Your Dream Long Weekend in Ireland?

Nov 3rd, 2005, 12:31 PM
  #1  
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Your Dream Long Weekend in Ireland?

Hello everyone,

My husband and I would like to spend a romantic long weekend in February in Ireland. I would love to get some input on what you would do with limited time (probably 3 days and nights max, after travel time from New York City is factored in). We don't want Dublin - been there a few times. We're looking instead for castles, scenery, music, pubs and local culture. (I am absolutley obsessed with Christy Moore, which is how I ended up posting on the County Clare board!)

I gather that either the west coast or the southwest coast are the places to go for that, but can anyone offer any more specifics in terms of specific ariports/areas to stay, lodging, not to be missed attractions, etc.?

We are 26 years old (don't know if that matters). We definitely want to spend the night in a castle and perhaps the other two in B&Bs for cost savings (only private baths).

I would very much appreciate any input you all may have. (Also - any tips about the weather!)

Thanks!
hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:01 PM
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If you were going in the warmer Wx. I could highly Rec. Herons Cove in Goleen on the Mizen Peninsula. Small village on a secluded bay. Great Rest. with a large wine cellar. Large rooms over the restaurant all with balconies that overlook the small harbor. Sit there and watch the tide come in and out. Great rooms, large soft beds and Sue is a lovely hostess. I have been there twice and it did rekindle the romance in my 30 year marriage. Short walk to a small village with two pubs for a little chin wag with the locals. Having said that I did stay at Dromoland Castle for a night several years ago. Costs abit but if your going to treat yourself it is top notch.
If you can fly into Cork (connection thru London or Manchester) Kinsale is a lovely little village on the coast and only a half hour from the airport. You don't have much time and it is not a great time of the year. The only advice I can give with certainty is do not end up in Doolin. In any event have fun
JOHNOD is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Hawaiimoon05,

I would hit the west coast and see if you can't get a good "B&B" price on a few night's stay at Ashford (my first choice) or Dromoland (second choice) castles. Often in the off season they have good deals on several nights stay including breakfast or both dinner and breakfast. Check out their web sites. Service and surrounding for the cost at that time of the year is worth it in my books. I'd *love* to be able to pop over to Ireland for a romantic weekend getaway. (Alas, not likely for us living in southern CA!)

Either way you will want a rental car which is good to make a few day trips out to nearby areas. More info on those areas are all over the boards so I won't list them again here.

Some Random Christy Info for ya - my hubby is from the same town as Christy Moore and used to pump his gas for him when he (hubby) was a kid.

Happy romancing!

Wendy

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waffle18 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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Fly into Shannon. Go to Galway. It's a lively town with lots of pubs, and music. I think there's a castle near Galway that's a B&B, and 'music oriented'. It's been mentioned on the board before, perhaps search for 'galway'. For scenery, drive out to Clifden and around Connemara, or down into the Burren and Cliffs of Moher.
Or, drive to Dingle Town (about three+ hour drive). The town has many pubs, and should be some music going down somewhere. The scenery is very dramatic, beautiful! For the castle, stay your last night at Dromoland, near Shannon.
KateIP is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 09:03 AM
  #5  
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Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions!

Well Dromoland is sold out, unfortunately. Ashford has one night available - so it sounds like we should grab that! Perhaps we should stay at B&Bs in other locations for the other nights so that we can travel a bit - I really want to see both the southwest and the west. Is that possible in such a short time? Is Galway a recommended stop, or should we save that for another trip?

Sorry for all of the questions - I'm researching everywhere but don't know a whole lot about the area.

And Wendy - what a great story about Christy Moore! How exciting. Thanks for the tips!!
hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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HM,

Email me! I'm happy to discuss Ireland at length with you.

Wendy
waffle18 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 10:04 AM
  #7  
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Thanks Wendy - will do! As for the others, here is a little more info...


We are arriving Shannon early on the 18th (7:30am.)

Want to spend the day driving south, seeing sights along the way, spend the night of the 18th at a lovely B&B in a southern town - this is where I need suggestions!

Wake up early on the 19th and continue the southern loop, ending up at Ashford Castle where we have reservations for the night.

Spend the 20th exploring the western shore, ending in Galway where we will spend our final night (also need B&B recs here!)

Wake up at the crack of dawn and drive to Shannon airport for a 9:30 am flight.

Does this all sound crazy? We really love driving around to take in sights, so the hours in the car don't bother us. I'm not sure about the relative distances between these locations and whether so much travel is feasible in such a short time.

Thanks in advance!
hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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Hmmmm...You want to drive south from Shannon and end up at Ashford Castle? Do you by any chance have a map of Ireland? It would come in extremely handy since you would then realize that Ashford is north of Shannon.

In answer to your question "does this sound crazy?" YES!

Your flight is at 9:30 and you probably need to be there 2 1/2 hours earlier than that (car return, VAT forms, check-in, etc.) Drive to Shannon from Galway will take 1 to 1-1/2 hours. To accomplish that you must be out the door of your hotel at 5:30 am. What if the roads are icy? You will be driving in the dark. Not a good idea on Irish roads. You should stay much closer to the airport on your last night.

Rethink the entire thing.
IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 01:22 PM
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Thanks for your reply.

I realize that Ashford is north of Shannon.

My thought was to drive south, spend a night there in one of the small towns, then spend the next day driving up the coast, back up past Shannon to Ashford. On the way back to the Shannon airport we thought we would stay in Galway, then back to Shannon closing a big loop.

You make a good point about the airport. That having been said...

Do you have any other suggestions? We are locked into Ashford for our second night (out of just three nights) and we REALLY want to see the Ring of Kerry.
hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 02:22 PM
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Here are a couple of options:

Glin Castle which is not particularly close to the RoK, but if you're looking for a castle, it could work. http://www.glincastle.com/

I've stayed at Tahilla Cove Country House on the RoK between Kenmare and Sneem and I have really enjoyed it. It's not nearly as "high end" as Ashford or Dromoland (nor is the price) but it's really a wonderful place at James and Dierdre are great. It has it's own little cove, they serve dinners some of the nights and it's very private. Some of the rooms have patios or balconies that look out over the cove. http://www.tahillacove.com/

Hope this is helpful.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2005, 09:37 PM
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hawaiimoon05,

You have been getting many responses here and on another forum that you are trying to do too much. Choose to EITHER go north of Shannon OR south and not both. The Ring of Kerry takes almost a whole day in itself from Killarney. If you try and do it all it will not be a dream weekend or romantic. It will only
drive yourself and your husband crazy. It is your choice. You can either take good advice or ignore it and do your own thing. Spend your last night nearby the airport.
IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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I hear ya Irish. I promise I'm listening to everyone's advice... I am just trying to make it all work.

I've moved on from trying to do both, but I will post the same question here that I posted elsewhere.

Given the choice, would you keep Ashford Castle? Is it worth it to move my tour up the coast? From everything I've ever heard, the southwest is the place to see. It sounds like there are a few castles further down as well, so would you swap Ashford for one of those, or keep the reservation and explore the western seashore?

I've already decided to do our last night in Bunratty to put us next to the airport.

Thanks!


hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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Clare, Galway and up into Mayo and Donegal is my very favorite area of all of Ireland - and I've seen quite of abit of the country. You will not be sorry in any way with sticking to north of the Shannon. I think, however, that a return trip is in the cards for the two of you so that you can check out Kerry et al. You could make another romantic long weekend of it or, as I would suggest, try to fit in more like an entire week.

Your alternative is to forget going north and just head south and do a big loop from Shannon down to RoK and back again, saving Galway, etc for another trip.

I have been dying to stay in a fancy castle hotel so I'd be unwilling to give up Ashford, especially if you got a good deal on the stay. The off season is such a perfect time to get any deals going. It just doesn't happen in the summer and rarely in the shoulder seasons. I know what I would do if it were me! But, afterall, it's your trip.

Safe travels,

Wendy

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waffle18 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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hawaiimoon05,

I do not think that anyone can make your decision for you. You and your husband must decide what is most important -- staying at Ashford Castle (one of Ireland's best) or seeing the southwest. Make a list of what to do in each area. Which ever list has more things on it you must see, go with.
IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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I agree with the trying to do too much, not sure why I didn't suggest it. One or the other. If the RoK is a must see, don't do Ashford. Wendy is right, you'll probably be making plans for your next trip on the way home.

Another thing about the Ring is that you don't have to do the whole thing. I think the southern coast is the most interesting. Others will argue that you should see Dingle instead. Given your limited time, I would probably agree. Dingle is compact and mile for mile, has a ton of scenery packed in. That would be part of the south option.

Bill
wojazz3 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 02:49 PM
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A couple other things that no one has mentioned, but will be important. In February the days will be short, with light maybe 8am to 5pm, so your driving time is limited. And driving in Ireland takes a LONG time! There really are no superhighways. The roads are narrow, twisty, and tend to get blocked by tractors or construction. Plan on averaging 35 mph. The charm of Ireland (especially in cold February) is found in the local pubs and small villages. Instead of putting miles on the rental car, stick to an area, and enjoy. If you keep Ashford, I'd recommend seeing the Cliffs & Burren, stay first night in Galway, next day Connemara then to Ashford (the joy of staying in a fancy & expensive place is spending time there, not arriving late and leaving early), then maybe Clonmacnoise on your way to Bunratty? That will be a relaxing weekend, and you'll plan a return trip for county Kerry....
KateIP is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Its not crazy Hawaiimoon certainly not at 26!

I went to Hawaii from New York City one year for Martin Luther king weekend. These short breaks are a blast when you are young and your body cooperates!

Must say I do like staying in one place for that short amout a time. Everyone is different though. I just would not want to get off a plane and then into a car for the 3 days I had.

The jump to Ireland is the shortest though. I have gone to Italy for long weekends and I am starting to feel like you need at least 5 days but that is a different time zone, longer plane ride and I am older than you blah blah blah. Ireland is only 5 hours in the sky then its a grand top of the morning to yah where is my Irish bacon and sausage breakfast!

Sarah is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 04:37 PM
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Another idea. Fly in to Shannon, drive up to Galway, and book 3 nights at Cregg Castle, a few miles outside town toward Tuam. Do a day trip up through Cong to Clifden in Connemara, do a day in Galway, and maybe wander down to Doolin and the Cliffs for a day. Or just hang out, wander around the grounds, and get to know the folks there. The owners, Ann Marie and Pat, are musicians, and will play around a turf fire in their grand room at night. They can direct you to other great local music in the area.
mexicobeachbum is offline  
Nov 11th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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Thanks again to all for your input. We've talked it over and want to keep Ashford, so we're going to focus on the West instead of the Southwest this time around. He promised to take me back to Kerry.

Begging him to take an extra day off didn't work, so we still have just three nights to spend. Given that our second night will be at Ashford and our last at Bunratty, we have to pick a place for our first night. (We have no problem staying in 3 different places!)

My question to you all - Doolin or Galway - which would you choose?

hawaiimoon05 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2005, 09:29 AM
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One (Gallway)is a city and the other is or use to be when I was last there a sleepy music village. Not sure how developed it has become in the last 10 years.

so you should consider what experience you want, a country or city experience?

Sarah is offline  

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