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7 Nights in Ireland--home base besides Dublin?

Does this seem reasonable for 7 nights in Ireland? Also, I need to decide which city (or cities) to use for a “home” base.

Note: We arrive in Dublin at 9:30 am on our first day. We will not be jet lagged, as we will be arriving after 2 weeks in Croatia. Therefore, 7 nights will be almost 7 full days.

Ireland is an “add on” to our Croatia trip. Sometimes, when there are no direct flights between our home and the country, we add some time in the place where we have a plane change, and we really enjoy that (i.e. Amsterdam before Rome, Mainz before Namibia).

I was thinking we would arrive in Dublin and then take the train or bus directly to another city.

I’ve decided that the focus for this visit will be “Castles, Cairns, Christianity, and Countryside.” I’m hoping to visit:

Kilkenny and general area: Kilkenny Castle, Black Abbey, Jerpoint Abbey, Kells Priory, St. Mary’s Church, Ross Castle, Rock of Cashel

Cork and area: St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Blarney Castle, Carinagass Castle

Wexford/Hook Peninsula: Ballyhack Castle, Ferns Castle Loftus Hall (& fairy garden), Tintern Abbey, Colclough Walled Garden

Day trip from Dublin: Trim Castle, Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange

Dublin area: Trinity College Library (book of Kells), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Green, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle. (Possibly Farmleigh House and Estate, in Phoenix Park, Malahide Castle, Castle Ward, Maynooth Castle, Rathfarnham Castle)

What would be the best places to stay outside of Dublin? I'm thinking Kilkenny for a couple of nights at least and maybe Wexford area for overnight? (We do not mind the occasional one night stay, especially if it is in a logical spot between two other destinations. We've had some wonderful experiences doing one night stays in places like Orvieto and Czesky Krumlov.)

We have never rented a car outside of North America, and I'd prefer not to. We've also never driven on the left hand side. However, I recognize it might be necessary for this trip. If we do decide to rent a car, I'd prefer to do it in a smaller centre than Dublin and return it before returning to Dublin. So, I'm thinking of taking transit to Kilkenny on arrival and renting a car in Kilkenny for the next few days to sightsee in the areas around Kilkenny. I was thinking we'd stay two nights in Kilkenny and then drive to Wexford for the third night, stopping at the Hook Peninsula on the way, and dropping the car off in Wexford before spending the night. The next day, we'd take the train to Dublin, spending the latter part of that day and the next three days in Dublin, with one of those days being a day trip/tour to Trim Castle, Newgrange, etc.

To recap:
Day 1-transit to Kilkenny, afternoon and evening exploring Kilkenny. Sleep in Kilkenny.
Day 2-explore outside of Kilkenny with rental car. Sleep in Kilkenny.
Day 3-drive to Hook Peninsula by way of Blarney Castle and Cork. End up in Wexford, drop off the car, and spend the night. Sleep in Wexford.
Day 4-train to Dublin. Explore Dublin afternoon and evening. Sleep in Dublin.
Day 5-day trip north of Dublin. Sleep in Dublin.
Day 6-more Dublin and area. Sleep in Dublin.
Day 7-more Dublin and area. Sleep in Dublin.
Next day-fly home

Does this make sense? How hard is it to adjust to driving on the left? Any hints? Am I leaving too much time for Dublin and not enough for someplace else?

Posted by
161 posts

I think that sounds like a good plan. Kilkenny is very charming and you’ll enjoy it. I don’t think you have too much time in Dublin - I would leave that as is. Have you looked into connections between the airport and train station to get you from dublin airport to Kilkenny? Something to check to make sure that’s manageable. If you’re uncomfortable driving on the left, make sure you get an automatic rental car. That will help. It takes a little getting used to (it feels weird being on the other side of the car), but you’ll be okay. Have a great trip.

Posted by
763 posts

Thanks, Dana. From what I can see, there are several trains and buses per day from Dubin to Kilkenny.

Whoops. Just realized that's not what you are asking. There are buses to the train station, or we could take a taxi.

Posted by
763 posts

Your itinerary looks good to me. Just want to give you a couple of things to think about as you plan. Consider whether you will be trying to rent a car in Kilkenny on a Sunday. My experience has been that most of the car rental offices in the smaller towns aren't open on Sunday. You may have already considered this but also look into whether you will have a one-way drop charge in Wexford. It's possible that the agency from which you rent in Kilkenny will not be affiliated with one in Wexford. Getting used to driving on the left isn't that hard, especially if you've spent some time walking in Ireland first. Something we found helpful was sitting in the front seat when in a taxi. You'll get a feel for what it's like to see oncoming traffic on your right. And speaking of right, remember to look right when crossing a street, either as a pedestrian or a driver. Most of the near misses I've seen involved folks who only look left when they first start across. Also, look right when entering a roundabout.

Posted by
763 posts

Thanks, Trotter. We've been places where driving was on the left before (Hong Kong, Tokyo, England, Scotland, Namibia), and it's definitely hard to remember to look in the correct direction when crossing the street. Good reminder.

It would be a Friday that we would be renting the car, so that should be all right. I'll just need to make sure about the drop-off bit.

Posted by
1767 posts

In Dublin you can sign up for tours to Brú na Bóinne and Trim Castle at the visitor center.

Posted by
359 posts

We spent 3 nights in Kilkenny and saw all the items on your list plus more. There’s not much to see at Kell’s Priory, so if you are pushed for time I’d skip it. St. Canice’s in Kilkenny is worth seeing. The Black Abbey was my favorite.

Posted by
740 posts

Cork is a good place, putting all of the following within easy daytrip distance: Cork itself, Blarney Castle, Killarney and the National Park, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Kinsale, Kenmare, Waterford.

Posted by
763 posts

Thanks. I'm rethinking the plan. Turns out car rental is more challenging (and expensive!) than I thought. Automatics in Kilkenny are more difficult to get than in Dublin, but I don't really want to drive in/out of Dublin and rent the car for more days than necessary. On the other end, I can't drop off a car in Wexford on a Sunday, apparently.

So, I think I'm going to plan on a couple of bases that I can book daytrip tours from.

Posted by
1943 posts

For car rental at Dublin airport you do not have to drive in and out of Dublin. It's very easy to get on the main roads with no city driving.

Posted by
763 posts

Thanks, Gail. I'm still considering it, but it would mean driving to/from Dublin, which I didn't want to do (i.e. adding to the amount of driving I would have to do overall), and it would add to the number of days I for which I'd have to rent a car.

I'm considering just going to places I can reach by train and maybe adding a day tour or two from those places.

Posted by
455 posts

If it's by train you want to travel everything you need to know, including a countrywide rail map, is here:

And I'd delete two of those four nights in Dublin and sleep instead in Kinsale or in another scenic, "countryside" town on the south coast.

Posted by
763 posts

Well, we've rethought this trip. I looked at the various options for renting cars and decided that I'd really rather not. So, instead, we are going to head to Belfast the morning we arrive. It's only a couple of hours by train. We're going to spend 3 nights in Belfast and do a day tour of the Giant's Causeway and some castles. So, we'll have the first afternoon and another whole day to explore Belfast. Then, we'll take the train back to Dublin and use that as our base for the last 4 nights (3 full days, in addition to our arrival day). We're going to do a Boyne Valley tour on one of those days. I'm thinking we'll do another day tour or take the trains someplace for the day on another of those days, but I'm not sure where, yet. Cork? Kilkenny? Limerick? Galway? Wexford? At this point, I'm still thinking Kilkenny would be a nice place to visit for a day, even if we can't get out to the surrounding area.

Posted by
1943 posts

In Belfast we did a black cab tour and it was one of the best things we did in Ireland. For Dublin be sure To book tickets for the gaol and perhaps do a day trip to Newgrange. We did not do a day trip there as we were driving and enjoyed it so much we went back several .more times the same with the gaol. Only went to Guinness once it was just not interesting to us but everyone has different tastes enjoy your visit and be sure to get pounds for Belfast and Euro for Dublin.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello! I am reading your itinerary with great interest!

We are planning a trip from New Jersey from Fri., April 8th through Sat., April 16th.

Arrive in Dublin - Spend two nights in each of: Dublin, Galway, Killarney.

We want to get to Kinsale too ...
Any suggestions on best day trip from any of the above?

Is it an easy drive? (We will have a rental car)

Thanks for any suggestions. Debbie

Posted by
763 posts

One of the things I really wanted to see as a day trip from Kilkenny is the Rock of Cashel. In Kilkenny, there are the Kilkenny Castle and the Black Abbey.

I wasn't planning Galway, but my understanding is the Ring of Kerry, the Burren, and Boyle Abbey are all not too far from there.

From Dublin, we are going to the Boyne Valley.

You might get some more responses that are specific to your plans if you start a new thread, also.

Happy travels!