure you stop in Deacon Brodie's (named for the odd, misanthropic man that inspired Stevenson's Dr.Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde character) for steak-and-ale pie in Edinburgh near St. Giles on
Lawnmarket St. in Scotland!), and enjoy.
Old Aug 20th, 1996, 06:00 PM
Liz Peterson
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The preceeding article is excellent on Ireland. We mainly hitchhiked when we were there, but had the fortune to hook up with friends who had a car for a few days. I strongly second the advice to see the Cliffs of Moher. Not far north-east of Galway is a village named Murphy or Murphytown (its been 6 years) which has a delightful music festival in the summer. Even without the festival, you can enter any of its various pubs and catch groups of musicians in a right jolly reel. No matter where you go, you will find warmth and good cheer in almost any pub (if a fight hasn't broken out!) Scotland is equally full of pleasures. Edinburgh, of course, is a must. If you're there in season see the touristy but magnificent Tattoo. A trip to Inverness will take you past Loch Ness, which is really a string of lakes connected by water running through underground caves. On the shores of the Loch you can visit Urquehart Castle, which we stumbled on by chance and found very interesting. If you have the desire to go further north take the car ferry to the Isle of Mull and visit the port town of Tobermory. It's got a great bed and breakfast up on a hill overlooking the harbor (I've forgotten the name, it may have "sun" in it). The drive across Mull is absolutely beautiful, if a little treacherous due to ONE lane roads.The etiquette is to pull off on one of the many places where the pavement widens and let the other car pass. Then a smile and wave are exchanged. When I was there it was quite isolated. Then take another ferry (no cars) to the Island of Iona, which is west of Mull. Iona was a community of monks and shepherds, and was the place where holy scripts were kept as the "barbarians" raped and pillaged the British Isles. It is a very peaceful place to explore because of its isolation and calm spirit one senses there. It is well worth the journey if that sort of thing interests you. Anyway, have a great time! I wish I were doing it again!!
Old Aug 28th, 1996, 04:09 PM
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You need at least two weeks to do a nice driving trip around Ireland. Take your time -- the scenery is wonderful and the people are marvelous. Don't miss the Dingle Penninsula -- you can rent bikes in Dingle if you are adventurous. Get all the way up into Donegal County and then intio Northern Ireland if you can -- to see the contract between the two Irelands. For Scotland: When in Edinburgh, be sure to walk up to the top of the Salisbury Crags (just outside the city) for a beautiful walk and nice views. You might even run into some locals there. Good luck.
Old Sep 26th, 1996, 08:21 AM
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even two weeks isn't enough to do all of Ireland. I agree with the comments above - don't miss Dingle or Kilkenny or the Burren. Another "must-see" is Newgrange, a restored passage tomb constructed about 2,000 bc. it's northeast of Dublin, around Navan. Roadsigns in Ireland are not as good as in Britain -- they seem to be designed to be read at speeds of 10mph or lower -- but traveling around by car is easy, particularly on the back roads.
Old Sep 30th, 1996, 09:24 PM
david worthen
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Skip the tourity spots, skip kerry, go to southwest
Ireland. I was there with my wife in April. Few
americans go there and I hope to keep it that
way. Go to clonakilty, castletownbear, stay
in courtmacsherry. The ring of beara is better
than kerry and much more rustic and scenic.
I have been twice and am planning on retiring there. Make sure you see Bantry House. stunning
authentic Marie Antoinette Tapestry, Chipppendale furniture. Beautiful location
Great drive over the mountains to kenmare.
GO to waterford if you like crystal. They have
a wonderful tour.
Old Oct 22nd, 1996, 07:01 PM
Janice Malay
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Your self directed trip is a great idea and can be lots of fun. My husband and I spent a few weeks travelling around mostly Scotland and a bit of England that same way a few years ago.You really see a lot more than you would on a structured tour. Also you have the luxury of lingering when you find a spot you really love. I drove on our trip because we had rented a standard transmission car (cheaper) and my husband had only driven automatics. Given that I was driving on the wrong side of the road and was changing gears with my left hand, it was a challenge. To make driving less stressful, we didn't try to cover too much distance in any given day. Each evening, we would relax and plan approximately, where we thought we'd like to go the next day. We found that the Bed and Breakfast hosts had a lot of great suggestions. Also, we usually, stopped in late afternoon before any rush hour traffic to avoid any further hassle. We'd tour the immediate area after dinner. We saw some beautiful sunsets, particularly by the sea. We met some wonderful people during our travels and Wayne got to sample some great Scotch. That was an added bonus of not having to rush from place to place.We had the luxury of going to a favourite pub or restaurant more than once. Kinda made you feel like one of the locals. Have a great trip.

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