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First time to Ireland - Help With Itinerary, Please?

My friend and I (both females in our early 30s) are traveling from the US to Ireland for the first time at the beginning of April and have come up with the itinerary below. I would really like suggestions as to what you would change, whether we are trying to do too much, where to eat and stay in the towns, etc. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me! We are so excited for our trip!

Day 1 - arrive in Dublin at 5:45 AM and rent our car. Drive to Glendalough to see the monastic buildings on our way to Kilkenny. Overnight in Kilkenny.

Day 2 - Visit the rock of Cashel and the Holy Cross Abbey, then drive onto Cork to see the Blarney Castle. Drive to Killarney or Kenmare for the night. Which of these would you suggest???

Day 3 - either visit sights in Killarney, or drive the ROK. Which would you suggest? Overnight in Dingle.

Day 4 - do the Slea Head Drive and eventually make our way to Ennis via the Connor Pass. Overnight in Ennis.

Day 5 - see the Cliffs of Moher and the burren on our way to Galway. Overnight in Galway.

Day 6 - Drive Connemara. Overnight in Galway or Connemara somewhere.

Day 7 - see more of Connemara, and make our way back to Dublin. Overnight in Dublin.

Day 8 - see Dublin in the morning and get ready for our 3:45 flight out of Dublin.

Posted by
2261 posts

lyssamae, I haven't been to all the places you've listed, but I have some thoughts on a few. First, I would strongly suggest seeing Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens in lieu of the Ring of Kerry, in particular if you intend to drive Slea Head. I do think you would be wise to try to work your itinerary so you have 2-3 nights minimum at most stops. Two nights means just one full day, and you have a lot of wasted time here packing and unpacking, not to mention trying to find your next nights' lodging in a new land where everyone drives on the left on little narrow roads. From a B & B in Dingle you can day trip to Killarney and Conor Pass, for example.

There is a guide that we used in Dingle for an excellent tour of Slea Head, Ballyferriter, Gallarus Oratory, etc. You can find Denis Ryan here http://www.dingletours.com/ he has a nice video showing his basic tour. He's a wonderful guy and he'll drive you two in his car, so you can see what's out there instead of watching the road! Highly recommended for a half or whole day.
In Dingle, for a splurge dinner, try Out of the Blue Seafood, just excellent.
Try to hit the Cliffs of Moher either early in the day or late afternoon-evening, when the tour buses are not around.
Don't miss Kilmainham Gaol when you are in Dublin.
You'll love Ireland, have fun.
Dave

Posted by
8466 posts

Not a bad itinerary. Agree with Dave though give yourself more than one night in Dingle. Even with the roundabouts, sheep, cattle and tour buses on the narrow roads, you can see a lot in a day. As noted Killarney is an easy day trip from Dingle in order to visit the Muckross House and Killarney National Park. You could also include the stunning Gap of Dunloe. I suggest staying with John and Angelea http://www.cillbhreachouse.com. Lovely people. Lovely rooms. Great breakfasts. Good price. Be sure to stop in at Foxy John's for a pint. Memorable.

Posted by
2315 posts

Would skip ROK in favor of Dingle. Totally agree with Claudia, have been to Dingle four times and stayed at numerous B&B but without a doubt stay at Cilli Breah, sorry for spelling. My room was in the front overlooking water, my son liked his better waking up to seeing sheep. They have great breakfast and in all my trips, it is the best ever. On the Slea Head drive, be sure to stop at the Stonehouse Restaurant. Unique and great food. Also as said, if I only had one day in Dublin it would be Kilmainhaim Gaol, in my opinion is the best site in Dublin. Whatever you do in Ireland, you will enjoy.

Posted by
1 posts

Lyssamae
I would spend more time in Dublin, at least a full day and a half if possible. The gaol is a must see as is the Book of Kells. While touristy, if you arrive first thing in the AM you will be able to spend time unhurried just appreciating what it took to create this masterpiece. Rock of Cashel is neat, but so is Clonmacnoise, very similar in case one works better than the other. Clonmacnoise is close to Galway as I recall. Kenmare is an awesome little town and the Fort is good too. Dingle is awesome, there is a museum clear out on the peninsula that highlights the authors from the islands that was pretty neat. I personally didn't care for the national park. Galway is fun, but if push came to shove I would spend the extra time in Dublin. We turned in our rental car in Galway and took the train across to Dublin You really don't want a rental in Dublin. The hop on hop off bus in Dublin is a good way to see the city. Also the archeological museum in Dublin was very informative. We were there 2 years ago in April. You will have a great time, be sure to rent the smallest size car possible and take a raincoat.