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First time to Ireland

Hi everyone I'm new to the forum and thanks in advance for all the help.

We are going to Ireland this year Aug-Sep time frame for 7 days and i have already spent hours researching and cant figure out exactly where want to go for my first time there.

Galway, Kinsale, Dingle and of course Dublin/Wicklow are the places ive narrowed it down to, but im not sure how to decide. My wife and i(in our late twenties) and my parents are going, my wife and mother like the scenery, shopping and a small amount of historical sites and something near the ocean. For me i want the scenery, castles and pubs with great music. I want something that will fit for everyone.

Im in desperate need of help deciding so any advice is much appreciated im lost as to what area would be best.


Posted by
2081 posts



do you know you will loose 1 full day traveling there? Thats not alot of time to spend for the $$$ you will spend to get over there.

since you are a group and not one, you have to satisfy the collective or you maybe in the doghouse when you get home.

I would do more research into what (all) want to do and see and go from there. By doing that, it will dictate WHERE you go and spend your time..

i havent traveled outside of Dublin other than the Irish National Stud, so as far as travel times to the other places you want to go to, i have no idea. But i would try to minimize my travel time, unless its what you like.

happy trails.

Posted by
5 posts

Ya i know 7 days is really not ideal but it is our anniversary gift so i really cant complain about it either way. The short time frame tho is why im trying to make sure i pick a spot that can give everyone a bit of what they want, i know everything cant be achieved in that time frame which is why picking a good place is really important to me.

Posted by
1827 posts

Do you have tickets yet? If not, suggest you at least fly into Shannon, get car there, can take maybe three days there, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, then head towards Kinsale, Cashel for maybe two days, get to Dublin, drop off car and spend last two days in Dublin before going home. That might give you all a little of what you want.

Posted by
5 posts

Not yet, i had thought of that but the issue is my parents dont want to do all the jumping around, which is why i have to narrow it down to one main place, which i know limits things but thats why im trying to pick a spot that can hit a little bit of what everyone wants and why i need help from people who have been before

Posted by
2081 posts

@ jrevel1971, is our anniversary gift...

Free is a really good price.

Is there anyway you can add to that to extend YOUR trip. let the others fend for themselves.

Happy trails.

Posted by
5 posts

Well i have to amend what i said i didn't realize before but when they said 7 days they meant 7days in Ireland so it will technically be 9 due to the traveling. Unfortunately though they still don't want to stay in multiple locations so i hoping someone who has been to multiple different places might be able to give me a opinion

Posted by
5231 posts

Just putting this out there but you can drive from the West Coast to the East Coast in 4.5 hours. Small island. Then again to appease everyone, I'd do as suggested. Fly into to Shannon, stay on the West Coast. Dingle is a sweet town. On the bay with beaches close by and of course, the stellar Dingle Peninsula.
Tell your Mom and Dad to think of the film Ryan's Daughter. Stay with Angela and John. Don't miss a drink at Foxy John's pub and Hardware store. A great spot on Main street is Commodum. http:// The Killarney National Park is stunning, an hour away and home to Muckross House (a must see IMHO) Killarney proper will fulfill the shopping needs as well. Gap of Dunloe is worth seeing. Hiked it in November but you can take a traditional horse carts ride or drive over it yourself. Wee road but spectacular beauty. LOVELY country, lovely people. Dress in layers and enjoy.

Posted by
1803 posts

Sounds to me that more of your interests and those of your wife and parents actually lay outside of the cities - you all want "scenery" "ocean" "castles". You have 7 full days and while it's true that Ireland is fairly small, you aren't going to see it all in 7 days. As great as Dublin in, with that time frame, I'd skip it and the eastern half of Ireland. For a first trip, most of what you want can be found right in Western Ireland. Fly in and out of Shannon. Pick a small city like Galway to base for the 1st half of your week. It's a good place to get over your jet lag the 1st day. Lots of pubs with all types of music, including plenty of Trad. Enough shopping to keep your wife and mom happy. You're on the Bay (not the ocean, but close enough). Easy place to take day trips from (Aran Islands, Connemara, Cong for Ashford Castle, The Burren, etc.). Mid-trip work your way down to Dingle and then back over to Shannon to fly home. Save Dublin and the east for another trip when you can combine it with Northern Ireland.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the help everyone, i was also wondering more out of curosity what everyone thought the best time of the year to go was, were going in the summer but i was just wondering

Posted by
9361 posts

I have been several times in the spring. It has always seemed like a great time because it is already green, flowers are blooming, tourist attractions and B&Bs that might close over the winter are open again, and there are not yet any peak-season crowds. The weather can be a little iffy, but it is often iffy in Ireland.

Posted by
2070 posts

You can skip Dublin. It is one of my least favorite cities I've been too. It does have a couple of great sites, but with limited time, I would definitely skip it. Fly into and out of Shannon and stay in the west.

Posted by
1839 posts

Re: time of year. We went late August last year, and the weather was about as perfect as one could wish for in Ireland (although anytime is likely to be rainy and chilly).

If your parents don't want to move around, I'd suggest flying into and out of Shannon. Depending on how well your group bounces to life after a long flight, I'd suggest having tea/snacks in Adare Village once you leave the airport, or you might instead enjoy a more formal cup of coffee/tea at Adare Manor Hotel (historic lovely hotel w/ pretty gardens), then head toward the Rock of Cashel (allow a good hour for a tour), then head to Kinsale for the night. Book Old Presbytery Inn (downstairs room for your parents), take a nap, then head to dinner at a close-by restaurant (they make great recommendations......we dined at the White Inn or something that sounds like that.....great seafood meal).

If that is too much hopping around for one day, just check into Dromoland Castle when you arrive (they offer multi-night specials....or ask if you don't find one on their web site). Dromoland is smaller castle, but very nice, then head out the next day to the Rock of Cashel, thru Adare, thru Bunratty (visit the Bunratty Folk Park....good example of what Ireland looked like in the 1800s and there is the Bunratty Castle to also tour), good pubs right outside the folk park, then head back to Dromoland for the overnight. The next day, head down toward Dingle, making that loop and come back thru the Ca-ha (sp?) pass and Connor's Pass.....absolutely lovely scenery, stop in at Kenmare for shopping, bite to eat, then stop by Muckross House to tour, then head back to Dromoland for the night. Third day, head over to the Cliffs of Moher (allow three hours or more to tour, depending on if you take the boat to see from the ocean or if you walk), stop by the pubs in Doolin, then head back to Dromoland for the night. The fourth day, head thru Galway (shop/walk along Key Street (I think I remember the name correctly.....street performers, cute shops, pubs), then head up to the Connemera region for lovely scenery, making the loop.......this will be a really long day. If you can talk your parents into at least one hotel change, stay at Ashford Castle for two nights. That will allow you to visit Kylemore Abbey while you are in the area and arrive at Ashford in time for dinner. The next day book the Hawk Walk for everyone (each person has a hawk and is instructed on launching and landing their hawk). The village of Cong is simple walking distance and has some pubs, some modest shopping. Then head back toward Shannon for positioning for your fly home. We stayed at the Bunratty Castle Hotel (not historic, but reasonable price, clean and easy for easy travel for early morning flights)...or you could return to Dromoland.

If you want to make your life very easy, and if your budget (or your parent's budget allows) contact Tony McGann with Doolin taxi, and have him drive your group. He has a nice van that will seat (I think I recall correctly) 8 people, so it would be roomy for a group of 4. He would collect you on days you need transport and for days that you stay at Castles and want to stay put, you would not need the car. When we traveled with him, he dropped us in Galway for lunch/shopping, then picked us up at a certain time, then took us on up to Connemera....he knew the roads to take, and it was relaxing, as no one had to worry about driving, where to turn, etc. And, Tony is a hoot....everyone knows him, and he LOVES music. His family used to own McGann's pub in Doolin, and he used to run it.

You could also give him some general guidelines of what you want to see, etc. and he will craft an itinerary to meet the needs of your group. He handles all luggage, etc. When he spends the night, he will handle his own overnight, and he handles his own meals.

If one more overnight could be forced on your parents, a B&B in Doolin would make sense.

Posted by
1010 posts

My husband and I did a 14 day Ireland tour with TAUCK Tours, in 2012. We loved every minute of the 14 days. We thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Ashford Castle for two nights. The castle was beautiful and the grounds and views were lovely. It used to be the summer home for the Guinness Beer Family. The other 12 couple wished we all could have stayed longer than 2 nights though.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi I am in the same boat as you we have only been to Dublin and no other parts of Ireland. We are traveling in Oct this year but will have 10 days in Ireland so we are renting a car.

Here are my thoughts if you want to see what Dublin has to offer and you are already booked to fly in there and don't want to move around a lot you can certainly take trains to locations outside Dublin and do day trips. There are castles nearby. You can take the train to Kilkenny and see the castle there for a day trip. There are other castles nearby and there are tours that will take you there.

It is hard to be a tourist and not move around but if you choose one place there is plenty to see near Dublin to make it a fun 7 days.

The trains to Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny and other locations will get you there relatively quickly which would give you the day. I really don't think if you base yourself in Dublin you could very easily get to the west coast of Ireland. Although while in Dublin last year I did see an all day tour that took you to the Bunratty Folk Park, Bunratty Castle, and the Cliffs of Moher It was pricey but was an option.

I agree with Shannon being the better Airport if you want to stay on the West coast and base yourself in Galway and do tours from there. I have been told you can't go wrong with visiting the Aran Island or the Connamarra Peninsula and you can probably get tours to the Burren and Cliff's of Moher from Galway.

Everyone else commenting has been there so I am not speaking from my experience but what other have told me. I am sure you will love Ireland no matter where you stay. When we visited Dublin last year we found everyone to be really nice. That is why we decided to go back this year and see more of the Island.

Posted by
81 posts

I am completely sympathetic with your dilemma. Our first trip, I fretted for months. So much to do and see in just 8 days. So here's what we did. 2 nights in Dublin. 1 Day in Dublin - 1 day north to Newgrange and Hill of Tara. On leaving Day 3 went south to Powerscourt and lunch in Enniskerry and then drive to Cashel (night 3). Toured Rock of Cashel in the morning then drove to Killarney, toured the Muckross House, hiked in the National Park to the Torc Waterfalls and then drove to Dingle. We arrived about 6 p.m. 2 Nights in Dingle. Slea Head drive is an absolute must! Then drove from Dingle (thru Connor Pass) to Limerick, stopped at Bunratty Castle for lunch, tour and tour of the folk park. Arrived at Cliffs of Moher about 5 p.m. Spent the night in Doolin. Next morning drove thru the Burren then onto Galway for lunch then drove up to Lough Corrib and then back to Dublin about 6 p.m. So last night in Dublin. Flew out at noon the next day.

Our last trip was completely different. Into Dublin and drove straight to Donegal. Spent 3 nights in Donegal. The went to Clifden, spent 3 nights and then went to the Galway Christmas market our last night and then flew out of Shannon next day. It's easy drive from Galway to Shannon.

SO thus far Dingle and Donegal are 2 most favorite spots. BUT it will take another couple of trips to see everything we want to see.

So don't fret so much. As suggested, do a combination of things. Be sure and get Rick's Ireland book. It is worth every penny.

Posted by
78 posts

We traveled to Ireland in June 2012 with three generations. Although some of us were there for as much as two weeks, we were all together for one week. During that week we stayed at Rathellen House in Bansha, County Tipperary (only an hour from Shannon airport). We found this to be a central location for touring most of southern Ireland. While there, we toured Dingle (a long day but definitely possible), Kinsale, Adare, the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Lismore. A car is definitely necessary, but not a problem for any of us. While we rented the entire house for 14 of us, the owners have another small self-catering cottage (Coopers Cottage) available with just three bedrooms. They were most helpful both before and during our stay and we highly recommend both Rathellen House and Coopers Cottage.

Posted by
59 posts

We went 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.