Traveling Ireland without a car...

Old Feb 7th, 2005, 03:51 PM
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Traveling Ireland without a car...

I'll be heading off for a solo trip to Ireland this fall, but won't be renting a car. (I drove a car in England once, and it scared me to death! Much as I would like to have the freedom of driving, I can't take that stress again.)

Consequently, I'm doing lots of day trip tours and such through tour operators, and having to allow a lot of time for travel from A to B.

Here's my (first) question: There are a lot of things AROUND Dublin that I want to see - Powerscourt Gardens, Glendalough (sp?), Newgrange, the city itself, etc. A lot of these tours take up a big part of each day, and because they overlap each other, I can only do one per day. So, I'm spending five nights in Dublin (or perhaps Dun Laoghaire). Everyone keeps saying that a couple of nights in Dublin is plenty. Am I making a mistake? It just seems that it's a good hub for the things I want to see - I won't actually be spending more than a day in Dublin itself.

I'll start with that question! More to come, I'm sure!
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Old Feb 8th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Dublin itself is expensive and though there is plenty to see within the city, all the main point can be hit within a few days. Most people who visit Ireland only stay 7 to 10 days so a couple of days in Dublin within that time frame is plenty.

I think that staying outside Dublin and taking the tours you want nearby is a good idea. You will get to save money (always a good thing) and get that country/B&B experience that is so Ireland.

By all means, spend a couple of days visiting the sights in Dublin - lots of good tours available. But you do not need, unless you want, to spend all your time within the city itself. As you said, you will spend a good bit of time just traveling to those nearby sights and limiting yourself as to what you can accomplish each day.

I've never driven in England so I'll leave that bit for someone who has to affirm or dispute your issue to driving in Ireland. The one place I can fully understand the fear of driving is when driving in Dublin. It IS doable, you just really have to be on your toes is all. But outside the city...? Well, I personally, I wouldn't do it any other way other than a self drive as I love getting lost on those back roads and all the adventures that come from it.

Safe travels,

Wendy
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:35 PM
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Vheck out the Irish Rail web-site. They offer several train and bus tour packages that regularly run out of Dublin, including Cliffs of Moher and Killarney. Some are day trips -- leave Dublin early AM and back that same night. Some are quite reasonably priced.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 09:50 PM
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We ended up on a 17 day tour to Ireland as we too had been traumatized by driving in England.
We spent 5 days in Dublin and loved it -but we're museum lovers so maybe this isn't everyone's cup of tea. But I'd vote for lots of time in Dublin.

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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 07:59 AM
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Dublin is expensive and having seen it twice I have no desire to return. I would definitely stay outside the city. Driving in Ireland is easier than driving in England.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 08:25 AM
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I would agree that driving in the COUNTRY in Ireland (as long as you're not in a hurry) is easier than driving in England. Driving in Dublin is tough, but do-able.

Dun Loughaire is a nice suburb, with peaceful beaches to relax at... I spent a couple evenings just watching the dusk.

Yes, I think Dublin is about done in 2-3 days. I highly recommond Glendalough (yes, you spelled it right!) and Powerscourt (bring a picnic lunch for the falls), and Newgrange (check out other mounds nearby as well).

The travel up to Newgrange and down to Glendalough are probably the longest. I left Dun Loughaire in my own car, and just picked a road heading south. Ended up finding Powerscourt and Glendalough quite by accident, and had a great time at both, with plenty of time to hit a mall on the way back home.

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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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Dublin is a great city with plenty to do and see within and around, but IMO the real Ireland can be found on the West Coast. Perhaps you should look into a few days in Dublin, and then take a train over to Galway and use this as a base for the balance of your trip. Connemara, The Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Isles, etc. can all be visited through tour operators and or public transportation from this West Coast base.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 12:19 PM
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My aunt and I stayed in Dublin for 5 days and spent 2 of those days taking day trips. One was by train out to Killarney. The ride was very beautiful and figuring out the train system was simple. We spent lots of time just walking around Dublin and sitting in cafes or pubs, but if you're the type that gets bored easily, I'd definitely suggest adding some day trips to your itinerary.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:44 PM
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I would think, flyert, that you took a train to the southern Dublin suburb of Killiney! For any geographically challenged fodorites, Killarney is in County Kerry, over 300 kilometres away,and I can't imagine that you would really do it in a day trip from Dublin - it would take five hours anyway to drive there!It's a major tourist town, and most people spend a few days there.
 
Old Feb 12th, 2005, 11:20 PM
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Holy cats! I posted my planned itinerary, and then thought I double-posted, and so deleted what I thought was a double-post, and then … I came back to look at my post and it’s gone! Yoinks! I'm hoping that's not a post-approval-time-lag and I'm not actually double posting now by reposting!

Okay, so let me reconstruct:

First, thanks to everyone for all your comments! Those who have commented that driving in Ireland is easier than driving in England – why is that? I have to say, driving in England was horrific. It was pouring down rain, in the dark, oncoming traffic coming at me with no barrier between us and disorienting glaring headlights … I wanted very much just to pull over and cry, but I knew I had to get us home, so …

Anyway. As for getting outside of Dublin, I definitely am. I'm taking a luxurious 16 days to travel the country (though that still doesn't give me time to see it all!). Here's my tentative itinerary; any comments are welcome!! Am I packing too much in? Not enough? Keep in mind that the bus trips take up a lot of time, so on some days there's just not much time left.

Day 1: Arrive Shannon too freaking early in the morning! 7:30! Travel to Ballyvaughan or Lisdoonvarna or ? and find a Burren walking tour. Walk. Eat. Collapse. Stay Ballyvaughan/Lisdoonvarna/?.

Day 2: Travel to Galway, early. Take tour of Connemara. Stay Galway.

Day 3: Tour of Cliffs of Moher, other parts of Burren. Stay Galway.

Day 4: Ferry or fly to Inishmore. Explore island. Stay Inishmore.

Day 5: Ferry to Doolin. Bus to Dingle. Long bus ride. Get there in time for dinner. Stay Dingle.

Day 6: Ring of Dingle (Slea Head?) tour – are there bus tours that go this route? If I can get in shape in time, I'll try to ride a bike around the peninsula, but if the weather is bad or I am not in shape, I don't want to miss this. I'm hoping there's alternative transportation. Dingle Theater in evening. Stay Dingle.

Day 7: Sciuird Archaeological tour and/or Blasket Islands Adventure tour and/or spend time puttering around Dingle, doing laundry. Stay Dingle.

Day 8: To Kinsale. (Here I'm trying to figure out how to get out to Mizen Head to stay there one night, but from Dingle it's more than 10 hours on the bus, and that's just a long day!! And by the time I'd get there, everything would be closed down for the night, and I'd have to leave early the next a.m. to get to the next stop, so …) Stay Kinsale.

Day 9: Charles Fort, town walk. Stay Kinsale.

Day 10: To Rock of Cashel. Stay Cashel.

Day 11: To Kilkenny via Cahir Castle. (This part of the trip is really under construction. I want to do Cashel, Cahir, and Kilkenny, but the buses are just really inconvenient, making the timing really inefficient. I'm still working on it.) Kilkenny City Tour to Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice's Cathedral. Stay Kilkenny.

Day 12: Kilkenny walking tour in a.m.; travel to Dun Laoghaire. Stay Dun L.

Day 13: In to Dublin. Dublin walking tour, Trinity College tour + Book of Kells, National Museum, Dublin Castle. Possible Dublin Bay and Castle tour in afternoon. Stay Dun L.

Day 14: Tour Newgrange and surrounding area. Stay Dun L.

Day 15: Tour Powerscourt Gardens and surrounding areas. (Is a trip to the Powerscourt waterfalls worth it? The tour buses don't seem to allow time for it, but it seems like it would be nice.) Stay Dun L.

Day 16: To Glendalough. Hike around the area. Stay Glendalough.

Day 17: To Dublin airport, then home. Whew!

Thanks again, everyone, for your insights! I really appreciate it. My best to you all.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 05:29 AM
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"This fall" is a broad timeframe. When exactly are you planing this trip?
If it's late fall (Nov & Dec) you can expect rainy weather; if it's early fall (Sep & Oct) there's a Matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna that may or may not interest you. It's a for real thing and people come from all over to try to find a partner.

There's BusEireann service from Doolin to Galway (#423 08:45) and from Doolin to Tralee, Killarney & Dingle via the Cliffs of Moher:
dep. Doolin at 12:05;
dep. Cliffs of Moher at 13:00.
I don't know if these are seasonal services. Try http://www.BusEireann.ie
you might be interested in PaddyWagon Tours http://www.paddywagontours.com But they operate out of Dublin.

Speaking of which: There's a CityLink (Private) bus service Dublin airport - Galway and r.r. It runs hourly and costs a bit more than BusEireann but after you leave Dublin City it's essentially non-stop. They've also got one Shannon airport - Galway but I don't know how frequently it runs or how much it costs.

I rode BusEireann Shannon-Ennis with a couple headed for Doolin. It seems like we left Shannon around 09:30 and they had a 10:00 connection in Ennis. They made it without difficulty.

A lot of BusEireann's local services function as school buses. For example from Miltown-Malbay to Ennis I had to get an 08:30 bus: the only one of the day.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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NedsIreland: I should say "the end of summer," I suppose, rather than fall, as I'll be going at the beginning of September. From other trip reports I've read, I'm hopeful for good weather!

The Bus Eireann site is definitely helpful! I haven't checked out Paddywagon tours yet, but will do so. Thanks!
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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This our trip in June 2004

Bear in mind that we use public transportation exclusively so there may be a slight hike to places but not really more than fifteen minutes from a bus stop or train station.

Arrived Shannon airport on Sunday and caught bus to Limerick. A friend we met at the bus shed told us where to get off and instructed the driver to make sure he stopped there. He did and we walked up the short cul-de-sac to Glen Eagles (not that Glen Eagles, but very nice.) <[email protected]> About 30 Euros pps ensuite. Helen and Patrick Daly

In Dingle on Monday we stayed at Dingle Heights. <www.dingleheights.com, or [email protected]> Ask for a front room overlooking the harbor. Bridie Fitzgerald was our hostess. Very nice view and about 30 Euros pps ensuite. We had our first, of many, bowl, of Irish stew at O'Grady's across from the tourist board along the waterfront. We lucked out and were able to attend a folk concert of harp, guitars, penny whistle at St. James Church. But we heard lots of music around town as we went back to our bnb after the concert. One place is a hardware store by day and a pub by night! We got cheated out of our tour to Slea Head by the well know local tour operator who renigged on our email reservation. So we will have to go back! And use someone else.

Stayed in Killarney at Cloghroe <[email protected]> about 30 Euros pps ensuite, on Tuesday and did the Gap of Dunloe (three lakes by boat and through the Gap by jaunting car (otherwise a 7 mile walk) on Wednesday. Glad we didn't do the Ring of Kerry. Our hostess Margaret arranged the tour for us. Ate at Murphy's, known for it's pub grub.

Had to spend Wednesday night in Tralee since it is a long haul by bus from Killarney to Doolin. Stayed at The Willows, about five minutes from the bus station. <wwwthewillowsbnb.com or [email protected]> About 30 Euros pps ensuite. On Mary's recommendation we went to the Grand Hotel and ate in the pub section. Excellent food. Next day we walked out (rode the bus back) to the Blennerville Windmill before having to catch our bus to Doolin.

On Thursday night in Doolin we stayed at Nellie Dees. <www.nellie-dees.com or [email protected]> The bus driver will drop you at the door if you ask and it is across the road from one of the hostels. Only about five years old, all wood floors, very nice. Jimmy and Loraine Spencer. About 30 Euros pps ensuite. It was a bit of a hike to downtown Doolin but there were two pubs (out of 3) very nearby where we spent the evening eating delicious Irish stew and listening to trad music at McDermott's.

The next morning we hiked into town ("just a wee walk and a right at the bridge"). We passed several bnbs on the way that looked nice. We caught the ferry to Inishoor. Had to ride a carrick out to the ferry because the tide was out. That was a neat experience, although my wife was not really keen on it but nobody fell overboard.

Arrived on Inishoor (Inishere) on Friday and headed to our bnb, Tigh Searraigh. About 25 Euros pps ensuite. <[email protected]> Basic but clean and warm. Went for a tour around the island. It is only 2 km 2km so we knew we couldn't get too lost but the stone fences did start looking just like the last one. My wife got her Aran sweater made (supposedly) on the island. We went to pub (Fitzgerald's I think. There are only about 3 places to eat on the island) for supper and music. A bit of wait for the music but the food was great and the strawberry rhubarb pie was so good we ordered a second round. Bailey’s ice cream on it was heavenly. I have never tasted such a delicious ice cream! Called it a night about 10 PM and was up the next day to catch the 9 AM ferry back to Doolin and 12 noon bus to Ennis for our last night before catching our flight out of Shannon.

Saturday night we stayed at Stonehaven in Ennis <www.stonehaven-clare.com or [email protected]> about 15 minute walk from bus station but Marie would have collected us if we had called. Very nice family, especially Joseph the 7 year old. About 30 Euros pps ensuite. Ennis is a market town and we were there Saturday, market day. Neat!

Back to the train/bus station for our bus to Shannon airport and on to Scotland..

You can certainly see more if you rent a car but we didn't want the stress. Also, we noticed that more pubs are catching on to the attraction of pub grub by tourists and are starting to provide table service instead of us ordering at the bar. The price sometimes increases accordingly.

This may be more than you really wanted to know but we had a blast and are talking about doing the same tour again. We did Dublin in 2003 and I probably would not do Dublin again but there is something about the Southwest of Ireland that is magical. I will send you some Irish links if you will send me your email address. We are in Virginia Beach, VA [email protected]
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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 08:14 AM
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evanjva1: Which company cheated you out of the Slea Head tour? Was it Sciuird? As noted, I am planning to go on that tour, so any heads up on possible problems would be great.

Your trip report makes me want to be there now! I appreciate hearing that you managed quite well with public transportation. I agree - even if I weren't uncomfortable driving, I wouldn't want the added stress of having to find directions, etc. Plus, traveling alone, if I were driving, I wouldn't get to see all the scenery because I'd be busy keeping my eyes on the road! So I think I'll be glad to have passed on the driving.

I'll send you my e-mail address to get those links. Thanks very much!!!

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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 12:46 PM
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I completely agree that if you are uncomfortable driving, you shouldn't. For me it's part of the adventure and I actually look forward to it. I've driven on the left on about 10 different vacations so I'm pretty used to it.

I found the SW of England to be the worst driving. The back roads are a nightmare. They ar only wide enough for one car and the are bordered by 10 ft tall hedges that don't allow you a view of anything including vehicles that might be coming around a corner. I also found myself on a road in Lynton that just kept getting more and more narrow to a point that a car couldn't pass. On the opposite entrabce to the road it stated that it was not suitable for motor vehicles. Wish I had known that before I got in.

I would think that Mizen Head would be a challenge with public transit. I've been there 3 times and have never seen a bus out to the end of the peninsula, though I would guess that Goleen and even Crookhaven might have service. I would think that you would have to spend the night out there. I believe the trail out to the lighthouse opens around 10:00 AM.

I could see that the Cashel to Kilkenny day could be rough. If you have to spend a lot of time in Cahir, you could take the trail from the castle to the swiss cottage. It's supposed to be a very nice walk and though I haven't visited it, the Swiss cottage is supposed to be interesting. Consider a meal at the Galtee Inn.

I hope this all works out for you. Have a great trip.

Bill
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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:44 PM
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We just returned from a two week Ireland trip and we did it without a car. Our itinerary was quite different because we had an apartment for a week in Dalkey (just a couple miles south of Dun Laoghaire) so we bought a one week DART pass for that area. We were pleased that we chose to stay outside the busy city of Dublin and it was easy to go in every day for sightseeing. Although many others on this board don't agree, we were thought the Dublin area was well worth spending a week. And there are many day tours available by bus or rail from there if you like.

Bus Eireann was having a winter sale so bus tickets were 10 euros for a single no matter the distance. We went to Cashel for two nights taking the bus from Dublin. Wanted to make it over to Kilkenny but ran into the same problem you found, although it is quite close distance-wise "you can't get there from here". But one of our theories of travel is to leave something to see the next time! You could consider Kilkenny as a day tour from Dublin, it's only about two hours away by bus or rail.

After leaving Dublin we used Galway as a base for four nights. Took the bus (3 1/2 hours) and then took the same day tours you have planned. One day for Burren/Cliffs, one day for Connemara, one day bus to Rossaveel and ferry to Inishmore (didn't spend the night, wish we'd had time to do that). One thing we found out after we got there that we would have done differently. On the Connemara tour the tour company we used, O'Neachtains, will drop you off in Clifden, you can spend a night or two, then they will pick you up and you can continue along with the rest of the tour. That would be a nice way to spread out your time in that area and Clifden is a charming town.

Didn't have time to fit in Dingle or Ring of Kerry so that will also go on our next trip's itinerary.

We don't regret not having a car. My husband loves to be able to take a break from driving while we are on vacation and get to look at the scenery instead of the road. It was very stress free for both of us.
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