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First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

P Y
Los Angeles...
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First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

Hi Everyone~

My friend and I are planning our first trip to Ireland and we are super excited! We are leaving the USA on May 14 (arriving in Dublin on May 15) and returning home on May 28. We are in our early 50s, in (relatively!) good shape and don't mind walking. We have a general idea of our trip, no specifics yet as far as which sites to see. We do not want to get caught up in the "windshield tour" of Ireland and not get to truly enjoy the sites, people, beauty, history, and food. We realize we'll have to save some sites and cities for another trip. We've gathered itineraries from other posters on this forum and tour groups. Soooo much to see and do in Ireland!

~May 15, 16: Dublin. Ride the Hop On/Hop Off bus.

~May 17: Pick up rental car. Head south. Would like to visit Waterford. Overnight in Kilkenny

~May 18: Overnight in Cork or Kinsale

~May 19, 20, 21: Stay in Killarney or Kenmare?

~May 22, 23: Stay in Galway

~May 24: Head north. We'd love to stay in a castle on our way north. Any suggestions around Sligo, Donegal, Northern Ireland?

~May 25: Stay in Portrush or Bushmills?

~May 26: Overnight in Belfast

~May 27: Return rental car. Last night in Dublin

Is this a reasonable itinerary? I know alot depends on what we do in each city. I saw some from tour groups where you are in a different hotel each night. We are trying to avoid that. I would appreciate any & all comments and input.

Thank you!!

Blarney Castle & Gardens
Castles, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas
Kilkenny Castle
Historic Sites, Castles
Trim Castle
Castles, Historic Sites
Guernsey, United...
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1. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

If you don't want a "windshield tour" and you intend returning to Ireland, then I urge you to rethink your itinerary: concentrate on "southern half" of the Island this trip, and on your 2nd, visit Galway, Sligo, Donegal and northern Ireland. You really won't do justice to the northern half of the Island in just 3 nights; there is so much to see!

So, I suggest you spend 2 nights in west Cork, which is a breathtakingly beautiful area, and one which folk seem to rush through on their way to Kerry. As well as Kinsale, Have a look at Clonakilty or Skibbereen, which are both good locations from which to explore this area :

http://www.clonakilty.ie/index.php/tourism/

http://www.skibbereen.ie

Killarney and Kenmare are both located on the Ring of Kerry amidst beautiful scenery. I personally prefer Kenmare: it's smaller than Killarney, but has a good choice of accommodation and restaurants/pubs. If you want to visit Muckross House & Gardens, Gap of Dunloe, Torc Waterfall, then Killarney would save you driving back 'n forth from Kenmare.

After visiting Kerry, consider a couple of days in Clare, en-route to Galway. Lots happening in the county during the month of May:

http://www.fleadhnua.com/index.php/events

http://www.burreninbloom.com/

And lots to see in this county, which has a diverse landscape, ranging from rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, to the fascinating Burren, and eastwards to rolling hills, tranquil lakes and peaceful villages :

http://www.clare.ie/

http://www.visitclare.net/

http://www.loopheadclare.com/

flickr.com/photos/…

http://www.burrenbeo.com/

http://www.discoverloughderg.ie/

http://www.visitclare.net/holyisland.php

Spend 2 nights in Galway as planned, then travel back towards Dublin airport environs, stopping at Clonmacnoise and/or Trim Castle, depending on whether either interest you:

heritageireland.ie/en/…

heritageireland.ie/en/…

If you don't want to spend your final night at an airport hotel, consider staying in Malahide, which is a short distance from the airport. You could even drop the car back and taxi from/to the airport.

If you intend visiting lots of "heritage ireland" sites, it would be worth looking into their heritage pass :

www.heritageireland.ie/en/Info/HeritageCards/

:-)

Guernsey, United...
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2. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

Forgot to link some sites in west Cork :

http://www.westcork.ie/

flickr.com/photos/…

http://www.mizenhead.net

http://www.thesheepshead.com/

http://www.bearatourism.com/visitorinfo.html

flickr.com/photos/…

Dublin
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3. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

If you are picking up your rental car in Dublin airport, and depending on where your are staying in the city centre, you can purchase a ticket for €24 that will cover the Airlink747 airport/city centre express from/to the airport and the HoHo tour.

May 17/18: As you are staying in Kilkenny on the 17th, it would make more sense to visit Waterford on the 18th, rather than be back tracking tio Kilkenny on the 17th. Then on the 18th continue from Waterford to Cork/Kinsale

May 19/21; I think I would stay in Killarney rather than Kenmare, as it is a bit more central for touring to various places

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

Hi PY

You were asking for a Castle suggestion in the North West should you include it on your itinerary or for your next visit - have a look at Markree Castle in Sligo and Lough Eske in Donegal.

http://www.markreecastle.ie/

http://www.solishotels.com/lougheskecastle/

Good luck with making your plans and remember that less is more in Ireland don't overschedule your trip.

Beaufort, Ireland
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for Galway
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5. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

I'll echo Dubfam recommendation of Markree Castle. We stayed there Aug 2012. Its everything a castle should be with only minor modernisations made to the building. The massive open fireplaces where they have a tree burning most days ( and I mean a tree not a log) to the wonderful staircase. I would advise to book early because this place is very popular for weddings particularly on weekends.

P Y
Los Angeles...
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6. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

Thank you for the quick replies! Your tips and suggestions have me taking another look at our itinerary.

SarniaG - Thanks for all those links and tips. We are considering saving the upper half of the island for another trip. I wanted to see the Giant's Causeway and the rope bridge. This will be the incentive to return to Ireland. We may make it up to Sligo for a castle stay. That's still up in the air.

fenlaDublin - We plan to pick up a car in Dublin city. We figure we can save two days of rental and parking. The Airlink/HoHo will work great for this.

dubfam - We will check out those castles. "Less is more"- love it!

dokgolf - Tree in the fireplace?! Wild!

Thanks again. I'll update our itinerary and would love to keep getting input.

Guernsey, United...
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7. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

Another thought: Instead of driving all the way up to Sligo for your castle stay, you could consider staying in Connemara, rather than Galway city :

www.ballynahinch-castle.com/connemara-hotel

Or there's this hotel on the outskirts of Tralee :

http://www.ballyseedecastle.com

Before deciding, you might find this recent discussion about "castle" hotels interesting :

tripadvisor.co.uk/…57057125

Dublin
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8. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

As you will be picking up the rental car in the city, then if you are buying a combined Airlink747/HoHo ticket, then just buy a 'single' for €20, as you will not need the return Airlink747 to the airport. However, before you decide on the Airlink747 from the airport, just check that it's route is suitable for wherever your accommodation will be.

9. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

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P Y
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10. Re: First trip to Ireland - Thoughts, comments on itinerary?

We mulled over your recommendations, ideas and suggestions. And also read many other posts for ideas. Information overload! But it did help. We cut out Northern Ireland from our trip. :-( So here's our itinerary:

-- May 15, 16 - Dublin

-- May 17, 18 - Kilkenny

-- May 19 - Kinsale

-- May 20, 21, 22 - Kenmare

-- May 23, 24 - Ennis

-- May 25, 26 - Mohill (Lough Rynn Castle)

-- May 27 - Dublin

We have all our lodging except for Ennis. This is where we need your help again. Where to stay in Ennis?? We are lost on this one.

We're happy we have our castle stay. We opted for some smaller towns. Now we need to work on what to see and do. We are excited! A month to go!