My husband and I are flirting with the idea of going to Ireland for two weeks. We have been to Scotland. Is a car a necessity for Ireland or can many places be reached by bus or train. We don't want to take a tour except for a couple of single day or half day tours. Also, do the Irish have an afternoon tea or is that an English only thing?
Most of us here would say you need a rental car to properly see Ireland. It gives you a lot more flexibility than public transport. With a car you can get to a lot of places in two weeks. There is very little train service in the west, so you are basically left with the bus for public transportation. It's not impossible, and might work for you if you don't want to move around a lot, to use the bus. There is a journey planner on the Bus Eireann website where you can check schedules and prices. www.buseireann.ie
Driving the 'Wild Atlantic Way' from Kinsale to Dingle is a wonderful two-week itinerary.
I didn't see any evidence of afternoon tea in Ireland in my 2-1/2 weeks there. The pubs are great. I saw many of them.
Thanks everyone - there will be more questions coming. I watched a RS/Pat O ' Connell youtube video last night. The consensus is - rent a car! My husband just needs to commit to Ireland and then, I will buy a RS Ireland Book. We have a ten year old with us. What is the pub protocols with children?
Kids are welcome in pubs, though many have posted times that children must be out in the evening. This usually coincides with the beginning of the time when there might be a music session. Most of the ones I saw asked children to leave by 8pm.
perhaps not high tea,,,,, but I found some lovely scones and clotted cream for purchase in 2 museum snack bars......
Ireland (with the exception of NI) is not part of the United Kingdom. There was a war of independence. A fierce one. The tradition of British high tea didn't travel well across the sea. Do the Irish drink tea? Absolutely!!! http://www.examiner.com/article/how-the-irish-drink-tea. The more expensive hotels claim afternoon teas but I wouldn't waste the money.
In answer to your specific question about a car being a necessity the answer is yes. Provides freedom to explore on your own. You don't say when you are going but taking a trap ride into the Gap of Dunloe would be something you and your 10 year old would enjoy. http://www.chooseireland.com/kerry/gap-dunloe/
I'd include NI on your 2 week excursion. Visiting both the Titanic Museum in Belfast and the Giants Causeway outside Bushmill would be something any 10 year old would love. The Black Cab tour should be taken as well.
In Belfast, enjoy the seafood chowder at Mourne's.
Thanks for the info. I looked up the Wild West Atlantic Way. We are thinking of the Kerry to Cork route and possibly the Cliffs of Mohrer - however it's spelled. We are very interested in Skellig Michael.
I had said 'Cork to Kerry', but "Kerry to Cork" will work too.
Just keep in mind that taking the 'Rings' in a clockwise direction keeps you on the scenic side of the road when driving on the left. That's why I instinctively say it in the order I do.
For a two week itinerary, I would not recommend the big jump up to the Cliffs of Moher without continuing all the way into county Galway. Once you've crossed the Shannon, you can do the 'Cliffs', plus Doolin, the 'Dolman', the lakes, the bens, Kylemore, and Moran's Oyster Cottage in a short week. (Clifden or Westport make a great base at the north end of this loop.)
But you could also easily spend a week in south Cork as well... I seriously love the scenic driving past the Tuscanesque, planted hills of the deep southwest of Ireland. The food is good too (think Ballymaloe House.)
Of course, a week in Killarney Lakes, Kinsale, (two nights minimum out near Portmagee to guarantee a weather window for the Skelligs) and Dingle will be the non-negotiable heart of your schedule.
Barb, let's just say that it will greatly enhance your trip to do some driving. If you are apprehensive about driving there, be strategic about finding ways to not drive in cities. You really want a car to find villages and out of the way sights, you do not want a car in Dublin or other busy places.
Once we got out of (escaped) Dublin, after getting lost in horrible traffic for thirty minutes, driving in Ireland was fine.
Let us be the lone voices favoring public transportation. We were there in May for three weeks and did not feel deprived to be without a car. We felt liberated in not having the burden of a car, and we're also glad to avoid all the drama of driving on the left in a country full of anomalies and extremely narrow roads. We walked a fair amount, which we liked anyway.
You will miss the small villages (unless you stop for a few hours on your bus trip), and you may feel that a car would be a bit faster. That can't be denied. But the buses and trains we took were timely, inexpensive and perfectly suited to our itinerary. A car will cost you about $100 a day for rental, petrol, parking and tolls.
Your question generated lots of useful replies. For what it's worth, I'll add my 2 cents as well. I have been to Ireland without a car a couple of times and with a car once...just last month, actually. You can make both work fine; it just depends, on my opinion, on where you want to go. East-to west, as you might do if you went from Dublin to Galway or the Aran Islands, is a piece of cake by bus. On the other hand, I doubt that you could get to, say, Healy Pass down near Kenmare, without either a car or...well...maybe a horse. It depends on your itinerary. Obscure locations (e.g., Wicklow Mountains, Sally Pass, Dursey Island) would, it seems to me, be a scheduling headache by public transport. On the other hand, Bru na Boinne and all the nifty stuff in County Meath just north of Dublin, is an easy day trip by bus.
I experienced only afternoon Guinness. Never experienced afternoon tea, though. Ireland is a wonderful country.
You guys are great! After gleaning through your responses, I am thinking of flying round-trip to Shannon, rent a car, and tripping around the SW region of Ireland. We really want to spend 2 nights in Portmagee and boat-trip out to Skellig Michael and climb up to the ruins and bird-watch along the way.
I think I will drink my tea first thing in the morning with lots of milk and enjoy an afternoon Irish brew. Beer question - I hear that Guiness tastes better closer to Dublin. In the USA, Guiness is awful because of what happens to the beer to preserve and ship it. Are there some great stout microbrews in Ireland besides Guiness? Pubs, beer and fish are a must!
As a change from Guinness, you might want to try a nice cider, too, like Bulmer's.