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Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Boise, Idaho
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Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

I'm sitting in the Chicago Airport after arriving from Shannon and already going through withdrawals. What a beautiful, amazing country with wonderful lovely people. We really did have a hundred thousand welcomes. Thanks to everyone here for your time and advice. I read through many posts and trip reports when planning this trip and feel that is the reason it went so smoothly. Thank you!! This is long, but I wanted to add some tips for first timers. I had a ton of questions and I hope this might help someone else.

Day 1

Our first day we arrived in Shannon at 7 am. For those of you who have never travelled there before and had questions about the airport like I did, getting through immigration a was a breeze. We waited about 20 min for our luggage, then quickly through customs and on to Hertz for our car. I had thoroughly researched car hire and it was the smoothest transaction I could have hoped for. Our United Mileage Plus Visa recently starting including Ireland with its insurance coverage and this saved us a lot. It was no hassle at all at the desk, and I had the letter of proof of coverage. We were lucky to get an upgrade (my husband is a gold club member) to a diesel VW golf and this saved is loads on petrol. It was small but four doors were helpful with luggage. When we returned the car today it was a breeze as well, the only snag was they charged us in USD instead of euros and I should have had them change it but didn't. I was disappointed as it was a difference of $30-40 and every bit counts. Just be sure to request they charge in euros, we remembered our whole trip except for the time with the biggest charge!! Oh well. I still can definitely recommend Hertz.

After getting some euros at the ATM, (very convenient near the car hire), we freshened up and we were ready to go. Lucky for us, my husband spent 2 years in New Zealand driving a stick shift on the left, and he was an excellent driver. I would not recommend getting a manual if you are not experienced. We had no problems at all and headed to Adare and on to Killarney National Park, which turned out to be a 2 hour quiet drive on a Sunday. I had researched drive times on AA route planner and found them to be accurate, though with an inexperienced driver I would add extra time.

We did stop at a Tesco for a phone-€9.99 for the phone and €5-10 for a card. Nice to have to make calls to B&Bs for arrival times and reservations for restaurants. We didn't use it much but found it nice for emergencies. The best thing we did was to get a mobile hotspot from Hertz which allowed us to use our iPhones for data (we had trend off the cellular data) so we could use GPS, text through the wechat app and use FaceTime for calls) Another tip about Tesco is they are great for snack and restroom stops. We visited quite a few Tescos on our 11 day trip!

We had a nice quick stop in Adare, and a lovely afternoon at Muckross House and Abbey. We bought our Heritage cards there (€22) which were great to have throughout the trip. I enjoyed the tour of Muckross house, had a decent lunch there, and enjoyed exploring the Abbey. I highly recommend it. Killarney National Park is stunning!

We then drove about 90 min to Dingle, where we were welcomed at Pax House (see my review--It was outstanding!!). We had a nice dinner at An Canteen, a nice walk around town with an incredible Murphy's ice cream cone (sea salt and honeycomb caramel-yum!), and then collapsed in our delightfully comfortable beds at 10. It was a perfect first day in Ireland.

Western Ireland...
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for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal
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1. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Greetings jkm5,

Great report, great tips about tesco. Isn't Murphy's grand? ( I became a fan in Dublin). Looking forward to the next report.

Kind Regards,

Keshgrammy

Clovis, California
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2. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

We are first timers also, leaving on Monday (the 18th)!! We're also staying at Pax House, so glad to hear you thought it was great (it does get wonderful reviews!). We were a bit concerned about it not being walking distance to town, did you find this a problem at all? Decided it sounded too nice to try and change it!

Looking forward to the rest of your report!

Boise, Idaho
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3. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

jperkins, Pax House was amazing. It is all the reviews said and more. John is an incredible host and the views were unbelievable. We stayed two nights and drove to town one night (2 min) and walked the next night. It is about 15 min to town, and was not a bad walk. It is uphill on the way back but we didn't find it a problem. You will love it! I am jealous that you are just starting and sadly, we just left.

Clovis, California
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4. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Thanks jkm5! We're staying 3 nights, and really looking forward to it :)

Bluff Dale, Texas
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5. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Can you possibly tell me which Tesco you stopped at after your flight to Shannon? Is there a Tesco in Shannon. We are going to need to pick up a couple of phones when we get there, and I would like to do this on the day we get there. We will be traveling towards Cliffs of Moher. I noticed there is a Tesco in Ennis, Would that be the best choice? Thank you

Boise, Idaho
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6. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Pen201, We stopped at a Tesco just past Adare that first day, I don't remember the name of the town. Ennis sounds like it would be on your way to the Cliffs. We had no problem finding Tescos, they were on our way to most places and we didn't have to hunt for them. We never did go to the one in Ennis though so I don't know where that would be. I know there is one in Limerick too.

Boise, Idaho
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7. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Trip Report Day 2

Because we stayed awake all day, we were able to beat jet lag by going to bed at 10 and sleeping 10 hours till 8 the next day! The beds at Pax House were so comfortable. Breakfast was delicious! We could not get enough brown bread on this trip it seemed, it was so delicious! Scones, homemade muesli and yogurt, smoked salmon and eggs, Delicious!

We decided to do the Slea Head drive and John suggested we go in the afternoon to avoid the tour buses. We went to Dingle and and did a little shopping and headed to the Little Cheese Shop. It is a lovely shop were we picked up some Irish cheeses and then went around the corner for a loaf of bread and picked up some grapes at SuperValu for a picnic. John at Pax House had given us a guide of stops on the drive. Our Highlights were the Famine Houses, our picnic right at a turn off with a lovely view of the ocean, Gallarus Oratory, and the ruins of Kilmalkedar. Overall, we took our time and loved the unbelievable and incredible scenery. We took about 4-5 hours to do the drive with stops. Later we had dinner at Out of the Blue and again got Murphy ice cream cones. A little trad in a pub made for a perfect second day.

Day 3

We were sad to leave Pax House but were excited to see the rest of Ireland. Another amazing breakfast and we were on our way to County Clare. The Burren scenery was totally different than Co Kerry but every bit as beautiful. We visited the Burren Perfumery (lovely!) and Poulnabrone Dolmen. It was raining heavily but we still had great views of the tomb. We made it to our B&B in Fanore, Orchid House. We loved Fanore. It was small and quaint but not far from the Cliffs. We preferred it to busy Doolin. That night we had great fish and chips in the pub and went to see the Cliffs of Moher about 8. The visitor center was closed but we could walk all over the Cliffs without the crowds. We got some great pictures. Every place we visited in Ireland we were awestruck by the beauty and every time we thought it couldn't get better but it did. Another amazing day in Ireland!

Boise, Idaho
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8. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Just saw I wrote delicious three times in a row. Well, it was a good breakfast!

Boise, Idaho
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9. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

Day 4

Another amazing breakfast and beautiful view of the ocean from our room, we were off to Doolin for a cruise to the Cliffs. After several delays ("Just another 15 minutes folks!"...which turned out to be an hour and a half) we were out to see the Cliffs. I highly recommend seeing them by boat. they are magnificent. We wished we had an extra day to make it to the Aran Islands. We also regret not doing the Cliff Walk with Pat Sweeney, we just ran out of time. We will definitely plan more time in this area next time, Co Clare and the Burren were one of our favorite parts of the trip.

We were off to Clifden for the next two days. On the way we stopped at Corcomroe Abbey, a little off the beaten path and well worth it! We took the scenic route along Roundstone and the views were again amazing. ( I feel like I need a new vocabulary to describe Ireland). We were surprised again at how different this part of Ireland was, much more rugged and wild but every bit as beautiful. We were staying at Hillside Lodge on the Sky Road and we absolutely loved it. This time our view was sheep! I know that gets some laughs among locals on the board but I was fascinated with all the sheep. (Even though I live in idaho, I rarely see sheep, and never in the road.)

We ate dinner in Guy's bar in Clifden and they had great live music. Another great day. (Tomorrow...hiking Diamond hill

Clovis, California
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10. Re: Amazing Ireland Trip Part One and Tips from a First Timer

It sounds like we are making pretty close to the same trip! However, we are flying into Dublin and out of Shannon, so kind of backwards from yours. Sounds like you had some nice weather! Hope it holds out for us... We would like to do the cliffs walk also, I have that marked down! Did you use a particular boat company for the Cliffs ride?

Thanks for the informative report!