We are meeting our daughter who is studying in Ireland there at the end of July/early August to travel the western side of the country. We're planning to fly into Shannon. But we're trying to decide which way to go first, north of Shannon then to the south like Kilkenny and county cork? Also, there will be five of us traveling, curious if that poses problems with b&bs? Any help is appreciated. We think ten days will be long enough... Thanks
You will need more than one room, but other than that I don't foresee any problems with a B&B. You really need to give us more information about your concerns, as well as the places you propose to visit. How far north of Shannon? Which areas or cities in particular? What kind of order are you looking at now? What are your interests? How old are the others in your party? As to whether 10 days is long enough, I will just say that I have now been to Ireland four times. Ten days is a good introductory visit, but you will want to go back. Can your daughter who will be studying there offer any insight?
All terrific questions. I'd take some advice on how far north we should go but probably as far north as the Aran islands, Cliffs of Moher then limerick and the head south. Yes our daughter will have a two-month head start on us but she's going to save some of the touring of the west for when we get there. The other two kids are 14-year-old twins...boys.
The southern pass is Dingle, Kilkenny, cork, Waterford. The order isn't set in any stone yet.
Here is an itinerary I've been assembling; maybe it will help you. The destinations are no more than 2 hours apart. Ours starts from Dublin, though we won't be staying there. Kilkenny is about 2 hours from Shannon as well, so you could follow this itinerary starting with Day 2 and maybe leave out one of the Galway days if you only have 10 days.
Day 1 (stay near Glendalough): Arrival in Dublin; get rental car and head south to Glendalough; just over an hour's drive. - Rest if needed then head out to explore the area. Would like to visit Avoca as well (Ballykissangel fans).
Day 2 & 3 (Stay in Kilkenny): Drive to Kilkenny; Explore Kilkenny City (all sorts of wonderful things including a pretty amazing castle); Explore Kilkenny surroundings including Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.
Day 4 & 5 (Stay in Kinsale): Drive to Kinsale, possibly visit Blarney Castle (grounds, I've already "done" the Blarney Stone); explore Kinsale, Cobh, visit music pub in Cork City.
Days 6 & 7 (Stay in or near Killarney): Explore Killarney, drive Dingle Peninsula, explore Dingle town, end near Adare.
Day 8 –(Stay in or near Adare?) to make tomorrow's drive easier.
Days 9, 10 & 11 (Stay in or near Galway): Explore Cliffs. Mini-cruise? en route.. Explore Galway, Connemara, and if possible, Inishmore.
Day 12 (Stay in Bunratty): for final night before flight out from Shannon; Bunratty Folk Park and possibly medieval banquet.
Day 13: flight home from Shannon.
The above itinerary is workable, though I don't find anything particularly interesting about Kilkenny. The castle is really a restored manor house, not what you would normally think of as a castle. We found the Kilkenny Design Center across the street more interesting, but really weren't taken with Kilkenny in general.
You really aren't planning on going too far north - the Cliffs are only an hour or so from the Shannon airport. On our first trip, we went first to Bunratty Castle, just six miles away from the airport. It gave us a little introduction to driving on the other side of the road, and our first look at a castle, before heading out. Our first night was spent in Liscannor, five minutes from the Cliffs. We had dinner in Doolin and went to bed early.We saw the cliffs the next day, then headed south. You can get a ferry to the Aran Islands from Doolin. (The recent storms in Ireland and the UK have ravaged the Doolin pier area, but I am sure that by next summer all will be right again.)
The family rooms at B&Bs generally sleep four - a double bed and two twins. They might be able to squeeze in an extra bed, but you would probably be more comfortable in two rooms. On our first trip, we were a party of seven - my daughter and me, and my sister and her family (husband and three kids). Most of the places we stopped, they had two rooms.
I can't tell you how much we appreciate the itinerary; we badly needed a springboard of stops to build from. So this is fantastic advice for us newbies! We might reverse the direction and back track south to Kilkenny and pick up our daughter outside of Dublin then head back to Shannon and travel north a few days with her.
Great advice on the B&Bs with and odd number of guest! Are there any specific B&Bs you recommend in any of these towns? Also do you recommend we rent a car for the entire trip? What would you say is your absolute favorite thing about traveling Ireland...curious what brings people back time and time again. Thanks a million for your help with the itinerary...we so appreciate it. Brian (Des Moines, Iowa)
I totally agree with Nancy, we weren't impressed with Kilkenny or the castle at all If you do go to Kinsale and want to go to Cobh, there is a car ferry that will save you about half hour of driving time and is great experience. For Cobh, it is great to go up to St. Coleman's, church and view is not to be missed. Walk along the harbor is nice but would not go to Titanic museum, not worth time or money. Just my opinion. Personally would rent a car but in your case with five, guess it would be minivan.
A car is the best way to get around (and yes, for your group you would need a minivan). There is also a ferry across the River Shannon at Tarbert and Killimer that would get you south to Dingle, as well as a tunnel further east. With either of those options you would not have to mess with going clear around Limerick. It sounds cliché, but it's the people that bring me back (four trips now). On my last trip, I visited the town where my maternal great-grandparents were born. The scenery is great and the history is intriguing, but it is the conversations with B&B owners and site docents and shop clerks that I really love. So in a sense, you really can't go wrong with wherever you choose to go.
We went to Ireland 2 years ago. My only concern is that like you we are BallyK fans and the people in the pub were not only not friendly they were almost hostile. The biggest disappointment in my many years of travel. The B & B was great. The mill in Avoca is well worth the visit and the drive across Wicklow is great.
The itinerary is really starting to come together now that we're getting more familiar with the map and Rick Steve's tour book. I haven't heard anyone mention a stop in Waterford and I'd love to hear if it's worth it?
We're planning Shannon to Bunratty to Limerick then on to possibly Kilkenny and Waterford.
From there we'll head to Ardmore, Midleton, Cobh, Kinsale and Cork.
Wondering about the next leg...right to Killarney or make a more southern stop before moving north?
We'll reconnect with out daughter in Shannon or Ennis and then finish the trip in Doolin, Cliffs of Mohr and Galway before retreating to Shannon for our flight home.
This preliminary schedule might to be too ambitious for a ten-day trip, but it's a starting point.
Just a correction...I entirely forgot about Dingle and Skellig in that last post. That's the stop after Kilkenny.
I'm sorry, but you already have nine locations listed before you even get to Cork. Then you list six or seven more places after that! Even if you only stop an hour at some places, it just won't work. I am assuming you are stopping in Midleton to tour the distillery? You might not arrive at a time when a tour is just about to start, so there could be waiting there, in addition to the tour time. Waterford used to be a nice stop, but since the original crystal factory closed, then moved and reopened, it's not the same. You need to allow time to actually see and do the things you are going there for, unless you really just plan to drive by and check it off of a list. Personally, I would skip Kilkenny and see Rock of Cashel instead. If you are planning to go to Dingle, etc., after Kilkenny, you will still be crisscrossing east to Kilkenny, then west to Dingle, then back east to the Cork area, then back west to Killarney before heading north.
We went on a two week trip in 2009 and started in Belfast, traveling counter-clockwise around the island, departing from Shannon. I was given some of the same opinions which kind of devalued Dublin as a primary stop. We had a great trip in our two weeks staying in Bangor, Derry, county Donegal (Glenties), Westport, Doolin, Dingle and Kinsale. I really would not have changed a thing. It was our 25th wedding anniversary and we took our three kids and my uncle, renting a VW mini-van.