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Ireland Itinerary Struggles for a May Trip

Hi All,

We are currently in the planning stages for our first Ireland trip. We'll be there 10 days, will be driving ourselves around and are trying to sort out if we're biting off more than we can chew. We're trying to sort out fitting in a combination of a short visit of Dublin, doing a bit of the Dingle coast, up to Galway and Cliffs of Moher, and ending up in Carrick A Rede and the Giant's Causeway.

We are figuring on right now -- starting with 2 days in Dublin before we pick up the car and driving over to Killarney. Doing that area for a bit, then going up to Galway. From there, Sligo, from there Londonderry and the northern coast, and then ultimately back to Dublin for the flight out. We are experienced left side of the road drivers, so that part is not a worry. Here is what the timing looks like

  • Dublin Thursday and Friday
  • To Killarney on Saturday (Rock of Cashel on the way). Visiting Killarney Nat'l Park and Dingle Coast from here)
  • To Galway on Monday (visiting Cliffs of Moher from here)
  • To Sligo on Wednesday
  • To Londonderry on Thursday to set up for a day on the northern coast on Friday.
  • Back to Dublin on Saturday, flying home on Sunday

I look forward to your thoughts.


Posted by
1833 posts

The little voice inside that says you are biting off more than you can chew, well, usually our inside voices are correct! In this case, for sure! You will be seeing Ireland from behind a car windshield.
In 2 trips to Ireland, I have yet to make it to N. Ireland. Second trip, I spent 6 nights just in county Kerry......driving the ROK, Dingle and Killarney N. P.
With this short time, I would do the north or south. Not both.

Posted by
1198 posts

Thu: the day you arrive, you might want to sign up for a tour at the tourist information office so you can visit Brú na Bóinne on Fri.
Sat - Sun: instead of visiting Killarney, I would drive to the Rock of Cashel (2h), but continue on to Dingle for two nights (3h). That would include a day exploring the peninsula and enjoying the Dingle town pubs while listening to the sounds of Gaelic music.
Mon - Wed: from Dingle I would drive to the Cliffs of Moher (3h 15m) then to Galway (1.5h) and drop off the car. Sleep in Galway.
The next day take a bus to Rossaveel (45m) and a ferry to Inishmore Island for one night. The next day take the ferry back to Rossaveel and bus back to Galway. Sleep in Galway.
Thu: pick up a rental car and drive to Portrush (4.5h) and sleep there for two nights.
Fri: drive to Dunluce Castle (10m), then to Giant's Causeway (15m) then to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (30m). Sleep in Portrush.
Sat: drive to Trim and tour castle (3h) and back to Dublin (1h) and drop off car.

Posted by
1801 posts

If you decide to go to Inishmore as suggested by MaryPat, you can drive your car to the ferry and just leave it there for a night or two. There is parking right at the terminal, and cheap, too.

I would suggest that you look at distances between locations. We also have had experience driving in Scotland and England and we were comfortable driving on the left. However, in Ireland we found the roads to be even narrower and speed limits higher than you could ever drive, therefore, the GPS time for routes is far from reality. Hubby found the driving to be much more intense than we expected, and much longer than we expected. We also love driving in places we have never been, so we were looking forward to it. But, we also were surprised to find many roads with walls or hedges which took away much of any view. Next time, we won't be driving so far. A three hour drive often ended up being 5, a four hour drive ended up being 7. After adding a stop or two it was a very long day with lots of driving. We were warned, but I thought it would be fine. It was, but hubby was fried!

Also, honestly, our favorite part of our first trip to Ireland last July/August was talking with people, music in the pubs, and hiking the gorgeous hills. And, we are not hikers, so we took it slow and loved all the views.

I know it is hard to slow down, we had 15 nights, didn't see Dublin, and went south and up the west coast only getting as far north as Clifton. We also spent two nights in Inishmore. If your flight isn't too early, you may enjoy Trim rather than going back to Dublin. It is an easy drive to the airport.

We LOVED Ireland! I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time!

Posted by
1198 posts

True and if I wasn't spending the night in Inishmore, I would park at the car park in Rossaveel, however, I have no idea how safe the car would be parked over night.

Posted by
38 posts

MaryPat. Interesting idea. I'll need to sort out the car rental cost of dropping off the car somewhere we didn't originally rent it, but an Aran Island visit is something we had talked about early on but thought it might just add too much time to the trip.

Posted by
38 posts

Susan and Monte - I appreciate your thoughts on the Ireland experience. It is always the balancing act for us as to how much we can pack into a trip versus how to slow down enough to enjoy what we are experiencing. Our problem is, of course, wanting to experience both Dingle AND Carrick A Rede with a Cliffs of Moher thrown in for good measure. Sorting out the order of that wish list becomes the challenge now.


Posted by
5084 posts

We’ve had 2 trips to Ireland, and included overnight stays on Inishmore both times. First trip, started in Galway, and just traveled south of there. Last trip, except for Inishmore, we just went north of Galway, and did include Northern Ireland and the Giant’s Causeway before circling down to Dublin. Even with 3 weeks, we were still on a pretty fast pace much of the time.

Speaking of fast, if you’re considering visiting Inishmore, consider flying. On our first trip (June 2011) by bicycle, we used the ferry. That had the advantage of allowing us to take our bikes on the boat. But stormy seas cancelled the next day’s return ferry to Rossaveal, and we wound up taking a different, later ferry that could cover easier water to south of Doolin on the mainland, closer to the Cliffs of Moher. That worked for us, as we hadn’t left a rental car back in Rossaveal! Our second trip, in September of last year And with a rental car, we opted for the short airplane flight. Costs just a bit more than a ferry, but gets you there in 11 minutes, and flights appear to me more reliable than boats. That time, the ferries weren’t sailing back to the mainland all day because of fierce winds and waves, but the afternoon flight back was never cancelled. Maybe our experiences were unique (I bet not), but the planes fly even when the boats don’t go. And the airstrip has safe, free car parking, and is closer to Galway, less of a drive than reaching the ferry docks.

We started at a B&B outside Bushmills, and did a 5-mile cliff-top hike to reach the Giant’s Causeway in the morning last year, rather than driving right to it, or using the Causeway Rambler shuttle bus to get there. We took the bus to get back from the Causeway to where we’d parked our car at the trailhead, but having done the hike, we opted to skip the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Back in our car, we found a roadside picnic table with a view of the bridge and its crowd, had lunch, and moved on. So we saw the bridge and its surrounding coastline, but didn’t actually walk it, but sounds like that may be more of a priority for you.

So our first trip (albeit by bike) was just southwestern Ireland. Second trip included Dublin and Galway, and places north of the Dublin-Galway line. We didn’t try to include south and north ends of Ireland in one trip, and we had 3 weeks each time.

Last year, we rented from Enterprise, picking up in Galway and dropping off at Dublin airport. Don’t recall, but either there was no extra charge to drop off at a different city, or it was maybe no more than €20.

Posted by
3529 posts

If you end up at the Antrim Coast (N. Ireland) I would strongly suggest staying at the Bayview Hotel in Port Ballintrae over staying in Port Rush. Great Hotel, delightful village, best location.