Two Weeks in Ireland: Recent Trip

Aug 24th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 18
Two Weeks in Ireland: Recent Trip

Just got back from our long-awaited trip to Ireland - my first, and my husband's first in 30 years. We were planning a rondezvous with my sister and her family on the occasion of my neice's 18th birthday. Her wish was to have her first beer in a Dublin pub, and to do some shopping there with me. We chose to fly into Shannon, rent a car and take the southern route to Dublin. I did most of my planning using tips from contributors on this website, and everything worked out splendidly. I owe a big "Thanks" to all of you travellers who shared their experiences!

Here are the highlights:

Day 1. We flew into Shannon on a sunny Saturday morning and picked up our Dan Dooley rental - a Ford Festiva. Our first and only stop that day was Bunratty - just 10 minutes down the road. We figured that a day at the folk park in the sun would help us get adjusted to the time change, and that did work pretty well. We were scheduled for the early dinner at the Castle, so we dropped by Durty Nellies for pre-dinner pints.
I was apprehensive about the Dinner - it is pricey (48.50 Euros each) and I had read here that it was touristy and the food wasn't that great. I have to say though, the food about the same as elsewhere in Ireland -bland. The entertainment was great though and well worth the price of entry.
Our B&B hosts, Frank and Shelia Tierney (www.Ashgrove warned us about the mead ("drink all the wine you want" they said, "but take it easy on the mead"). All I can say is, they were right. It packed a punch.
After dinner, we wandered over to MacNamara's Pub (the one you get to after hours through the side gate to the fold park - thank you Budman;-)) looking for more music. Inside, the place was dead quiet and filled with a bunch of half-asleep tourists. Outside, a lively group of young Dubliners was carrying on and having a very good time by the looks of it. So I put on a woeful face (Oh dear, nowhere to sit...) and they called us over.
It ended up being our favorite evening of the whole trip! We sang with them, told stories and jokes and eventually hugged and kissed everyone goodnight. It was midnight, and the jetlag had finally kicked our behinds.

Day 2. Our first long drive. We were headed to Doolin to spend the night with my sister and family. They had rented a cottage for the week as part of their Ireland expedition. I'm sure my brother-in-law (MexicoBeachBum)will post his reviews soon if you're interested in the Doolin area.
We drove there via the Cliffs of Moher and arrived in a very crowded, Bank Holiday Doolin. I can't say I'd go back for another August Bank Holiday weekend there - the place was jammed with people, and I couldn't do much shopping, since the nearest bank machine was in Ennis. That whole Cliffs - to - Burren area seems to be light on bank machines. I was reduced to begging a loan from my husband - which I of course repaid;-)

More later...
carolina_girl is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 06:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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carolina_girl - Glad you had a great trip. Looking forward to hearing more. Glad you found the back gate to Mac's Pub and had a great time. That's what it's all about -- having fun with the locals.

Budman is offline  
Aug 25th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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Days 3-4. Dingle.
Whoo boy was this place packed! They had race week coming up and just come off bank holiday. It was a good thing we had booked a B&B early because I didn't see an opening anywhere.
We had a delightful stay at The Lighthouse, and proprietor Mary Murphy was very helpful. She loaned us a well-used book on the Dingle peninsula, and we went off the next morning under bright blue skies to follow the Rick Steves 30-mile loop.
We pulled off the road early on to search out a slant tomb which was supposedly "a short walk up the hill". About 30 minutes later, we found the referenced "disused quarry"... and it's resident bull. We also found a pair of English ladies who were on the same quest.
They voted that I should go through the Quarry first and test out the bull, since I had a red shirt on (ha-ha). Luckily, he wasn't very interested and I followed what seemed to be a track up a steep hillside covered with brambles. I stepped in a hole at one point and twisted my ankle pretty good, but we kept looking. We compared notes with the English, found a stone wall and some fabulous views, but never did uncover that slant tomb. It is probably still there - under the brambles somewhere.
One thing I learned on this trip - whenever the guide book says "short walk", you better have your hiking boots handy!
By the time we completed the loop and got back into Dingle, my ankle was pretty ugly. I stopped by the B&B for a Vioxx and then went to an internet cafe, where I put my foot up for 30 minutes and mailed photos home.
That worked wonders! I was soon walking again, getting ready for our musical pub crawl that evening.
I only wish I had thought to pick up the front door key at the B&B while I was there... by the time we got back it was 11PM, and we had to ring the bell (Yiikes!) Fortunately, Mary hadn't gone to bed yet, so it wasn't as bad as it could've been.

Day 5. Driving to Kinsale - in the rain! It finally rained on us a bit, but we stopped at Muckross House for the tour and enjoyed the low clouds coming over the mountains. There are lots of "jaunting car" drivers outside the park - wanting you to pay for a ride into the park. And then of course, you have to ride out again since you've parked 2 miles back. More of them are lined up outside the house. We didn't do either, since it was raining, but the grounds are beautiful, and worth the visit.
carolina_girl is offline  
Aug 26th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Day 6-7. Kinsale. Great little town, Fort Charles was interesting and had a superb tour guide. For those who have eaten at The Little Skillet, The owners closed it down the week after we went through - moved on to other things I hear. It'll be sorely missed I think. Fishy Fishy is still going great guns though.

Day 8-9. NewGrange and Trim. We decided to pick up a B&B on the fly in Navan - not exactly a tourist town, but it was centrally located to NewGrange and Trim and the Dublin airport where we had to turn in the car. Couldn't find a Pub anywhere, so we made due with one of the large, American style bars. The closest thing to music they had was the grunge bar upstairs. We passed on that.
Someone said that our biggest challenge was going to be finding Newgrange, and they were right-we drove around in circles for a while before we found it. Our early morning start helped out, but only just - we were able to get out to see both Knowth and Newgrange, but we were shoe-horned inside the Newgrange tomb. That's high season for you.

Days 10-13. Dublin. We turned in the car and picked up a bus into dublin. We had book the Harcourt Hotel on Harcourt street near Steven's Green. It was nice enough, but pretty impersonal after having stayed in such nice B&B's. No A/C (our room never got below about 82 degrees) and not much hot water either - about 2 Cups per shower. I wouldn't have wanted to be any further out, because everything was quite a hike. The Luas ran right under our window, but unfortunately didn't go far enough downtown to do us much good.
Hard to believe, but I found better prices on "tourist" items in Dublin than I did out in the country. Go figure.
Our rondezvous with the family went well, and we enjoyed the viking splash tour, Grafton Street shopping and an evening at the musical Grease. That was an interesting experience - kind of like a cross between Rocky Horror Picture Show and a Trad session at a pub. Everyone there (kids especially) knew all the words, dance moves and when to do the wave or snap their fingers. I've never seen anything like it, but it was fun!

Well, that's it. If anyone has questions, please ask!
carolina_girl is offline  
Aug 26th, 2004, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Hi. Do you have any advice for other people who plan to go on the frustrating hunt for Newgrange? Or is it just something we all have to through if we really want to see it. A kind of right of passage - no pun intended.
LisainSA is offline  
Aug 26th, 2004, 02:58 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Our first time, and we just had a good map that showed it's icon on the map and had no problems finding it.

You should be able to get some brochures from various cities/towns that might have directions.

In order to take the tour you just go to the visitors center (which we thought was easy to find). Then you get on a bus that takes you into the middle of nowhere where Newgrange/Knowth are. I have seen people driving on those tiny roads, and you can see it from the roads (which you could get lost on), but you can't take the tour or get up close to it unless you go thru the visitors center.

If I think about it, I'll look at my map and post how we got there pretty easily.
amyprib is offline  
Aug 26th, 2004, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Thanks. We have bought a good map, but I just wondered if it was still really hard to find because so many people had trouble getting there.
LisainSA is offline  
Aug 26th, 2004, 06:22 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Ok, I got my directions from the internet... I tend to be quite organized for big trips...
go to
Directions to Newgrange from several different areas.

Basically going north from Dublin, you get to the M1 and get off on Donore Exit. There are signs for Bru na Boinne Visitor Center. There's a toll here, but no big deal. Then just follow the signs to the car park.

If you go to that site, you can get a bunch of info. ( is the main page). We followed those directions and went straight there. Only reason I can figure it's so hard to find is if you don't have any info on how to get there.

If you want to avoid the M1 and toll road, looking at the map you might be able to take N2 which goes to the west side of Newgrange, then take the same road towards Donore (doesn't show a name). We almost tried that but we were alread at the M1.
Shouldn't be all that difficult, wouldn't worry too much about it.

If poeple just follow the map it may be misleading cuz the map shows it's icon on the north side of a river.... But the visitor center I believe is actually on the south side of the river on that road to Donore.
amyprib is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 11:53 AM
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It won't be all that hard to find if you just go slowly and remember that the signs are pretty inconsequential. It was too easy to fly past the small dirt-covered sign that said Bru na Boinne.
Maps are helpful, but things can look very different out there in person ;-)
carolina_girl is offline  
Sep 4th, 2004, 07:31 AM
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Carolina_girl writes: "... I couldn't do much shopping, since the nearest bank machine was in Ennis. That whole Cliffs - to - Burren area seems to be light on bank machines. I was reduced to begging a loan from my husband ... "

I posted some time ago (after our Mar trip) that there's an ATM next to the entrance to the ITB store in Lahinch, which is a lot closer to your route than is Ennis.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Sep 7th, 2004, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 160
There are also ATM's in Ennistymon, which, I think, are the closest to Doolin.
mexicobeachbum is offline  

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