Where to start - First Trip to Ireland

Jan 24th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Where to start - First Trip to Ireland

Good afternoon. My husband and I are just starting to plan a family trip for the two of us and our 13 year old son to Ireland and England in late May / early June 2011. At this point, we have nothing set in stone regarding flights, hotels, etc. We are considering flying into Dublin from the US and then flying out of either Cork or Shannon before we head to London to avoid having to backtrack. We would fly home from London.

We are confident that we will be able maneuver Dublin and find too much to fill our time but are interested in seeing highlights from the southeast and/or southwest parts of Ireland. We are interested in history, castles (both ruins and preserved), nature, etc. We want to see as much as we can in the very limited time that we will have (and realize that we will barely touch the so-called tip of the iceberg!). We are open to seeing some of the normal tourist spots but would also like the opportunity to see the real Ireland and see some out of the way gems.

Any recommendations as to where we start in planning our trip? I am finding it fairly overwhelming since I do not have a specific list of must-sees. I also want to get our 13 year old excited and interested. This will be his first trip like this as we usually head to the beach!
Evagem94 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 12:10 PM
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It is usually more expensive to fly out of London/UK than other cities. I would suggest starting in London and returning from Shannon. Would need to know length of time you will be allocating to Ireland to make any worthwhile suggestions for an itinerary.
freetoroam is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion on reversing the trip. I have checked airfares both ways and they are pretty consistent (at least at this point in time. We are looking at 6 days total in Ireland with one of the days being the one following the overnight flight.
Evagem94 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 01:24 PM
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Either way would work, if airfares are about equal. I do think London is a good place to start trips, especially if this is your first international trip (you don't say, so you may be experienced travelers). It's used to lots of visitors, has good signage and public transport, and is "familiar" in that you will recognize a lot of landmarks.

How long is your trip in total? If you start in London (spending your post-flight day there) and keep the full six days in London, I would stick to either Dublin and the eastern side of the country, or a couple of days in Dublin and then head to Kerry, for example (Kenmare, Killarney, Dingle), flying home from Shannon. Basically, pick Dublin and one other place. (Or you might decide that London is city enough for you, and fly from London to southwest Ireland directly, then fly home from Shannon.)

Shannon airport is very easy to fly out of - for me, it was a low-stress way to end a vacation.
jent103 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 05:17 PM
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For the son (and yourselves, of course) there are some mummies in Dublin in St Michan Church..A little distraction for a teen. Google "mummies in Dublin" and take a look at the blurbs. Also there are some books by Morgan Llywelyn..ie: Brian Baru(sp), another..The Last Prince of Ireland that he/you might enjoy. If he (the teen not Brian) is into "the troubles" she has several ones on that also. There is lots of history there from the Vikings to the present. You should enjoy this trip..He is of a good age to appreciate the place.
amer_can is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 05:24 PM
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Forgot to mention Newgrange..a neolithic burial mound between Dublin and Belfast and the sites of the dolmans in the same area as Hill of Tara... Neat places to experience the ancient culture of the Celts and their ingenious building skills.. The dolman graves extend from the Iberian peninsula(Portugal)through France (Cruese/town of Croq)as far as I know and have seen to Ireland..Fascinating!!!
amer_can is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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In planning a trip, I find it very useful to look at the itineraries of organized tours. Not that I have any intention of taking one but they provide a good starting point for choosing sites that are of interest to me and in getting a feel for travel times involved [very important in the case of Ireland]. Letting your 13 year old do some of the research would perhaps be a good way to get him interested and excited about the trip.

For a more specific recommendation, I would suggest splitting your time between Dublin and Galway [see the current thread http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-galway.cfm ]. Six days is not a lot of time and limiting yourself to a couple of locations would greatly reduce the amount of time lost to travel and allow more time for sightseeing.

Enjoy your planning [I enjoy this process almost as much as the trip itself] and your trip.
freetoroam is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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consider getting "In Search of Ancient Ireland" from your local library. It's a PBS special that is very informative and entertaining at the same time. For ancient history, you almost can't pass up Bru Na Boyne and New Grange. even my teenage nephews and son who are never impressed with anything really enjoyed that. For something like that, a tour makes sense because you get a deep background on it, at the site, they keep you moving in and out pretty fast. (for anything else, I avoid tours, we like to explore and enjoy on our own)Maybe read the book "How the Irish Saved History" then go see the book of Kells in Dublin and Skellig Michael in the West. The southwest is full of ancient sites as well as simply old ones. Ross Castle and Muckross house in Killarney ntl park are very interesting. Near Shannon, Ennis is a beautiful small town that is very tourist friendly and Craganowen is a rebuilt celtic village with a restored castle that gives a real taste of what life was like in feudal times. I always recommend the southwest because it has it all. The people speak Irish there, they are very friendly (I think tourism and sheep are the main industries)it is absolutely gorgeous. on the dingle pen there is Inch Beach which is good for surfing and boogie boarding, if you're a beginner. If you're a real surfer though don't bother, it doesn't have very big waves. my guys have never done it and had a blast.

Maybe rent "Ryan's Daughter" for the scenery. the movie itself got panned although I thought it was very good. Its theme is "the troubles" about the revolution. Another excellent and very readable book is Frank Delaney's "Tipperary" There's another one about St. Patrick and fairies but I can't remember the name right now. If your son's a reader and he gets the places in his mind, that will help to enjoy it when he actually sees it. Helps adults too. we found that tour books were just too overwhelming for planning but coffee table picture books helped us decide what areas we wanted to concentrate on.
farmer_annie is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Farmer Annie - love the idea of looking through coffee table books. We have done the reverse since our trip to Scotland several years ago so it makes perfect sense! Freetoroam - good idea to look at tours (even if we don't want to take them) to get ideas. We are actually looking at a private tour so starting with bus tours makes sense.
Evagem94 is offline  
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