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Ireland in April or early May; Bank Holidays

We are planning a 3 week trip sometime in April - early May to visit a friend near London for 3 days, then flying to Ireland and spending the rest of our time there. Bank holiday weekends are April 29-May 1 and May 6-8 in England (for King Charles' coronation) and we are wondering what effect these would have in terms of increased crowds, costs, and closings. Would we be better off avoiding them and visiting in April, although the weekend of April 9th is Easter weekend? We have to be back in the US by May 15th. Thanks for the expertise of those in the know!
We will be traveling by train and bus and wonder how public transportation schedules will be affected on banl holiday weekends.

Posted by
8024 posts

The Irish won’t really care about King Charles coronation. Ireland is not part of Great Britain.

Ireland is a sovereign country,

Parts of N Ireland might express interest. Other parts won’t. If you research The Troubles you’ll understand why.

Posted by
6084 posts

Google tells me that April 10 (Easter Monday) and May 1 are bank holidays in the Republic of Ireland. So those weekends will have more people on the roads, and certain kinds of businesses (like banks, duh) closed. But nothing you couldn't work around with some planning. In general, the more Irish people you encounter and talk with, the more you'll enjoy your trip.

And Ireland gets the BBC, so you'll be able to watch the coronation if you're there, without the London crowds or the need to get up at ridiculous hours in North America. On the whole, it's a win-win. ;-)

Posted by
225 posts

Dick - Thanks for your kind and thoughtful reply. I probably shouldn't have mentioned King Charles coronation as my main concern is with closings and changes in public transportation on bank holiday weekends since we'll be using trains and buses to get around. In the US, I personally would advise someone to avoid traveling on any 3 day weekend if at all possible but the situation may not be as dire in other countries since they usually have more vacation time than we do.

Claudia - I am well aware of the history of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, having lived through the period of The Troubles in my prime. The question had to do with the effect of a 3 day weekend on travel, which in the US is dramatic, and in my experience, is to be avoided. I wondered whether it might the same in Ireland.

Posted by
6245 posts

Chris, where in Ireland are you hoping to go? While a dedication to public transit is laudable, and you can certainly do some parts of Ireland entirely or primarily by public transit easily, some parts of Ireland (some of the best parts, IMHO) are not well served by efficient public transit, and are best done with your own car. In particular, the west and southwest are going to be harder (and slower) if you do not have your own wheels.

Ireland is "bigger" than many people expect, and it takes longer (maybe a lot longer) to get around compared with many parts of Europe. Yes, Ireland does have a rail system, and while it's perfectly comfortable and a good choices for some parts of the Republic, it's not particularly fast or fancy (it's not like we often think of European trains - none of those sleek high speed trains). The system layout is kind of a "fishbone" layout, where a lot of the bones (lines) radiate out from Dublin, and line the ends are not connected - which means if you want to travel by rail from some place in the west to a different place in the west (say, from Donegal to Dingle) you have to backtrack all or most of the way across the country, and even then the trains don't go "all the way" to much of the west coast. Here's a map:

There are buses ("coaches"), too, of course, but those are not always quick and easy.

It all depends on where you want to go, but just know that if you really want to do it all on public transit you can make that work, but it may take you a lot longer. A car makes a lot of the country much more accessible.

Posted by
444 posts

On the same subject, we're planning to be in Belfast and Portrush overlapping the coronation. How serious will the closings be? I'll check individual websites, but I don't expect those details.

We were in Shetland overlapping the Queens 70th Jubilee and just about everything we planned to visit was closed. Luckily, we had a final day to catch most of the ones we missed.

Posted by
1135 posts

Regarding crowds: we were on the Kerry and Dingle Peninsulas during the first week of school holidays in Ireland in 2018. While the international tourists had yet to arrive in droves, there were plenty of Irish holiday-seekers. So the less internationally touristed locations were swamped. On Inch Beach, for example, we couldn't find room at the chippy for lunch while the Slea Head Drive was almost empty. I would expect something similar during the April and May bank holiday weekends.