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Finishing Touches...

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Finishing Touches...

First of all, let me begin by saying I have been following these forums for quite some time now, and have learned a great deal of information from many of the regular contributors. I have found this to be an invaluable resource while planning a trip to Ireland, something I have always wanted to do. I am hoping that some of those same folks will weigh in here and give me some personalized advice.

I will be traveling with a companion end of July into early August, and we will be spending 11 days/10 nights in beautiful Ireland. We already have our flights booked, car hire reserved, and accommodations secured. Our destinations and dates are not flexible; however the details of our trip and what we do while in those places, as well as the routes we take between stops are all open for suggestions. What I am looking for at this point is general advice on our proposed itinerary, things to do, places to eat, and any “must-see” destinations that are along the way or not too far off course.

I am an adventurer, and to be honest I would much rather see a hidden gem on the road less traveled than the tourist trap that will be loaded with visitors. I will obviously do the required sights such as the Cliffs of Moher and the ROK, but I could easily be persuaded to see the natural beauty of the country instead of chasing dozens of castles.

I love seeing everything I can, and I have a bad habit of cramming so much into vacations that when I come back I need a vacation from my vacation. I am trying my best not to do that this time around, especially considering how I would be perfectly content getting “lost” in Ireland or having free time to change plans around if we decide to get adventurous. I want an itinerary, but a loose one that will not stress me out if I make a wrong turn and end up in the middle of nowhere.

Ok, enough with that, here is what we’ve got so far:

7/29 – Arrive Shannon Airport

7/29-7/31 (2 nights) – Galway

I love nature and landscape so obviously a trip to the Connemara is in order. At this time I plan on spending the other day in and around the city, but not exactly sure on the details yet. Looking for ideas...

7/31-8/2 (2 nights) – Doolin

Check out the Burren on the way from Galway. One day (weather permitting) I would like to go to one of the Aran Islands, though I am not sure which one yet. I think it would also be cool to see the cliffs from sea, however it seems the only combo trips they have are for Inisheer and the cliffs. From what I read, it seems I would enjoy Inishmore the most out of the islands. Open to suggestions on this. The other day we would likely just check out the town and the Doolin Caves, and perhaps the cliffs from land if we feel like doing that. Obviously both nights will be spent in search of the best pub to take in some of the traditional Irish music I look forward to.

8/2-8/4 (2 nights) – Killarney

I am really torn with what to do here. The problem is I would love to do it all. Being the outdoorsy type I would love the scenic routes to both the Dingle Peninsula as well as along the ROK. We could do Dingle on the way from Doolin to Killarney and ROK the following day, but this would obviously make for a lot of time on the road. We are young and energetic, so I am sure it can be done, but I also feel I would enjoy the town of Dingle and would likely want more time there.

It also just happens that I will be in Killarney for my birthday (8/3), so any suggestions on a good place to check out that night would be appreciated!

8/4-8/5 (1 night) – Cork

Don’t really have much of anything planned for Cork at this time. I know there is a lot to do in this area, but haven’t been able to decide yet. If you only had one day in Cork, what would be the things you absolutely had to do? Keep in mind, I will likely be off to a slow start considering this is the day after my birthday, which do I need to remind you…I am celebrating in Ireland!! :-D

8/5-8/6 (1 night) – Kilkenny

Same deal here, only one day and having a tough time making a decision. I’ve recently taken on a lot of responsibility since beginning to plan this trip, so Cork and Kilkenny is pretty much where I have left off. Open to suggestions on this one as well.

8/6-8/8 (2 nights) – Dublin

Our final 2 days will be spent in and around Dublin. I plan on taking some time to see Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains (we may do this on our way into the city from Kilkenny) and obviously some time sightseeing around Dublin. Most likely will do the Guinness tour as well as other attractions (on the bus tour). Anything else here is appreciated as well.

Any suggestions on any part of this itinerary are greatly appreciated. Also, if you have a recommended route to get between any of these points please share that as well. I am undecided at this point whether or not I will bring a GPS or just buy a road map or both. I would prefer not to use the GPS for the long hauls though, as it likely will just take us the shortest route which may not necessarily be the most scenic or rewarding.

Thanks in advance!!

Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: Finishing Touches...

Here are my suggestions for "the road less traveled". (That's not to say you won't encounter any tourists at all in July/August, but I can attest that we encountered none or very few in May 2011):

1. You don't HAVE to go to the Cliffs of Moher. If you want to see some cool cliffs without the crowds, drive Loop Head and/or go walk the cliffs in Kilkee. (In Kilkee, we parked in the carpark near the Diamond Rocks Cafe.)

2. Instead of spending time underground in a cave in the Burren, see the scenery up-close on a hike. We did the fabulous Caher Valley Loop Walk and saw some great things (and no people). shannonregiontrails.ie/FindaTrail/…en.html

3. Ring of Kerry--The ring forts in Cahirciveen were virtually deserted, so they were fun to explore. Valentia Island is interesting and the Skellig Experience is well worth a stop. Lots of good hikes around Derrynane National Park. There was one through the countryside and along a mass trail with fabulous views and we even saw the ivy covered remains of a ring fort. I think I found this particular hike in the Lonely Planet "Hiking in Ireland" guide. There's another good walk there out to Abbey Island and along the beach.

4. Instead of spending time in Cork, you might prefer a day driving and sightseeing on the Beara Peninsula. Again, we encountered very few people, but did find fabulous scenery (much better than ROK) and ancient sites.

5. Glendalough NP--Reserve some time for one of the walks. We did the Short Spinc Walk and saw the park from on-high. Amazing views of the glacial lakes.

6. Dublin: The Historical Walking Tour of Dublin (led by history graduates) is excellent. Kilmainham Gaol is "not-to-be-missed". The Traditional Musical Pub Crawl (which will be crowded and should be booked in advance) is a LOT of fun and well worth spending time with a lot of other people.

Finally, since you have a driver and a navigator, skip the GPS. A good map such as the OSI will get you where you need to go. If you get lost, ask a local--they love to help!

Edited: 12 June 2013, 19:18
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2. Re: Finishing Touches...

Longhorn - Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, these seem right up our alley! We could even do the Beara Peninsula when we are based in Killarney, it is actually closer. The walks you suggested look amazing, particularly the spinc walk in Glendalough! I'm loving the Dublin suggestions as well. Thanks so much for the ideas, we will be sure to check out at least a couple of these!

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3. Re: Finishing Touches...

Just saw your edit, and I agree. I'm not all that worried about the routes with the exception of when we are in the city. I don't much like driving in cities back here in the states, so I don't imagine I will enjoy it in the least when I am on the "wrong" side of the road and on the other side of the car... I'm wondering if it is worth bringing just for that reason? Generally speaking, men hate to ask for directions. But I am not shy in that regard and have no problem doing so, especially if it gives me the opportunity to interact with the locals, which lets face it, is one of the many reasons I want to visit Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: Finishing Touches...

I go with Longhorn on the Spinc walk - www.walkingroutes.ie/1254-Spink-Loop.html. When you've finished in Glendalough, head into Laragh and take the Sally Gap route up the Glenmacnass valley and come down through Glencree - www.glencree.ie/site/german_cemetary.htm into Enniskerry - http://enniskerry.ie/. You could then [if you still have time] visit Powerscourt - http://www.powerscourt.ie/ before taking the road into Dublin [via the Scalp to Dundrum or down to the M11].

Where are you staying in Dublin. Could I suggest a south county location then you could take in a few walks on Killiney Hill and visit the Dún Laoghaire and Dalkey areas




The city is a 20 minute ride by DART Train from Dalkey Station for those City tours you mention.

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5. Re: Finishing Touches...

Your itinerary is still heavy on the tourist traps (your word). My trip was a little different. 7 days on my own and 7 days in a Thurles - from where a group stayed and really branched out to the off the beaten paths. Fethard, Birr, Lismore etc are places few tour buses get to.

I would highly recommend driving the Healey pass on Beara- you will NOT see a tour bus there (at least not the hugh ones). I only passed one car going the opposite way.

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6. Re: Finishing Touches...

171956 - Great suggestions on the route to Dublin, thanks! I will be sure to check those out. The Spinc walk is a definite on the list now while in that area, I could probably spend the entire day there from what I'm seeing. (I'm big into nature photography so I'm sure I could find plenty to keep me entertained)

We are staying with Gerry Byrne at the Beech Lodge while in Dublin. All of the accommodations have been reserved after doing extensive research, so I would prefer not to change them at this point. But I will certainly be back to Ireland (I haven't even gone on my first trip yet and I'm already planning the next!) and I intend on staying in some of the less popular but equally amazing locations throughout the country. I will keep those towns in mind, thanks again for the suggestions!

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7. Re: Finishing Touches...

Mathlady - Thanks for the recommendation on the Healey Pass, I think we may opt for that route instead of the ROK. From what I have read, it is just as beautiful with less traffic. Besides, leaving from Killarney we can still cover a section of the ROK on the way to Beara, although I haven't finished doing my research yet to figure out exactly what the sights will be like along that route...

8. Re: Finishing Touches...

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