We are traveling all around Ireland going from Dublin, to Galway down the coast to Kinsale and back to Dublin for 10 days. We are trying to get from Dublin to Galway the first day we arrive. Do you suggest train to Galway and pick up car there, or get car in Dublin for the entire trip. We get in late afternoon and need to get to Galway that evening, so we thought the train for the first leg would be the best. Any suggestions?
The train to Galway does not leave directly from the airport. You have to take the bus into the city to get to the train station. The airport, on the other hand, is right on the motorway. I think it's easier to get your car at the airport and just head out from there.
Not having taken the train, but having done the drive it seems that driving is probably going to be faster. Some of that timing difference between the two options is being that you would need to wait for the train and if the timing is off you'd need to wait for the next one. They appear to run about every two hours on the weekdays but less on the weekends so be sure to check train schedules for the day you arrive.
To Train it looks like you will have to take the Airporter 747 bus (every 15 minutes or so) into the city to Victoria Quay and walk the last bit to Heuston Train Station. Catch the train to Galway (Ceannt). So you need to leave time to clear immigration and get to the bus and then ride into the city (Google says 50 minutes) and then wait for the next train. I would allow a minimum of two hours from your arrival to the train station so if that is too close to the train departure you would need add another two hours for the next one.
Irish rail planner is here: http://www.irishrail.ie
(I don't know if you save pre-booking on Irish trains the way you can on English trains.)
You don't say what your turn around time is for this journey but if time really is a concern you will probably be approaching Galway by car by the time you get going on the train. Assuming your time to rent a car is about the same as waiting for the next bus you would be either driving away from the airport towards Galway in a car or getting on the bus for your hour long journey to the train station at about the same time. While more complicated if you're really not pressed for time the bus/train trip will allow you to see some of Dublin and will probably be less stressful that getting off a plane and immediately driving on the other side of road and almost immediately on the freeway.
There are some really nice sites that encourage driving between Dublin airport and Galway (Newgrange, the castle at Trim, etc.) but if you're pressed for time that sightseeing probably won't sway your decision towards a car.
One word of warning: If you drive into Galway have a good Galway map and know where you're going. The center is cramped medieval city with the usual awkward one way streets, no place to pull over and there are no street signs so you're on your own. You think I'm exaggerating but I'm really not.
My $.02, hope it helps and hope you have a great trip!
I would want to pickup the car at the airport and spend a couple hours cruising on a motorway to get used to driving on the other side of the road before being thrust into city traffic. As was said you really want good map since it is also my experience that they just do not believe in street signs in Ireland, at least not the type you can read from a moving car. My personal advice is take your own GPS that you know how to use with a European map card in it. Even though she gets a but snippy at times we found Ms. Garmin to be a very good traveling companion. With regard to Dublin, we took Rick's suggestion stayed in Howth. It is a very pleasant little fishing town at the end of a light rail line that goes straight into the heart of Dublin. Have a great time and remember to, as my wife said many times, KEEP LEFT.
A bus directly for the airport is another option.
I did not use the train when in Ireland but we rented a car and personally I thought it was great because it is a quick and easy drive and you can stop and explore as you please!
I have done both and car, by far, is the better.