Trip to Ireland - Planning Help

Old Jul 14th, 2023, 06:43 AM
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Trip to Ireland - Planning Help

We are starting to plan our first trip to Ireland with the exception of time previously in Dublin about 15 years ago. I expect this will be our only trip to Ireland so our plan is to circle the island. We will rent a car, pick it up and leave it in Dublin. We plan for about 5 weeks in the Spring, but our time is flexible.

We are a retired couple who enjoy combining city life with the country side. We like a mixture in our trips combining museums and culture as well as scenery, moderate hiking and the outdoors. We travel relatively slowly and prefer to avoid 1-2 night when possible.

I would appreciate any comments and thoughts you may have on this first crack at an itinerary.

Ireland Trip By Area with where we might base ourselves and the # 3 of nights
Dublin - 4 nights

South & Southwest of Dublin
Kilkenny -3 nights
Cork - 3 nights

Great Atlantic Way #1: Counties Cork, Kerry & Limerick -Killarney - 5 nights
Great Atlantic Way #2: Counties Clare & Galway & Interior - Galway - 5 nights
Great Atlantic Way #3: Counties Mayo & Sligo & Interior TBD - 5 nights
Great Atlantic Way #4: Countiy Donegal - Donegal 3 nights

Northern Ireland & Belfast
Belfast + TBD - 6 days

Return to Dublin to leave - 1 night

Thanks for you help!


















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Old Jul 16th, 2023, 04:02 AM
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round the island

I have to laugh; I usually end up travelling counter-clockwise for some reason! We're on our 3rd iteration of Ireland trip planning, after 2020 & 2021 cancellations(2022 ended up being Paris/Iceland). Looking back at our original itinerary(which was very devastating to cancel), it goes Dublin, Northern Ireland(a little place out in the countryside), Doolin, Killarney, Valentia Island, Cashel & Portmarnock. A lot to chew on! Semi-retired now and one heart attack later, we've got 3 weeks booked in June '24 and decided to cut out the northern half(for now) and are going Dublin-Doolin-Dingle-Valentia-Killarney and traipse back to Dublin in a slower trip. Envious of your long trip, but our dog would miss us(I hope). We decided to trade off May for June for a 'shot' at slightly better weather. Our contact in Doolin told us it was glorious there this year! Who knows anything with weather patterns these days! Good luck though and updates appreciated.
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Old Jul 16th, 2023, 05:37 AM
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Maceairsidth - thanks for your thoughts! Good luck with your health and your trip in June We debated about going later in May more into June, but are thinking perhaps less crowds in earlier May despite chance of not great weather. These days crowds are assured, but the weather is a crap shoot it seems. It's never what its supposed to be. We were in N.Italy in May and had 4 days of cold & rain -- not supposed to be like that, but climate change! We are going clockwise to have the views on our side if the road when possible. Someone suggested counter clockwise as it is more likely to avoid getting stuck behind a tour bus. I am hoping to get some more relies on this thread.
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Old Jul 16th, 2023, 07:14 AM
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Really like your time in each site though; we try and stop 3 nights minimum where possible and loved settling in for 7 nights in Subbetica and 6 nights in Sevilla recently. Unfortunately the travel line sometimes dictates less time if you're going from point A to point B in a set time frame; you should have plenty of time in each spot to get to know it a little better! The counter clockwise/bus suggestion sounds like many people's thoughts on the Ring of Kerry! We're doing it that way as we're coming from Dingle-Valentia Island across the northern side of the Ring and Valentia-Killarney, back by the southern side several days later. I suppose we could have gone clockwise there without too much difficulty, LoL. As far as being on the coastal side while driving, I'm rather acrophobic so I'd rather not be driving that close to an edge anyway! We also tend to shy away from the larger towns; Killarney is a stop IN the national park not Killarney town proper.
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Old Jul 16th, 2023, 07:17 AM
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The weather is certainly a crap shoot.

We had a brutally stinking hot few days in early September, and a friend had beautiful weather, no rain, in early April.
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Old Jul 16th, 2023, 07:20 AM
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Maceairsidth - Yes, we prefer to move a bit more slowly to as you say get to know a place. We are retired now and before retirement we moved at a lot faster pace. Often checking out what we came to see and moving on. Now we like to linger and see more than "the site." It's so much more enjoyable, but we have the time now tat we didnt have when we worked.
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 05:20 AM
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Anybody else have any thoughts on our draft itin? Thank you
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 09:23 AM
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You will have a great time! We did this trip in the last 2 weeks of May 2022 and thought it was the perfect time to go! We were very lucky and only had a terrible downpour on the day we landed and no other rain. The temperatures were in the 55-75 degree range. We checked the weather there after we got back and it poured there for an entire week, so you just can't know. Also, about 3 weeks later, they set records with 90 degree heat, so I think I would plan it earlier with these heat waves being more common. Also, the crowds were nonexistent, which made even Killarney, delightful.

I am assuming you are heading to Dublin without your car rental, you don't need it there. I think 3 nights in Dublin would be plenty. I think stopping at Kilkenny is a good first driving day, via Wicklow Mountains/Glendalough. I think 2 nights in Kilkenny is plenty. We didn't get to Cork, but with your time that sounds great and maybe continue on to Kinsale. We absolutely loved the Killarney area, but broke it up between Killarney and Dingle. We thought Galway was just ok but it was a great base. The farthest north we travelled to was Westport, to meet relatives, but I thought it was delightful and loved Kylemore Abbey on the way. The Burren was also spectacular.

I think one of the things you will consider is how much you want to drive on the left side of the road, with some of the roads being so narrow and you are confronting tour buses, tractors, sheep and roadwork. Not changing locations a lot would be my preference, but all of the backtracking gets tiresome, also. Driving always takes longer than the predictions. We only had one and two night stops, but we only had 10 days and we liked that we were always making progress and at a new destination to end our day.

If you are going to do Ring of Kerry, I would consider getting a driver, to have a break. We only drove part of Slea Head Drive which we enjoyed. I am not a big guided tour person, but with that amount of time, some days tours might be fun. Enjoy!
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 09:42 AM
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coral22 - thank you so much! So helpful. We are taking the 4 nights in Dublin to overcome jet lag after the flight from the NE USA. We will not have a car until we leave DUblin and will pick up the rental car from the airport to avoid driving in the city. Interesting idea about picking up a driver for the Ring of Kerry. We'll see how it goes but keep that idea in mind as we travel. My husband has driven on the right side on several trip and enjoys driving.
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 10:26 AM
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Great! It really helps that he enjoys driving. My husband felt it got to be stressful for him. You have the wonderful luxury of 5 weeks so you can settle in and enjoy the areas and not just be rushing through a checklist. We loved the beautiful west coast and many love visits to the islands. The Irish are very welcoming and the vistas are gorgeous, it will restore your soul!
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by coral22
Great! It really helps that he enjoys driving. My husband felt it got to be stressful for him. You have the wonderful luxury of 5 weeks so you can settle in and enjoy the areas and not just be rushing through a checklist. We loved the beautiful west coast and many love visits to the islands. The Irish are very welcoming and the vistas are gorgeous, it will restore your soul!
Looking forward to it. My husband did get stressed and couldnt wait to stop driving one day in the UK when we got completely lost on the back roads somewhere...as you described very narrow roads, and vehicles coming from the other direction. Hopefully he will enjoy this time. But your idea is a good one to consider a driver here and there. Yes, we prefer stying longer times in destinations. And very nice to be retired and now able to do that.
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 01:20 PM
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I can say we had a driver for everything and were glad of it especially Slea Head/Dingle peninsula and Ring of Kerry. the roads can be narrow and he also knew better places to pull off to see things than non-locals know. For us it would have been difficult to see the views while trying to navigate (and on the opposite side of the road). And, we didn't have to turn down a Guinness or a whiskey anywhere. I know we saved ourselves time in missing turns and getting lost but more importantly we avoided some stress.
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by denisea
I can say we had a driver for everything and were glad of it especially Slea Head/Dingle peninsula and Ring of Kerry. the roads can be narrow and he also knew better places to pull off to see things than non-locals know. For us it would have been difficult to see the views while trying to navigate (and on the opposite side of the road). And, we didn't have to turn down a Guinness or a whiskey anywhere. I know we saved ourselves time in missing turns and getting lost but more importantly we avoided some stress.
thanks! I appreciate your perspective. I read your great TR. I donít mind having drivers now and then, but in general we enjoy being on our own and wandering as we see fit. Weíve got lots of time and getting lost is part of the fun. I like the idea of perhaps picking up a driver now and then. Weíll se!
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 05:49 AM
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yestravel, my apologies for showing up so late, but I have just joined this group and I’m cruising threads I have an interest in.

Your itinerary is very similar to what I have done, more than once. I could spend a week in each of the small seaside towns, just visiting the locals on the docks and never tire of it.

At least by my standards, the rail system in and around Dublin is fantastic. A day trip south to Dun Laoghaire, Bray and Greystones with a hike over the Brayhead Cliff walk; another day north to Howth and Malahide will not disappoint.

Try to get over to the Aran Islands from Galway and visit Atlantic Sheepdogs just a few minutes north of Sligo. Martin and his dogs put on as good a show as any in Ireland and because it isn’t a multi coach stop, is far more personal and homey than the others.

I find the latter half of May to be ideal, for weather and fewer people.

Enjoy your IE adventure.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Captim
yestravel, my apologies for showing up so late, but I have just joined this group and Iím cruising threads I have an interest in.

Your itinerary is very similar to what I have done, more than once. I could spend a week in each of the small seaside towns, just visiting the locals on the docks and never tire of it.

At least by my standards, the rail system in and around Dublin is fantastic. A day trip south to Dun Laoghaire, Bray and Greystones with a hike over the Brayhead Cliff walk; another day north to Howth and Malahide will not disappoint.

Try to get over to the Aran Islands from Galway and visit Atlantic Sheepdogs just a few minutes north of Sligo. Martin and his dogs put on as good a show as any in Ireland and because it isnít a multi coach stop, is far more personal and homey than the others.

I find the latter half of May to be ideal, for weather and fewer people.

Enjoy your IE adventure.
thank you for your comments! Looking forward to our trip. We will arrive in Dublin on May 1.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by yestravel
thank you for your comments! Looking forward to our trip. We will arrive in Dublin on May 1.
Concerning not doing SOME of the driving; we've booked two full days with a guide/driver(George Jackson of Dingle Darkroom with an emphasis on some photographic locations.) Doing the Dingle peninsula and some areas around Killarney; MacGillycuddy's Reeks to give us a bit of a break in some of what I considered to be the tougher driving spots. Sounds like a very nice fellow with a lot of local knowledge.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 06:06 AM
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Coral22, I am planning a trip to Ireland in July, 2024 for 10 nights. I am narrowing down the locations to visit but struggling with how long to stay in each. I noticed that your itinerary was similar to what I am planning. Would you mind sharing your itinerary with how many nights you stayed in each location? Thank you.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by gigi21043
Coral22, I am planning a trip to Ireland in July, 2024 for 10 nights. I am narrowing down the locations to visit but struggling with how long to stay in each. I noticed that your itinerary was similar to what I am planning. Would you mind sharing your itinerary with how many nights you stayed in each location? Thank you.

Welcome to Fodors. You have posted your questions on an existing thread about a (different) trip -- it would be much better if you started a thread of your own. As it is your questions may get overlooked while folks continue to responde to the original topic.
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