My wife and I are spending 11 days in Ireland in July. Three of those days will be spent on the Dingle Peninsula and another 2 around Doolin. I'm trying to decide whether to spend the remaining time touring the Beara Peninisula and Kinsale or Connemara. I would like to see Connemara, but it would be backtracking to go up to Connemara then back down to Dingle since we are flying in/out of Shannon. We like scenery, history, and good pubs with traditional music. Any suggestions on choosing one region over another would be much appreciated. Also, if anyone has suggestions which towns to visit in each region. In Connemara, I am considering Westport and Clifden and in the Beara/Kinsale area I am considering Kenmare, Crookshaven and Castletownbere. Thank You.
Connemara has stunning scenery! Clifden is a favorite of mine (but Kenmare is, too). For purposes of seeing different types of Irish scenery, I would suggest Connemara. The Connemara National Park is not far from Clifden, up the gorgeous Sky Road. You could circle around from Clifden up to Kylemore Abbey and back down from Maum Cross, or continue over to Cong before heading south. When we drove through that area, after seeing more and more impressive scenery, my son said, "There must be a better word than "wow" but I can't think of one." With Dingle and Beara, you will see coastal scenery. Connemara shows you the Twelve Bens mountains, a completely different terrain. It would be my choice for adding a physically different part of Ireland to my trip.
When we were in Ireland a couple years ago, we stayed in Galway and took a bus tour of the Connemara to give my husband a break in driving for a day. It was great had a tour that explained it all and took us through the whole area. I am fairly sure it was a tour company suggested from the Rick Steves Ireland tour guide.
Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'm going to skip Kinsale this time ( I plan to be back) and concentrate on Connemara and Dingle. Any suggestions on where to stay in Westport and Clifden where we can walk to pubs ?
We stayed at the Quay House in Clifden and thought it was great. This was in 2007, so you should double check the reviews in Trip Advisor to make sure it's still good. Nancy is right -- the Connemara area is beautiful. Great walking/hiking.
I stayed in Westport and it's really nice there, but it is very much Little Italy. I have never seen so many Italian cafés in one Irish town. Clifden is far more traditional when it comes to the pubs. The drive between Clifden and Westport is will worth making the time for. I've heard (didn't know of this at the time) that there is a great castle outside of Clifden on the Sky Road. Besides Connemara National Park make sure to see Kylemore Abbey, the view at Leenane, Croagh Patrick and only if you are staying in Westport go and see Achill Island (you can now rent bikes and ride on a newly remodeled old railroad track path out to the Island from Newport).
Given a coice among staying in Galway, Clifden, Oughterard, Westport, or Castlebar. No doubt...Clifden. Westport is a planned city (look it up, there is nothing wrong with a planned city). Galway...too much of a big city with nothing at its heart other than songs about it. Castlebar, no. Oughterard, a place to eat a quick meal on your way some where else. I have stayed in all these places at one time or another.
Clifden, a real Irish market town. Market day! See if you can be there for it. Fogarty's restaurant reasonable prices and good food. Great drives nearby to Clifden a good central location for touring.
If you want a Real Handknit Irish sweater you have to go to Galway. O'Mailles. We were directed there by a very honest clerk in a Clifden sweater shop. Hand loomed is using a machine. Hand assembled is probably knit in China and stitched together in Ireland...get the point? There are many variations on a theme.
We loved the Abbey Glen Hotel in Clifden --beautiful rooms, peat fires, house party atmosphere. The meals were wonderful so we didn't bother to head into town for dinner. We stayed three nights and hated to leave.
It would be best to try to see Connemara on a clear day. It was raining the day that we drove the loop from Galway, and we missed a lot of the scenery because of the rain. It also rained the day that we visited the Aran Islands, but we didn't feel like we missed as much.
If you get up to Westport be sure to visit the Achill Peninsula just west of there. We spent a day touring around it by car and it is very picturesque with great cliff views.
Another vote for the Quay House in Clifden. Julia and Patrick are the kindest of hosts and their inn is very relaxing with views over the small bay. We were delighted to watch the changing tide out our front room's window. The central town is easy to walk to with good restaurants and pubs. We drove N59 to Westport stopping frequently to take pictures of sheep and Kylemore Abbey. We did not get to the Abbey. Did a bit of shopping in Leenaun and had lunch in Westport. Then drove west on R335 through the scenic fiord back to Leenaun - stopping frequently to take pictures and admire the views. In the morning, we drove up around the sky road in Clifden before driving towards Dublin. Would have liked to have stayed longer than 2 nights in the area.