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Trying to fine-tune itinerary from Antrim Coast to Bantry Bay area


May 29th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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Join Date: May 2013
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Trying to fine-tune itinerary from Antrim Coast to Bantry Bay area

We appreciate your comments so far. We are energetic young seniors starting on our bucket list, going early Sept. for 15 full days plus a day over and a day back. Our goal is to see some of Northern Ireland, then go west and south, winding up in Kenmare or Bantry area before catching flight back from SNN. We will skip the major cities. We want to see historical sites and poke around the beautiful countryside. We like charming towns, B&Bs with good beds for old backs, water views, window shopping, local crafts, good seafood and pubs. All comments are welcome, and feel free to mention favorite places near each stop. Here’s what we’re thinking.

Day 1: Land in Dublin 7:30ish, pick up car (automatic). Drive to Newgrange, do the guided tour, have lunch, drive to Carlingford, arrive early-mid afternoon. First night in Carlingford. Thank you for your comments up to this point.

Day 2 & 3: Antrim Coast, overnight in Portrush or Portstewart. Any opinions on one town or the other for overnight?

Day 4 and 5: Thinking Killybegs area, perhaps Inishduff House. Want to see Glenveigh Nat’l Park. What would the driving be like around Dunfanaghy? Dungloe?

Now things get a little murky…
Day 6 and 7 and 8: Westport or Clifden. Which would you recommend for access to Connemara and the Burren? Also, we may spend a day and night on Achill Island or can we see a good bit of it on foot or on bicycle in a day, then return to the mainland? Is there a tour on horseback? Any lodging recommendations near restaurants for dinner?

Day 9 and 10: Dingle for the drives. Maybe only one night and day if we start early and then head towards Kenmare around 3:00 p.m. Kenmare appears to be a bit less than a 2-hour drive from Dingle. Or perhaps leave Dingle early on day 10 and stop at Muckross House and see the grounds in the morning and early afternoon, then on to Kenmare or Bantry.

Day 11-12-13: Kenmare for lake area scenery, Muckross House and gardens, Beara, Sheepshead, perhaps an afternoon in Kinsale. Shelburne Lodge sounds very nice to us. Or would Bantry be a more convenient or scenic location, although farther from Muckross?

Day 14-15: Open to suggestions. Add one or both of these days on to any of the above towns? All the better if we can do less packing/unpacking. We leave from Shannon mid-day on Day 16. Looking forward to your seasoned advice.
katherinebw is offline  
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May 29th, 2013, 02:41 PM
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I'd get a copy of Frommer's "25 Great Drives in Ireland".

This book helps me a lot on my driving, and what to see. I use the book and fill in the blanks.

Buy it from www.abebooks.com I've bought about a dozen books from them, after a Fodorite referral.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
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May 29th, 2013, 05:11 PM
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Thanks--I've reserved a copy from my library!
katherinebw is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 04:26 AM
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Picked up the copy of this helpful book. Thanks again Rastaguytoday. Would also appreciate any other advice regarding this in-the-works itinerary.
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Jun 4th, 2013, 06:01 PM
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Westport and Clifden would be great for exploring Connemara but a little far from the Burren. Both towns are very nice.
Kinsale is beautiful. I would stay a night there. We stayed in Cork and took a bus there and would have loved to have spent the night.
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Jun 5th, 2013, 05:32 AM
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A few thoughts on your proposed itinerary.
Day 1. Have lunch in Fitzpatricks in Ballymascanlon, just a few miles short of Carlingford. There is a nice loop walk starting from the tourist office in Carlingford, with great views of the sea.
Day 4.Killybegs is a commercial fishing town; perhaps a nice village like Ardara would be a better venue. Don't miss Nancy's if you are in town.
Day 6.Westport is a better hub if you want to explore both Achill and Connemara. There are cycling options to Achill on the Western Greenway and rental companies will ferry you back by minibus.
If you have a night to spare, break your journey to County Kerry with a night in Clare - and get in the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren while there.
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Jun 5th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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Clifden for access to Connemara. For Achill I can recommend Mulranny Park Hotel in Mulranny, about 15K from Westport, which is right on the Greenway, with a nice restaurant, or alternatively food in the bar. I went on a walking weekend based there recently and loved it - great views too. You can use the hotel bikes free of charge on the Greenway - www.mulrannyparkhotel.ie .

If you're leaving from Shannon, perhaps you could leave the Burren to that leg of the journey. Ballyvaughan, Doolin or Lahinch are all good bases, but Ennis seems to be a popular choice on this board, and it's not far from Ennis to Shannon - about 28km.

Do be careful driving your hired car after an overnight flight. Every year there are accidents involving jet-lagged drivers unused to driving on the left. I always recommend not driving until after you have had a night's sleep.
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Jun 5th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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To begin with, we are in your group--energetic seniors. We went to Ireland twice in 8 months time. We didn't do any of the beginning of your trip so I'll start in Westport.
Westport was a great little town. (Sept.'10)

Highlights for us:
Westport House
Nephin drive
Achill Island
We drove around Achill island for a day. If the weather had been better we would have spent more time there.
Restaurants & bars we liked:
Matt Malloy's(excellent music)

On the drive to Dingle, we had planned to stop at the Cliffs of Moor but it was very foggy that day. Later we met people who had been there and said that they couldn't see their hand in front of their face much less the water views.

That said, we basically had wonderful weather with a lot of sun and warm temperatures, and occaisional misty rain. It just happened that the cloudy, foggy days were on Achill Island and the Cliffs days. So keep your plans open.

Here's our trip report.

Dingle highlights:
Slea Head
Connor Pass over to Brandon Point

The scenery in this area was outstanding. Luckily, the weather cooperated. Our dinner at "Out of the Blue" one of our best. The town itself, bars, and other dinners, just OK IMO.

Kenmare highlights:
Shelburne Lodge--fantastic!
Location-- you can walk to town for shops and dinner easily.
Lodge itself-- old country manor house, loved the sitting room with a peat fire at night after dinner.
Food--absolute beast breakfast we had in all of Ireland.

Dinner at Mulcahy's--very memorable.
Muckross House, Torc Falls
Skip the ROK and Killarney--way too much traffic.

All in all, we had such a good time in Sept.'10 we returned to do the middle, north to south in May '11

IMO, Kinsale is too long a drive from Kenmare. We spent 3 nights in Kinsale on our 2nd trip and it wasn't our favorite, just OK.

The drives will take longer than you think.
On Day 6, the long drive to Westport. Then spend Days 7&8 there.(3 nights)

Day 9, the very long drive to Dingle. Then spend Days 10&11 there.(3 nights)

Day 12, drive to Kenmare. On the way, possibly do a jaunty cart ride which includes a short time to see the gardens at Muckross House(see trip report.)

Day 13-inside tour of Muckross House, Torc Falls for a beautiful walk in the woods. Druid's stone circle and Cromwell's brige in Kenmare.(2 nights)

Day 14-possibly drive closer to Sheepshead, Beara (we had planned to do this but the driving just got to us so we plan to return again.)(1 night)

Day 15-Head toward Shannon(again a very long drive from the south.) Stop along the way. We stopped in Adare for a few hours. Touristy but charming.

Stay night 15 near the airport. Maybe even in Adare or Ennis depending on your flight time. Getting to SNN, turning in your car, checking in hrs. in advance---it all takes time.

I'm not a travel expert but we do go to Europe every fall. Because we spent so much time in the car in Ireland we really appreciated the 2 and 3 night stops. I hope I've been of some help.
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Jun 6th, 2013, 10:25 PM
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We returned from Ireland in May. We spent most of the time in the SW area. We started in Kinsale and spent 2 nights there and 2 nights in Kenmare and 2 in Dingle. Our itinerary was backwards from yours. We loved Kinsale. It was a small, beautiful town which felt bigger, probably because of it being a harbor town, and had many restaurants, and stores. We took the popular walking tour that leaves from the TI each morning which was excellent. Drove out to Charles Fort which offered beautiful views.
We took the coastal road to Kenmare and drove through many of the small towns along the coast. We stopped at the Dromberg Stone Circle and then onto Kenmare . The drive from Bantry to Kenmare was somewhat mountainous and slow going in spots. We liked Kenmare and were happy we stayed there over Killarney.
I dont think i would like backtracking, ie staying in Kenmare and go to Bantry for the day or Killarney and then returning to Kenmare. I would avoid that type of itinerary.
I feeH that 2 days in Dingle is a minimum. The Slea Head drive is gorgeous. The Bee hive huts, Blasket islands and museum are all worth while. Also you would want to stop at Inch beach on the way to or from Dingle and enjoy the area. Of all places, i would not rush the Dingle peninsula.
The drive from Dingle to Kenmare took a longer time than expected what with the stop in Killarney and Muckross house and the narrow roads.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Thanks everyone. TPAYT I read your trip report earlier and found the detail extremely helpful. I will absorb all of these comments and come up with a more practical itinerary. Giro, I will reconsider our time in Dingle. We will definitely stay the last night in Ennis or Adare.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 02:44 PM
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Kinsale is wonderful and the Old Presbytery is the place to stay. The food in Kinsale is wonderful - the Cracked Pot and the area should not be missed. Kenmare is nice and the Sea Shore Farms B and B is beautiful. Dingle is by far the best of all of Southern Ireland and should have 3 days at minimum. Visit Dingle Crystal- the designer worked for Waterford. Go to Mulchaeys Pottery and eat at Blue Zone Jazz and Pizza and Out of the Blue. Don't miss Dick Macks Pub in Dingle. Westport is small but Matt Malloy's Pub is legendary. Overall, the West Coast of Ireland is beautiful and you must not hurry!!!! We spent two weeks in the Southwest and could have spent so much more.
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