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SW Ireland - Best Places to Stay and Visit

SW Ireland - Best Places to Stay and Visit

Apr 30th, 2008, 11:28 PM
  #1  
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SW Ireland - Best Places to Stay and Visit

After reading this forum's posts over the last three months, as well as Michelin, Eyewitness, Lonely Planet I am still having trouble deciding on the best way to spend 5 days in SW Ireland in the second half of May. I know we have to focus and make some hard choices. Any help on this would appreciated. We plan to start in Kinsale on Wednesday and return to Dublin Airport by 5:00PM on Monday.

Wed - We thought to spend the whole day doing the ROK; however, after recent posting I wonder whether the Dingle or Beara Pennisulas won't be better, but am concerned about the driving conditions. Where would be the best place to stay - Kenmare, Dingle, ??

Thurs - Which of following would be best - Dingle, Old Limmrick, Ennis, Cliffs of Moher, Burren or Galway. Where should we overnight?

Friday - We thought to travel to Aran. Does this take a whole day? Should we leave our car in the port or take it with us to drive around? Best ferry to take? Would an extra day in Connemara be better than Aran? Should we stay overnight in Galway or try to move further north?

Sat - Connemara area, Clifden, Westport. Where to stay?

Sun - Castlebar, Turlough, Slighlklo ( I haven't read as much about this area). Where to stay?

Mon - Travel back to Dublin Airport stopping on the way to visit on sight.

Again, I would really appreciate any help on this.
chazman is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 02:35 AM
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I can't help with all the questions, but here are my suggestions for:

Thurday - definetly do the Cliffs of Moher, and overnight in Galway. You can probably fit one other 'attraction' into that day.

For going to the Aran Islands, we went two years ago. In the margin of our guide book it suggested flying over to the islands and it (at the time, not sure about now) was not much more expensive than the ferry and the trip is only about 10 min.
We went to the lagrest Island and instead of renting bikes we decided to walk because we were beign cheap (we were headed to the fort at the other end) Well after 4.5 hrs of walking - I wish we had rented the bikes. I think we stayed at total of 6 or 7 hrs on the island and that was good enough for me.

Flew back and spent the night in Galway again.

http://www.aerarannislands.ie/

I would suggest to try and book your flight ahead of time. We were there in August 2006 without reservations and they did manage to squeeze us on.

If you stop at one sight on your way back to Dublin, I would recomend Newgrange just north of dublin city. It's older than the pyramids, and quite an experience.

sorry I'm not much help on the other stuff.
CanadianRNinDublin is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 04:29 AM
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chazman writes: "Thurs - Which of following would be best - Dingle, Old Limmrick, Ennis, Cliffs of Moher, Burren or Galway. Where should we overnight?"

I'm more interested in what's happening than just sightseeing: I believe Ennis' Spring Music & Dance festival (Fleadh Nua) is the week of the 26th of May; I'm not sure if you'll be able to book reservations there at this late date. If not, I suggest Doolin or Lisdoonvarna or Ennistymon or Lahinch or Miltown Malbay, all within about 30-min drive from Ennis.

NEDSIRELAND is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 05:42 AM
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I can't offer advice regarding all of your plans.

However, after having visited part of the SW of Ireland last June I can suggest a few things.

We visited both the ROK and the Slea Head drive and everyone in our group of 8 would choose to explore the Slea Head drive area again vs. the ROK. The ROK was lovely, we just felt that the Slea Head was an even more beautiful drive filled with a greater variety of fascinating antiquities sites to visit. If you do visit the Slea Head drive, an overnight in Dingle would be a good choice.

Because the days at that time of year are getting quite a bit longer, you should be able to drive from Dingle, visit the Cliffs of Moher, explore at least part of the Burren and then stay in Ennis, Doolin, Lisdoonvarna or possibly even go on to Galway for the night.

Enjoy your trip, it is a lovely part of the world.
Momof3sons is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 05:51 AM
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Thanks NEDSIRELAND about the info on the Ennis music festival. We plan to be in the Ennis area around May 22 and will miss the festival unfortunately. Can you make any recommendations on best places / publs in Ennis and the area to hear traditional Irish music.

CANADIANRNINDUBLIN is the any transportation other then bike or on foot on Aran? Thanks for the tip on the flight to the island.
chazman is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 07:07 AM
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I forgot to mention that there are 'shuttle busses' that take you around the Island. I don't konw if you have to pre book them or not, although the irish people are so helpful some one would probably drive you down the island if they were going that way.
I do know that they squeezed us on one for the trip back to the 'airport' area for a couple of euro each.
CanadianRNinDublin is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 07:14 AM
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You don't have to prebook the Aran busses. There are also pony carts for the truly touristy

I would agree that Dingle/Slea Head is a more spectacularly beautiful drive (and shorter) than the ROK, though both are beautiful. I've not been to Beara peninsula yet, so I can't compare ;(

GreenDragon is offline  
May 1st, 2008, 10:48 AM
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Just to start off, I think Kinsale Dingle, Clare, Aran Islands, Connemara and Sligo is a lot to see in 5 days, too much IMO.

Let me see what you are saying ...

Wednesday: Kinsale in the morning and then on to Dingle. I could easily spend a day just getting from Kinsale to Dingle following the coast, then another day just touring Dingle. If you are starting in Kinsale and intend to do that and Dingle (or worse the RoK) in the first day, it's way too much.

Thurs: You could do Dingle to Galway in one day, a long day. I would ignore Limmerick, take the ferry at Tarbert, visit the Cliffs and then on to Galway. You will, of course, not really see much of Dingle unless you spend the whole day driving the shortest route from Kinsale and then really, just drive by tourism.

Fri: From Galway, you could do the Aran Islands. No cars can be taken there.
When you get off the boat or plane, there will be buses offering tours a ride to the B&Bs and/or tours of the island. I think spending the night on Aran is the way to go, though getting reservations at this point could be hard. The island is pretty crowded during the day, but clears out in the evening.

As far as Connemara vs Inishmore, it's hard to say. Connemara is certainly much more varied, but a night on Inishmore is more of an experience. It's a bit of a trip back in time, though they do have an ATM now (oh boy!!!). The flight over is 10 minutes but the time it takes to board is substantially longer

If it were me, with your limited time, I would not take a boat, take the plane, perhaps a bit later in the day so you can enjoy the area around Galway, catch the place to the Arans, spend the night and fly back early the next day and end up in Westport Saturday night. I'm a big fan of Westport. Excellent choices for music. Then maybe tour the area and come back to Westport agin for another night before heading to Dublin the next morning. I would add another day on to Dingle and not go to Sligo. That's just too much traveling.

Although Newgrange is a wonderful place to visit, if you get there much after noon, you may have a hard time getting a tour. They book up early in the day as the tours are necessarily small. If you are going to the airport, I don't know that you will have much time to do a lot more.

I hope this helps.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 01:32 AM
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Bill (WOJAZZ3) your recommendations we really helpful and we realize need to focus even more or else we will see Ireland only from the window of the car, even if it will only be traveling at 35 mph. With regard to your comments on our Wed itinerary, I hope that we will have some time on Tue afternoon to view Kinsale and will be able to leave early on Wed morning. I didn't post it but the first part of our trip is

Fri - Mon - Dublin

Mon - pick up rental car in Dublin city. Whatever we can fit in of Wicklow Mts, Powercourt, Glendalough, Russbourgh. Overnight - Kilkenny.
Tue - Rock of Cashel. Overnight in Kinsale.

I realize that we can probably do only one or two place on Tue.

GREENDRAGON and CanadianRNinDublin thanks for advice on getting to and around on Aran.


chazman is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 04:14 AM
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You may think 35 mph is slow - but when you are in heavy fog and the road is single track and winding back and forth, ALL your attention is on the road ahead!!! Not looking at any scenery

See this pic of our trip through the Conor Pass (the wide part of the road is because there is a lay-by):

http://www.greendragonartist.com/Lar...6/Dingle16.jpg
GreenDragon is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 05:41 AM
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When you meet another car /truck head-on, who drives in reverse to the wide part of the road to let the other car pass?
chazman is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 06:12 AM
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chazman wrote: "When you meet another car /truck head-on, who drives in reverse to the wide part of the road to let the other car pass?"

Whoever has the shorter distance to go (but making commonsense allowance for difficulty -- I would usually reverse for something towing a trailer).

If I come round a bend and meet something, I find that I have unconsciously internalised the piece of road that I have just travelled, and I usually know if there is a passing point just behind me. But I am used to Irish roads, and a visitor might have to do such things at a conscious level.
Padraig is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 06:46 AM
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chazman writes: "Thanks NEDSIRELAND about the info on the Ennis music festival. We plan to be in the Ennis area around May 22 and will miss the festival unfortunately. Can you make any recommendations on best places / publs in Ennis and the area to hear traditional Irish music."

Cruise's Pub on Abbey St. between the Queen's Hotel and the old burnt out Abbey has Trad Irish Music nightly beginning at 22:00.
BUT
there will be some 'pick up' groups at Cruise's afternoons, getting ready for competitions that happen during Fleadh Nua. I usually look in after a carvery lunch at the Queen's Hotel (around 15:00). You might also find some in Brogan's Pub, a few steps down O'Connell St from the Monument; or there's another Pub on the corner at the top of Abbey St, across from the Monument

NEDSIRELAND is offline  
May 5th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Let's be a little clear here. The Conor Pass road is somewhat exception. The section of that road that is narrow is maybe a mile. split into two sections and take not much more than two minutes to get through. At high season with lots of traffic, this is a bit of a pain. There are multiple pullouts so it's not that difficult. Buses are not allowed, so that isn't a problem. Oddly, I prefer traveling it at night because I can see headlights coming. The rest of the Conor Pass road is gloriously wide by Irish standards.

Conot Pass is certainly the worst you will see. The road into Killarney from Kenmare by the lakes is very narrow in a few spots and you need to understand the times that traffic is bad (buses), but it appears you are not going there.

There are a few narrow spots on the Slea Head drive but nothing that you won't have a problem seeing other vehicles coming.

Healy Pass is similar to Conor (not as bad though). I don't believe you are going there.

You just need to drive more cautiously since you don't know the area. The 35 MPH is a good rule of thumb for a new visitor. There are roads that will be faster with less interuption and then there will be some small roads. I've had very few times when I actually had to back up and make room, usually one person pulls over when they see another coming at the 1st chance.

You aren't there for a huge length of time so it is unlikely you will be traveling all sorts of backroads.

As far as planning, if you take the most direct route to Dingle from Kinsale, it will probably take 3 hours. Do not drive through Cork. You will start out on some smallish roads, but the N22 moves along relatively quickly. You will go through a number of small towns though. Follow the signs clsely going through Killarney and you probably won't get lost. You are on the right road out of town if the lake is on your left. There is a short cut you can take to avoid Kilorglin. There is a road that heads north off of the N72 which looks small on the map, but it's fine.

All that said, the road along the coast is fantastic filled with great little towns and some wonderful coastal views and optional drives. I think the road from Bantry to Kenmare is quite overlooked as a scenic drive and has always been a favorite to me. This would probably take an entire day if you were to drive it and enjoy it.

I still wouldn't go further north than Westport. I know I'm a slow traveler and others may disagree, but to me, Ireland is to be enjoyed at a slow pace.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
May 5th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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Just a small oddity of language: the Connor Pass is a tautological name, because the Gaelic word "conair" from which the name is derived means -- pass.
Padraig is offline  
May 5th, 2008, 12:24 PM
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Padraig:

We have a place near us called Table Mesa. Same problem ...
wojazz3 is offline  
May 5th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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Just got back from Dingle last week...go there!! It's amazing. People say they can stay a week there but I'd say 3 the most. It's very beautiful. We stayed at the Greenmount House which is a B & B however it's more like a hotel it's that great. I hate B&B's but this place is really really great.
dcormann is offline  
May 6th, 2008, 07:45 PM
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With regard to ROK vs Dingle, when I told our traveling companions that I changed our itinerary from ROK to Dingle based on this forum, they said hey hadn't seen any mention of Dingle being better than ROK in any articles or guidebooks on the area?

Has anyone stayed at the Dingle Marina Lodge?

I followed the forum's advice and planned an overnight stay on Aran, arriving at 7:30PM and departing the next noon and moving on to Connemara. Are there any tours by minibus early in the morning? What is there to do in the evening?
chazman is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 06:53 AM
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Hi chazman:

A few thoughts:

The which is better Dingle/RoK is obviously subjective but Dingle usually gets higher marks here. The obvious plus is that it is smaller and you get a lot more wow factor mile for mile. The RoK is really large. I find that the drives through the middle of the RoK are gorgeous, my wife has no idea why some people like Dingle more than RoK.

The RoK is a bit more forested, Dingle has more of the classic green fields with stone walls rolling down to the sea. What most people call Slea Head, but what I believe is actually Dunmore Point is one of the most photographed places in Ireland.

I'm not surprised a guide book would not offer one over the other as it's not really the job of a guide book to do that. Some people (my wife) prefer the RoK. I find them much different but to enjoy the Iveragh Peninsula requires much more time IMO. If you just drive the Ring, you really haven't experienced Iveragh. With you time restraints, I think Dingle is a much better choice.

In late May, the sun sets rather late in Ireland. It's entirely possible that you can get a tour when you land and have plenty of time for it. The beauty of it is that you will be one of the few people experiencing the area at the time. If the weather is good, and someone offers, take the evening trip. I think it would be glorious.

You could certainly take a morning trip otherwise, but you would want to reserve it with someone. My trip came as part of our transport to the B&B.

Kilronan is fairly quiet in the evening though there are a number of pubs and a pretty good restaurant. You would want reservations. The Pier House is where I ate and the food was very good but not at all inexpensive. We latter heard a nice session at one of the pubs. Ask what's on when you arrive.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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I don't know anything about the Dingle Marina Lodge. I stay at one place on the Dingle Peninsula (I'm a bit of a snob here ....) The Shores Country House on the north coast. Accept no substitute.

Bill
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