We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

trip report, in installments!

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
trip report, in installments!

We just got back from an amazing 12 days in Ireland. It was a wonderful experience, and we'll definitely be back. My husband and I went with our 3 boys (ages 14, 12, 10), and my husband's sister came with us.

Day 1: We arrived at Shannon airport at 6:30 in the morning where we picked up the Ford Galaxy from Europcar that we reserved through autoeurope. From getting off the plane to driving away in the car, it took us 45 minutes. We had expected it to take a lot longer, so we were too early for Bunratty. We drove into Limerick and stopped at Dunnes Jetland to stock up on snacks and water to have in the car. We drove around Limerick, familiarizing ourselves with the town and driving on the left side. Back to Bunratty where we explored the castle and folk park for about 2 hours. The boys, ages 14, 12, 10, loved the castle with the winding stairs. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we took a lot of pictures. Drove back to Limerick where we stopped at Ivans to pick up our Banoffi Pie. We took it to a park and shared it. I got some great pictures of all these hands reaching in with their forks for another bite. It was devoured in minutes. Thank you, Bean, for you help with that! We had dinner at Eddie Rockets in the Crescent Shopping Centre (the boys' choice). The service was great, but the food quality wasn't. Checked into our B&B, the Dooneen Lodge in Mungret. Noreen and Tom are wonderful hosts and we greatly enjoyed our week with them. After a brief nap, we drove into Adare to walk around and have an early dinner. On the way back to our B&B, we stopped at Punches Bar in Patrickswell. It was very busy with locals, a lot of laughing and some singing. Some women, but mostly men in sports jerseys (maybe hurling?) and we enjoyed Guinness and sodas.

Day 2: We had a great nights sleep in very comfortable beds. We have all 3 rooms at the B&B. They are all quite spacious. The room with one bed has a smaller bathroom, but the room with the 2 twin beds had a huge bathroom (across the hall). The room my husband and I slept in had a twin bed for our youngest son. Our bathroom was big enough for all of us, but I liked the shower in the large bathroom the best, so I used that one. Noreen made a nice breakfeast for us. Fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, toast, eggs, bacon and sausage. Drove to Tipperary County where we visited the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle. We spent about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at each place. Both had great tours, and I highly recommend both places. We bought lunch at Heritage Sandwich Shop and ate at the park by the castle. We had delicious sandwiches and panini's, and the boys enjoyed Taytos and Hunky Dory crisps. We drove to the Glen of Aherlowe. Another sunny day, perfect for great pictures at the scenic stops. The drive reminded me of the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The windying roads are similar to rural Virginia, and I loved how the trees formed canopies over the road. Spent about 2 hours exploring the Glen of Aherlowe. Thank you, Clauds, for that suggestion! We were done by 4:00, so decided to drive to Kilkenny (we are crazy!). Walked around the castle, did a little shopping before the stores closed at 6:00. We had a nice dinner at Morrissey's Bar. Would have liked to spend more time there, but we didn't even have Kilkenny in our itinerary, so it was nice to spend even a couple hours there.

My husband did all the driving and adapted quickly to driving and shifting on the left. We had to remind him, "left, left, left" when we would get back in the car after a long break, but that was about it.

More later.....

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: trip report, in installments!

Me again.... I forgot to talk about the Ford Galaxy and packing.... My sister-in-law had one large suitcase that she checked and one small carry-on. I had a small suitcase that I carried on. My husband and 3 boys each had a larger backpack they carried on. The Galaxy had more than enough seating area for all 6 of us, and the far back area had enough room for our luggage. The large suitcase laid flat, my suitcase stood on end next to it, and the backpacks all fit on top of the suitcases. We had 2 boys in the back seats, and one boy and his aunt in the middle with an empty seat between them to hold snacks, jackets, etc. We packed very light. My husband and the boys each packed 2 pair of shorts and 2 pair of pants or jeans. I had a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, and 2 pair of capri pants. They wore their shorts most of the time except on the 2-3 colder days. I wore the capri pants with sandals almost every day. We had a good mix of short sleeves and long sleeves and each person had a hooded sweatershirt or sweater and a rain jacket. This worked great for us and we used everything we brought. We did our laundry half way through. The car was great to have because we brought changes of clothes everyday. If the boys got too warm, they changed into shorts, if they got cold, they put their jeans on. Shirts were easier because they could just tie their sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt around their waist if they got too warm.

Co. Kildare
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
8,552 posts
54 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: trip report, in installments!

sdcash, thank you very much for this part of your enjoyable trip report!

I am sure Bean will be glad to hear that you loved the Banoffi Pie and I am very glad that you liked the Glen of Aherlow. It's a bit of a secret part of Ireland (pssshht, don't tell anyone else) and you certainly got a great day weatherwise for it. You were not crazy to go to Kilkenny as well! Since you had time you might as well.

It's also good to hear that you adapted to driving on the left side of the road without any problems.

I look forward to your next instalment!

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: trip report, in installments!

another installment!

Day 3: We drove to County Clare for our next adventure. On the road from Ennis to Ballyvaghan (R476-486) we stopped at Dysert O'Dea Castle. My favorite castle of the whole trip even though it was the smallest, maybe that was why. Found out later we missed the abbey ruins- don't do that! We also stopped at Poulnabrone, 15 minutes from Dysert O'Dea. The boys loved walking all over the interesting rocks. I liked looking at the portal tomb and imagining it being built and used. From Ballyvaghan, we drove the R477 along the coast, with several scenic stops. The area around Black Head was beautiful with the great waves splashing high on the rocks. Stopped in Lisdoonvarna for a nice lunch at Curtin's Roadside Tavern. Drove 10 minutes to Cliffs of Moher where we spent a good hour walking around. It was crowded, but not enough to keep someone from going. It was later in the afternoon, and there wasn't a guard to keep people from walking south after the barrier. It was windy on the walk up to the cliffs from the parking lot, but not too windy at the top the day we were there. It was beautiful, and I would recommend a stop there. I bought a zippered sweater from one of the sellers, the softest wool I've ever felt, but still itchy enough I need long sleeves underneath! Another 10 minute drive to Lahinch. They told us it had downpoured the day before, so we were very lucky to have a warm, sunny day. The boys climbed over the rocks by the beach and watched the surfers before we went shopping. Drove on to Ennis and walked around. Still full from lunch, so we drove back to Limerick and the Crescent Shopping Center for dinner. This time, we ate at Spur Steakhouse as per Bean's recommendation, and it was very good. The only place we ate at the whole trip that had free refills on soda. Soda is very expensive in the restaurants, and you only get a small glass, so this was a treat for the boys. I think we spend more on soda for 3 boys then we did for beer for 3 adults! The boys also voted the burgers at Spur the best they had the whole trip. Filled up with gas- diesel was anywhere from 1.09 to 1.16 a liter where we were. The Galaxy holds 70 liters.

Day 4: We drove 1 1/2 hours to the outskirts of Killarney, then drove the Ring of Kerry counter clockwise. It was only 8:30 when we got there, so there wasn't much traffic. We had several scenic stops, in places where buses can't go, too. A benefit of driving yourself. The roads were winding, but not too narrow until Waterville. I like the fuschia and montbresia flowers by the side of the roads, so pretty. Our favorite place was Sheehan's Point by the statue of the Virgin Mary. The boys scrambled up the rocky hill while we soaked up the wonderful scenery. Another sunny day for us, it was amazing. Driving from Castlecove and Sneem to Kenmare didn't have as many scenic views, there was too much shrubbery along the roads. We saw a few tour buses pulled off at stops, but not many. We stopped in Kenmare for lunch. Tried to get into the Purple Heather but it was full. Ate at O'Donnabhain's and it was wonderful. The beef and guinness stew was so good. We wandered around a small market they had going on, and shopped in some stores. It is a very pretty town, the perfect size for me. The drive from Kenmare to Moll's Gap was nice, and the boys did some rock climbing at the Gap. Killarney National Park was beautiful. I use that word a lot! I would definitely recommend spending a day there for some hiking. I wish we had. A lot of buses at Ladies View by the store- yikes! We stopped at a pull-out near the south end of Upper Lake where we walked through some trees and found more rocks to climb! My husband and the boys climbed down to the small beach. My sister-in-law and I relaxed up top. In Killarney at 4:00, so 7 1/2 hours included 2 hours in Kenmare and a lot of stops for exploring. We did miss Staigue's Fort, wish we'd stopped there. We didn't stop in Killarney, it's a bigger town, and I prefer smaller ones, plus we were tired from a long day and wanted to get back to our B&B. Had Chinese food for dinner, how odd to hear Irish phrases with Chinese accents!

Co. Kildare
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
8,552 posts
54 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: trip report, in installments!

N'other good one, sdcash! I know all of these places so well myself that I can see you and your party. I bet the boys had a good time with all that climbing! Pity that you missed Staigue Fort but never mind. Yes, Kenmare is a grand little town. Your report is lovely!

Time for me to down tools and get to bed (it's past 3 am). I'll look in on you again tomorrow and hope to find more reports!

Humptulips...
Level Contributor
3,287 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: trip report, in installments!

Well written sdcash. That's great you had the weather with ya. Patrickswell seems to have worked great for the week. I lived a bit North of the Glen in Tipp. and also like the canopies. Sometimes it feels like a tunnel. Not many people get to there, or Dysert O'Dea either. Yeah, you can make up some time on that road back to Kenmare. Good tips for packing and such also. Cheers.

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: trip report, in installments!

Day 5: Today we slept in, had a late breakfast. Noreen made "American Pancakes" for the boys before we went into Limerick for a visit to the library to use their computers, internet and for another stop at the shopping centre. From there, we drove up to Ballina, had one of our favorite lunches at Molly's. The boys loved the pizza, and I had a delicious greek salad, it was enough for at least 2 people. We drove along Lough Derg up to Mount Shannon. It was a nice, relaxing drive after the past few days. I liked the small towns along the way, so many flowers, in pots and hanging baskets. We stopped a few times to admire the views. On the way back to Killaloe, we stopped at Ballycuggeran Beach. We stayed awhile, resting, reading, having a snack. It was very warm and sunny, a lot of people were swimming. Back to the B&B where we relaxed before dinner. We tried The Unicorn in Limerick and we were glad we did. This ended up being one of our favorite dinners. The roast turkey with gravy and onion/sage dressing was heaven. The sticky toffee pudding was the perfect dessert, very rich, though, so a good one to share. The bill for all 6 of us was 100.00 with the tip. Later that night, after getting the boys settled in their beds, we went back to Punches in Patrickswell. It was traditional music night. It was all locals, and some of them took a turn singing or playing an instrument. A woman was celebrating her birthday at one table, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to her. When we left, people were on the floor dancing. I didn't want to go, but we had another early day in the morning.

Day 6: Up early, Noreen provided a cold breakfeast so we could be on the road by 7:00. Drove an hour to Castle Island, then a nice drive to Inch Beach where we stopped for a bit. It was only 9:00 when we were there, so very quiet. Pretty drive from there to Anascaul, we stopped at some pull outs to enjoy more views. In Anascaul, we drove up the curvy one lane road (luckily, didn't meet anyone on the road!) to the lake. It was beautiful, especially at the top. No one else was there. Guess what? There was a rocky hill for the boys to climb! I wish we had packed a picnic to enjoy up there, and I wish we had brought our hiking shoes/boots. The hill is very steep, so the walk down has to be negotiated carefully. On the road back down, we met just one car, but we passed each other successfully on that narrow road. It was an older gentleman and he smiled and nodded when he saw us. The drive to Dingle was beautiful, but on the way to Slea Head, it was misty rain and fog, very hard to see anything. We stopped at the Beehive huts, only 1 other family there and they soon left. We had it to ourselves for a bit before another family came. We had fun exploring all the rooms. Back on the road, we experienced our first sheep herding. It was fun to see the busy sheepdog weaving back and forth, herding the sheep. Pulled off at a scenic stop, but too foggy to see anything, only a bit of the rock going down to the water. I bet it is amazing on a clear day, especially closer to Dunquin where we also stopped. We really liked the beach by the Ryan's Daughter stone, too. Back to Dingle for lunch at Harringtons- good fish & chips. Had some light rain. I finally experienced "soft rain" where you see it, but don't feel it! No such thing where we live. Dingle was very crowded with people and cars, we didn't stay long. Drove the Connor Pass. Thick fog at the top, couldn't see anything, we were so disappointed, but as we kept going, the fog cleared as we got lower. The road was single lane only for a short while, but it was scary in the fog. We stopped at a pull out with a mini waterfall and a view of the lakes below. It was beautiful, and to the everyone's excitement...... there were rocks to climb. We climbed and climbed, up to another lake. I did this in my sandals and it was very doable. We had a great time and stayed for awhile before heading to Tralee. Drove back to the B&B on the N69 for a different view of the country. Listowel is a pretty town, I would have like to explore that if we had more time. Back to the B&B, and to The Unicorn for another great dinner.

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: trip report, in installments!

I forgot to say thank you, Clauds and Boru, for your nice comments! Also, thank you to Gariem for the Lough Derg suggestion during our itinerary planning. For people like me who have problems pronouncing some of these places, Lough is pronounced like the Scottish "Loch."

Humptulips...
Level Contributor
3,287 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: trip report, in installments!

:-) I jinxed ya. Hopefully the weather improves(fingers crossed). Cheers.

Co. Kildare
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
8,552 posts
54 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: trip report, in installments!

What a shame about the fog in Dingle! You missed some of the most beautiful views to be had in Ireland. Great, though, that you got up to Lough Anascaul. Are you sure your sons aren't really mountain goats in disguise...?

I know that place with the waterfall on the Conor Pass very well but I have never climbed up to the lake (too lazy) so you have one over me!

St Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
220 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: trip report, in installments!

Clauds, I'll just have to go back to Dingle on my next trip! Boru, the weather was wonderful for most of our trip, so we accepted the weather in Dingle with good attitudes.

Day 7: Today was the BIG day. We had reservations at Ashford Castle for the Hawk Walk, but were keeping it a surprise for the boys. I was so excited. First, we drove up to Galway and had a great time at the Saturday morning market. Oh, the fresh breads and cheeses were so good. I also bought an olive/cheese salad from one stand, then a plain pita from another to stuff the salad in for lunch! Everyone found something at the market to eat for lunch. There were also people selling handmade jewelry, purses, etc. Went shopping on High Street and Shop Street. We then drove 45 minutes up to Cong, where Ashford Castle is. At the gate, the man took our admission fee, and we asked where to go for the falconry school. The boys eyes got so big and their mouths dropped open. We had an hour to walk around the castle grounds which are beautiful. We took pictures of the castle with the blue skies above and walked through the gardens before our lesson. The Hawk Walk was amazing and wonderful and the best experience.... I HIGHLY recommend it. We had 1 trainer and 2 Harris Hawks for the 3 boys. They wore the heavy gloves, and took turns holding the birds. The birds would take off, fly around, then come back and land on their wrists. The trainer would have the birds fly through the woods, and it was like watching an airforce jet doing manuevers, they glided side to side through branches and flew just over your head. I have the best pictures of the boys holding the hawks, who almost seem to be posing! The trainer told us all about the birds, and we also saw other birds of prey, including falcons. I would definitely do this again, it was one of the best parts of our trip. When one of the other trainers heard we drove up from Limerick, he said, "God Bless.... Are you mad, then?" We laughed. We didn't think anything of it, and it was so worth it. Back to Galway for dinner at McDonough's Fish & Chips, then back to the B&B.

Day 8: We were sad to say our good byes to Tom and Noreen. They are wonderful people, and we would love to stay there again sometime. It rained all morning while we drove across to Trim. We arrived at the castle at 12:20, just in time for the 12:30 tour of the keep and we were lucky enough to get the last 6 tickets for the tour! Also lucked out with the weather, the rain stopped! The tour was very interesting, a lot of information about the castle and it's history. After the tour, we walked around the grounds, then went into town for a nice lunch at Watson's Cafe and Pizzeria. We bought a book about Trim Castle at the castle visitor shop. We did that at the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle, too. They were only 5 euros each, and the boys have been reading them since we got home. Drove to Dublin where we found our next B&B, Azalea Lodge in Drumcondra. Bernadette is very nice and has a beautiful home. We had 2 of the rooms and they were both a good size. The bathrooms were very small, though, especially ours. After unpacking and getting settled in, we went into the city center to walk around. It was crowded because of the Cork vs Waterford Hurling Match at Croke Park, but the crowd wasn't overly loud or rowdy which surprised me. We had dinner at the Arlington. Dinner and Show was 26 Euros p/person, although they did have kids meals for 5.00 which was nice. The singing started at 8:30, and the dancing at 9:40. We liked the singing, but we were close to the speakers, so it was very loud. It was fun when the audience joined in some of the songs. The show is in the basement, and the stage is low, so it was hard to see the dancers' legs unless you were sitting up close. The roof was low, too, so we kept expecting the male dancer to hit his head! Even with all that, we enjoyed the show. I was surprised at how much the boys liked the dancing. I thought you had to pay the 26.00 to see the show, but we saw some people come down who didn't eat, they just ordered drinks and stood along the edge of the room or lucked out with one of the open tables. Took the bus back to Azalea Lodge. The stop is right outside the B&B.