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First time to Ireland and traveling with 3 generations

Hi. My mother, daughter and I will be traveling to Ireland in March for about 8 days, including St. Patrick's Day. I have a tendency to overbook our time when vacationing, so I would like some input from experienced travelers. My mom is 80 years young. She does some walking, but will not have the endurance of my daughters. She has relatives in Donegal, who we hope to visit our first weekend there. We will arrive in Shannon on Thursday and plan to lunch, check into our B and B around 3 and then meet up with another daughter who is studying this semester in Limerick. Friday after our daughter is done with classes, we plan to drive up to enjoy the Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle, and will stay near there. Saturday we would like to try to meet our relatives in Donegal; if not Saturday, then Sunday. Belleek and the Shrine at Knock are in this general area as well, and of interest to us. It would be nice to have a centrally located place to stay for 2 nights. We like the idea of B and B's. We'd like to keep most lodging modestly priced, and we'd like to experience the hospitality of the Irish people, their food and music.

Monday is St. Patrick's Day. In this area of Ireland, would there be one place better than another to enjoy the holiday?
We'll return to Limerick sometime Monday; my daughter has class Tuesday through Friday. During this time we would like to see the Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone, perhaps take a jaunting car ride and Tour the Ring of Kerry. Everything sounds wonderful; I'm not sure which part of the Ring of Kerry to focus on and should we take a coach tour or drive ourselves. If we could spend one night in an authentic castle without breaking the bank, that would be nice. Otherwise, is there a central place to stay for 2 nights before returning to Limerick? We fly out early Saturday morning, so I hope to stay close to the airport Friday night.

I'd appreciate any input any one has.

Thank you.

Posted by
143 posts

I can recommend a B&B in Bunratty where you might consider staying on Thurs. and Friday night. Dunaree, is the name of this B&B. It is located about 800 meters from Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, 6 miles from the Shannon Airport and 10 miles from Limerick. Kevin and Penny O'Connor are the proprietors of this most clean and comfortable B&B. I think this B&B has a first floor accommodation which might work well for you mother.

My daughter had an early morning flight, so Peggy accommodated us by making a wonderful full breakfast which she also did for another couple who had an even earlier flight. Peggy was so friendly and helpful with directions and suggestions regarding restaurants. We hope to stay at this B&B for longer than just one night on our next visit to Ireland.

The Ring of Kerry has gorgeous scenery. We followed the route suggested by Rich Steves. My husband admitted that he missed some of the scenery, because he was the driver. We stopped often to view scenery but while I saw all the scenery, he did not. If you take a tour bus you will not be able to stop when you want, so it is a trade-off to consider.

Posted by
1827 posts

We much prefer Dingle than Ring of Kerry, think the scenery is much better and a little more laid back. Not sure how agile your mom is but blarney castle requires going up I think three flights of winding stairs and then having to lay down on your back and with help bend backwards to kiss the stone. If mom can't do this, the others in your party can and she can enjoy the grounds which are great. Enjoy.

Posted by
12 posts

I have been wondering about Dingle versus the Ring of Kerry. We enjoy beautiful scenery and I love taking pictures. Would you say if we toured the Dingle Peninsula that it would be less "touristy" than the Ring of Kerry? How long does it take to drive the Ring of Kerry versus touring the Dingle Peninsula? Rick mentioned in one of his brochures that (in Killarney, perhaps) there are rows of Holiday Inn signs as you drive into town. I believe he suggested using Kenmare instead of Killarney as a central point to stay while in the south. Do you, or does anyone else have an opinion on the best place to stay in that area?
My mom wants to try and do as much as she can. She would sure like to kiss the Blarney Stone if she can, but she has had both knees replaced, so I'm not sure if she can get into position to kiss the stone, and then get back up again. By the way, can a person wipe it off before they kiss it after the last person kissed it?
Thank you!

Posted by
9361 posts

I would prefer staying in Kenmare to staying in Killarney. One thing that you need to keep in the back of your mind is alternative activities or timing if the day you intended to do the Ring turned out to be rainy/foggy. There is nothing to see if that is the case. That's what happened to us. We didn't have a second day to work it in, so we ended up in Kenmare shopping, seeing the stone circle and the lace "factory", and having dinner.

As to whether the Ring of Kerry or the Slea Head Drive in Dingle is more touristy, I think they are pretty equal. At Blarney, there is a man who helps you get into position to kiss the stone, which is on the outside of the castle parapet. If your mother doesn't have a problem getting down on the floor, she should be able to kiss the stone. The more difficult part might be getting up to the top of the castle in the first place. You have to ascend a several story winding stairway which is enclosed and can feel a bit claustrophobic. If she has a problem with stairs it might be a no-go. But the grounds are beautiful and there is great shopping across the street, too.

Posted by
12 posts

I hadn't thought of the possibility of the weather requiring a change in plans! My daughter said they had a hurricane, named Darwin, in Limerick yesterday. Thanks for the heads up!

We will be in Donegal for 2 days. One day we will spend with relatives. Any suggestions on what to see the other day? We will be traveling from Limerick to Donegal and back to Limerick. Mom was wondering about the Marian Shrine in Knock.
Thanks everyone, for the input on the Blarney Castle. Mom can see what it looks like and have other options if she feels the stairs are too much for her.

Posted by
123 posts

For Blarney Castle go near closing time, not many people there so you can take your time on the stairs. When you get to the stop a very very nice gentleman helps with the kissing the stone part. She should be alright. :-)
For St. Patrick's Day try Cork, they have a great parade.
I went traveling a few years ago with my 83 year old grandmother (her knees Rent great either) to Toronto and what I found helped everyone was the Hop-on-Hop-off buses. Most the cities in Ireland have them or something close to it. For the Ring of Kerry they have tours that you can take.