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Alaskan's headed to Ireland! Please help with Itinerary

We will be traveling to Ireland in early May. We will be traveling with our 2 children ages 6 & 8. We could use some help with our itinerary. We fly into Dublin and out of Dublin

Day 1- Arrive early morning 8am Dublin

Day 2- Dublin

Day 3- Leave Dublin and drive to Kilkenny- Dunmore Cave, explore Kilkenny any must sees? Skip Kilkenny and drive to Cork?

Day 4- Leave Kilkenny and Drive to Cork- Spend night in Cork. Visit Rock of Cashel & Blarney Castle

Day 5- Leave Cork and drive to Killarney – Blarney Castle in morning & Kissane Sheep Farm

Day 6- Killarney- Ross Castle, Muckross House, Jaunting Cars, Torc Waterfall

Day 7- Killarney- Dingle Peninsula

Day 8- Leave Killarney and Drive to Doolin Area-explore along the way maybe Doolin Cave

Day 9- Doolin – Cliff of Moher in morning & Bunratty Castle in afternoon

Day 10- Leave Doolin to Drive Galway- Stay in Galway & Visit the town. Any must sees?

Day 11- Leave Galway drive to Claremorris- Ashford Castle and Falconry School& stay in Claremorris

Day 12- Leave Claremorris drive to ???- Donegal or add another night somewhere else?

Day 13- Drive from ?? to Dublin-

Day 14- Leave Dublin

Posted by
359 posts

I would check other itinerary threads for overall thoughts on visits. Driving times in Ireland are realistically 1.5 to 2 times listed times. If it's says a two hour drive - plan on 3-4 hours. Your itinerary is EXTREMELY driving heavy and one night stays lead to a hectic, exhausting trip.....while missing most of what makes Ireland truly's people and the small unplanned moments.

Consider instead 2-3 bases from which to see things in a given area. It's impossible to see Ireland fully in two weeks and trying is actually counterproductive. Less is far far more. Being in a car and racing from one thing to the next - especially with Ireland's very challenging driving isn't the best way to really see and experience Ireland. It can be done - we did it on our first trip and regretted it.....but urge you to cut back dramatically on distances nd one night stays. Ireland is awesome - you'll have a great trip regardless but may enjoy it far more with less.

@ewewoolknit Thank you for the reply! What would you recommend for the main bases? We are thinking of cutting out Claremorris and Donegal area and spending extra time in Galway. Why are the drive times inaccurate? Traffic? Inaccurate maps? or Sightseeing?

Posted by
359 posts

The driving times are based I believe on distances at an assumed constant speed that unless you are lucky and experienced you can't maintain. On most Irish roads you can't maintain speed because you are pulling over and virtually stopping to let a car pass on a narrow road, or on a narrow two lane road not maintaining speed because you slow down as you pass another car with perhaps a foot to spare......then there is getting stuck behind a tour bus, farm tractor or the herd of sheep. It is a constant delay.

As far as bases depends on what you most want to see and what your kids like. History, cool scenery, shopping, the family friendly pubs and restaurants, small towns etc ?

For example just outside of Dublin is Wicklow with gorgeous mountain drives, Sallys Gap where Braveheart was filmed, Glendalough with its insanely beautiful lake walks, monastic ruins and round tower, and great small towns. If you based there you could easily fill 3+ days with fun things to see. Head just an hour south and take a boat ride to the Saltee Islands and see incredibly diverse species of birds many of which you can walk right up to.

The Cliffs of Moher are beautiful as is the surrounding area.....touristy but wonderous. But there is lots to see in the area.

Three of four days in the Ring of Kerry won't even begin to plumb its depths with ringforts, castles, famine homes, spectacular scenery, beaches, wonderful small towns like Sneem, Waterville, Ballinskellig etc. On the Skellig Ring you could stop for world famous chocolates and then show the kids either from a distance or on a boat ride Skellig Michael where Star Wars was filmed. What is the best is taking the time to stop, wander, explore and meet folks. Far better than any main tourist stops are the Irish people...genuine, funny, welcoming and so generous.

I've mentioned it before but our best memories are taking the time near Cashel to talk to an elderly lady and her "fine excuse for a dog". Since we didn't have a maxed out schedule we ended up talking to her and getting invited to her home for homemade scones. Or in Ballinskelkig stopping to look at horses and having the farmer come out and talk with us ...ask us to help him feed them and then have tea with him. Or having a fisherman in Portmagee start talking to us as we looked out around the coast and him giving us some of his fresh catch for dinner and hearing his stories of being caught out in a storm. Or even the fun of a relaxed breakfast in Cahairseveen with fresh teabrack and fresh ground hot chocolate with the nicest baker/owner you could ever meet. In Ireland that stuff happens constantly as long as you leave time for it.

You really can't go wrong. Wicklow, Kerry, Dingle, Donegal, Connemarra or others .....all have so much to see and do. Just don't try to do everything....and avoid long drives and one night stays when possible.

Posted by
1863 posts

Agree with ewewoolknit. Too much driving, especially with kids! Pick your top three places u want to stay/ and see and eliminate the rest. Four including Dublin.

Posted by
169 posts

To enjoy Ireland you need to slow down and relax. All you'll see with this plan is whatever is the other side of the windscreen. As another poster said, pick three bases and explore from there. Definitely cut out Donegal, too far and not enough time. Also cut out Claremorris, it's not exactly tourist central. Don't go further north than Galway on this visit.

Posted by
1172 posts

I agree with others that the best part of Ireland is relaxing and taking the time to talk to the locals, shop owners, farmers, pub goers etc. Those are the fondest memories we have

We took our kids who were 11 and 8 in 2016 and did a similar loop but had 2 nights in many locations: We had 3 nights in Dublin, 1 Kilkenny ( did the castle, walked the medieval mile and ids loved the pool at out hotel so took advantage of that too) 2 nights Killarney, 2 nights Dingle, 2 nights Galway, 1 night Cong and back to Dublin for one last night

We did and saw a lot but also had quite a bit of down time to take in the atmosphere and the Irish!

The Hawk walk as amazing. We talk about it all the time. If you have not already booked it, do so soon as it is a very popular thing to do!

Posted by
269 posts

I haven't been to Ireland yet (headed there this summer as well, taking a RS tour), but I wanted to shout out to the Alaskans! I was born in Palmer and grew up in Chugiak. I get up there about every year to visit family and absolutely love it (but not the winters). Have fun!!

Posted by
409 posts

A shoutout to Ewewoolknit and her comment about chatting with the lady and the dog.... Exactly!!! Seriously, so many people are rushed, that if they got invited to dinner at an Irish person's house I think most would say "sorry, we have to go to our next B&B tonight!" -- Exewoolknit says slow it down, and I totally agree!

I also agree with what she says about the Ring of Kerry -- days, not hours! One day is definitely not enough, and is just what the tourist mafia in Killarney have been pushing for decades..... it's not a drive, it's an experience....

Expat living in Waterville - Skellig Coast/Ring of Kerry