OK we booked the flights and are now trying to nail down itinerary and hotels. I have a few questions as we go through a possible itinerary. We are traveling with our 12 year old daughter and are trying to strike a balance between seeing stuff and not doing excessive driving.
day 1 & 2 Stay in Dublin city center
day 3 get car and drive to Kilkenny, possibly via Wicklow, thinking of staying in Hotel Kilkenny or Kilkenny Ormonde. Open to other suggestions here.
day 4 drive to Cork via Cashel, probably stay at Haymarket Manor. If we are up to it, have dinner and walk around Kinsale in the evening.
day 5 drive to Killarney. we would either spend the morning in Cork before leaving, or get to Killarney early and do the National Park and other stuff in Killarney area, or take the scenic route to Killarney and get there later in the day. Current hotel picks: Killarney Park, Loch Lein, or Killeen House for hotel splurge.
day 6 Possibly do the ROK. I have some interest in seeing Skellig Michael, but am not sure if it's practical. Am I correct you would probably have to leave Killarney at about 8AM, rush through half the Ring to get to Portmagee, and probably do the same on the way back to Killarney? Is this a doable day or too much for the family? Am I correct there will be no puffins on the Skelligs at the end of August (the time of our trip)? That would be sad. Alternatively, we could spend more time in the Killarney area and take int slower.
day 7 drive to Dingle, Slea Head in the afternoon, and back to Killarney. I know people advocate staying in Dingle, but I am thinking to use Killarney as the base as it seems there is no advantage in terms of our day 8 drive whether we leave from Dingle or Killarney, and it will be one less check-out/check-in to deal with.
day 8 drive to County Clare. Longest drive of the trip I think. If we stay in or near Doolin, I guess we would stop at the Cliffs and do the Shannon ferry. Should we stay in a B&B in Doolin so we can walk to the pubs, or go more upscale and stay in a country house such as Gregans or Ballinalacken?
day 9 Burren/possibly Aran islands. I am thinking the family would like to do horseback riding for an hour or so on the Burren. Can you do an Aran Island trip in just an afternoon, or is it a full day excursion?
day 10 We have to stay in at least one castle hotel, so we probably would splurge for Dromoland. During the day we could do Bunratty or other stuff in the Shannon/Limerick area, possibly visit Adare. The other possibility would be to check out of our Western Clare hotel, drive up to Galway, and spend some time up there before circling back to Dromoland. Now our flight the next day from Shannon leaves at 1:00PM, so I guess we could even stay further away from the airport and still make our flight. So the other possibility would be to stay overnight at Ashford Castle or some other place in or near Galway, With this limited time, is it worth trying to go further north to Galway/Mayo, or should we just stick with the first idea of spending the day near Dromoland?
day 11 depart Shannon at 1:00PM for the US.
The other possibility is to skip Cork (although my wife favors going there), or spend only 2 nights in Killarney, which would allow us to spend more time in Galway/Mayo. Tough decision. Opinions?
Thanks for your help.