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First Ireland Trip Itinerary (Bucket list), August 2019

This may be a bit optimistic but my husband and I are usually "Griswold" tourists in that we try to squeeze in as much as possible in the short times we have! We recently did tours of Norway, Finland, and Switzerland in 14 days and, while tiring, had a blast! This will be our first experience renting a car, however, and driving ourselves around. Fights, accommodations, and 2 tours already reserved, but all can be adjusted except flights. Do y'all think this is doable?

Day 1--Arrive Dublin; rent car (automatic, super CDW, navigation system) and drive to Kilkenny
Sights along the way: Glendalough, Sally Gap, tour Monastic grounds, then Kilkenny Castle
Overnight @ Carraig Rua
Day 2--Drive to Midleton
Sights along the way: Kells Priory, Jerpoint Abby, Rock Of Cashel, Midleton Distillery, Dinner at Clancy's pub in Youghal
Co. (family name)
Overnight @ Tranquil Water in Midleton
Day 3--Drive to Dingle
Sights along the way: Blarney castle grounds, Muckross House grounds, Killarney NP (Ladies View, Torc Falls?)
Check in to The Waterfront in Dingle (2 nights)
Day 4--Private tour of Dingle w/Denis Ryan and sightseeing around Dingle
Day 5--Drive to Galway
Sights along the way: Tarbert to Kilmer ferry, drive through the Burren
Check in to Balcony House (2 nights)
Day 6--All day Tour of Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher (Trip Advisor booking)
Day 7--Drive to Dublin; return rental car at airport, drop off luggage at Holiday Inn Express
Sights: Hop on/Hop off bus--Trinity College Book of Kells, Gaol
Day 8--Depart

Posted by
479 posts

"Fights.....already reserved,...."

Impressive planning. Wife and I prefer more spontaneity with the fights, letting jetlag, navigation errors and overpacking guide us.

But seriously. Get a good bead before leaving Dublin on how/where to return your rental car at Dublin airport. The exit comes up very quickly after leaving the motorway, a left exit just outside the airport proper. You probably know that you'll want reservations for Kilmainham Gaol. Day 3 may already be ambitious, but when in the Killarney NP neighborhood, you might enjoy a visit to the Kissane Sheep Farm for the interesting sheep dog demonstration (and spectacular scenery). It's about 10 minutes beyond Lady's View at Mol's Gap on the ROK.

Posted by
5231 posts

Please realize travel times in Eire can be slower than you expect for a variety of reasons, missing exits on roundabouts, roadworks, sheep, cattle, lorries, cyclists, etc.

If you can find the time try to see the Cliffs of Kerry in Portmagee as you make your way to Dingle.

Appreciate you like to move a fast pace but in Eire it is about slowing down to appreciate its beauty.

Have a great time!

Posted by
10 posts

@rca, I can't stop laughing now! That typo may have been a "Freudian" slip! I think I'll bring ear plugs to try and cut those "fights" off before they get started! Hahahaha!! My husband has left the itinerary up to me and I keep warning him that it might be a bit rushed and he can't complain once we're in the midst of things! Lol!
Thank you, rca for the info about the rental car return. Someone on another thread had mentioned that, too, so we will try to be on the lookout!
Yes, Claudia, I am a little concerned about squeezing in too much not knowing what the driving will be like. I originally considered the ROK but others have said Dingle was just as pretty and more easily done, so will save it for another trip if we are able in the future. I love the idea of seeing a sheepdog demonstration, too, though I have seen them before at Highland games here in the states? There is so much to see and do and my itinerary has actually been cut way down, believe it or not! I fear adding anything else but wonder if there are things here that are really not worth the time and others that might be better suited for our timetable?
Day 3, is Muckross House worth the time? Is there a better way to spend time in the Killarney NP? What would you suggest for a better itinerary that day? We're not planning to go into Blarney castle, just walk the grounds?
Day 2, is Kells Priory and Jerpoint Abby worth the time--we plan to leave that morning early to go to Kells Priory first as it has no "opening" time, but Jerpoint doesn't open until 9am for tours. I want to give ROC as much time as necessary to fully appreciate it.
Day 4--will the drive from Dingle through the Burren to Galway allow us enough time to see the sights in the Burren?
Obviously, I'm a planner and have researched this site and others ad nauseum to try and squeeze in the highlights on such a short timetable, but I am also not opposed to spontaneity if I see the itinerary isn't feasible. I've tried to restrain myself from planning down to the hour, but it's been a challenge! Ha!
Thank you for advice and input!

Posted by
221 posts

Hi Rebecca
We are in Ireland now so I’ll give my two cents based on our experience so far.

  • the drive from Dublin to Kilkenny is easy but it was a little stressful adjusting to driving on the left. We did not stop along the way but went straight to Kilkenny and explored there.
  • i would skip Jerpoint and Kells priory since you’re going to Rock of Cashel. We had time to do both, but Cashel is much better IMO.
  • your choice of Dingle is a good one. I was underwhelmed by Torc Falls and Ladies View was ok. Gap of Dunloe was better but not sure you have time. As noted by others driving times are slow and you will get lost more than once. We’re in the Burren area now, will weigh in on that later. Katheryne from Chattanooga
Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Katheryne for the info! Sounds like you are doing the same route as we are planning! I am thinking that we may pass on Kells Priory and Jerpoint Abby as you suggested--that will give us a more relaxing morning in Kilkenny before ROC and we won't feel so rushed getting to Midleton.
Enjoy the rest of your trip! I can't wait to hear how the rest of it goes!

Posted by
5231 posts

Now that you’ve revised the itinerary I to will say more time in Dingle and the Slea Head drive.

Definitely see the Gap Of Dunloe! On my last visit it was November and the fall colors were out. Stunning simply stunning day with very few others. Hiked part of it then retrieved the car and drove the rest of it.

My favorite day in Eire!

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Claudia! I would love to see the Gap of Dunloe! If we forego the Muckross Gardens, Torc falls, and Ladies view, do you think we would have time to see it on our way to Dingle? We'll have a private tour for the Slea Head drive and have the whole day to spend. I'm really looking forward to that!

Posted by
5231 posts

Depends how comfortable whomever is driving will be negotiating the tiny two lane, curvy road.

As I said I hiked some of it ( from a closed Kate’s cottage up to where the abandoned roofless roadside stone building Where I turned around. ) Went back, retrieved my car and drove over it, making my way back to Killarney National Park and then Dingle. Basically I did it backwards because I’d not done any research and discovered it by chance.

Posted by
479 posts


I'm with Katheryne on Jerpoint and Kells. We visited both last year, but mostly because we were staying at a terrific B&B nearby, about 20 minutes south of Kilkenny. ( But for that proximity, we would have skipped both. Unless you are seriously into such ruins, I think you'll do well to take them off the itinerary for a more leisurely day. I also agree that Slea Head will give you more bang for the kilometer than ROK and the drive is easily accessed from Dingle. Finally, I withdraw my recommendation on Kissane Sheep Farm; if you've seen sheep dogs working elsewhere you can make better use of that time and it sounds like you're trimming ROK anyway. (Great move arranging for a driver on Slea Head; you'll both get to see everything -- I wish we'd done so.)

Posted by
448 posts

R, I really like your tour plan. I accidently took the route from Killarney thru Mulls Gap and stopped at Ladies View for lunch and it was really cool. We were going Dingle to Kenmare so were going opposite the way you are traveling but I was glad we did not take the long way around and thus would have missed Avoca and the drive past Ladies View. The road is very very curvy and will be slow but it is well worth in IMO. It was just a really neat place for lunch at Ladies View and the view is great. We also hired Denis Ryan for a half day private tour and really enjoyed it, wish we had done a full days tour as he is a great guy and it was a fun tour. He also helped me plan my next days drive around Slea Head on my own and he pointed out spots I would have missed...I like our plan! I agree with Claudia too bad you cant work in the Cliffs of Kerry, the are great. I regret we skipped Galway and went right up to Doolin, but Doolin too was wonderful, great food, know the drill lol.. Have a blast!

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Jarradd, Your route sounds very similar to my original plan. As much as I would love to see the Gap of Dunloe, I'm really struggling to see how to fit it in on this trip. I may have to talk my husband in to planning another trip that would include ROK and Portmagee, Gap of Dunloe, and then up to the northern parts--fly into Shannon and fly out of Dublin! So much to see and so little time!
Thanks, everyone, for the great advice and info!

Posted by
3 posts

I would suggest another night in Dingle if possible. We stayed at An Capall Dubh which has a car lot and is centrally located in town.

If using a credit card on your car rental, check if the card will provide a CDW waiver letter to carry to the rental agency in Ireland. I was able to do this last month. On a previous trip af ew years ago, the credit card coverage would not extend to Ireland but this has changed. Confirm with your particular card.

Roads can be narrow and you are driving on the left. A small car will be better than a large one. Manual transmissions rent cheaper than automatics but you would be shifting with the wrong hand.