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North or South first

Winston Salem...
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North or South first

We'll be travelling to Ireland in September for 2 weeks - renting a car to see as much as possible. Does anyone have suggestions whether we should travel to the north (counter clockwise) or south (clockwise) first? It may not make a difference, but I didn't know if certain scenic drives (i.e. Antrim) look better going one way versus the other. Thanks in advance!

Amherst, New...
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1. Re: North or South first

If you are arriving in Dublin head up the coast to Monasterboice then onto Belfast (Titanic exhibit) then onto Carrickfergus Castle towards the 9 glens of Atrim. You'll come upon the Giants Causeway (a must see but avoid weekends) then onto Bushmills. Next take in Dumluce castle ruins (you will not be disappointed). Drive on through Armagh (if you want to see 2 beautiful cathedrals that's the place 2 St. Patricks). Head to Enniskillen castle and on towards Donegal. Stop at Donegal Castle. Spend a night at Solis Eske castle and then visit Belleek as you travel towards Sligo and Ben Bulbin mountain. Stop at Yeats grave (the headstone is worth a look) and lunch in one of many pubs in Claremorris. Continue to Galway but if you want another night in a castle or a stay in a quiet village stop on Cong see the abbey ruins visit Pat Cohans pub where the Quiet Man was filmed or stay at Ashford Castle just up the road. The castle is the best in Ireland. Travel to the Cliffs of Moher (sunny day only if rainy you won't see 2 feet in front of you), stay at Dromoland Castle if you can. Visit Bunratty Castle and a visit to Durty Nellys next door is worth an Irish coffee. Go onto Adare for some shopping and atmosphere. If you can get to Dingle it's a treat. I'd forgoe the little of the south that is left just to see Dingle and I'd leave from Shannon which is less a hassle than Dublin.

Winston Salem...
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2. Re: North or South first

THANK YOU!!! That's exactly what I needed to know. I'm surprising my husband with this trip as his birthday gift and my goal in the next two weeks is to flesh out a rough itinerary and find tentative places to stay. Your comments will make it infinitely easier to do all of that. Thank you for taking the time to give me such detail.

Amherst, New...
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3. Re: North or South first

You are welcome. Might I add if you are going to see the Cliffs of Moher you go to see the ancient Dolman in the Burrens? The Burrens are like no place on earth. Enjoy your trip!

Winston Salem...
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4. Re: North or South first

Will do!

Guernsey, United...
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5. Re: North or South first

JL3366

Unless you want a road trip - most of us would advise that you visit either "top half" or "bottom half" of the Island during a 14-day visit. Draw a line across from Galway to Dublin as a basic guide.

If you're flying in/out Dublin, you could do something like this for a southern route. It covers many of the most popular sites that first-time visitors wish to see:

tripadvisor.co.uk/GoListDetail-i20574-Irelan…

If you want to travel north from Dublin, then you could do something like this:

Days 1-2 Dublin

Spend your first two days in Dublin, explore the city, and get over the jetlag. The HoHo bus is a great way to travel around the city:

http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie/index.aspx

Collect rental car and head north from Dublin; you could travel back to the airport to collect the car. You may wish to spend a day/night in Belfast, or drive on to the Antrim Coast:

http://www.gotobelfast.com/

http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/

Then, I suggest you head west to Donegal: a a county of great beauty, with interesting historic sites, stunning scenery. Recommend 3 days at least in order to see some of the highlights of this area. There's a car ferry across to Donegal:

http://www.loughfoyleferry.com/

This will take you to Inishowen Peninsula, which is where you'll find Ireland's most northerly point: Malin Head:

http://www.visitinishowen.com/home

You might like to spend a night on the Peninsula, then travel westward, stopping at Glenveagh National Park and Glebe House, if you're interested in art:

http://www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie/

heritageireland.ie/en/…

One of our best days was spent on Tory Island:

http://www.oileanthorai.com

http://www.toryislandferry.com/

and farther west you'll find Slieve League Cliffs - the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and nearby, Gleanncholmcille:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slieve_League

http://www.gleanncholmcille.ie/

My Donegal photos:

flickr.com/photos/…

From west Donegal, travel down through Sligo, past magnificent Benbulben:

picturesofplaces.com/pictures/…benbulbin

to co. Mayo and the town of Westport, which is a good base from which to visit Achill Island (attached to the mainland by a road bridge); Clare Island (ferry journey); climb Croagh Patrick if you're feeling energetic and the weather is good; or spend a day following the Clew Bay Trail if you're interested in history:

www.mayo-ireland.ie/Mayo/Towns/WestPort/

http://www.clewbaytrail.com/index.php

http://www.omalleyferries.com/

http://www.clareisland.info/

croagh-patrick.com/visitorcentre/need-know

http://www.achilltourism.com/

My Mayo photos (it was a rather wet summer the year we visited!):

flickr.com/photos/…

Then take the drive from Louisburg (west of Westport) through the haunting Doo Lough Valley to Killary Harbour and into Connemara:

http://www.goconnemara.com

http://www.connemaranationalpark.ie/

http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/

http://www.corribcruises.com/

http://glengowla.goegi.com/

You may want to consider a "castle hotel" stay; most of these properties are more "country house" than fortified castle, but I think they still make a nice treat for a night or two:

http://www.ballynahinch-castle.com/

http://www.ashford.ie/index.php

http://www.abbeyglen.ie/

and whilst staying in Connemara, you could consider a day-trip - or even overnight visit to one of the Aran Islands, which are accessible by plane or ferry:

http://www.visitaranislands.ie/

http://www.aranislandsferries.com/

http://www.aerarannislands.ie/

Alternative to Connemara, you could stay in Galway city - a small, vibrant city. Quite a busy place - and busy roads too:

http://www.galwaytourism.ie/

Then travel east back towards Dublin airport environs (about 2.5-3hrs drive). You could spend a couple of nights at the end of your trip in co. Meath if you wish to visit Newgrange - a fascinating prehistoric site - and Trim Castle, which has a magnificent Keep:

http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm

heritageireland.ie/en/…

http://www.knowth.com/knowth.htm

heritageireland.ie/en/…

There's also the Hill of Tara, which has great significance in Irish history and mythology - but, as my husband said, when we arrived there: "It's just a hill" !!

www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/tara/

This is just 1 possibility for a northern route, but I hope it gives you some idea what can be achieved in 14 days without rushing around too much: Ireland is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace :-)

Hope these help you plan your own itinerary:

tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186591-c138981/Ire…

tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186591-c138899/Ire…

:-)

Winston Salem...
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6. Re: North or South first

Sarnia,

I can't begin to thank you enough for taking the time to type & search for all of that! Who needs a guide book when there's TripAdvisor?! All of that is absolutely priceless and such an incredible help to me. Having never been to Ireland before, I've had to start from square one and learn history as well as travel information. I thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge with me!

Wakarusa, KS, USA
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7. Re: North or South first

For car rental, take a look at easytourireland.com--I am pleased with their price and how i have been treated. Their biggest draw is the fact that they cover everything, even Super CDW.

Winston Salem...
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150 posts
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8. Re: North or South first

That is wonderful to know. I will certainly look into renting from them. We don't need large car since there are just two of us. My husband's comfortable driving on the left with a manual transmission, so hopefully that'll help with the price as well. Thank you so much for your suggestion!

Grayslake, Illinois
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9. Re: North or South first

Hi, Just want to lend my vote for Sarnia's excellent "northern half" itinerary. But, since you're a newcomer to Ireland, I think I might reverse the order of travel......Dublin to Galway, then up & over.

Guernsey, United...
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10. Re: North or South first

@ JL3366

Thank you for your kind comments; I'm passionate about Ireland - have visited over 30 times in the past 16 years. I wonder if I go into "information overload" with my lengthy posts - but there's just so much scenic beauty, and a wealth of interesting places to visit, that I struggle to keep posts short!

If you're looking for places to stay, then have a look at this web-site, and follow up by reading reviews here on Tripadvisor to see if they suit your requirements. I've found some super places:

www.sawdays.co.uk/accommodation/ireland/

and some nice places here too:

http://www.hiddenireland.com/

http://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/

@trintraveler

thanks for the thumbs up!

:-)