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Northern Ireland & northern Republic itinerary

Hello all -
Looking for advice - we're headed back to Ireland after visiting Dublin, Kinsale, Dingle & the Burren last year. We're headed north this year! This is what we have at this point: arrive at Belfast City AIrport @ 5:00, p/u car & drive to Bushmills for the evening, with hopes of doing Giants Causeway that evening (sun sets at 9:15 that night). Next day Carrick-a-rede bridge, then backtrack a bit to Derry for the peace bridge (we're staying on the east side), walled city and murals. Next day meander through Donegal, not sure of best stops, to a small town Dunlewey. Then head south slowly via Glencoumnkil & Slieve League to Sligo for 2 nights, with Carrowmore & Knocknarea on our to do list. Then down to Westport with a stop at Ceide Fields along the way. From there to Connemara for the day, spending the night in Kinvarra & then head home:-(. SO much to see in so little time!!

I'd love any feedback on this... I feel lucky to have a whole week but still feeling very rushed.

Posted by
8257 posts

How many days are you visiting in total? No time set aside for the Belfast? The Titanic Museum, Crumlin Road Gaol, Shankill Road and The Peace Wall, Botanic Gardens, St. George's Market? Carrick-a-rede bridge is back tracking and IMHO not worth the time and effort. Any particular reasons you've chosen the towns you have to visit and stay in? Are you visiting Glenveagh National Park? Lovely place. Like the idea of Knocknarea.

Posted by
135 posts

Hi Amanda - great idea to see the northern part of Ireland; lots of stuff to see. A couple of comments on your ideas:

Derry - staying anywhere on the East side of the city is a bit far to walk to see the historic sights (most if not all are on the west side of the Foyle). I'd consider seeing if you can park in somewhere like the Foyleside Shopping Centre, which is right in the heart of where you want to get to - everything easily walkable. It also puts you on the 'right' side of the city for a quick departure to County Donegal.

County Donegal - first, remember that Donegal is both a County AND a town (in the south of the county), so be clear if asking for directions :-).
Second, Dunlewy is beautiful and located well for the north centre of the county, but it is NOT a town! Even calling it a village is stretching it a bit - a petrol station; convenience store; couple of hotels and bars, a tourist/craft centre - and all spread out. So don't rely on it for town facilities. However it is in an incredibly beautiful area - the 'Poisoned Glen' is worth a look, and you'll be passing Mount Errigal no doubt. Your drive from Derry to Dunlewy is actually not that long compared with some of the other drives you have in mind (say 1.5hours, non-stop) so you have time that day - as previously mentioned, Glenveagh National Park and Castle (a house, really) is an obvious stop as you will be passing it. Also relatively close by is Doe Castle (with a historical link to the 'Flight of The Earls, a key piece of Irish history) - it is in a beautiful spot, but check if it is open if you can before you go there. It's about a 20 minute visit, but worth it.

Your drive from Dunlewy to Glencolumbkille is really an opportunity to see beautiful, wild country. Assuming that you will follow the N56 road south, there are many turn-offs to explore if you have time, but it is really about the scenery. Try and get to the coast pretty much anywhere, as it is marvellous and unspoilt. To get to Glencolumbkille ensure you drive up the Glengesh Pass (close to Ardara), and look back from the top! Be warned though that your drive from Dunlewy via Glencolumbkille and Slieve League is a long one if you are aiming to get to Sligo in a day and still have time to stop along the way. PS On the way to Sligo from Donegal town on the N15 you will pass the village of Drumcliff - as well as a round tower, the churchyard is the site of WB Yeat's famous grave & headstone - worth a glance also.


Posted by
61 posts

In Belfast area add the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra to the list of things to do. Basically a replica 19th(ish) Irish village outside (they keep getting old buildings and then transport and rebuild brick by brick) with a train/automobile/motorcycle museum on the grounds. Have been 2x, and have loved it. On the east side of Belfast Bay about 30 minute drive from Belfast International on the M2

The other Ulster Folk Museum that is out in Omagh, which is also a fun visit has a slightly different emphasis. I really enjoyed the "coffin ship" exhibit that shows the conditions that were experienced by the mass exodus to the New World as a result of the famine. I had the fortune to go there when they were having an American Civil War enactor group there, during a bluegrass festival. That was an interesting experience, listening to all of the Confederate soldiers chatting in a lovely Irish lilt. :)

Straight shot south of Londonderry, about 45 minutes to an hour drive.

Enjoy your visit to the North Antrim coast area - the causeway is great, and there are some nice places to eat in Bushmills. Make sure to volunteer early on the Bushmills tour, they used to offer the earlybirds a chance to sample all of the offerings.....if you dally, you get a lesser selection.


Glenn in Tucson

Posted by
1316 posts

big votes for the giants causeway.........unlike anything else ive ever seen! when are you going> when we were there a few years ago we discovered that the karrick a rede bridge and Ulster folk part closed for the season October 1..........