I know I have jammed in a lot for 7 full days but I have done similar trips (other countries) covering a lot and accomplishing the sites I planned. Leaving this week and returning in May so this trip will make for a more focused one coming up. I am not changing any of it but am inquiring if anyone has tips on the travel route so I use my time as efficiently as possible. Reason being, as a photographer, I want to get the highlights at least and fill in the rest. Plans to leave early every day by 8AM and full day until 9PM. Ok, first morning arriving in Dublin, probably no sleep, getting car to hotel and cabs to brewery, Trinity College/Book of Kells, a few pubs. Next day, off to Kilkenny, castle, coffee and then off to Rock of Cashel. From there, headed to Kenmare for a night. We hope to arrive and then take off heading to Killarney and hit the stops on the Ring of Kerry, make the loop and come back down through the Gap. Next day, head out to the left and do that part of the Ring of Kerry, heading to Inch Beach and our next B&B. Will use last 4 hours of day or so to go west and see that part of Dingle. Next day, leaving through Conor Pass to the ferry Tarbert Ferry, to the Cliffs of Moher and then to our B&B in Galway (dinner, pubs). Next day off to Kylemore Abbey, to Westport and then along the Atlantic Way through Sligo to Tullaghan for 2 nights. Next day, Slieve League. Next day, Sligo and to Ennis for last night. Leaving 12pm next morning, Shannon Airport. It's a lot, I know and I have an idea of how much time I need at each stop and stopping for pics. Just any do or don't tips for this itinerary.... Thanks. I will surely want to stay longer but not this trip. :)
Make sure you hit Talbert at the right time so you don't burn an hour or longer waiting for the return ferry! Kinda "goes without saying but never hurts to be reminded, I loved that drive as I took it south from Doolin, across the ferry, thru the pass and on to Dingle...I envy your trip!
I would just say be aware that the drives are MUCH longer than what you might expect. I heard that before, but after our trip I know its true! The driving is intense (not the highways, but the rural roads) so just plan based on much longer (but fun!!) driving times. We would plan on 3 hours and it would be 5 or plan on 5 and it would be 7-8! Fun, for sure, but longer than we had planned and very tiring for the driver since the roads are intense (narrow, curving, fast) Keep that in mind. When we do it again we will probably not drive as far between stops. But, Ireland is awesome!!
The only thing that caught my eye here was the comment about "driving back down thru the gap". If you're referring to the Gap of Dunloe I'd strongly advise against taking a car thru an area that's reserved for local traffic only (there are signs at both approaches advising of that fact). The road is extremely narrow and is clogged with pony traps (which have the right of way), walkers, and bikers between 8:30 AM and 5 or 6 PM. Introducing a vehicle into that mix wouldn't exactly endear you to the locals ... not to mention the other users. You could probably manage it if you arrived very early or very late, but that probably wouldn't align with your desire to take photos.
You can now reserve a time for the Tarbert ferry on their website.
Once across the ferry, a very scenic way to head north is via the N67 up the coast. The whole route is a photographer's delight on a sunny day, and there's a scenic cliff walk near the beach at Kilkee that's worth a stop. You don't have time for it this trip, but for future reference the Loop Head peninsula just south of Kilkee is quite pretty and is generally well away from the usual tourist track.
You might also consider alternatives should you get rained out one or two days, which is frankly quite likely to happen while you're there.
Hi from Wisconsin,
You can cover a lot of territory on the big roads. You won't see anything. You wan't talk to anyone. But you are making good time. If you get on the secondary roads, your pace will be greatly reduced and frustration will be your memory of Ireland. Remember, it is the Irish that make Ireland special, not some Cromwellian destroyed ruin.
All the places you mention are good places to see. Good luck between them.
I am currently in Ireland finishing up a two week trip that covered many of the places you mention. Everyone is correct, the driving is very intense and slow. My husband has been the driver. I had intentions of making many stops for my photography. It has been frustrating because the roads do not have shoulders to pull off on. I did the Dingle peninsula and the Beara Peninsula, skipping the Ring of Kerry upon advise of others. The Beara Peninsula was one of the scenery highlights of my trip. I would concentrate on the west coast with only 7 days.The Wild Atlantic Way is a beautiful drive.