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Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Jul 13th, 2005, 05:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Help, my head and heart of full or Ireland! I've read 3 guidebooks and looked at photos.

Now I have to squeeze the wonders of Ireland into just 15 nights in the green country of my Irish grandmother's birth.

I would LOVE to hear what are your favorite places, most treasured memories of your visit to Ireland? Your # 1 favorite town/region/B&B? Whatever you remember fondly?

And what disappointed you the most, perhaps something you wish you had avoided or done differently?

Thanks so much! I will be travelling with hubby and my 2 young adult daughters in summer 2006 to Ireland for about 15 nights plus 2 nights on the plane.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 07:15 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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15 nights should give you time for a nice circuit of Ireland. Are you flying in to Dublin or Shannon?

The memories are always the small scenes and surprises you don't read about here or in the tour books. Believe me, you'll come back with your own! The villages I loved most were of course some of the remotely out of the way tiny ones whose names I can't remember.

Our disappointment was that the head of China or someone was visiting the Killarney Lakes so we couldn't go out into that part of the park.

Second disappointment: the bookstores in Sligo (Yeats area) were closed on Sunday.

Despite a horrible cold, my husband says he loved Sheen Falls Lodge. By the time we got to St. Clerans, I had the horrible cold, but also loved it.

Hope this gives you starters.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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-Co. Mayo
-Area south-west of Waterford and south-east of Cork City, including Ardmore, Youghal, Kinsale
- Ilnacullin Gardens
- Cragganouewen (?)
- Killarney National Park
- South of Dublin to Avoca
- Cliffs of Moher
- Cobh

Okay (once):
- Dublin
- Bunratty
- Ring of Kerry
- Doolin
- Co. Dongegal

Waste of time:
- Galway
- Blarney Stone
- the Burren
- Adare
- Waterford
rickmav is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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My husband and I also caught colds! Must be all the rain!
Our greatest disappointment was in the B&B's where we stayed. We made prepaid reservations via a travel agency and regretted each and every one because of how far out of town each was located. With 2 young adult children along, I'd definitely stay within walking distance to the city center where the "action" is each night. You can't imagine how difficult it is to find an isolated B&B in the pitch dark after having drunk a Guinness or two.

My other "disappointment" was in the difficulty of driving in general. It was very stressful for us. Hopefully you will not find it so.
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 11:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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I was slightly disappointed with Dublin. It seemed dirty and grimy to me as compared with the rest of Ireland. Of course, it is a major city...

My best memories are of meeting people and the cozy pubs. We pulled off the road in Boyle, Ire. and stopped in a pub. It turned out to be owned by a guy from the US (Tenn. or Kentucky), and the pub was decorated in Elvis memorabilia with country on the jukebox! We ended up chatting with the owner and the locals for a few hours. In another pub, I was chatting with a guy at the bar while waiting for drinks, and bought him a beer. He then came over to our table and sat with us for the evening, buying us Irish whiskey and telling stories. The people really are the friendliest I've encountered anywhere. Loved the town of Kilkenny, also.
kjenn is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 12:12 AM
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Thanks for such a variety of responses! I am getting the impression that if I want to find my own special memories, I need to leave time for doing that...meaning, don't try to squeeze in too many places, slow down.

I love to hear about what people loved, and what disappointed them. It's so individual, but the stories begin to help paint a picture of the country I want to visit...

HOPINGTOTRAVEL: You asked whether I am flying in to Shannon or Dublin. I can't decide. I want to narrow my bases to about 5 "base" hotels, with 15 total nights. This means 5 destinations. We will want to rent a car. Don't want to drive within the city of Dublin that's for sure. Right now I have too many places we want to visit, all spread out! Everything from northern Ireland, where my Irish grandmother came from, down to Dingle! Would like to see a couple things in Dublin but don't really like big cities especially. Yeats area bookstores closed on Sunday! As a book lover I consider that a true tragedy.

RICKMAV, would love to know why you loved Killarney National park and why for you the Burren was a waste of time. (My hubby is a biologist and so far Killarney National park and the Burren are on his must-see list.) Not sure if he gets 2 votes though! We will have 4 people. And I must know why you didn't like Galway.

Knowing why other people liked/hated things really brings the scene alive for me and I plan the best trips that way!

MKDIEBOLD: Good point about finding an isolated B&B in the dark after drinking a pitcher of Guiness! So, no Guiness for us? Just kidding! I'm not worried about the driving, after driving in Costa Rica this summer it couldn't get much worse...Beautiful country by the way! You will find great accomodations by reading this web-site! Fodorites know more than the travel agents.

KJenn, good to know the down-side of Dublin. I like to know what to expect.

Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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Just two quick comments. I completely disagree about the Burren, as I believe most here would. It is an extremely interesting and beautiful area. Only place like it on earth, and I think I read that certain foliage is found only there (not sure about that). Also, I would fly in and out of Shannon. The west, NW and SW I believe are the most interesting and beautiful parts of Ireland. Doesn't sound like you're enthused on Dublin, and you're right--it's a big city. I think Ireland's charm lies in its small towns and countrysides. Have a great trip!
Holldoll is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 05:02 AM
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My most treasured memories are the surprises around the corner. So many ruins from yrs past. The country side dotted with miles and miles of stone fences. Where did they get all those stones? and who laid them? It seems as if they cover all of Ireland. Loved the pubs with their peat fires. The scenery of the Dingle Peninsula is still fresh in my mind with the rocky shores of Slea Head Drive and narrow roads, especially Conner's Pass.

My biggest disappointment was a dinner of Irish stew in Dublin. It came from a can, I know it did!

One of my best surprises was stopping in at a gas station for DH to change a flat tire (lots of pot holes) and finding inside little personnal steak and kidney pies and chicken and mushroom pies. Ummmmmmm have not had them since England many years ago.

Have a great time, wish it were me.
cd is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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My favorite County was Donegal and my favorite town was Ballyshannon. On our next trip we will spend 2 full weeks in CO. Donegal and do day trips from there.
The Burren IS worth a visit IMO. It is really unique landscape and the Dolmen (Polnabrone -please forgive my spelling!!) is an amazing place that you can feel the history.
You are correct about not traveling to much. though you have a good amount of time to spend. I would tend to concentrate on a couple areas...West/NW.Northern Ireland is also worth a visit so dont let those guidebooks steer you only to the Ring of Kerry!
panhandle is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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My most treasured memory is stumbling into a bar in Kilkenny to find it packed with people, singing while a few musicians played. I figured it was one of those things tourists *think* happen, but they really don't. The pint and view at the end of the Guinness factory tour in Dublin are worth the price of admission.

I could not have been more bored at the Waterford factory, but I was with friends who wanted to see it. It did seem to be the cheapest place to buy Waterford pieces, though.
MerryTravel is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 05:39 AM
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We liked the Burren very much also.

A note on which airport--you can fly into one and out of the other. That's what we did, and it worked well and cost the same amount. We left from Dublin. We picked up our rental car at Shannon airport when we arrived, and then when we reached Dublin at the end of our trip, went straight to the Dublin Airport to drop off the car. Then took a taxi into the city for our last two nights.
bucky is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:15 AM
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cliffs of moher...cross over the stone fence for the best views...even if you don't want to get too close to the edge! truly awesome! this is one of those places where the more time you spend there, the more time you want to spend there, mesmorizing!

boyne river valley(newgrange/trim/tara)
great historic sites,
great moment-sharing tara with only the sheep in the morning mist

pubs/music in doolin and dingle-
fun people(really enjoyed sharing tables with other tourists, european travelers were especially friendly), good music, great beer ...I enjoyed murphy's

dingle-slea head loop drive, the best! made the mistake of doing before ROK...really not a fair comparison.
reason- we spent about the same time (5-6hours...did spend extra time in the park) doing each, the ring is over 3x longer but slea head is so scenic you are constantly wanting to stop and take it all in...seems to have more historic sites and places that are safer/easier to stop. kinda more bang for your buck(time).
if do ROK...thought southern part and of course the park were nicest...just FYI, we were there in June and neither drive was crowded.

stay at cregg castle (not fancy, but it was a castle...comfy feel)-hosts played music and guests joined in, also enjoyed sitting on a small porch area chatting with hosts/guests while sheep were herded through the pasture, wouldn't have been the same if owners not there

connemara-one of the places we would like more time in (and will in 2006), felt that this area provided more contrasts and interesting scenery than the burren

killarney national park had a lot to offer...enjoyed muckross house/abbey and ross castle, especially enjoyed drive from park to kenmare, very scenic...magical,one place where at times I thought I could come across a leprechaun (didn't enjoy Killarney the town-loud, crowded, tacky feel)

burren- we were there in June, but must have missed something...wasn't so "different", the famous dolmen was surrounded by 2 tour busses and loads of others parked off the road, did hike up to a ring fort and had it to ourselves a bit...talked with some other tourists who took a guided hike and they seemed to enjoy it.

galway-lots of traffic and crowded with college crowd and tourists, all of the pubs with music were very crowded and more interested in drinking and socializing than music...not enjoyable, unless you like feeling like a sardine. thought a stroll by the bay near the spanish arch would be nice...until we spotted some nasty characters participating in some questionable activities...not nice! also the most confusing place to drive through...I thought we'd never get untangled from all of the one way streets. also very loud at night...might be better in the middle of the week.

kilkenny-not quaint medieval town we thought it would be...crowded, hard to navigate and park in, not very friendly, castle was nice, loved jerpoint abbey outside of the town.
chip is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:29 AM
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I'm not so sure you should be recommending people to cross over the stone fence at the Clifs of Moher. It gets quite windy and there have been people blown over the edge. I just think it could be quite dangerous.
cd is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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We have only been once, and are currently planning our second trip. So, these come from limited experience:

What we loved:
Donegal, Donegal, Donegal. In particular...Slieve League. Wow! Silver Strand, which we just happened upon. SO practically had to drag me back up the stairs I was so enchanted and at peace. And a couple of other little treasures not in our guide books that we found by following the brown signs.

Roundstone: Best pub evening was our second evening at the Shamrock. Hours of wonderful conversation. And, the owner's wise words: Don't worry about your plans. Take detours if a sign points you towards a site not in your plan.

Arts and artisans: We were really impressed with how supported the arts seem to be...loved what we saw at artisan center in Carrick-on-Shannon, talking to potters in Manorhamilton, talking to some artists in Roundstone.

Getting lost. Please make time for it!

Burren...I think we rushed it and didn't really plan for it. So, we ended up doing a drive through instead of experiencing. Our fault, not the Burren's. Hence, more time given to it next year.
oopsy is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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It is true that some unfortunate people have been blown over the Cliffs of Moher. When we were there two yrs ago we heard the sad story of a groomsman in a wedding party who was blown over while having a pre-wedding outing at the Cliffs. We did not like Dublin and will not return there. Galway seems to be a smaller version of Dublin and most likely a place to be skipped. We loved Dingle, Killarney area, Glendalough, parts of ROK, and also the Burren--next trip we will stay at a B&B in the Burren. Found Waterford to be industrial looking although we stayed at a wonderful B&B there out in the countryside. An area not usually mentioned is Slievebloom Mountain which is great for hiking and riding horses. This is in central Ireland--County Laois. Hope you have a great trip!
nini is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:09 AM
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Belfast surprised me. If you can make it up there it's definitly a great base from which to explore the northern coast--- especially the Causeways.

I went in May 3 years ago and it was freezing. Back luck? I was on the Aran Islands and it started hailing. I did enjoy the islands though--- but I'd only recommend a visit if you have a fair amount of time and you're REALLY okay with taking things slow and just chilling out.
I liked Galway.
I went to Limerick in hopes (I know it sounds naive) of sort of getting in touch with my heritage-- not a great place to spend any major time in but...
Seek out music wherever you go--- it's those nights nestled in pub booths listening to a three-piece set that I remember best.
Avoid giant bus tours---
Rent a car.

Fraggle is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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I meant to say "Bad" luck..
Fraggle is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Lets see... My favorite place in Ireland so far (have YET to make it a lot of places!) is the Glendalough Abbey in Wicklow -- but then again, I love ruined churches and old graveyards. I'm a bit ghoulish

The area is very quiet and serene, and there is a wealth of history there. Close by is the Powerscourt Falls and House/Gardens for a slightly more modern (17th century, I think?) house with manicured gardens.

Other places I liked were Jerpoint abbey near Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel, and Newgrange/Knowth burial sites. Again, the history and the spirituality of the places spoke to me.

The most thrilling site (to me) was the Hill of Tara. Standing on it in the early morning, no one else around, feeling the wind and the power of the land rushing through me as I surveyed the patchwork quilt of Irish farms around me -- incredible!

Dublin is indeed a fairly dirty, crowded city compared to the rest of Ireland, but is quaint compared with London, for instance.

I liked staying in Dun Loughaire, which is in the southern suburb of Dublin, and on the coast. I also liked staying in Knocktopher, near Kilkenny -- but the place we had dinner at in Carlow was greasy and yucky. I mentally blocked the name

There is very little I didn't like of Ireland -- the people are tremendously friendly, the landscape magical and serene, and the feel of the place is otherworldly at times.
GreenDragon is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:38 AM
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You're right, Melissa, the best part of Ireland is making your own special memories.

I'm of the opinion that what anyone loves/doesn't about Ireland IS a personal opinion. Some things speak to you, or don't. Some places don't meet your expectations, some exceed them. Some areas are so crowded with tourists you never get a sense of what is magical, and in other areas it doesn't matter if there's a crowd or not.

When I say Galway, I mean Galway City. Like Chip, I found the small downtown part - which may be charming when deserted - crowded, loud and a bit scary. The other parts of the city are no more special than any other city. We stayed for a week near Costelloe, so enjoyed some other parts of the county.

The Burren was one of those places where we had high expectations and, for us, seemed like one more place where every view was ruined by tourists, including us, of course. We try and visit the Cliffs of Moher each time we visit Ireland - we are often travelling with first-timers - but the Burren still isn't a place I care for. Although some of our visitors are taken with the desolation.

If your DH has his heart set on it - and I think this is true of wherever you visit - don't let what other people say stop you from experiencing it for yourself.

(I would also be particularly wary of someone who professes to speak for 'most' people on this site. Travel is an individual experience; gang-mentality sight-seeing is what tourists engage in.)

Have fun not sight-seeing in Ireland.

rickmav is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Melissa5, I know exactly what you mean about head & heart full of Ireland! I think I ended up with 9 guidebooks for our trip last year. But all my research & obsessing really paid off because we had a flawless & truly wonderful 2 weeks in Ireland!

I have to agree with the poster who said travel is such a personal experience. Whatever speaks to you may not for the next person. But for me, SW Ireland was special; specifically Kenmare & Kinsale & all points between. So very beautiful. And the Irish people were too. Every bit as warm & charming & witty as I expected. The music spoke to me too & I came home with tons of cd's. I love listening to them because the music takes me right back.

Then there are the "snapshot" memories --

Waking up with a view from bed of Kenmare Bay, the lawn dotted with grazing sheep.

Sleeping in a castle!

Stumbling onto a church in Dingle where a fundraising concert by local musicians was underway. Beautiful, soulful music.

Getting lost down a narrow lane bordered by 10 foot high blooming fuchsias!

County Limmerick countryside, home of my ancestors.

There's lots more but to answer your other question, I can't think of a single dissapointment during our trip. There's a few places I'm very glad we saw but have no strong desire to return--specifically, Dublin, Galway, the Burren.

Ireland was wonderful & truly magical for me & I hope it will be for you & your family too!
Tennischick is offline  

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