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12 Nights in Ireland, 11 Nights in Scotland, QM2 Back to USA

Hello, my Fiance and I have started planning our honeymoon. We have been nose deep in our guidebooks and have put together the below itinerary. I started a topic on the England forum but wanted to post here to get more feedback on the Ireland portion.
I have a few concerns and would like some feedback if anyone is willing. Do I need to worry about sites being closed on Sundays? As scheduled, we will see Dublin, Aran Islands, and Jacobite Train on Sundays. Other feedback on the itinerary is also welcome.

Besides my Sunday concerns, there are two days that I worry will be too long.

Day 3, we plan to travel from Dublin to Kenmore, through Kilkenny and Rock of Cashel. Is this doable or is it too much for a day?
Day 16, Drive from Edinburgh to Torridon through Sterling and Inverness, again is this too much in a day?

Itinerary:

Day, Date, Starting Day in < Day's Activities < Sleeping in.

Day 0, Fri 23-Sep-2022: USA < Work Day < USA.

Day 1, Sat 24-Sep-2022: USA < Fly from USA to Dublin < Dublin.

Day 2, Sun 25-Sep-2022: Dublin < Day in Dublin < Dublin.

Day 3, Mon 26-Sep-2022: Dublin < Drive to Kenmare, through Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel < Kenmare.

Day 4, Tue 27-Sep-2022: Kenmare < Skellig Michael, part of ROK < Kenmare.

Day 5, Wed 28-Sep-2022: Kenmare < Drive to Dingle < Dingle.

Day 6, Thu 29-Sep-2022: Dingle < Dingle Pennisula < Dingle.

Day 7, Fri 30-Sep-2022: Dingle < Rest Day < Dingle.

Day 8, Sat 1-Oct-2022: Dingle < Drive to Ashford stopping at cliffs of Moor < Ashford.

Day 9, Sun 2-Oct-2022: Ashford < Aran Islands < Ashford.

Day 10, Mon 3-Oct-2022: Ashford < Drive to Portrush < Portrush.

Day 11, Tue 4-Oct-2022: Portrush < Antrim Coast < Portrush.

Day 12, Wed 5-Oct-2022: Portrush < Drive to Belfast, afternoon in Belfast < Belfast.

Day 13, Thu 6-Oct-2022: Belfast < Flight to Edinburgh < Edinburgh.

Day 14, Fri 7-Oct-2022: Edinburgh < Day in Edinburgh < Edinburgh.

Day 15, Sat 8-Oct-2022: Edinburgh < Rest Day < Edinburgh.

Day 16, Sun 9-Oct-2022: Edinburgh < Drive to Torridon, through Sterling and Inverness < Torridon

Day 17, Mon 10-Oct-2022: Toriden < Drive to Portree, through Applecross < Portree.

Day 18, Tue 11-Oct-2022: Portree < Day on Syke < Portree.

Day 19, Wed 12-Oct-2022: Portree < Rest Day < Portree.

Day 20, Thu 13-Oct-2022: Portree < Drive to Mull < Mull.

Day 21, Fri 14-Oct-2022: Mull < Inner Herbrides < Mull.

Day 22, Sat 15-Oct-2022: Mull < Rest Day < Mull.

Day 23, Sun 16-Oct-2022: Mull < Drive to Glencoe, Jocabite Train < Glencoe.

Day 24, Mon 17-Oct-2022: Glencoe < Flight to Southhampton from Glasgow < Southhampton.

Day 25, Tue 18-Oct-2022: Southhampton < Embark < QM2.

Day 26, Wed 19-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 27, Thu 20-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 28, Fri 21-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 29, Sat 22-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 30, Sun 23-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 31, Mon 24-Oct-2022: QM2 < Sea Day, rest Day < QM2.

Day 32, Tue 25-Oct-2022: QM2 < Fly from NY Home < USA.

Day 33, Wed 26-Oct-2022: USA < Work Day < USA.

Posted by
821 posts

Hi,
I like your relaxed tour. Dingle...much better than Ring of Kerry. Consider adding Bere Pennisula. Kenare is at the mouth of Bere.

Ashford Castle I presume. Ashford to Portrush is a serious drive. As was Kenmare to Ashford.

Side roads are prettier than the main roads and often much less crowded.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
2795 posts

If I were paying to stay at Ashford, I'd want one day just to stay there and enjoy the place. We did the Hawk Walk and it was wonderful. We also did a boat ride looking up at the Cliffs of Moher.

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Cala,

Thank you for the suggestion. I think the below should be workable.

Day 6, Thu 29-Sep-2022: Dingle < Dingle Peninsula < Dingle

Day 7, Fri 30-Sep-2022: Dingle < Drive to Doolin stopping at cliffs of Moor < Doolin

Day 8, Sat 1-Oct-2022: Doolin < Drive to Ashford, after the day trip to Inishmore < Ashford

Day 9, Sun 2-Oct-2022: Ashford < Rest Day < Ashford

Day 10, Mon 3-Oct-2022: Ashford < Drive to Portrush < Portrush

Posted by
3427 posts

One my favorite hotels is the Bayview Hotel in Port Ballintrae, just a few miles down the coast from Portrush. One can easily walk to Giant's Causeway, Bushmills, and Dunluce Castle from the hotel. We also walked to Portrush, explored, and then took the bus back.

Here is the link, in case you want to check it out as an alternative to Portrush.

http://www.bayviewhotelni.com/

Posted by
552 posts

In late September the sunrise rises around 7:15 am and sets at 7:15 pm and it may be getting rainy. So day 3 (Dublin to Kenmare via Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel) may be long and tiring. I also assume you will be picking up a car that morning (I hope you don't plan to drive in Dublin). So you might want to consider exactly what time you'll actually be on the road and whether you can do both Kilkenny and the ROC and arrive in Kenmare before dark. In theory it is doable but you may find yourself having to rush.

Edit: You might want to double check that you can rent a car in the Republic of Ireland and drop it off in Northern Ireland.

Posted by
1942 posts

Renting your car at the airport will allow you to get an earlier start to your long day. The airport concessions open around 6 AM, whereas those in the city don't open until 8:30 or so. Besides, as has been mentioned, you don't really want to begin your drive in Dublin City traffic anyway.
There will be a one-way international drop charge for collecting the car in Dublin and dropping it in NI - probably on the order of $200 or thereabouts. Maybe not a show-stopper but something to be aware of. You'll want to ensure that your rental car contract clearly states that you'll be driving (and dropping) in the north to avoid any potential issues with your insurance coverage in going from one country into another.
Many here recommend AuroEurope for rentals - competitive pricing and clear explanations of what your insurance options are, which is not always the case with some providers. Also, the default rental in Ireland will be a manual shifter - probably not something you want to mess with if this will be your first experience driving on the left. Spring for an automatic - will cost more but it'll be worth it.

Posted by
927 posts

Regarding your Day 3 question - yes you can do it! One crazy day back in the Spring of 2018 we got up early in Doolin, drove to Tipperary for a sit-down breakfast and stroll, then visited the Rock of Cashel (2 hours), then drove to Waterford for a tour of the crystal factory, then drove by Kells Priory before stopping for a mid-afternoon lunch and walk around Kilkenny, then dropped the car at Dublin Airport before busing to central Dublin to our Airbnb. It was still light out so we walked around and found a great pub. BTW, the Cliffs of Moher are outstanding! On your drive from Dingle to Ashford Castle you'll probably have time to linger in a few towns along the way - we liked Ennis, Lahinch, Doolin, and Ballyvaughan. You'll also enjoy the drive through The Burren. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and have a great honeymoon!

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Robert,

I have been driving manual my entire driving life (I’m in mid 30’s) and was rather looking forward to trying the manual with my left. Is it really so hard to swap?

Posted by
1942 posts

If you're already an experienced manual driver you'll get the hang of it quickly enough I think - it will just require some mental gymnastics to negotiate the learning curve required. It helps me adjust if I take a few laps around the rental car parking lot to re-familiarize myself with the layout of the knobs, switches, and shifting pattern before hitting the road. Might help you too.
A humorous exercise will be to count the number of times you inadvertently turn on the windshield wipers while trying to activate the turn signal - always fun.
Also helps me if I've previewed at least part of my driving route by using the Google Maps Street View feature. Really helps me to have seen intersections, roundabouts, signage, etc. before approaching them at driving speed. Helps to have a good co-pilot (left seater in this case) helping to watch for signage, conflicting traffic, etc. since your muscle memory will be reversed.
Would be a good idea to familiarize yourselves with the subtle differences involved in driving in NI versus the Republic - where they use miles versus kilometers for example. Different currency too.
You'll do fine.

Posted by
25781 posts

your speedometer will either have one of the scales - renting in the Republic it will probably be km - as the main numbers and a surrounding ring of much smaller numbers in the other scale, miles, so when you cross the border you need to adjust, or if it has an electronic display there will be a way to change the display. It would be worth knowing how to do that before you drive off with the rental.

On my car, for example, I need to push one button on the steering wheel then scroll with another, then hit select, then scroll again, push select and then the first button again. Trivial when you know how, could be a lot of fun if you don't.

I do that every time I drive to Europe.

Posted by
12 posts

So after more reading, particularly about the Beara Peninsula, we are now thinking to spend 3 nights in Kenmare, 1 in Dingle, then 2 in Galway. Internarary below, but does this make sense or should we look at staying in Killarney instead of Kenmare, and Tralee instead of Dingle? Seems like the drives might be a little shorter on the long days if we changed where we stayed, but might miss some charm.

Day 3, Mon 26-Sep-2022: Dublin < Drive to Kenmare, through Kilkenny, rock of Cashel < Kenmare

Day 4, Tue 27-Sep-2022: Kenmare < Skellig Michael < Kenmare

Day 5, Wed 28-Sep-2022: Kenmare < Drive Beara Pennisula < Kenmare

Day 6, Thu 29-Sep-2022: Kenmare < Dingle Pennsula, to Dingle < Dingle

Day 7, Fri 30-Sep-2022: Dingle < Drive to Galway stopping at cliffs of Moor < Galway

Day 8, Sat 1-Oct-2022: Galway < Aran Isalnds < Galway

Day 9, Sun 2-Oct-2022: Galway < Drive to Portrush through Cong < Portrush

Posted by
262 posts

If it were me I would keep it as you have it. Kenmare is more charming than Killarney IMHO, ditto for Dingle vs. Tralee.
When you drive from Dingle to Galway, take the route through Listowel and via the Tarbert Ferry rather than through Limerick. You can then head toward the coast of County Clare and up to the Cliffs. Beautiful scenery along the way.

Posted by
233 posts

I would definitely choose both Kenmare and Dingle over Killarney and Tralee! We found Killarney to be hard to navigate (lots of traffic) and it felt very "touristy" to us. We stopped for lunch in Kenmare and were sorry we didn't have more time to spend there--it had way more charm than Killarney. As for Dingle--we loved it there--it's one of the few places we returned to on our second trip to Ireland.

Posted by
12 posts

So no concerns about driving from Kenmare to Dingle and doing Dingle Peninsula in same day? Then doing cliffs of Moher on way to Galway from Dingle? I don’t mind a bit of a tight schedule, but I’ll say my partner isn’t so good about starting and staying on schedule.

Posted by
1942 posts

From Kenmare you'll want to take the N70 clockwise, hugging the coast with maybe a detour along the very pretty Skellig Ring Road. It'll take much of the day with stops but the stops will all be worth it.
I'd also suggest a stop at the Gap of Dunloe as you work your way around the peninsula on one of your days - we think it's probably the prettiest little glen in Ireland. You can hike, bike or take a pony trap to the head of the glen and back - about 7 miles round trip from the car park at Kate Kearney's Cottage.
Slea Head drive is only about 35 miles around so even with stops along the way for photos it doesn't take more than about 3 hours. Besides, late afternoon will be a little better time of day to do the circuit with the sun in the west. You'll certainly be ready for a pint by the time your full day comes to a pleasant end, and you'll be timing your arrival into Dingle after the day trippers have departed - another unexpected plus.
Staying in Kenmare and Dingle will be far better than Killarney and/or Limerick. Good choices there.

Posted by
73 posts

I loved taking the QM 2 over from New York (Brooklyn) to Southampton. They say going west can be better since you keep gaining an hour of time each day so maybe I'll try reversing it next time. I'm not a big cruise person but a "crossing' on Cunard is special and the QM 2 is a true ocean liner in design, not a mere cruise ship. The only negative for you is that Commodore Chris Wells (long time captain) just retired so you won't get to enjoy his very interesting updates over the PA system daily.

Posted by
98 posts

Just remember if driving into the UK (Northern Ireland) you will be driving in miles per hour and you will need pounds for NI