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9 days in Ireland and feeling overwhelmed

It's been harder for me to plan Ireland than most European countries I've visited. I am just on the heels of the death of a parent, maybe that's why. Anyway, would love any suggestions. We like the country but love good food. There will be 3 of us (my dad is retired) and the two gentleman want to spend a few hours golfing 9 holes. I am sober and will be the designated driver. They'd love to drink some Irish Whiskey while there.

We'd love to see Northern Ireland but realize that may not be feasible. One of my gripes with Rick's books is that he tends to spend too much time in places. We like to see as much as we can and move on to the next place, utilizing our time as best as possible.

We land in Dublin and would like to head out to our journey the next day. We would like to spend the last full day in Dublin and our flight leaves at 4PM the following day, so we have extra time that day to see any odds and ends.

Would love your suggestions! As I said, I am overwhelmed with where to start.

Thanks!

Posted by
15 posts

Having taken Rick’s Ireland in 14 Days tour (and loving every minute), I recommend looking at that itinerary and then paring down from there based on your group’s preferences. Make sure your golfers are aware that it’s mostly links golf in Ireland, not the groomed fairways typical of the US. We found the food in Ireland surprisingly good, especially the fresh fish, so no worries there. Don’t miss evening pub visits for great local music and lively conversation with the locals. Have a great trip!

Posted by
7649 posts

Natasha, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother - my deepest condolences. On our 2018 trip, we landed at the Dublin Airport, and immediately caught the double-decker bus to Galway. That gave us a chance to see downtown Dublin as the bus passed through, then some countryside, and also catch a nap. Citylink coaches are €25 per person for the 4-hour trip.

We rented a car from Enterprise in Galway, and drove clockwise through Counties Connemara, Mayo, and Donnegal, then into Northern Ireland. We flew on Aer Aran to Inishmore, and spent two nights on that amazing island before driving north. We visited Ashford Castle and did the Hawk Walk - as Rick Steves says, you didn’t realize that it was on your bucket list until after you’ve done it. We also stayed two nights on Achill Island, which is attached to the mainland by a bridge.

After Northern Ireland, Londonderry, and the Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Coast (we stayed in Bushmills, and you can tour the distillery there of the famous Bushmills Whiskey), we spent a night outside of Belfast, then stayed three nights in Trim (Newgrange and other Neolithic sights), before finishing in Dublin. We didn’t play golf, but the gentlemen should be able to locate a course on a similar counterclockwise loop.

Food - start with Oscars Seafood Bistro in Galway. It’s Ireland, an island, so seafood is fresh and excellent. Lamb and pork, too. Brown bread - the best! In Trim, there’s an excellent Indian restaurant, so you’ve got variety - and pubs, of course.

Ireland’s been relatively easy for us to plan. Besides Rick Steves’ guidebooks, look at Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, and Moon Guide. Your library may have copies to get started.

Posted by
15694 posts

Besides guide books, use the internet. There is so much up to date information.

Posted by
672 posts

If you want to maximize seeing stuff and moving daily, you need to rent a car as it sounds like you intend. We've been to Ireland four times (so far) and have always done "one night stands" since we're interested in seeing Neolithic sites, castle ruins, hiking, and beautiful scenery more than museums and shopping. We do always stay in "towns" so that we can walk to local pubs for a Guinness, whiskey and music. Our 2025 trip will be all two-night stands as an experiment. A round of golf is a bit of a wild card - might be the hardest scheduling challenge. I use Google Maps and sometimes Trip Advisor to gather ideas for where to stay and what to do, along with this forum and Irish Times travel articles. (You can subscribe to the IT for $1 for 30 days).

You don't mention when you're visiting, but it appears you have plane tickets. That certainly compresses the time to line up lodging, especially for multiple rooms. The internet has ruined the idea of spontaneous travel.

Posted by
2063 posts

What time of year are you coming?

Will you have a car?

Are you planning on single night stops (hard work) or basing yourself in different places for 2-3 nights?

Remember driving in Ireland is slow and it will take you a lot longer to cover distances than you might expect.

Apart from golf is there anything else you want to do/see while in Ireland? What are your interests?

Get a good guide book. DK Eyewitness Ireland is one of the best as it has lots of information and really good pictures. The. maps are also detailed enough to help with planning. It also has suggested itineraries.

I also found this website which has loads of ideas for different itineraries. Check out the 9 day itinerary selections from Dublin. These have options for high or low fitness and fast or slow travel, with lots of suggestions what to do each day.

You could use this as starting base and tweek to your specific requirements.

Sort out places for playing golf and add into the itinerary. Have a read here. You can find locations of golf courses here.

Posted by
1456 posts

I am sorry for your loss. I hope that this trip helps bring you comfort.

The only golf courses I know of in Ireland are the big ones, Old Head, Doonbeg, Adare. Here's a map I found of the various courses, http://www.irelandgolflinks.com/golf-courses.html. And here's an article about a few of the 40 or so distilleries in Ireland, https://www.whiskiedwanderlust.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-distilleries-in-ireland/. I've only been to one Irish distillery, Fercullen, which is on the Powerscourt estate, https://powerscourtdistillery.com/tours/. Powerscourt is easily reached from Dublin and has the advantage of being a garden, golf course and having a nearby waterfall. https://powerscourt.com/. It's in Wicklow and about a 30 minute drive from the Glendalough Monastery, https://glendaloughhermitage.ie/glendalough/. Incidentally, Glendalough Gin is one of my husband's favorite gins. Here's their distillery. https://www.glendaloughdistillery.com/.

From Wicklow you could then start touring southwest Ireland heading to Kinsale, a foody town with Finns Farmcut my favorite, https://www.finnsfarmcut.com/, heading west to maybe Kenmare and the Ring of Kerry then north up to Galway.

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks for all of these ideas and thoughts.

Cyn, thanks for the condolences. I’ve been knee deep in grief which is a weird thing in itself and I think that’s contributing heartily to my feelings of overwhelm and not knowing where to start. Finding a starting point in my Rick Steve’s Ireland book feels a bit like sisyphus at the moment. The internet has also felt overwhelming.

JJGurley, your one night stand and sights to see philosophy, sound like us and are a great method We aren’t leaving until October. Have booked one hotel night in Dublin so far.

I hear My Irish Cousin is a great place to rent a car.

Thanks for the ideas and starting points.

Appreciate the kindness, also!

Posted by
37 posts

Wasleys and Trotter, THANK YOU!

We will rent a car for sure. We want to experience the people and sights and the fresh fish and the men want to golf at least 9 holes (to lose 200 balls). My Irish family were forced out of the North by the occupiers so seeing some parts of County Antrim where my grandpa was born, would mean a lot to me. My family has a long history in Belfast. I wanted to at least see my Grandfather’s house while my husband and dad were golfing but mostly want to see all of the wonderful sights and castles on the coast.

You’ve all given me some great ideas. Appreciate it all.

Thank you!

Posted by
1456 posts

With an October travel date the gardens at Powerscourt will obviously not be in their prime. But the grounds are still quite nice and there is a nice cafe where you could hang out if that's where the men choose to golf or taste whiskey. One thing I forgot to add about Fercullen is that our driver was given a bowl of whiskey flavored ice cream since he couldn't drink.

My husband's family was cleared from Barra, Scotland. So I can relate to wanting to see your family connections in Belfast.

Posted by
2063 posts

My Irish family were forced out of the North by the occupiers so
seeing some parts of County Antrim where my grandpa was born, would
mean a lot to me

Maybe then rethink your itineray and plan to go north from Dublin to Belfast and do a loop up the coast through the Antrim Glens and along the north coast to places like the ruined Dunluce Castle and Giant's Causeway as well as Bushmills Distillery to Londonderry and then into Donegal. This gets many fewer tourists than Kerry and County Galway but has some stunning coastline as well as Slieve League Cliffs. At 601 metres (1,972 ft), these are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. (Cliffs of Moher in comparison are 214m or 702ft) Then head back to Dublin. (This is very much a whistle stop description as there are many other fascinating places to discover along with those mentioned.)

Consider a day trip to the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. This tells the story of Ulster people’s emigration to North America in the C18th and C19th - the lives they left behind, hardships endured on the journey and the pioneering spirit of building new lives in a new land.

The park is divided into different areas. The first is Ulster and there are buildings from that period that have been moved and rebuilt here. Costumed interpreters talk about the families who lived in the building, their life and why they decided to emigrate to America.

There is a mock up of a ship that carried them across the Atlantic. The families lived in a 6' by 6' space below the deck and had to take all their food and equipment with them. They didn't know how long the voyage would take or where exactly they would land - it all depended on the weather and the winds.

Once in America the first stop is a shop to buy supplies for their new life. Buildings have either been brought here from America and rebuilt or they have reconstructed buildings as they would have been. Again costumed interpreters talk about he families - their problems settling into a new country and completely new life with strange food. (Maize as the staple diet rather than potato or oats.) Some made it, Others didn't.

It is a fascinating place and the interpreters are a wealth of information.

There are ideas for golf courses here.

Posted by
37 posts

wasleys,

Thank you! This is such a great suggestion! I have a deep ancestral connection to my Irish ancestors from County Antrim and from what I've seen of the places you listed, I am eager to get there. Thanks for this great suggestion and the golf link! I really appreciate your time!

Posted by
2063 posts

There's so much to see and do in Northern ireland.

Ideas of Golf course along the Causeway coast - see here.

On the outskirts of Belfast there is the Ulster Folk Museum. This concentrates on the social history of Ulster and complements the Ulster American Folk Park alkready mentioned. It is divided into counrty with relocated farm buildings and town with shops, chapel, banks, school, pub etc as well as terraced housing. Again it is a fascinating place to visit. Allow a day as there is so much to see.

The drive up the Antrim coast is wonderful and there is lots of information and ideas here.

I've mixed views about Carrickfergus Castle - I found the outside more impressive than the inside. Interesting buit probably not top of the list...

I haven't done the Gobbins walk but pictures do look spectacular...

There are lots of small pretty villages to enjoy too - Cushendahl and Cushenden spring to mind.

Each of the Glens is very different and it is worth taking time to see several. The Waterfall walk at Glenariff is well worth doing. Or if you want to explore further there are several other trails in Glenariff you might enjoy.

The drive around the coast along an unclassified raod from Cushenden to Torr Head (car park and Murlough Bay (car park) to Ballyvoy is well worth doing - although may be not for faint hearted drivers, as there are lots of arrows on the road! and it's not very wide. It's stunning though! Do drop down to Murlough Bay - it is lovely.

If you want a break for an overnight, Ballycastle is a good suggestion. You could extend to two days and do a day trip to Rathlin Island.

Giant's Causeway. If time allows it is worth climbing up behind the visitor centre and walking along the cliffs to look down on the Causeway (and all the visitors scurrying around a bit like ants!). Check out details of the red and blue trails. The Causeway is best seen at low tide when more of the columns are exposed.

Londonderry - or Derry as it is more commonly called now - is a good base for 2-4 nights, depending on what you want to do. There is the city to explore and the Ulster American Folk Park is possibly best visited from here. Allow a full day for this as you need to allow an hour each way to drive there. Add an extra night if you want to do the Inishowen Peninsula Loop.. If you decide not to do this, then do try and visit Grianán of Aileach, This is a stunning ring fort (one of many in Ireland)

Cont....

Posted by
2063 posts

County Donegal covers a large area and is one of the least visited counties. Again my go to source for information is [here][10]. It also gives ideas for itineraries. If you want a base for a few nights then think about Adara or Donegal. You can visit everywhere as day trips from either and it saves packing up each night. The main roads follow round the coast where most of the settlement is, with a few smaller roads across the middle. The [Glengesh Pass][11] from Ardara to Glencolmcille is definitely worth driving for the scenery.

Glencolmcille is a smalll very typical Irish village and worth spending a few hours in. Think about visiting the small Folk Village. It can also be tied in with Slieve League cliffs too.

I've always liked Glenveagh National Park with Glenveagh Castle

There are also lots of golf courses to choose from to.

Before renting a car on Dublin, confirm with the rental company that you are driving to Northern Ireland but will be returning it to Dublin.

This has the potential to be a really exciting trip!

Posted by
906 posts

Take a look at this site also, http://www.irelandyes.com/, my cousin paid to have her do a driving itinerary for her and said it was really good. I used the forums to help plan my no car trip and got a lot of great advice.

Posted by
123 posts

I am so sorry for your loss. Grief is so tough.

I'd encourage you to think about reaching out to a travel agent for help planning. There's often a general perception that no one uses travel agents any more, but we use them frequently and they can be a huge help. There is sometimes a trip planning fee, but often there is no fee. When I am looking for a travel agent that specializes in a certain location, I go to Wendy Perrin's website: www.wendyperrin.com (no affiliation, but we have used travel planners identified by Wendy on 3 occasions).

Posted by
2063 posts

Can I add a word of caution here - We've used an agent to book long distance holidays in the past BUT have always had a clear idea of what we want to do/achieve before we began. Some were excellent and produced an itinerary - OK maybe needed tweeking a bit before we were satisfied. It was useful as sometimes we suddenly realised that our plans just weren't going to work. Good agents will work with you until you are completely happy even though it may take several goes before getting it right.

However we have also approached agents who have advertised tailor made itineraries and even though we gave very detailed information about our expectations, they have disregarded them completely and tried to shoehorn us into one of their set packages with a minor bit of tweeking, rather than design something specifically for us.

Posted by
394 posts

I am not a golfer at all but I do know a couple different people who planned trips to the Doolin area for golf there, either in Doolin or nearby Lahinch, and I have been to Doolin. The views from the golf courses look incredible in photos. From Doolin, you could also visit the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands by ferry from Doolin Pier, the Burren national park, and enjoy local trad music in Doolin pubs.

Posted by
37 posts

Y'all are the kindest bunch! Thanks so much for every single one of these suggestions.

You've helped me make some progress. I think we are going to stick to Ireland proper this time because the pound is strong right now...

I also think we need another excuse to go back to Ireland again very soon! I'll keep you posted on what we decide!

Thanks, again!

So grateful!

Posted by
161 posts

I agree with Cyn. The bus to Galway is right at the airport and very easy to find. Use that afternoon to explore Galway and save the extra day for Dublin at the end of your trip when you aren’t as tired. Galway is not large and easy to explore, eat an early dinner and early bedtime after a jet-lagged day. There’s too much to see and do in Dublin. We took a taxi to the Enterprise car rental the next morning and picked up our car. Then you can either head north or south to start your trip. Galway makes a great jumping off point.

Posted by
359 posts

I'm so sorry for your loss, Natasha. Hopefully this trip will be a healing time for you and your father.

Although I have limited knowledge of specifics about Ireland, I can recommend the idea that others have proposed about taking a bus directly from the airport to your first destination. We often do this with trains in mainland Europe. It's actually a nice little break after the long flight to nap a bit or just watch some scenery go by with a bottle of water and a sandwich. You will find Dublin airport to be very easy to navigate and locate the busses. They've even painted Look Right! in big letters on the sidewalk to help you remember that traffic is going in the opposite direction when you cross the street! Such lovely people.
May your mother's memory be a blessing to you as you take this journey.

Posted by
184 posts

Natasha,

We did not go to Galway on our trip to Ireland last month. However, we did take a bus from Dublin airport to Killarney. We landed at 5:00 a.m. Were boarded a bus for Killarney at 5:45 a.m. In our many years of travel we have never been able to move through an airport so quickly. And we had checked bags. Our bus company was FlightLink. As noted above we found the signage at the airport to be excellent. The bus was comfortable for the four hour trip. The scenery on the route was a wonderful introduction to Ireland's beauty.

I sent you a PM a day or two ago but want to add that all three of you will be grieving the loss of your Mom in your own unique ways. Please try to be patient with each other if one of you acts out of character. Your grief is so new and raw and you are all doing the best you can. I say this as someone who worked as a grief support manager for a few years. I am posting it on the forum as it may be helpful to others at some point.

Traveler Girl