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So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

West Chicago...
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So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

I'm just starting to plan my fifth trip to Ireland. (Of course, I haven't gone on my fourth one yet...that's in October!) This time a good friend and co-worker from church will be coming with me. I'm looking forward to introducing him to some of my favorite places and for us to explore places that are new for me as well.

SOME PARAMETERS AND GUIDELINES

- Our trip dates are Sunday, 15 May, 2011 (we arrive on Monday morning, 16 May, 2011) through Tuesday, 24 May, 2011. That gives us 7 full days plus the jet lag day, so almost 8 days. These dates mean of course that we'll have huge amounts of daylight...even if we never see the sun (sunsets range from 9:20 to 9:31pm while we're there). Also these dates are set and can't be expanded due to other commitments at home.

- We'll be flying in and out of Dublin...and no...before you say it...in or out of Shannon is not really a good option for us with flying from Chicago. ;-) Which leads us to yet another circle itinerary here on TA.

- We will be renting a car (for all but Dublin) and I'm very comfortable driving on the left with a stick shift (by that trip, it will be my sixth time, including a trip to the UK). I'm also pretty aware of how jet lag affects me on the first day.

- I love pretty much everything I've experienced in Ireland. So besides my favorite places, we're using my friends 'want list' to guide the trip (and all these are on my own list as well.) In particular he wants to see at least some of the Southwest (and of course, so do I, not having been yet), the Cliffs of Moher and Trinity College/Book of Kells. As far as the kinds of sites and activities he wants to see and do, in rough order they are: 1) Scenic beauty with some hiking of the 3-4 hour variety, 2) Nightlife especially in the pubs, some with trad music (but not all) and possibly some clubs, 3) Christian heritage sites such as monastic ruins, high crosses AND current but historic cathedrals and churches, 4) Historic sites such as castles and 5) museums and art galleries, but only to a limited extent.

- We want that elusive trip that is balanced between seeing a lot and having a chance to relax and enjoy it. We're willing to have a couple days that might be long, doing a lot and traveling far, but definitely not the whole vacation.

- We'll have a plan, but will actually be flexible and adjust, drop, skip, add as needed when in Ireland.

- We do want to meet people as we go. That's always been my favorite part of visiting Ireland.

- We have no interest in shopping. None. Other than my friend buying the requisite presents for his wife and kids.

THE PLAN - TENTATIVE FIRST DRAFT

Monday, 16 May - Pick up rental car and drive to Co. Wicklow. Wicklow Mountains. Mount Usher Gardens. Glendalough. (Note that I'm very familiar with this area and so this day is sorted.) Stay in Laragh (hopefully at Glendalough Hermitage where I've retreated before).

Tuesday, 17 May - Drive to Dingle with stops at Jerpoint Abbey, Kells Priory, Rock of Cashel, Athassel Priory, Cahir Castle and a drive through the Glen of Aherlow. Ow! Stop throwing things at me. I know what I just typed! Yes, this is a very, very long day. But there's lots of stops to break it up. We'd be at Jerpoint Abbey when it opens at 10am and then work through the various possibilities as time allows. Cahir Castle closes at 5:30pm so that's the end of seeing the sights. If we can't fit everything in we simply won't. We'd also be sure to arrive in Dingle by sunset...which of course is not until 9:21pm. The real reason for doing this is just to bite the bullet and get to Dingle. Then we could for sure have 3 and possibly 4 nights in the same place, rather than changing lodging each day. Stay in Dingle (thinking about Pax Guest House).

Wednesday, 18 May - Spend time on the Dingle Peninsula, basically Slea Head and a possible trip out to Great Blasket Island. Stay in Dingle.

Thursday, 19 May - Head over toward Killarney. We have interest in Killarney National Park including Torc Waterfall, Ladies' View and hopefully some hiking, Muckross House and Gardens (not the Farms), Ross Castle and the Gap of Dunloe. We know we can't possibly do all of these things. Any advice on how to sort through them would be great! Stay in Dingle.

Friday, 20 May - This is a hinge day. We might stay one more night in Dingle or head up to Galway. If we stay in Dingle, options would include doing the Ring of Kerry (with a sub-option of visiting Skellig Michael weather permitting), doing part of the Ring of Beara or staying on the Dingle Peninsula and perhaps doing some hiking there. Maybe kind of just doing nothing this day. Any thoughts? Stay in Dingle for 4th night if we choose one of these options.

Friday, 20 May OR Saturday, 21 May - Drive to Galway. After Tuesday, this is the other LONG day in the plan. We would drive via the Conor Pass (weather permitting) and the Tarbert Ferry to the Cliffs of Moher. Following the Cliffs would be a drive through the Burren with lookouts for and short visits at some or all of the following: Kilfenora High Crosses, Leamanah Castle, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, Cahermore Stone Fort and Ballyalban Fairy Fort. Depending on just how full we want to make this day, we might add in Ardfert Cathedral, Carrigafoyle Castle, Scattery Island (unlikely) and the Loop Head scenic drive. Would definitely like some advice here on how to make some decisions. We do want to be in Galway for dinner (at least a late one) and the great nightlife. Stay in Galway (would appreciate some advice here).

Saturday, 21 May - If we came up to Galway on Friday, then options for this day include, returning to the Burren for deeper exploration and hiking, Connemara for the day including hiking or taking a day trip to Inis Mór, where we'd...hike. The day will end, of course, with more great Galway nightlife. Stay in Galway.

Sunday, 22 May - Drive to Dublin. We'll stop at Clonmacnoise on the way and then return the car to Dublin airport. By mid-afternoon we hope to be in Dublin. I've spent a lot (a LOT) of time in Dublin, so this portion of the trip is sorted as well. Stay in Dublin (The Townhouse).

Monday, 23 May - Dublin. Stay in Dublin.

Tuesday, 24 May - Fly home with me planning my next trip and my friend probably doing the same, but with his wife.

KEY QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS SOUGHT

- What about that long day, Tuesday, May 17? Anything a waste of time on the tentative plan?

- Any specific recommendations other than Pax Guest House? We do want to be in reasonable walking distance of Dingle for the pubs.

- Any advice on how to make choices in the Killarney area for Thursday, May 19?

- Would you choose 4 nights in Dingle and 1 night in Galway or 3 nights in Dingle and 2 in Galway?

- If choosing the 4 nights in Dingle, would you recommend the Ring of Kerry? Skellig Michael? A shorter Ring of Beara? More Dingle Peninsula? Nothing?

- If choosing 2 nights in Galway, would you recommend more Burren? Connemara? Inis Mór?

- Any specific recommendations for Galway lodging that is in reasonable walking distance of the nightlife? (I am considering a private room at Sleepzone Galway City Hostel where I've stayed before.)

- Any other thoughts?

- Are you still reading?

Thanks for any and all help!

Keith

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1. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Wow! I actually managed to read it all. What struck me (besides the several whirlwind days) is that I would rather have 2 days in Dingle and 2 Days in Killarney. Just my opinion.

england
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2. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

have to agree with Sally, seems a bit daft to drive to Killarney and back on the Thursday, and then to Killarney and back again on Friday to do the ROK, stay two night in Dingle and days ON the Dingle Peninsula (no Killarney) and then move on to either Killarney or Kenmare.

Cork, Ireland
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3. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Keith, I've just read your trip report !!!

Here are my attempts to answer your questions:

- What about that long day, Tuesday, May 17? Anything a waste of time on the tentative plan?

#### It's certainly a very long day but you are aware of that which is the main thing and what is good is that as the day progresses you can tweak it if you begin to run out of time. Go for it and looking forward to hearing how you get on.

- Any specific recommendations other than Pax Guest House? We do want to be in reasonable walking distance of Dingle for the pubs.

#### Yes Heatons is excellent and is only 5 mins walk from Strand street where John Bennys pub is good for food and of course a little tipple or two.

- Any advice on how to make choices in the Killarney area for Thursday, May 19?

####Actually you can do all of the activities that you mention for this day. It depends on how long you want the hike to be. There is a beautiful walk all the way around Muckross lake beginning near Muckross house and ending up back there. It's really lovely and is on a very good track. It is not challenging (low level)at all except near the end where you can decide if you want to hike to the top of torc waterfall if you have time. It takes between 2-4 hours depending on what route you take. if you are interested in this come back to me next year for more details on the route.

On this day you might have to do a whistlestop tour of the Gap of Dunloe (It takes 90 minutes each way to walk from Kate Kearneys Cottage to the gap) You might want to drive it to save time but this is a pity as I recommend that walking to the gap is part of the gap of Dunloe experience.

- Would you choose 4 nights in Dingle and 1 night in Galway or 3 nights in Dingle and 2 in Galway?

I would do 3 Dingle, 2 Galway. 1 night in Galway is much too short, 2 is the minimum you should spend there.

- If choosing the 4 nights in Dingle, would you recommend the Ring of Kerry? Skellig Michael? A shorter Ring of Beara? More Dingle Peninsula? Nothing?

####I would absolutely 1000% recommend that you do Skellig Michael. The Puffins will be there in May - an amazing sight and the rock itself is stunning. You HAVE to put this on your itinerary. You will kill two birds (not puffins I hope) with one stone when you visit SM as it's at the tip of the ROK.

Unfortunately you may have to skip Beara this time but that will depend on how you split up your 4 nights in Dingle. When in Dingle I guess you will need 1 full day for the full ring, half a day for dingle itself and Conor pass, 1 full day for ROK. That's 2.5 days already and in fact, you may be able to fit in some of Beara. You could do some light hiking from the village of Allihies to the old copper mines, a well walked trail and there is a small museum in the village dedicated to the history. Fascinating place and Allihies is a cute village with a few good pubs. There is so much to see and do on Beara, you could spend a week there.

- If choosing 2 nights in Galway, would you recommend more Burren? Connemara? Inis Mór?

#### You MUST do this when you are near Galway. if you miss this you will miss the burren. tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g212514-d154…

So what I am saying is a little more burren. This is a 3-4 hour leisurely hike for €10 each and will be the best money you spend when you are in the Clare area.

When in Galway, I would concentrate on Connemara and miss Inis Mór if you are short on time. Connemara is stunning and should be concentrated on.

- Any specific recommendations for Galway lodging that is in reasonable walking distance of the nightlife? (I am considering a private room at Sleepzone Galway City Hostel where I've stayed before.)

#### Sleepzone sounds good. I'm afraid my last accommodatioin in Galway was a disaster so I can't recommend (blue mould on the brown bread and downhill from there). Stayed at the G also just 15 mins walk to Eyre Square and it was excellent but it is expensive and it is located in a business park which is a bit of a bummer. Jurys Inn is very convenient to Galway city, on Quay street, just 2 mins walk. It's a very nice location but it's a few years since I stayed there so can't give you accurate feedback on quality.

Your fourth and fifth trips Keith !!! I think you've been bitten by something ;-))

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4. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Keith, as you've been to the Burren and Connemara before why not try the day trip to Inis Mór if you plump for more time in Galway? OK your fellow traveller hasn't been to any of them and you've only experienced Connemara on a guided tour, but we think that you'd both enjoy a relatively tourist-free 'shoulder season' day on the island and the weather is usually very nice in May. There are several important Christian heritage sites to be explored that don't get as much attention that the jaw-dropping cliff forts do but we'll leave you to do the research into them first as you're already very good at rooting out such treasures yourself! Rather than hike, though, we'd recommend that the pair of you hire bikes from the pier and travel round the island that way - it's definitely the way to go...

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5. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

I forgot on the hiking /christian theme a little gem of a place to head for on the ROK. Near Cahersiveen there is a hill called Knocknadobar (Cnoc na dobhar) sorry for likely spelling mistakes there. It means hill of the well. The start point is just a few miles north east of the town of Cahersiveen and the hike is about 3 hours in total following a series of 'stations of the cross' to the top of the hill. It's a beautiful hike but really best done on a clear day as you will see from my pic here: Views are stunning.

tripadvisor.com/…17128205

The tiny harbour below is called Coonanna Harbour, nothing there except one house and a few small boats and you can swim there in the crystal waters.

Cahersiveen is only about 10 miles from Portmagee (boats to Skellig Michael), so Knocknadobar could be done after SM if it is something you had time for.

West Chicago...
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6. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Thanks all! These are really good thoughts (which I knew they would be). I had originally envisioned a 2 week trip, but this is all we can manage this time around. So instead of my desire to stay at least 3 nights in each place, we've got to accommodate.

@Sally and fuchsiagirlEngland - I think you're both right should we choose the '4 Dingle 1 Galway' option. Although, if we did that I'd probably reverse it and do Kenmare or Killarney for 2 nights and then Dingle for 2 nights. I suspect, though, that 3 Dingle 2 Galway is the front runner with my friend (and probably me as well). A Friday and Saturday night in Galway would be great. That would mean only 1 backtracking day rather than 2 and I think we'd be comfortable with that? It would be one less check in and check out of a B&B which seems to be a nice trade off. I have that it's only a bit over an hour from Dingle to Killarney's environs...and you know us Americans and driving! :-) Thoughts if we do the 3-2?

@Bryno - LOL. And come on...you know my trip reports are MUCH longer. :-) I'm inclined to give the Tuesday a shot...and I'm looking forward to seeing how we get on as well. Thank's for the alternative for Dingle (I DO like the Pax Guest House option as well...just wanted choices). Very helpful ideas for the Killarney area Thursday. Nice to have a sense of walking times. And of course, we can play it by ear on the actual day. We want to walk and enjoy and not just race to the finish line. I agree on Galway. I spent 3 nights there this past February. If we just spent the 1 night, it would be to just give my friend a taste of the great pubs and music in Galway, but only that. Skellig Michael is VERY high on my list for what I want to see in Ireland...I'm just not in a hurry to get my list all done at once. I was less inclined to build an itinerary around visiting when we can only set aside one day for it and weather can knock it out. Then it'd be somewhat a lost day...well, not really...we'd still be on the Ring of Kerry...hmmm. I don't think Beara is really in the running for this trip unless we split up the Dingle days as suggested above. (And besides, I really want to spend at least a full day there when I do visit.) So if we did 2 Kenmare/2 Dingle, maybe. As far as the walk with Shane, I remember reading this when you posted a link earlier this year. Very much the kind of thing I know I'd like to do. (And I will...just don't know if it's this trip or one later.) And yes, I'm completely bitten by something! The only problem? I just visited New Mexico here in the United States for the first time...and love it as well...sort of the other end of the spectrum from Ireland and I love both...so Ireland and New Mexico have to share my available travel time and money! And I really, REALLY like the idea of the places near Cahersiveen you mention. Probably not likely on this trip, but I'd definitely go for it when I do get out to SM.

@Ragoora - If it were just me, it'd definitely be Inis Mór for the very reason you mention. And we will get a chance to at least do a whistle stop tour through the Burren on the way to Galway. I'd forgotten about the possibility of hiring the bikes. Sounds perfect if my friend is up for it (and I suspect he will be). I wasn't really aware about the Christian heritage sites...but I will be. And you know I love that research!

This may be my friend's only visit to Ireland. I know that I'll be back many times. So that's shaping some of the decisions. Just trying to get a good well rounded trip with variety and not too many times like the Tuesday or drive up to Galway from Dingle.

Keith

Edited: 04 September 2010, 11:44
Cork, Ireland
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7. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Lots to think about but essentially you have an itinerary built really, just to tweak.

Re Skellig Michael, if it's a dull overcast day do not go. This place must be visited on a clear day so that you can get to see sights such as this !!:

tripadvisor.com/…17837490

and of course this:

tripadvisor.com/…18066222

As you are a frequent visitor here you can always cancel your proposed trip to SM and try again another time. I've been on both clear and dull days and there is absolutely no comparison - two completely different experiences but the latter is a disappointment.

For visitors who are not frequently here, then they must just 'go for it' and hope for the best.

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8. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Keith - I think that what intrigues me most about your travels is that basically you are still a tourist, doing the things that most tourists do in Ireland instead of setting yourself targets or a purpose for your visit. For instance keeping to the usual tourist traps and not venturing into the lesser visited areas like Roscommon, Leitrim or Fermanagh seems to me as ignoring the rural heartland of Ireland. An interesting religious theme could be to visit Northern Ireland and see first hand the diversity of cultures that co-exist there - let Ireland surprise you.

Edited: 04 September 2010, 12:32
Rhode Island
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9. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Keith, you may want to consider staying in a B&B in Salthill for the Galway portion of your trip. There are many affordable guesthouses with great reviews and it is an easy 10-15 minute walk from the pubs!

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10. Re: So my friends, whaddya think of THIS itinerary???

Keith,

You might be interested in these miscellaneous links:

http://www.megalithicireland.com/

http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/iremap.htm

And, this recent article on a visit to The Aran Islands:

telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/i…

Walking/Hiking:

http://www.irishtrails.ie/

noticenature.ie/Walking_Trails_in_Ireland.ht…

May is a wonderful month for Wildflowers and this will highlight them at the time:

http://www.noticenature.ie/

Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows:

irishtimes.com/newspaper/…1224270446806.html

http://www.harryclarke.net/

Other stained glass windows by Evie Hone et al in St Brendan's Cathedral, Loughrea:

…galway-ireland.ie/loughrea-cathedral.htm