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Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Jul 14th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Thank you for your Irish memories!

RICKMAV, you are so right, I don't believe in gang-mentality tourism either. I really appreciate you being daring enough to post a personal preference which goes contrary to popular opinion. (Pretty scary on-line sometimes!!!)

I'm not using these answers as a Bible to tell me what to do and what not to do. I'm using it to flesh out a more detailed portrait of Ireland, the treasured, the dirty, the crowded, the spiritual, the tacky...

If someone tells me to avoid someplace, I will want to know why, I will want details. I can use even your negative experiences to find something that I will love! For example if the Burren was ruined for you because of the crowds, we might try staying close by and going in the early early morning.

I have seen some pretty mean-spirited arguing on-line about whether someplace is great or awful. I love the controversial arguments but wish they could be in a friendly spirit! That's how you REALLY get a sense for the pros and cons of a place!

I imagine that I would like places like Doolin, Dingle, and Kenmare the best, and that I probably won't care that much for bigger places like Dublin and Galway as there are only a few bigger cities in the world that I actually enjoy...Rome and San Francisco are 2 of them. I hated crowded, smoggy, trafficky Florence, Italy.

I am very curious about Belfast, where I think some of my Irish relatives worked.

I am also getting the idea that my hubby the biologist will need to visit The Burren at the least crowded time, maybe early early morning.

It is interesting that fewer people are mentioning their favorite memories as being in NOrthern Ireland. I am torn here because my beloved Irish grandmother was from County Armagh/Belfast area and that's really the only thing that's drawing me to that area... I am almost tempted to just figure all of Ireland is her birthplace, and just visit the places that are calling to my "Irish" soul!

PLEASE HELP WITH ONE QUESTION: I would prefer the pubs in smaller towns like Dingle and Doolin I think. But what about my young adult daughters? Can 19 and 20 year old young women enjoy pubs in the smaller towns too, or would they need the crowded vibrancy of Galway and Dublin? Are there young people in the pubs in small towns too?

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Please add your happy and disappointing memories to this post!
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I've been enjoying your Costa Rica trip reports. How close together are the two trips?
missypie is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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missypie, we just returned from our Costa Rica 2005 summer family trip. Ireland will be our summer 2006 family trip.

My "baby" is 18 now and hubby and I want to enjoy more travel. We try to take a big family trip once a year in the summer. We may also take a trip just the 2 of us in either September 2005 or January 2006. Trip-planning is a fun hobby for me, and we get great trips out of it too!
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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The pubs in Doolin and Dingle have mixed ages there are a lot of youths traveling about these areas.Galway was hopping with the youngsters, with the 18 year old drink age,May get a little bit edgy come closing time.The music starts at 10 PM and it is still twilight at that 10PM this time of year.
xxx30 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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xxx30, thanks for the pub details. Wow, if the music starts at 10:00 pm that's late for poor hubby. But we can't miss the music! sounds great for my daughters.

My daughters have asked if they can just go off on their own for a bit at the pubs. They will both have had the experience of living in the college dorms by next summer so they aren't naive. But I want them to be safe. Where do you suggest I plan on planting us so that they can safetly enjoy their pub experience and hubby and I can relax too without having a heart attack about their safety? Do you think a place like Dingle or Doolin would be safer than Dublin or Galway?

We usually do everything together on family vacation. But they are growing up and I expect will want some time to themselves, plus hubby and i would enjoy a little time to ourselves.

What time do the pubs close, as I would expect my daughters to be back at the hotel long before that!!! I imagine hubby will want to escort them back in fact.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:04 PM
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We spent alot of time in NI and found it will go back again. Belfast is great and the Causeway Coast is amazing. Killyleagh is a small town outside of Belfast that is a great place to stay and has not really hit with tourists yet. They do have trad music jams there every weekend but you wont find many tourists!The castle that sits at the end of the street is beautiful too!~ To me they had the best music of our trip. The pubs in Doolin seemed too touristy to me but it was still fun. For a more authentic Ireland head North to Donegal, Antrim,Fermanagh,Tyrone etc. IMO
panhandle is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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Not too much to add as I've seen a very limited view of the country, but don't discount Dublin! I'm not a 'city' person, but I found Dublin very manageable, and not dingy/grimy like many are mentioning. You can search my name for a report from 2004 on our 4 days there. A great day trip from Doublin is of course Glendalough (sp?) as well as the village of Malahide and Malahide castle, we found that to be a great afternoon trip. .

We were there across New Years and I would say there should be no problem with your daughters going out and about on their own. Ireland values community and people and they would be looked after by locals. Happy planning... Trav
travelphile is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:37 PM
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One of my favorite parts of our recent trip to Ireland was the Blasket Islands Museum at west end of the Dingle Peninsula (and the most western point of the European continent). We stopped there first and only had an hour which was not nearly enough. The next day we took a boat ride across to the Great Blasket Island, which was fascinating, also had a nice hike around the island.
BevK is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 07:44 PM
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The natural beauty, especially of the western and northern coasts (OK so Northern Ireland, there) was spectacular. The people are warm, friendly, and so hospitable.
The biggest disappointment? Well, I'd have to say the food. It was all fine, but I can't say that I had a really amazing meal in our whole month there. But the Guinness and the Bushmills made up for it.
Patrick is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 09:08 PM
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I didnt need to see Dublin. Wished we didnt fly out of there (flew into Shannon). Stayed in Doolin, Dingle, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Dublin. Loved all but didnt need to see Dublin.

My favorite times were in little no name towns. In markets, coffee shops, any little town. Anywhere there wasnt a Walmart or McDonalds.

I was thrilled to see old men in caps and tall rubber boots with their sheep dogs-- tending their sheep. It was so what I thought Ireland "used to be" but still was.
crosbie is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 10:04 PM
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Where did you stay in Killyleagh outside of Belfast? That sounds intriguing, staying in a place tourists haven't discovered (yet).

Can you recommend any Irish family-run B&Bs in Northern Ireland (or anywhere in Ireland)? I have a dream of having a cup of tea with a little old Irish lady with an accent like my Irish grandmother had...

Did anybody else have any Irish visions that they hoped would come true in Ireland? Did your Irish dreams come true?
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:02 AM
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Thought you might be interested in an Irish persons viewpoint. My favourite places around the country are...

Glendalough in Wicklow
Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall in Wicklow
Rosslare Strand in Wexford (many happy memories of holidays there as a child!)
West Cork...all of it!
Caherdaniel & the Ring of Kerry
The Aran Islands
Westport & ClareIsland

and, lastly, Dublin - I love this city (but can also hate it at times too!!).
cailin is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:09 AM
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From reading your posts, I think you should look into Ballintoy, a small seaside village in Northern Ireland, which is an excellent base to tour the North coast, the Giants Causeway, the Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, and the nearby towns of Portrush, Portstewart, and Coleraine.

I stay in Portstewart every weekend (I live in Armagh), which I LOVE, but I get the feeling you prefer smaller towns. It just so happened I was through Ballintoy for a drive last week, and it just popped into my head as I read your posts! It is a small town with a couple of restaurants, and the most beautiful little harbour you have ever seen, that has a little teashop, and a view of Rathlin Island! (which is also brilliant for a day trip).

Rathlin Island is a small inhabited island, that is only accessible by ferry. Very interesting way of life.

I have rambled a bit, but hopefully shall give you some ideas!!! Unfortunately I cannot give you any advice on accommodations here, but maybe someone else can.

Please also keep in mind Portstewart, which is also a charming small seaside town. Is not as 'olde worlde' and 'authentic' as Ballintoy, but might have more to offer your daughters, as there is a very good pub and a bit more nightlife.

And of course there is Bushmills Inn - but you prefer small B&B's I think?? If you want a splurge, this place is just totally fabulous - www.bushmillsinn.com/

I hope I have given you some ideas, and not confused you totally!!


Angela is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:26 AM
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Honestly I'm disappointed that more of you don't visit the North of Ireland. I was born and bred there and after travelling a lot of the world I have decided the north coast of Ireland is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Giant's Causeway is described by locals as the eighth wonder of the world. Belfast is a great city too - especially the Botanic area at night - lots of gigs in the pubs for your older children. Don't use the black cabs though - they only go to certain areas you may not wish to visit...
Irishbabe is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:29 AM
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Angela and Cailin, thanks so much!

Angela, interesting that you are from Armagh. My Irish grandmother and her family were from Armagh. I am trying to do more research on my ancestry before our summer 2006 trip.

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

Also trying to figure out the best town to stay in so hubby can walk The Burren Way and hopefully also enjoy music in a pub in the evening. I am looking especially at Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna. Any comments on these? Rusheen Lodge in Ballyvaughan looks good, and also Carrigann HOtel in Lisdoonvarna.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:58 AM
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I live here and my mother left when she was 18. We went a few years ago to the south i.e.Dingle etc. She loved the scenery as she never visited here as a child growing up. West Cork is stunning I love Baltimore. Dingle is very touristy but really fun and the girls will love it here. They will be fine going out on their own to pubs.

Blarney was the absolute worst. Complete tourist trap and I had the most disgusting meal ever here. I was treating my Mother and felt so bad that our day there was a waste.

I love Westport and this would also be entertaining for the girls. Matt Molloys has live music most nights and there are fun pubs and good restaurants in the village.

The Burren I am ashamed to say I have not visited since I was 5. A poster above mentioned that it has truly unique plants etc. I saw a show on this a while back and I believe there are plants that only exist here. I think your husband may find that interesting.

One way to find more "unique" places is when asking people about places to go for example when chatting to people in a pub ask them where they would go not where they would send a tourist.

I was a bit ashamed a few years ago when my boyfriend and I got chatting to a group of lads over from London for a weekend. They were really sweet and asking for places to go dancing and meet people and have a nice night. I named probably 3 places that I would never go to but would send a tourist to thinking they were looking for a typical party night. They then asked me if I ever go there and I was so embarassed as I would not normally go there myself. I then gave them places we were heading to that eveing on a typical night out for Dubliners. It never occurred to me to tell them these places so just ask! I Assumed they wanted places the party crowd over for a weekend would go to.
SiobhanP is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 05:43 AM
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that's funny, we ran into that type of advice from Irish people sometimes also. When we asked for restaurant recommendations in Dublin, one told us to go to the Elephant & Castle, which serves American food, and in fact there's one in Chicago where we live.

Melissa, regarding pubs, in the smaller towns, the music usually starts at 9:30 and is over by 11:30. I'm sure it's later in the big cities. At home, my husband and I usually go to bed pretty early and get up early, even on weekends. But since it stays light so late in Ireland in the summer, and since breakfast at the B & Bs usually wasn't until 8:30, we found we got on a little later schedule there. And it made adjusting to the time change easier as well --since they are 6 hours ahead of us, it was easy to stay up later. Our teens like to stay up late of course, so we were all able to be on the same schedule with no problems.
bucky is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 07:17 AM
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Melissa5, you and I could start the Compulsive Trip Planners club. We have three kids, and our early vacations were modest events. Then we branched out to nice locations in the US such as San Diego, Chicago, Williamsburg and Arizona. After giving our kids their first Disney experince at Disneyland, we took them to Paris (and Disneyland Paris), then finished with the Ultimate Disneyworld Experience (25 months in the planning) last month. I immediately started thinking about spring break '06, which led me to the Latin America board.

The thing is, our eldest will be starting high school, so between spring breaks and summer vacations, there aren't that many family trips left. (Of course, money is also a factor.) There are so many places I want to take the kids!
missypie is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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I treasure all the beautiful scenery especially the coastlines and the kind people. Biggest disappointment was bad weather in Northern Ireland, rain and fog, that prevented me doing the Torr Head drive. While I could have of course driven it, I wouldn't have been able to see anything. Bummer! I guess I will just have to go again!!
aggiegirl is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Irishbabe, I've been almost shamed and ridiculed for stating that I actually liked Northern Ireland as much or more than the Republic. It was indeed special, yet many people seem to want to deny that it even exists.
Patrick is offline  

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