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GeogChallengedJackie Feb 23rd, 2012 11:18 AM

Visting Ireland in May and need some help planning
Hello. I am traveling to Europe in late May (last two weeks of the month) and wanted to spend 5 or so days traveling around Ireland. I have looked at all the pre-packaged tours but I like the idea of just renting a car and seeing the sights on my own schedule. We start and end in Dublin, and I have seen suggestions of Cork, Killarney, and the Ring of Kerry. Any advice you have on ways to go, things to see, or places to stay would be greatly appreciated!

irishface Feb 23rd, 2012 01:09 PM

Let us know your interests and we can be of more help. That said, days is not much time and you won't be able to see all of Ireland so I would suggest you pick one area and concentrate on that. Also time of arrival and departure so we know time constraints on travel days.

You have mentioned areas in the southwest of Ireland. Always a popular choice.

Other suggestions:

Head to the southeast and visit Kilkenny with its medieval streets, castle and gardens, and Dame Kytelers Inn. Drive down to the coast--Kilmore Quay is a charming fishing (thatched roof cottages) village with harbor-- Boat trips to the Saltee Islands if you are into birding--Silver Fox is a popular restaurant With wonderful food. New Ross with the Dunbrody famine ship--you get to go aboard and see what conditions were like for those immigrants (and remember the Dunbrody was considered among the best of the famine ships). On your way back to Dublin or your way down stop and visit Glendalough and/or Powerscourt House and Gardens and waterfall..

Or head over to Galway. Visit Connemara and Kylemore Abbey (it is pictured on a lot of Irish candy boxesetc. and is as pretty as its picture.) Take a day trip to the Aran Islands--or even an overnight. Ferry from Rosseveale is the closest to the islands and Aer Aran is a ten minute flight. On the way back to Dublin stop at Clonmacnoise.

Or head north. Visit Trim with its castle, Newgrange--a prehistoric tomb older than the pyramids, Mellifont Abbey, Monastyerboice, Hill of Tara. Then head north to the Antrim coast and enjoy its scenery. The Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle (whose kitchen fell into the sea during a banquet several hundred years ago). There is a distillery in the area if you like that sort of thing. Remember to tell your car hire people if you decide to go over the border into Northern Ireland.

There are others here who will also have lots of suggestions. I can't help with places to stay as I stay a few days with friends when I go and then I wing it from there.

GeogChallengedJackie Feb 28th, 2012 05:13 AM

Thanks so much! As for interests: I love good food (I heard there would be some great places for seafood), I love the idea of checking out castles and other picturesque sights without being so much into the actual history behind it. haha.

We are splitting the trip between Ireland and Amsterdam and I haven't booked the flight to Amsterdam yet until I figure out the best number of days to spend in Ireland. I also think we will spend the last weekend just in Dublin since we won't have a car for that part. Any suggestions beyond the Guinness Factory and Jamesons would be appreciated as well. Kilkenny sounds perfect so I will make sure to include that on the trip. New Ross too since it sounds close by? What would you suggest doing in the Aran Islands?

Thank you so much for your help! I just keep getting more and more excited about planning this trip!

longhorn55 Feb 28th, 2012 04:54 PM

I suggest that you first get a good map of Ireland and consult the AA Route Planner--
That should help you realistically see how much ground you can cover in 5 days. I don't see how you can spend a weekend in Dublin and then plan to see Kilkenny and the Aran Islands as well in the time frame you mention.
If possible, I would devote at least 7 or 8 days in Ireland. We've done two 8-day trips focusing on a separate area of Ireland each time and that has worked well for us.

irishface Feb 29th, 2012 04:56 AM

As Longhorn says, you can't do Aran and Kilkenny area in 3 days which is what you have left after taking out the weekend in Dublin.

Notice that I said OR not AND when I suggested various places to visit. (Sorry about the caps for and/or). I do not mean to shout, just want to emphasize those words and don't know any other way on this forum.

GeogChallengedJackie Feb 29th, 2012 10:31 AM

Oh that's my mistake with being unclear too! We fly into Dublin and have five days or so to travel around, then three in Amsterdam, and back to Dublin for the weekend before returning to the US.

And no worries about shouting or not shouting. I'm not overly sensitive and very geographically challenged so getting your point across can definitely take caps once in a while :)

Crisher Feb 29th, 2012 05:30 PM

Loved Kilkenny! Consider staying at Butler House... If it makes sense with your itinerary, Kenmare was also really awesome. Dublin was uninspiring to be honest...but I can understand the appeal depending on your interests. Wicklow was a cool day trip from Dublin too... Enjoy!

irishface Feb 29th, 2012 06:04 PM

Jackie, thanks for being so gracious.

And rethinking your itinerary with five days. You could do Kilkenny and Galway in that time, but it will consume a good part to a whole day to drive from Kilkenny. If you check distances, think in terms of 35-40 mph on most roads.

So that would mean 2 days for Kilkenny (maybe two and a half) and then 2 days for Galway. Don't know how much you are up for. However, you could easily spend 5 days in any of the areas I mentioned above and have plenty to do.

You'll have a wonderful time no matyter what you choose!

Dublin is not high on many lists of places to see in Ireland. I am prejudiced as I lived nearby for a couple of years and so was in and out of the city once a week or so, which makes it sort of like going home for me. But I think there is much to see and do there. Many of the museums are closed on Monday and Sunday morning so check any that you really want to see and plan accordingly. I love the National Museum and the National Gallery--they may not be among the "great" museums, but I always try to get a visit in when I am in Ireland. Among the other sights are the Book of Kells, St. Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals, Kilmainham Gaol (a very moving place), the national Botanic Gardens, Guiness Brewery, the Georgian architecture. Take the DART (train) out to Howth (short ride) and hike around or just enjoy the harbor area and have lunch. Take a walk down to Moore St. in the morning to visit the market. Walk over the Ha'penny bridge. Visit the Temple Bar area--not my favorite spot but glad I went to check it out. St. Stephen's Green at the end of Grafton St. is good for a walk, people watching, and gardens.

longhorn55 Mar 1st, 2012 05:34 AM

Having visited Dublin on two separate occasions, I enjoy it very much. The National Museums that Irishface mentions are good (and free) and Kilmainham Gaol is not-to-be-missed. It's also an excellent city for walking because it is somewhat compact. I always recommend visitors do the Historical Walking Tour of Dublin led by history graduates of one of the Dublin universities. Our knowledgeable guide was both informative and entertaining. See:

Tomsd Mar 1st, 2012 02:26 PM

Get thee to Dingle. :) I took the train from Dubin to Limerick - and stayed the first night in a nice Jury's Inn- overlooking the beautiful Shannon River.

The next am - went to Shannon airport to pick up a rental car and drove to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, and by the Burren (wasn't blooming in March) - and then through cute Adare on the way to Dingle and my great B & B (Cill Breach House) with a view of Dingle harbor and wonderful hostess - Angela - who cooked gourmet breakfasts and had great suggestions for what to see. Here is the webpage and click on Angela's Top 10. :)

Used Cill Breach as a base to also drive around the Ring of Kerry - and visit the wonderful Cathedral in Kilarney - and also zipped down to drive around Cork and the wonderful seaside - epicurian capital of Kinsale. Also drove all around historic Dingle Peninsula - which has the old stone huts, etc.

Tomsd Mar 1st, 2012 02:27 PM

BTW - Dingle, the Ring of Kerry/County Kerry - and the Baera peninsula/drive - is the greenest part of Ireland.

Tomsd Mar 1st, 2012 07:04 PM

And just posted this on another post about the Battle of Kinsale, so fyi also:

GeogChallengedJackie Mar 8th, 2012 07:16 AM

This is fantastic! Thanks so much guys! I am going to do a little more research around your suggestions and check back. It sounds like going to Shannon or anywhere else will end up with too much drive time. The tip on the Sunday/Monday museums is important too.

I have done some reading up on Dublin and will do more on the other sites this weekend. Has anyone done the Haunted tour in Dublin? Also, other suggestions on what portion of Dublin to stay in and any affordable options you liked?

longhorn55 Mar 8th, 2012 08:32 AM

Because we had a rental car (for day trips), on our two visits to Dublin, we opted to stay outside of Dublin in Malahide. It's a nice seaside town with shops, restaurants, and loads of B&Bs. It's even got a castle, Malahide Castle, which I believe is closed to tours now but you are free to wander the extensive grounds. Travel between Malahide and Dublin is easy by DART or bus (we've done both).

GeogChallengedJackie Apr 11th, 2012 06:29 AM

Hello Everyone! I want to thank you all for your help and apologize for the hiatus I took on planning this. The tentative plan is as follows:

Dublin: 2 nights
Galway: 2 nights (see Cliffs of Moher)
Bunratty: 1 night (kind of a stopping off point to break up the drive)
Kenmare: 1 night (this was suggested when seeing the Ring of Kerry right? Any better choices)?
Cork: 1 night

I did a lot of research that I am going to dump in here for the next person if they find it useful. I used a Frommers book from a few years ago so the pricing could be off. If anyone has the time and wants to tell me what they liked, didn't like, suggested places to stay, etc- let me know- especially if there is a better city to stay in than Bunratty between Galway and Kenmare, and if you suggest somewhere else near the Ring of Kerry to stay other than Kenmare.




Temple Bar: Party Hub
St Stephens Green/ Grafton Street Area: Dublin’s finest hotels,
restaurants and shops
Hours: Museums and sights are generally open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to
Saturday, and 2 to 5pm on Sunday. Shops are generally open 9am to 6pm
Monday to Friday, with late opening on Thursday until 7 or 8pm. In the
city center most department stores and many shops are open noon to 6pm
on Sundays.

Hotels: view hotels and guest houses with
immediate availability
Stay South of the Liffey

Christ Church Cathedral: walk to it from the Riverside to truly admire it
Dublin Castle: Sights including an old Viking excavation. Admission is around $8
Kilmainham Gaol Historical Museum: Key sight for anyone interested in
Ireland’s struggle for independence from Brittish rule. Appears to be
a prison and called a “moving experience to last a lifetime.” $8.50
for a guided tour. Daily 9:30-4:45
St Patricks Catthedral: Largest church in Ireland and one of the best
loved. Admission $9. Hours: 9-6pm
Guiness Storehouse: one of the world’s most famous brewery. Admission
$22. Hours: 9:30-5pm
Jameson Distillery: museum illustrates all you can learn. Sample at
the end. Admission $20. Hours: (;30-6pm
General Post Office: more than a post office, a symbol of Irish
Freedom. Sight of the Easter Rising. Admission: Free Hours: Mon-Sat is
8-8pm and Sun 10:30-6:30pm
Dublin Zoo: 235 species of wild animals. Admission: $24 Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-dusk. Sun: 10:30am to dusk
Viking Splash Tour: DUCK TOUR. Admission: $32. Hours: every half hour
from 9:30am-5pm. Lasts an hour and 15 minutes
Dublin Ghost Purse: 2 and ¼ hours is a spooky evening tour. THIS
SOUNDS AWESOME!! Admission: $40. Mon-Thurs 8pm. Friday 8pm and 8:30pm.
Saturday and Sunday at 7pm and 9:30pm.
Walking Tours:
1916 Rebellion Walking Tour: A very absorbing tour that visits the
GPO. Admission: $19. Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30am. Sun: 1pm
Walk Macabre: Reinactment from the Trapeze Theater Company. Duration:
90 minutes. Rated R for violent imagery, MUST book in advance.
Admission: $19. Hours: 7:30pm.
Events Information

Locke’s Distillery Museum: Midway between Dublin and Galway, making it
a good stopping off point while your on a cross country journey.
Oldest licensed pot-still whiskey distillery. 35 minute tour will tell
you how whiskey was distilled. Does not actually serve whiskey though.
Admission: $8. Hours: 9-6pm

Galway City
One of Ireland’s most prosperous cities and one of it’s most
appealing. Lively Art and Music scene. The Claddagh Ring originated
here, and I intend to buy one! The hands are said to be represent
friendship, the crown loyalty, and the heart love- three ingredients
of a perfect marriage.
Lynch’s Castle: A bank looked over by Gargoyles!
Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Centre: crystal manufacturer can watch
craftsman at work. Glassmaking demonstrations. Admission: Free. Hours:
Mon-Fr: 9-5:30pm. Sat: 10-5:30pm. Sun: 11-5pm
Corrib Princess: two deck boat cruise with commentary on points of
interest. 90 minutes passing castles, historical sites, assorted
wildlife. Admission: $19. Hours: 2:30-4:30.
Aran Islands: Galway side trip

County Clare
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park: Historic theme park and really cute.
Castle surrounded by lots of 19th century recreations. Admission: $24.
Hours: 9-5:30pm
Bunratty Winery: Try mead, potato moonshine, etc. Can see the working
winery and taste the brew. Admission: Free. Hours: 9:30-5:30pm.
Lough Derg Drive: Very scenic waterway drive
Cliffs of Moher: These high, undulating cliffs plunging down to the
Atlantic offer unforgettable views. This is a dramatic place, where
the soundtrack is provided by the roar of waves crashing against the
cliff walls far below and the faint cries of the nesting seabirds.
Tip: Go there for sunset. Parking: $13
Lahinch Seaworld and Leisure Center: small but well designed aquarium
with a touch pool. Admission: $13. Hours: 10-9pm

Country Kerry
Ring Of Kerry: undoubtedly Ireland’s most popular scenic drive, the
Ring of Kerry is the name for the small highway that skirts the edges
of the Iveragh Peninsula, passing along the way a panorama of rugged
coastline, tall mountains, and pristine lakes. Most people traveling
start and end at Killarney but the town of Kenmare makes for a more
charming base. Go Counter Clockwise for the most spectacular views.
Glenbeigh is a good resting point, skip Killarney. Stop at Valentia
and take the ferry to Skellig Michael (arguably the prettiest site on
the entire trip).Try to visit on a clear day for this crossing. The
skellig experience is $8. Home of an old Monk Monastery

Cork Butter Museum: largest exporter of salted butter in the world.
Now it’s a museum for dairy lovers and dancers. Admission: $6. Hours: 10-5pm.
Cork City Gaol: restored prision with reinanctements. “Radio Museum
Experience” Admission: $12. Hours: 9:30-5pm
Old English Market: Ireland’s Best Food Market.
Blarney Castle and Stone: one of the most impressive castles in
Ireland. Admission: $16. Hours: 9-6:30pm. Sun: 9:30-5:30pm.
Greyhound Racing: Admission: $16. Hours: Wed, Thurs, and Sat at 8pm

Tony2phones Apr 11th, 2012 07:28 AM

Dublin to Galway you could come off the M6 and visit Clonmacnoise, then Possibly Birr over to Portumna at the top of the Lough Derg Drive before Loughrea and Galway.

Ennis is a great base and a genuine Irish town rather than a couple of villages with a castle, folk park and a couple of pubs that the locals avoid. Don't get me wrong I love Bunratty for the Folk park and Castle just wouldn't stay there.

You have a quandary. Between Galway and Bunratty or Ennis. You have the coastal route which everyone knows or the inland Logh Derg drive and whilst I would love to welcome you to an untouched area of East Galway/East Clare you might prefer the coast and possibly venture onto some of the Burren. Just don't believe all the hype about the Cliffs or Doolin, Loop Head is a far better option and might be a possibility if you decide to take the Shannon ferry rather than the Tunnel.

(If you want any Connemara details message me.

Tony2phones Apr 11th, 2012 07:31 AM

Forgot to Mention the Fledh Nua is on the end of May in Ennis so accommodation might be a little tight especially weekends

GeogChallengedJackie Apr 18th, 2012 07:14 AM

I love the idea of the festival so thank you so much for that recommendation, Ennis it is! Now all that's left is where to stay in Galway (and suggestions on things to do) and where to stay when doing the Ring of Kerry. If you have any advice, please send it my way!!

Tony2phones Apr 18th, 2012 10:31 AM

Kenmare or Killarney would be good bases for Kerry and using Ennis as a base you could make it a full day down and pop over the Connor pass to Dingle for lunch then the Slea Head Loop before heading down.

Galway depends on your taste and budget. You could stay in the city, on the outskirts or venture out into the wild west. Clifden is celebrating it's 200th Aniversary from the 25th May to 4th June

GeogChallengedJackie May 13th, 2012 05:12 PM


I am looking at the various ghost tours offered in Dublin and wanted to see if anyone had a suggestion. Please let me know!

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