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12 days first in Ireland

I am arriving into Shannon 8/25 in the early morning and will be picking up rental car. Planned to drive through the Burren to Galway (sleep) second day take boat to Aran Islands and sleep. Third day back to dock and head around county Mayo going to Connemara National Park and sleeping in Westport. Then driving to or around Doolin sleeping 2 nights to do Cliffs of Moher and more of the Burren. Is there a better place to lodge for the 2 days? Then headed to Dingle for 3 nights. Then from Dingle to Kenmare doing some or all of Ring of Kerry. Is this doable? One night in Kenmare then on to Kinsale for 2 nights then spending last night in Limerick before early flight the next morning.

This is my first time to Ireland and open for any suggestions. Really interested in walking and enjoying the land as well as good food and music. Any input is appreciated.


Posted by
2949 posts

I see there haven't been any replies so I'm basically giving you a bump. I haven't done your itinerary, but it sounds realistic. I hope others will chime in with more advice.

Posted by
42 posts

Hi Ginger. I just returned Sunday from a wonderful two week trip to Ireland with my family and went to many of the places that you are planning on visiting. This site was so helpful in our planning! We did Dublin-Kinsale-Kenmare-Dingle-Liscannor (Cliffs of Moher)-Clifden and then spent the night in Shannon before flying out the next morning. We spent one night in Kinsale and two nights in Kenmare and I was glad that we did. Kinsale was incredibly crowded and full of tourists and Kenmare was definitely not as crowded but still had plenty of good restaurants and shops. I highly recommend the ghost tour in Kinsale, it was a hoot! Staying in Kenmare allowed us to tour the Beara Peninsula on our second day and it was just stunning. Our biggest discovery was Gleninchaquin Park., it was so beautiful and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I had read on this site as well as others that the Beara Peninsula had similar views to the ROK but without the crowds and we definitely feel that we made the right decision! If you do the loop counter-clockwise, you drive over a beautiful mountain pass on the way back to Kenmare and could hit the park early in the day. We had looked into Westport but decided to stay two nights in Clifden which was so beautiful and a little over an hour from Galway. We loved the town, lots of shops and good restaurants and it was easy access to the Connemara which we visited on our second day. We stayed at an amazing guest house called the Quay House-wonderful hosts, beautiful antiques and delicious breakfasts. We only spent 2 nights in Dingle but felt it was enough time and you may be able to give up one night there to add it somewhere else. That was the only bad weather we encountered and never really got to see the beauty of the peninsula but enjoyed all of the antiquities like the ring fort and the Gallarus Oratory. Be sure to check out the music at O'Sullivans Courthouse Pub at night, it was the best locale we found during the trip. If you like seafood, definitely make a reservation to eat at Out of The Blue restaurant in Dingle. We stayed in Liscannor to visit the Cliffs of Moher but now that we have been, I wonder if the town of Lahinch would have been a better choice because it was bigger and had more offerings for lodging and dinner. It also is where we drove to get to the roads to the Burren. Hope this helps, sorry if it is too much info. Having just got back from such a great trip my enthusiasm is high!

Posted by
459 posts

I was in west Ireland in April and May and had a blast. We did Doolin, Dingle, Kenmare, and up to Cong for the Ireland Falconry School at the Ashford Castle. I would highly recommend all of the spots I listed above. In Doolin really do try to book an evening show at the Doolin Music House, its an awesome evening, see the website. Also the OConner pub us great for music in Doolin. Don't miss the Cliffs of Kerry when you get down that way, I enjoyed them more than the Cliffs of Mohr actually. We hired Paul Brown for a tour of the ring of Kerry and it was awesome and gave me a chance to take a break from driving and enjoy the scenery. We did a whole day just my wife and I with Paul, wonderful day on the RofK. Also highly recommended the B&B's l listed, they probably will be filled but are worth a try as they people are great, the food is wonderful, and the B&B's are my favorites. We took the Shannon River ferry when we drove from Doolin down to Dingle, if your timing is right it will save you some driving time but not a lot of travel time, just some time to relax and look around rather then driving up around the Shannon airport area again. I also really enjoyed our meal at Out of the Blue.

Posted by
3656 posts

Don't mean to be a spoil sport, but you might want to reconsider renting a car right away. Jet lag (no matter how well handled), lack of sleep, and not being familiar with the local road system (plus driving on the "wrong" side) can all be a problem. There are some that are not bothered by any of those things. Others think they are ok but are really driving somewhat impaired without realizing it. And some folks are complete zombies and should never drive on the day they arrive. Even a minor fender bender is not the best way to start a trip. Just food for thought.

Posted by
14 posts

Hey Ginger,

We just returned from Ireland and hit many of the places you are planning to hit. I think your itinerary is very feasible. Just some thoughts:
-We really didnt like Dingle as much as we hoped. I dont know what it was....maybe cause grew up on the coast of NC (where dolphins were a plenty). However, amazing food and good pubs (we pub crawled with a large group of irish and brits one night!). Someone mentioned Out of the Blue. I second that. Fantastic meal.
-We loved loved loved Doolin as our base in County Clare. Yes, it was tiny. But it had so much charm, I cant even begin to explain. We stayed their 3 nights (at a B&B called Daly's House. That lady is amazing. Offering us Baileys and beer every afternoon) and was never bored. I would totally recommend 1. Doolin Music House. and 2. Doing the hike to the Cliffs with Pat Sweeny (you dont have to book this, just show up in front of O'Connor's Pub at 10). The hike was the highlight of our entire journey. It was 5 miles and mostly easy but literally took you on the edge of the cliffs. When we got to the visitor center at the end, none of us even took pictures cause we had so so so so many incredible (and better) views and pictures throughout the hikes. Pat was awesome. His farm and grandfathers back up to the Cliffs).
-I heard Kinsale was fantastic but we didnt have time.
-Close to the Ring of Kerry, I would suggest walking some of the Gap of Dunloe. We just parked (At Kate Kearneys Cottage) and walked till we got tired and turned around. So peaceful. After the Cliff's Hike, this was our second highlight of our trip.
-I know so many people suggest not driving after an overnight flight. However, I say, know yourself. We immediately got a car at 7am after an overnight and took off. We were perfectly fine (stick shift and all!) and were running on excitement. I would just think about how you may feel and make a call from that.

Hope some of these tips help! We loved Ireland. It was our first trip too and will not be our last.

Posted by
4 posts

In kinsale walk the path all the way to the fort and back.
Have lunch at my man friday outside if possible