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10 day, July 2014 Ireland Trip - too much driving?

Hello- my husband and I are planning our first trip to Ireland! We believe we have a decent starting itinerary. We welcome any pointers or suggestions. Cheers!

Day 1: Dublin (8am arrival): Gaol, Guinness Storehouse, etc. We're hearty travelers, so we're alright with a little jetlag.
Day 2: Trinity College, St. Stephen's, Book of Kells, Drive to Kilkenny
Day 3: Rock of Cashel -> sleep in Kenmare
Day 4: Beara Peninsula, Cable Car to Dursey Island -> sleep in Portmagee
Day 5: Skellig Michael (weather dependent) -> sleep in Dingle
Day 6: Dingle, Slea Head Loop
Day 7: Dingle, Cliffs of Moher, Burren -> sleep in Doolin
Day 8: Drive Doolin to Galway, day in Galway
Day 9: Aran Islands
Day 10: Drive to Connemara, Ashford Castle, stay in Ennis (?)
Day 11: Fly home out of Shannon (11am) :(

Posted by
508 posts


Actually, that looks pretty doable. I'm a cyclist and though I've never driven a car in Eire, I've been to all those places and overnight spots several times. The only changes I'd make are:

1) On day seven, see The Burren before going to the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin to save on backtracking. The Burren is northeast of Doolin, whereas the Cliffs are south of and quite nearby Doolin.

2) Perhaps switch days eight & nine. The Aran Island ferry leaves from Doolin, so no need to backtrack from Galway. Leave your car in Doolin and make a day trip visit to one or two of the islands. Alternativey, you could drive west from Galway to Rossaveel and hop the ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Check the schedule though to verify that you can catch the ferry back the same day. You may have to overnight on Inishmore and take it the next morning.

The link to the Aran Island Ferries is: [][1]

The Doolin Ferries link is: http://[][2]

3) Once you've returned to Doolin, then drive to Galway, which is in Connemara, (probably an hour or so away) for an overnight. Then, drive the N59 loop through the wonderfully scenic Connemara region, returning to Galway and stay in either Galway or Ennis. If you want to cut the N59 loop a little short and see even more dramatic scenery, then head through the incredibly tranquil and pristine ten-mile stretch of the Inagh Valley on the R344, hooking up with the southern or northern portion of N59 west of Galway City.

Lots of B&B, trad (pub music) and hotel and dining options in both Ennis and Galway. From Ennis, I'd guess it's a two-hour drive to Shannon.


Posted by
9110 posts

The looping business around Galway Bay and the Aran Islands left me stuttering, but David's suggestion cleans it up.

I'm assuming the Kilkenny stop is because you're going to go through the Wiklows? If not, you probably would want to think about it.

I'm assuming the Kenmare stop is because you're going to pause at Cork/Cobh/Kinsale or something? If not, you might want to think about that as well since there's plenty of time.

It looks like you're going to try to circle all three southwestern peninsulae in a couple of days. If that's the case, it might be so much of the same thing that they're going to fuzz together in your gourd before you're halfway across the Atlantic. Also, that two or three hundred miles, is going to be at a virtual crawl, destroying whatever you'd hoped for as an average speed for the whole seven or eight hundred mile trip. If I had to chunk one, it'd be the Dingle.

Posted by
74 posts

If I remember right, the drive from Ennis to Shannon is about. 30 minutes. Allow time to top off petrol if nec and to return the car

Posted by
74 posts

I agree with Ed. Beara Pen has the most stunning scenery of all 3 I've driven (including R if K and Dingle). On Beara drive over the pass and go clockwise as the best part is on the north side as you are heading back to Kenmare. We Plan to do the Mizen and Sheep Head this Oct as well as the Beara AGAIN! This time will leave early Enough to catch the morning cable car to Dursey!

Posted by
552 posts

'Top off petrol' well before Shannon Town.

This driving itinerary is only doable if you have passengers that are are okay with 4-5+ hours of car time... Consecutive days, with no break in-between.

From Kilkenny to Kenmare, just doing the 'Rock' will mean missing a lot, especially the Cahir Castle to 'Swiss Cottage' walk, but not to mention Cohb and Kinsale. You have to take the N71 to get to Beara. Those rolling, Tuscan-esque, regional roads of south County Cork on the way toward the "Wild Atlantic Way" may have you wanting to pause for a moment,... (make time for Lough Hyne!)

If you really want to 'do' the Skellig(s), spend two nights out there and pare Dingle down to one. Either that or accept the fact that you don't have enough time to add more than one boat trip to this particular travel experience and spend three nights in Dingle. (If you really like boating, there's a Blasket Island tour from Dingle Harbor that would make for a nice, full, day, removed from the confines of a tiny car on 'squeeze-bottle' roads.)

It's the passengers that can really mess up the progress of an ambitious Irish motor-capade...

Go for it Meghan and happy travels,


Posted by
154 posts

This itinerary looks pretty good. I would recommend don't get too locked in on having to do everything you plan on your driving days since delays are pretty common. For driving estimates and routes I find Via Michelin gives the best estimates for Ireland. Happy Travels!