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19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Alberta, Canada
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19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

This is long so I will post my opening thoughts & day to day intinerary & maps as replies.

As a thank you to this forum for all the help given me, I will try to answer any questions including detailed financial questions if you want.

Alberta, Canada
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1. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

When: May 10th to 28th 2012

Day 1-3: Dublin (3 nights) Eliza Lodge & Hilton Kilmainham

Day 4-5 Kilkenny area (2 nights) Newlands Lodge

Day 6-8 Killarney area (3 nights) Friar’s Glen

Day 9-11 Galway area (3 nights) Claddagh Moon

Day 12 Donegal area (1 night) Ard na Breatha

Day 13-14 Portrush N. I. area (2 nights) Links View

Day 15-16 Belfast (2 nights) Belfast Hilton

Day 17-18 Navan area (2 nights) Meadow View

Day 19 Depart Dublin

Scenery: There was outstanding scenery wherever we went. What really caught our eye was how dramatically it changed in such a short span of driving. You could drive for an hour & you cannot believe you’re in the same country the landscape changes that much.

Accommodations: We’re not really urban people so we stayed in hotels for the 5 nights in Dublin & Belfast & B&B’s the other 13 nights. Some people like to stay right in the middle of town but I tried to book B&B’s just outside the major settings & was satisfied with the choices I made. We were going to play it by ear & book acommodations as we went but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it & booked everything the week before we left. There were a few places I wanted to stay & didn’t want to chance it.

Weather: It only rained 3 times the whole trip. Twice while we were driving in the car & it stopped before we got to where we were going & once lightly on & off during the day but had no effect on our day’s plans. I actually got sunburn 1 day while golfing in Portrush. I doubt the weather could have been any better & we got a good laugh checking the weather back home to find it was cold & rainy with frost in the mornings. This was a lot closer to the weather we were expecting in Ireland than what we got.

Rental Car: We rented from Thrifty & opted to go with the full Super SDW insurance. The total cost was about $880 & we got a Volkswagon Polo with manual transmission & had no problem at all. I drove a stick shift for 20 years & although you shift with the other hand it really was no problem. The car had 12,000+ km on it & only 1 blemish which was documented in their paperwork. It was great on gas(40+ mpg)& even though I had to prepay for a tank of gas(their cost/litre was very competitive to the going rate for fuel throughout the country)it worked out fine since I was able to return it running on fumes. We ended up putting 2455 km on the car & spent $190 Euros on fuel including the 76 Euros on the prepay. I was told I could bring back the car full & get my prepay refunded but it wouldn’t have made much difference financially so I let it slide.

Roads & driving on the left side: The roads, although they were all paved, do come as advertised on this forum. We knew about this & took the advice to get the smallest car that would get us by. Good thing too because some of the roads we were on weren’t wide enough for 2 cars.

The “N” & “M” roads were just normal roads that any North American would be used to. Some of the “R” roads were also pretty good but some were very narrow & curvy & you couldn’t tell by looking @ a paper map which were which so it was a crapshoot. The roads seemed to get narrower & curvy as we went south then improved as we headed back North towards Galway then were really good in Northern Ireland.

As for the “L” roads, let’s just say don’t be surprised if you actually drive through somebody’s front yard. We also got a good laugh at the posted speed limits & quickly found out why you need extra time to get places. Unless it was a major road (N or M & a few R) there was no way you could even approach the speed limit let alone speed. The roads were windy & narrow & to top it off there were stone walls built a foot off the road almost everywhere, even on most of the “R” roads. This combined with the great scenery you’ll encounter make driving a slow affair. Don’t be in a hurry while driving, it’s not worth it.

As for driving on the left side the only time I ever had a problem with it was in parking lots where, for some reason, I seemed to revert to old habits. Don’t be afraid, it’s easy to get used to.

OPW Heritage Cards: Best 21 Euros you’ll ever spend. I would have spent over 50 Euros each if I had to pay admission to everything we ended up going to.

Irish People: Could not have been more friendly. Everybody I met was friendly & helpful to a fault.

Edited: 03 June 2012, 11:45
Alberta, Canada
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2. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Daily Itineraries & Maps:

Day 1: Arrive Dublin 6:30PM-Purchase OPW cards(21 Euros/ea)& 3 Day Freedom Pass(27 E/ea)@ tourist booth in airport. This includes airport transfer, HOHO bus & public transport for 3 days.

747 Airlink bus to O’Connell St. Check-in Eliza Lodge, Dinner @ The Italian Corner(50 Euros incl wine)

Eliza Lodge not recommended. Small room & bathroom & noisy area. We had the Penthouse Suite??? & this was small for any hotel room let alone a penthouse. We had booked this place for our last night but after seeing it cancelled & extended our stay in the last B&B for an extra night. Good move.

Day 2: Breakfast @ Italian Corner(15 E)

Trinity College-Book of Kells

HOHO Bus- Stop @ Guinness Storehouse for tour & lunch @ Brewer’s Dining Hall(15E)

Check-in Hilton Kilmainham

Dinner @ Patriot’s Pub(35E with drinks)

After dinner drinks @ Royal Oak Pub. Cool little pub no bigger than your living room

Day 3: Breakfast @ Hilton(Incl.)

Use 747 Airlink to return to airport to pick-up rental car from Thrifty’s & return to Hilton.

Kilmainham Gaol tour

HOHO bus to Temple Bar area for shopping & a few pints

Dublin Castle tour & explore Temple Bar area.

Jameson Distillery Shindig Night Out & Tour(95E+ drinks)

Drinks @ Brazen Head Pub

Day 4: Dublin to Kilkenny https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Hilton(incl.)

National Irish Stud & Japanese Gardens

Lunch @ Athy Town(25E)

Kilkenny Castle & tour. Shopping in Kilkenny

Arrive Newlands Lodge B&B. Early night.

Day 5: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Newlands Lodge(incl) This B&B is HIGHLY Recommended

Waterford Crystal Tour

Cahir Castle Tour & Swiss Cottage Tour

Pub lunch in Cahir(20E)

Rock of Cashel & Hore Abbey

Dinner Kilkenny @ La Ravista(60E for 3 course meal with wine)

Explore downtown Kilkenny for pub with music-no luck

Day 6: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Newlands Lodge(incl)

Jerpoint Abbey Tour

Mahon falls Hike

Lunch in Kinsale(15E)

Charles Fort

Arrive Friar’s Glen Guesthouse

Dinner @ Molly Darcy’s Pub(30E incl drinks)

It rained when we were driving from Mahon Falls to Kinsale & some after we left Charles Fort on our way to Killarney area but was really nice when we were out of the car.

Edited: 03 June 2012, 11:53
Alberta, Canada
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3. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Day 7: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Friar’s Glen(incl) This B&B is HIGHLY recommended

Ross Castle tour

Ring of Kerry(counter clockwise)

Skellig Michael Experience Center

Bray Head hike. Great views of Skellig Michael on a perfectly clear day.

Skellig Chocolates on Ring Route.

Moll’s Gap

Dinner @ Molly Darcy’s again(35E incl drinks)

Day 8: No map as car barely moved

Breakfast @ Friar’s Glen(incl)

Muckross Abbey & Muckross House & Gardens & Traditional farms

Torc Watrefall

Jaunting car ride back from Torc. We were tired from walking all day & thought what the hell.(20E)

Dinner @ Bricin’s(45E incl drinks)

This was the only day it actually rained but not hard & we only opened the umbrellas twice even though we were on foot most of the day. I was told it rained really hard while we were on the Muckross House tour but stopped by the time we were done.

Day 9: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Friar’s Glen(incl) This was the nicest of the 6 B&B’s we stayed at.

Tarbert Ferry across the Shannon River estuary. We tried to make the 10:30 ferry by minutes & had to wait for the 11:30 ferry. We got stuck behind a wide load on R524.

Loop Head Lighthouse. We rushed here because we heard the views were great but they had the place closed for some dignitary so it was basically a wasted trip. They had a sign that said it was closed from 2-6PM but it was only 12:30 & even though I promised to be gone by 1PM the lady cop wouldn’t let us go in. Very disappointing day. She also would not tell me who the dignitary was.

Lunch @ Nolan’s Deli in Kilkee(15E)

Cliffs of Moher. Very disappointed because I thought you could look over the edge but you couldn’t.

Doolin Cave. I thought this was going to be lame but ended up very impressed by the tour & guide.

Coast Drive to Oranmore

Check in @ Claddagh Moon B&B in Oranmore.

Dinner @ Pearla na Mara(40E incl drinks)

Day 10: Connemara Loop https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Claddagh Moon B&B(incl) Decent budget B&B. Not the best I’ve ever seen but doable. I thought this place was in more of a rural setting but was basically in the middle of town. I can’t say anything really bad about the place but it wasn’t as luxurious as Friar’s Glen or Newlands Lodge although the breakfasts were very good just like every place we stayed. The hostess was also super helpful(she made sure our laundry got done @ the local launderette)& friendly just like every place we stayed.

Connemara Loop-Bog Road-Sky Road

Kylemore Abbey & Walled Garden- Lunch @ the Tea Room

Drive around Galway City Center-Okay my GPS stopped working & we were lost.

Dinner @ O’Riordan’s Pub(35E incl drinks) & watched the UEFA Champion’s League Final over a few pints.

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4. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Day11: Aran Islands Daytrip https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Claddagh Moon(incl)

Celtic Crystal tour & demonstration. We got lucky because we showed up just after a tour bus arrived & joined in their tour. It was a Sunday & they don’t do demonstrations without prior arrangements but since there was a large group already there & another tour bus on the way They called one of their master cutters & he agreed to come in & put on the most impressive demonstration I could have possibly expected to see. I was impressed by the cutters @ Waterford Crystal but this guy was just sick. He free hand cut 3 different designs on a bowl in 15 minutes flat all the while answering questions & showing us exactly what he was doing. Impressive to say the least.

My wife bought her Claddagh ring here for less than half the price we saw anywhere else & some other nice jewelry for a good price.

Commemara Marble. Again it was Sunday so no demonstrations. Nice store but didn’t buy anything due to nothing really jumped out at us & most stuff was pretty heavy & we had limited room.

1PM Ferry to Inis Mor Islands from Rossaveal

Hired a jaunting car to tour the island. Our horses name was Bob Marley. Great commentary by Sean.

Visit Dun Aongeous Fort. Awesome to get right up to the edge of the cliff unlike Cliffs of Moher.

5Pm ferry back to mainland

Dinner @ Pearla na Mara again in Oranmore(42E incl wine). This was my wife favorite restaurant during our trip.

Day 12: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Claddagh Moon(incl)

Donegal Castle.

Explore Donegal- Lunch @ pub(20)

Scenic drive to Slieve League

4PM Slieve League Boat Trip with Paddy Byrnes. My wife wouldn’t go up top so this was a cool way to see them. Very impressive sea cliffs.

Check-in & dinner & Ard na Breatha(94E incl wine) This is a guesthouse with a high end restaurant & after a long day just felt like staying in. Was the most expensive meal on the trip but not the best. It was good but not 94 Euros good.

Day 13: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

We woke up to rain & lots of it. We had expected there to be days like this but this was the first really foul weather we encountered. I was bummed out because I had planned to do the Derry wall walking tour today & after checking the weather forecast it appeared this weather was pretty wide spread & wasn’t expected to clear.

Breakfast @ Ard na Breatha(incl) This place is OK but not quite the luxury B&B that is advertised. While it was good it still only ranked 4th or 5th on our trip. I’d still recommend it but it’s nothing special.

Derry Wall Walking Tour(4GBP). We crossed into N. Ireland @ Strabane @ the skies miraculously cleared. We were planning on just continuing on because of the rain but when it cleared we stopped & had a great time on this tour. For me, other than the golf tomorrow, this was the highlight of the trip. I loved it & the wife, even though she wasn’t keen on it at first, agreed that it was nothing like she expected & was glad we took the time to do it(75min).

Explored the walled city & Peace Bridge & had lunch in a little café inside the walls.(12GBP)

Coastal route to Portrush. Check-in Links View B&B across the street from the Royal Portrush Golf & Country Club.

Drive to Giant’s Causeway. Not as big as I thought it was but was pretty cool none the less. Also met up with some women who were going on the Slieve League boat tour with Paddy right after us the day before. We all agreed that it was well worth it & a great perspective to view the sea cliffs from.

Back to Portrush & dinner @ Adelphi’s(40GBP incl wine)

Day 14: No map. We went golfing & the car never moved today.

Breakfast @ Links View B&B(incl) Nice B&B in a great location. We were told, even by the owner himself, that it can get fairly loud with people walking from the nightclub close by back into town but we never had any problem. Also the one place where the WI-FI didn’t work very well.

Golf the Valley Course @ Royal Portrush. Not the Royal Portrush but was still a fantastic link’s course.

Lowlights of the round: 4 putting 5 times from just off the green. 3 times in the first 3 holes.

Highlights of the round: the 3 foot eagle putt on the fourth hole. I missed that but I at least still made a tap-in birdie. This was the nicest day they had in Ireland this year. We actually got sunburned.

We were basically tourist out for a walk interrupted by swinging a golf club. We had a great time & I now have the utmost respect for links golf. The rough is crazy so don’t miss the fairway. We didn’t keep score but even with my putting problems(I 3 putted a few more times other than the others already documented)I would have been around 95 so it wasn’t too bad.

One shot epitomizes links golf for me. I was 8 feet off the putting surface on the 16th hole & had to call my wife over to show her that I had basically no chance to put it on the green. I could see the ball clearly but it was sitting down in the rough & I told her I would be lucky if I could move it & if I did it would either barely come out or go screaming across the green. I was right & moved it about 3 feet but it was at least on the fringe where I could putt it. Yes, I three putted that one too.

Great time & I’ll have to return to Ireland specifically for a golfing holiday.

Dinner @ Atlantis Bar & Grill(40GBP incl drinks)

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5. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Day 15: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast Links View B&B(incl)

Causeway Coastal Route

Torr Head & Torr Head Scenic Route. Torr Head is the closest point between Ireland & Scotland & we had a perfectly clear day to see Scotland. While this was cool the highlight was the drive south from Torr Head was the most scenic drive I have ever been on. Unbelievable drive.

Check-in Belfast Hilton & got upgraded to a Junior Suite with a view.

Titanic Exhibit. We had pre-booked tickets for 2PM so we didn’t have time to do much sight-seeing between Portrush & Belfast. We spent 2.5 hrs here &, although some of it wasn’t all that interesting, were pleased with the experience.

Explore area around hotel & had dinner with room service(50GBP).

Day 16: No map. Car didn’t move while in Belfast.

Breakfast @ hotel(breakfast & wi-fi included since I am a Hilton Gold & was upgraded to the suite) I had heard that the Hilton chain was going downhill but this place & the one in Dublin were both very nice. Great room, comfortable bed & bathroom, & more than affordable compared to hotels in N. America.

HOHO bus tour

Ulster Museum & Botanical Gardens

Explore central Belfast shopping district. Very compact city core & easily walkable.

Dinner @ St. George’s Marketplace restaurant(50GBP incl wine).

Drinks @ Crown Bar with some locals. Had a great time talking to the locals in this historic little pub.

Day 17: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ hotel(incl)

Lisburn Museum & Linen Exhibition. We had been reminded during the Titanic exhibit that Belfast was the linen capital of the world back in the day. We had been shopping for linen in Belfast & were having trouble finding when we were told the only place he knew we could find authentic Irish linen was Lisburn & recommended this place. We went thru the museum then did the linen exhibition where they did demonstrations on how linen was made & found it very interesting. Highly Recommended.

We bought a fine linen table set & generally had a great time here.

Check-in Meadow View B&B just on the outskirts of Navan. Mentioned to the host that we were planning to do Hill of Tara sometime while in the area & she told us we should go right away since it was so unbelievably clear & there was no guarantee it would be like this the next day.

Hill of Tara. Great views & lots of history.

Dinner @ the Round O(62E) For the price, totally overrated. We had just as good a meals for half the price so this place had the worst food to value on the trip. Good food it just cost too much for what we got.

Day 18: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast @ Meadow View B&B(incl)

Bru na Boinne Visitor Center. Did the Knowth & Newgrange tours. Great tours & I would definitely do Knowth again because I’m sure I’d learn more every time I went. Just a fascinating place.

Lunch @ Brambles Café @ the visitor’s center(20E)

Battle of the Boyne Site. It was okay but if I could only do 1 I would do Bru na Boinne before here. I had already heard everything about this battle during other tours around Ireland & didn’t really learn anything new by going here.

Dinner @ Zuchinni’s(58E incl wine)

Nice walk around Navan & relax on our last night in Ireland.

Day 19: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms…

Breakfast Meadow View B&B(incl)

45 minute drive to return car-shuttle to airport from Thrifty car return

Fly out of Dublin to London on BMI then Air Canada to Edmonton.

Indianapolis
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6. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Keith - Great report. It's very helpful giving your day by day itinerary and especially the links to the maps are very good. I also appreciated your comments about particular restaurants and accommodations and your recommendations. Wonderful! We leave in a week for our third trip and your report makes me even more excited. Thanks!

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7. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Thanks for the report! I'm just starting to plan our trip and you've given me lots of ideas!

Merced, California
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8. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Looks like it was the Irish Prime Minister clareherald.com/news/3867-taoiseach-visits-l… Strange that in his efforts to promote tourism he prevents tourists from visiting the attraction!

Western Ireland...
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9. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Not the most popular man in Rural Ireland at the moment..

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10. Re: 19 Day-17 Full Day-Trip Report

Great trip report! Appreciate your honest appraisals.

Did you drive up to the Slieve League cliffs? You may have liked that - you can go right to the edge of the cliffs :)

@ the drive south of Torr Head (the Glens of Antrim, I think) - I've heard others say this is the most beautiful drive in Ireland - must do it someday!