We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Off the track?

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
Save Topic
Off the track?

I am asking for thoughts and advice to help us decide whether to go the big sights southwest trip or the not so big sights northwest trip. We already have plane tickets into and out of Dublin.

We arrive Dublin airport 1500, Monday, 12/9/2011. We will rent a car. We depart 1000, Sunday, 18/9/2011. We plan to do Dublin on the back end, Fri-Sat.

Our original planning has been get the car and head towards Galway. Over the next 4 to 4 and a half days see the Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Rock of Cashel, Glendalough and whatever else we can along the way. Drop off the car somewhere near Dublin and take a train into the city center.

However, we have been tossing around the idea of heading northwest towards Newgrange and Hill of Tara, County Mayo, Sligo, Donnegal (Slieve League), Derry or whatever we can see in our 4 to 4 and a half days. Just to get off the usual track. Since we've never been to Ireland we will oohh and aahh over anything we see.

We like natural beauty and nature. We like history from prehistoric to WWII and beyond. We like archeology and architecture. Really anything.

We can assume we'll be back but who knows. We'd love to spend longer but our two week holiday this year will be split between the QM2 transatlantic and Ireland.

So thoughts? I assume there is a reason everyone heads to the south and southwest. Will we really be shortchanging ourselves if we don't?

Thank you in advance for your kindnesses.

jan

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
13,568 posts
367 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Off the track?

Your time is quite short, you barely have 4 days really, as day one will be taken up with arriving, getting car organised and getting on the road. You arrive at 15:00 and you will more than likely not be on the road until at least 16:30.

Here is my suggestion:

Monday - rent car, drive to Wicklow, Stay near Glendalough. Lots of very nice B&B's in the area. Dinner that night - Lynhams of Laragh.

Tuesday - Explore Glendalough until about 1pm.

Leave for Galway, via Clonmacnoise (115 miles - 2.5hours). Visit the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise and you can have a light lunch at the visitor centre here.

Now head for Doolin to your accommodation there (85 miles - 2.5hours)

This will see you in Doolin at approximately 8pm, just in time for dinner.

Wednesday: Tour Some of County Clare. Burren Hillwalks with Shane Connolly perhaps in the morning followed by Doolin Cave, Cliffs of Moher in the afternoon

Thursday - Drive to Galway.(46 miles 1.5 hours). Do a short loop drive of Connemara, there are a number of options here, but you should aim to be on the road back to Dublin Airport by about 5pm, as the trip there is 135 miles and takes just over 2 hours.

Dublin Airport is the usual car rental pickup / drop off for Dublin. From the airport, you can get a bus or taxi into dublin city. By bus takes about 50 minutes and costs €6 per person. Taxi will cost you about €30 (excl tip) for the trip at that time of the evening and will take about 30 minutes.

With the short time you have, there is little chance you will get to see Dingle, Rock of Cashel and other places you mention. You could of course change the above suggested itinerary to suit. Your job now is to prioritise what you really want to see and then build an itinerary around that.

Forget about heading northwest this time. That can be pencilled in for your future trips!!

Whatever you do, you will be busy during those 4 days.

Cavan
Destination Expert
for County Cavan
Level Contributor
4,520 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Off the track?

The reason why most folks go to the south west is because this is the most media savvy 'touristy' region of Ireland. However if your thinking of going 'Off the Track' then you would probably go north and west from Dublin airport after visiting Newgrange and head to Antrim for the Giants Causeway and then west to Donegal might be a more practical touring solution. You will most certainly see some of the most breathtaking scenery which Ireland has to offer stopping off in friendly villages like Cushendun and Bushmills. You could also stop off enroute in Belfast to see the new Titanic exhibition (built in Belfast 1911) which would make your QM2 cruise much more interesting.

Ventry, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Dingle Peninsula
Level Contributor
7,542 posts
138 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Off the track?

I think Bryno has given you very sound advice, and I would second his itinerary

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Off the track?

Thanks for the responses. We planned to trade off Dublin time for out of city time and weren't going to return to Dublin until sometime Friday with the time depending on where we were. No offense to any Dubliners, but we've been to larger cities in Europe and elsewhere.

Is the advice not to go northwest and maybe stay a couple of days somewhere in Donegal or Mayo and see whatever is near? Is the scale or quality of the sights that much better southwest.

Thanks again

Jan

Grayslake, Illinois
Level Contributor
2,056 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Off the track?

Hi, I also recommend Bryno's suggested itinerary. It provides a nice balance of sights & scenery, for a first-time visitor with limited time.

As for the southwest, Mayo, Sligo & Donegal - maybe save them for your next (longer?) trip :)

Co. Kildare
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
8,834 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Off the track?

I fully support Cavan's post (with respect to Bryno's thoughts)..

The OP's query reads "Off the Track". So why go where everybody else goes? Your itinerary lists all the usual tourist things. Do something different. Discover Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan. Lots of interesting things to see "off the track".

Go on, I dare you!

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
13,568 posts
367 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Off the track?

Southwest has some of the most stunning 'off the track' scenery you could imagine despite being in a 'touristy' location. Just because the southwest is 'touristy' does not make it any less attractive. Let's face it, that's why it's so popular with tourists in the first place !!!

Additionally, you will be here in September, a time of the year when 'touristy' no longer features really as it is not peak season and it's very quiet.

I am currently on a short break at the Ring of Kerry. Today I did a circular drive from Cahersiveen, to Portmagee to Ballinskelligs. I think we met 15 cars on the way, not the 'hundreds' that are sometimes mentioned on TA. It was a beautiful day - perfect for sightseeing, yet, you could say we almost had that section to ourselves.

Three days ago, my daughter and I drove to Coonanna Harbour, 6 miles from Cahersiveen, for a swim in the crystal clear waters there and to climb a little of Knocknadobar nearby. There was one fisherman at the harbour, and there was no one on Knocknadobar. Off track? For sure.

You will enjoy whereever you go and like many others will probably make immediate plans to return asap.

Edited: 01 August 2011, 23:07
Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Southport, Connemara, County Clare, Portumna
Level Contributor
19,500 posts
63 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Off the track?

We drove past Glendalough on the way home from Bray this Sunday. Glendalough, Kildare, Roscrea, Birr, Portumna. From Portumna it is Gort, Corofin, Doolin. Now that is off most tourists beaten track.

Cavan
Destination Expert
for County Cavan
Level Contributor
4,520 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Off the track?

Absolulely right Clauds....last weekend we went over to Donegal and took the scenic Iron mountain route from Cavan. The road rises up from Swanlinbar to take in the most incredible scenic views, passing Maguires chair and the Tullyallen waterfall and on to the pretty mountain village of Glangevlin with its one pub. Next stop was the Shannon Pot where Irelands greatest river rises from the ground, part of the famous geopark which includes the Marble Arch caves.

Crossing the border into Northern Ireland at Blacklion and through Co. Fermanagh towards Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal, the drive takes in the beautiful Lough Melvin and Ben Bulben into the distance. Through Donegal town and stopping off for fish n'chips in Killybegs just across the road from where the fishing fleet are tied up and preparing for their next great Arctic adventure.

The next leg of our journey took us to the pretty harbour village of Teelin, hardly a village with its one traditional turf burning pub and a jetty where small boats were tied up. We met up with the skipper of the Nuala Star for a trip around the cliffs of Slieve League, 600 metres rising up into a white cloud like christmas pudding with cream on top. A German visitor was overheard saying that it looks better than the Alps!,.... we will just have to take her word for that.. Well the two hour boat trip was easier than climbing over the top.

Back to Donegal town for tea before heading for home again via Enniskillen. We just don't do Kerry anymore, when we have the best that Ireland has to offer right on our own doorstep.

Slan

Edited: 02 August 2011, 00:07
Co. Kildare
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
8,834 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Off the track?

Let me put something right here: I adore the southwest of Ireland, the Dingle peninsula is my favourite place. West Cork is yummy. Cork City beats Dublin hands down. Donegal is exquisite. Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim are jewels. Every single county in Ireland has something glorious to offer. It just needs to be discovered.

While I recommend certain places in the more visited areas of Ireland (Kerry, Cork, Clare, Connemara) provided it's in the OP's planned itinerary I also try my very best to promote regions that a tourist might not have thought about while planning his/her itinerary but would still show Ireland off to its best.

That's all, folks!

P.S. Love your itinerary, Cavan! We did Florence Court and the Shannon Pot and the Cuilcagh Mountains and bits and pieces on a very hot day about five years ago. Our beloved beagle Susie (RIP) almost fell into the Shannon Pot.

Waht I love about Cavan/Monaghan: it's such a gentle countryside. Nothing as dramatic as the ROK or Dingle but such lush gentle hills and lakes everywhere. Dingle will make you wake up but Cavan/Monaghan will make you dream.

Oops, can I market that as a slogan...?