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Dublin area-Kilkenny-Kenmare-Portmagee-Dingle-Kinvara-Westport-Dublin

My fiancee and I are planning on 12 days driving around Ireland starting in late June 2019. We're staying two nights in four places: Kilkenny, Dingle, Westport and Dublin. We LIKE to drive. I've driven through Scotland and I know travel takes longer than what people are usually used to so no need to comment that we're crazy on our schedule. We are free to tweak the schedule at any time. The only drive that I know will be a tough one will be the drive from Dingle to Kinvara on day 8.

Kilkenny has me a bit flummoxed: we're spending two nights here and not sure when to see Rock of Cashel - on our way to Killarney National Park or fit it in during the one whole day we have in Kilkenny - I'm opting for the day we are in Kilkenny. I'm following a lot of Rick Steves' suggestions on driving the Ring of Kerry, the Burren and Connemara Loop.

Day 1 - Arrive in Dublin at 5am from Boston, rent a car: drive to Brú na Bóinne and get there when it opens, then to Hill of Tara and spend night in Trim at Highfield House.
Day 2 - Leave Trim and drive through Wicklow Mountains on R115 (Old Military Road) past Glenmacnass Waterfall, possibly stop at Glendalough and head to Waterford to see Waterford Crystal, then head up to Kilkenny and spend two nights at Mena House.
Day 3 - Kilkenny Castle, Smithwick's, Rock of Cashel - not sure yet of when we go to any of these on this day
Day 4 - Leave Kilkenny and drive to Killarney National Park (Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall, Muckross Estate, Ladies’ View), then to Kenmare and maybe see the Stone Circle and spend night at Muxnaw Lodge.
Day 5 - Ring of Kerry (driving counterclockwise) to Portmagee - maybe visit Valentia Island.
Day 6 - Scheduled to go to Skellig MIchael (keeping fingers crossed!) and then finish ROK heading to Dingle for two nights at Greenmount House. If Skellig Michael trip gets cancelled then plan B would be to explore more of ROK, still working on this scenario.
Day 7 - Spend day in Dingle - poke around town, drive around Slea Head Drive.
Day 8 - Long day of driving from Dingle to Kinvara: Conor Pass, Tarbet Ferry, Cliffs of Moher (maybe), drive through Burren (stopping at Hazel Mountain Chocolates, too) to Kinvara Guest House.
Day 9 - Leave Kinvara and head to Westport - drive along coast through Roundstone and Clifden with a stop at Connemara National Park to stretch the legs, Aasleagh Falls, Dough Lough Valley and then to Lurgan House in Westport for two nights.
Day 10 - Poke around Westport - Croagh Patrick if the weather is good
Day 11 - Drive to Dublin from Westport with a stop at Loughcrew Cairns, drop car off at airport and head in to Dublin for two nights at Academy Plaza Hotel
Day 12 - Dublin - still considering on what to see
Day 13 - flight leaves for Boston at 11am

Any suggestions/comments would be welcome, thank you!

Posted by
448 posts

If you plans get altered around Kenmare, when you are at Muxnaw Lodge, you might do a half day driving tour around the Beara Peninsula, its a more laid back rural RofK and we really enjoyed it. Just a thought if your Skellig trip doesn't pan out! Don't miss the Cliffs of Kerry when you do the ring, they are really under hyped and pretty cool!!

Posted by
207 posts

I drove from Waterford to Kinsale and stopped to visit the Rock of Cashel along the way, and it was not rushed, so you should be able to visit it on your way from Kilkenny to Killarney. However, doing so might mean you would be rushed visiting all of the sites in Killarney National Park and getting to Kenmare. It depends on how much time you want to spend at Cashel and at the Killarney NP sites. I found the Muckross Traditional Farms fascinating and spent a lot of time there. The scenic views including the Torc waterfall were worth spending time on. So if you want to have lots of time for Killarney, then visit Rock of Cashel during one of your Kilkenny days although that would mean a bit of backtracking.

While in Kilkenny, you might look at visiting nearby Jerpoint Abbey, the Kilree High Cross and Tower, and Kells Priory.

While in Portmagee, visiting Valentia Island is well worth it, even if you can only view part of it. The museum just across the bridge is a good intro to Skellig Michael, and there are some great views if you have time for a short hike.

All the best,


Posted by
21 posts

This is so much like a trip we're about to make/have made in the past...amazing. We even stayed at the Highfield in Trim [where we recommend Brogan's Pub] on our last visit. Recommendation for Day 12: visit the Little Museum of Dublin, and have "an evening of food, folklore & fairies" upstairs at "Dublin's oldest pub," the Brazen Head. Reservations necessary [and you can check out whether it appeals to you] at While you're poking around Westport on Day 10, there will be trad at Matt Molloy's Pub of an evening. We enjoyed the Pantry & Corkscrew there for dinner. Your Day 8: we found the Cliffs of Moher a bit Disneylandish; fee to enter, big parking lot, throngs of people, and no view you haven't already seen pictures of...we are visiting the cliffs at Kilkee this trip [also by way of the Tarbet ferry], and you will be passing right by them. You might want to check that out. We'll be stopping at the Diamond Rocks cafe there, then walking the cliffs for an hour before completing our drive from Dingle to Ballyvaughn. We leave tomorrow for 17 days: Kenmare, Dingle, Ballyvaughn, Westport and Clifden. Sláinte!