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Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Reno, Nevada
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Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

We know that there are several reasons why some people take packaged bus tours, and we are very thankful that NONE of those reasons apply to us. We enjoyed 11-Nights of totally independent and self-everything travel through much of western Ireland. We needed about another month to do all that we wanted, but still it was an outstanding trip. Again, thanks go out to all of the DE's and others who offered suggestions for this, our 4th visit to Ireland.

FYI - We are all in our mid-60's. Planned the entire trip using TripAdvisor and few websites, everything was self-booked.

Day #1 -

Arrived in Shannon at 7:00am in light rain. Went right to AVIS desk and our full-size, automatic car contract with Full Coverage (Super CDW +) was waiting. Took shuttle a short distance to the car. No GPS (I prefer doing my own thinking and navigation via signs and a good map). Drove to Ennis for Irish breakfast buffet at the West Clare Hotel. Drove to Cliffs of Moher. High winds and hard rain/hail, so we just saw the Cliffs for a few minutes and then hit the gift shop to buy some family history scrolls where I found that my family name comes from County Galway. Drove the Burren around Black Head and the rain stopped before arriving at Dunguaire Castle for some photos. Been 10 years since we were in the Burren and were saddened to see all of the development and therefore destruction of the natural wonder of the burren. Drove on to Galway and Salthill where we checked in at the Galway Bay Sea View Apartments. We arrived at a “bad time” as the door was locked and nobody at the front desk. In typical Irish style hospitality, the snack bar next door allowed us to use their phone at no charge to call the apartment manager and we were soon shown into our fully-equipped 2-bedroom, self-cater apartment. Very clean, well-stocked and a balcony overlooking the Bay. Great location for all of our touring. Dinner at Lohans Café and Bar.

Day #2 –

After a stop at Tesco to buy a mobile phone for 19 Euros plus a 10 Euro “top-up,” Drove to Clifden via one of the Connemara loops. Stopped at Balinahinch Castle for some photos. Drove the Sky Road Loop and stopped often for sites and photos. Back in Clifden, we stopped for lunch at Mitchell’s Seafood. Great Seafood Chowder. Drove on to the Kylemore Abbey where we spent a few hours touring the house and gardens and having tea+. Got “lost” and were about 1km out of our way on the way back to Galway. Stopped at a petrol station for directions where the owner just pointed left and said “go that way.” I asked if that was road #336 and she said, “oh, we do not use numbers here, just go that way.”  No passengers harmed, No need to send out the search party, and we arrived in Galway a few minutes later after a lovely day. Dinner and a show at the opening night for the season at Trad on the Prom = wonderful!

Day #3 –

Drove to Ashford Castle for a stroll around the grounds and an extended “Hawk Walk” at the Ireland School of Faclonry. This was one of the highlights of our touring. The wives got to work with and feed the hawks on a walk through the woods, as the husbands took photos and walked along. The 2 guys got a special treat as we were allowed to feed and fly the resident great owl. Drove up to Westport/Newport for sites and photos, and then back to Galway without getting “lost” this time. Dinner again at Lohans where I ate such a large plate of outstanding seafood and drank pints of Guiness that I was sick and could not sleep (my own stupidity and gluttony – great food). Great Craic! Drinks on Quay Street after a walk to and visit of Galway Cathedral. Pints at Tigh Naughton’s was a special treat --and great Craic. Walked along the Salthill Promenade in the rain back to our apartment.

How to Improve the Galway Visit = Add at least 7 More Days

Day #4 –

Left Galway in the light rain and drove through Ennis to Milltown and the Coast Road. Drove to Kilkee and the Cliffs that are just as magnificent as Cliffs of Moher only FREE. We stopped to take photos when a local man drove up and stopped then volunteered advice and pointed us to take a small side road for a better view. We spent about 20 minutes talking to him and then took the road for the better view. He was right and we could now see a sunny coast and the Aran Islands in the distance. Drove on to Loop Head Lighthouse and lunch at a local establishment. Then drove to Killimer and caught the car ferry over to Tarbert. Saw dolphins along the way. Drove to Adare Manor for a castle-light experience, and had dinner and pints at Aunty Lena’s then walked over to Chawke’s Pub for more pints and Trad Music. Fantastic!

How to Improve the Clare / Loop Head Visit = Add at least 7 More Days

Day #5 –

Spent the day walking the grounds of Adare Manor and the town. Then to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park for a visit and the Castle Banquet. Had a wonderful time. Good food and a great show.

How to Improve the Adare Visit = Add at least 1-2 More Days

Day #6 –

Drove from Adare to Dingle via Connor Pass and the spectacular views along the way. Took the boat to see Fungie the Dingle Dolphin, then a great lunch at Fish on the Marina. Drove Slea Head for a few hours. Had Murphy’s ice cream and then shopped at Galway Crystal where Liz helped us choose some lovely gifts for ourselves and the folks back home. Then we drove to Killarney and checked into our apartment at Killarney Park Place. These accommodations were even better than the apartment in Galway.

How to Improve the Dingle Visit = Add at least 7 More Days

Day #7 –

Called Sean at the Skellig Boat Tour and he said yes, the weather and seas were just right for a visit to the Skellig Island (SCORE). We drove to Ballinskellig and took the trip over. Saw dolphins, tens of thousands of sea birds and we climbed up to the top of Skellig Michael (very scary, and we would trade this experience for anything) It was nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime experience that none of us will ever forget. You must be physically able and not have a fear of heights. Drove the remainder of the Ring of Kerry / Molls Gap and stopped at Lady’s View. Good dinner at Salvador’s in Killarney.

Days #8 & #9 & #10 –

Drove to Kenmare for shopping, hiked some of the Gap of Dunloe, climbed up Torq Waterfall and visited Muckross house and then just took photos at Ross Castle. Pubs, Trad & Craic in Killarney.

How to Improve the Killarney Visit = Add at least 7 More Days

Day #11 –

Drove to Cahir Castle for a walk through the park and castle. Then drove to Rock of Cashel for a tour and lunch at Granny’s. Drove on through Tipperary and then back to Shannon for night’s stay at Oakwood Arms. Dinner and our last pints at Oakwood. Gave the mobile phone to a young man/student who was shocked and thrilled to receive this unexpected gift.

Day #12 –

Early morning flight back home. 

How to Improve the Ireland Visit = Add at least 30 More Days

What we loved the most = The Irish People, Bread, Butter, Real Guiness versus that “stuff” they serve in the US, Independent Travel – NO BUSES! ALL The sites, Trad, Craic and again THE IRISH PEOPLE, who despite a long history of adversity are the most warm and friendly people on earth. We have traveled on 6 continents and 25 countries and can safely make this statement.

Total Cost per person just under 2000 Euros per person for everything including souvenirs.

FYI - You could not buy this packaged itinerary, even if it existed for double that amount…and NO HOHO Trip to Ireland. :-)

If "HE" allows, we will return.

Reno, Nevada
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1. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

FYI - Typo should say that "We would NOT trade the Skellig experience for anything."

Ennis, Ireland
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2. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Hi Eddie, thanks for a very entertaining trip report and for saying such lovely things about us Irish people:-)

It sounds like a wonderful holiday and I am guessing that all the "seniors" are pretty fit and lively.

I have not been to Skellig Michael myself, but it is on the agenda for this year. I am hoping my vertigo does not kick in half way up the climb!

Well done on a planning a great trip and writing a great trip report!

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3. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Wow! Sounds like a lovely trip. Thanks for posting.

I was wondering about your experience driving the Connor Pass. We'll be traveling from Dingle on our way to Galway, driving in Ireland for the 1st time. Also, how did you feel about the Killarney to Kenmare drive?

Limerick, Ireland
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for Limerick, Killarney
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4. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Thanks for a lovely detailed report. Glad you had such a good time.

Reno, Nevada
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5. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Bannergirl: The praise for the Irish people is genuine and well deserved. THANK YOU ALL! On your climb up Skellig stay close to the mountain, take your time and watch your feet and plant every step. Don't look down over the edge. We seniors climbed Skellig and Torq and we are still alive to tell the tales. I cannot imagine folks older than us or those with trouble walking or overly heavy people even attempting the Skellig trip.

Jendandy: If you are driving Connor on the way out of Dingle then be extra cautious because you will be on the cliff side of the road in spots that are single lane with two-way traffic. The good news is that there will be no buses along the way. The route we took from Killarney to Kenmare was the longer way on a highway, so not eventful at all. Even the ROK is much less scary that the Connor Pass. Go slower than you do at home, yield to on-coming traffic and you should be fine.

Dublin, Ireland
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for Sligo, Dublin
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6. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Hi Eddie, I loved reading all about your holiday...can only imagine the face on that student when you gave him a free mobile phone!

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us all.

U.S.A.
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7. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Lovely report, but I had to chuckle about your getting lost with directions by a local to "go that way." YEARS ago (late 1970's), my mom and her three daughters traveled through Ireland, and I can still hear the man telling us, when we were lost, "...you can't get lost in Ireland....". Which turned out to be true - keep driving and you'll get SOMEWHERE. (Just maybe not where you intended?)

And so glad that Ashford Castle still has the Hawk Walk - it was an experience of a lifetime for me when I dragged my hubby (the photographer) to Ireland in...2007? He refused flying (or catching) the owl - but that critter was BIG and HEAVY!!!! I recommend that experience to ANYONE who admires birds of prey.

And we all need to push a bit past our comfort levels and DIY while we can. Having a disabled sister reminds me to push myself to totally enjoy the ability to hike/climb/walk while I (61 years) still can. Life gives no guarantees. Good on you for going for it. For every trip, I try to go a bit past my comfort zone....'cos you just never know. And I ADORED the snorkeling and ziplines!

grafton
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8. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Thank you Eddie for sharing your adventures with us. We are considering staying put for a week in a self catering apartment in Salthill and we hope to see Westport and areas in the Connemara and Burren. Would you consider this a good idea or would it be better to halve the time between them?

Reno, Nevada
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9. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

It is about a 90 minute drive from Salt Hill to Westport and a bit shorter to the Burren. We are sorry that we did not stay a couple of nights in Westport or on Achill Island. Hope that helps with your decision, Grafton.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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10. Re: Trip Report:Self Everything11-Nights for 4 "Seniors" AWESOME

Glad to hear that you liked the Galway apt--we're staying there in August.

I thought long and hard about Michael Skellig, but DH gets seasick easily and is afraid of heights, so we have to pass. Oh, well--he has many other redeeming qualities. He'll do all the driving on our 34 day Ireland trip, and I'm very grateful for that.