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What was the place you loved most on your trips to Ireland.??? What would you skip?

Please share with me your favorite places you visited and why?

Favorite attraction, museum, treat, restaurant, hotel, view , experience etc etc.

I want to learn from you all.

Starting our trip planning and I want the hidden gems and What Not to see......

what in your opinion is overrated.

thanks for any and all help.

Posted by
2836 posts

We did a bus tour from Dublin to Glendalough and Kilkenny and our daughter recently said she would do it again if she and her friends take a trip after college graduation. It was one of the companies mentioned in Rick's book and I think it was a large bus not a minibus.

Posted by
6749 posts

We liked every place we visited but Kinsale was a favorite.

Posted by
1886 posts

First the list of "Loved its":
1) Another vote for Kinsale. Why: Charming coastal town. Large enough to have good restaurants, places to wander, but not too large. Old Presbytery Inn was our first-night stay, and got off us to a great start...fabulously charming B&B Inn/great hosts.
2) Connor's Pass on the Dingle Peninsula was breathtakingly lovely.
3) Muckross House - lovely gardens and house from the outside (didn't have time to go inside, so can't rate that and didn't have time to see the farmish area, so can't rate that)
4) Kenmare -charming city where we stopped for lunch (could have spent more time there)
5) Dromoland Castle - wonderful place for an 2-night overnight stay.....incredible walled garden. Had a great back-door moment there when I peeked around the work area of the walled garden, met the head gardener who was delightful, enjoyed our chat with her and she offered to take us in the greenhouse. Beautiful lake for bike riding, etc.
6) Cliffs of Moher definitely worth a visit
7) Galway - Key Street was a fun stop (but didn't really spend much time in Galway otherwise, so can't rate elsewhere)
8) Connemara - the drive thru this region is totally fantastic (and Sky Road also listed as one of the top journeys of a lifetime in a National Geographic book)
10) Ashford Castle is one of those once-in-a-lifetime splurges that is totally worth it....incredible place. Hawk Walk there is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Book two nights to enjoy the time.
11) Rock of Cashel - a truly historical, Celtic experience (take the short tour to learn a bit about it)
12) Bunratty Folk Park - as my Irish cousin described it: the best representation of what life was like for my grandmother
13) Tony McGann - last, but not least -- he made our time in Ireland oh so special!! Private driver who met us at the airport and drove us for 3.5 days -- now a dear friend (who has also visited us here in Nashville). Google him in Doolin.
14) The people in general -- warm, friendly

We did not make it to Dublin, and our trip focused mostly on the Western portion.

We were not blown away by the pubs, but the disclaimer that we visited them early and are not late-night people, so missed the music, etc. The town of Doolin itself was much, much smaller than we expected....nice, but would not recommend more than one night there.
We were also surprised at just how many little towns along the way were almost ghost towns, as young people have moved to more vibrant areas.
Adare Village was charming (maybe for a quick photo stop for the thatched-roof cottages that are now shops), but otherwise very touristy. Adare Manor (hotel) looked lovely, and worth a visit for a cup of coffee, etc., if one is not fortunate to stay there (very expensive/fully booked). Nice grounds, incredible building.
The Burren, while very different and unique (and with the disclaimer that it was raining when we visited), but it did not call to me to spend more time there (might have with better weather...just don't know)

Overall: We loved Ireland much, much more than we ever dreamed we would. It was a homecoming type trip for me....met a distant cousin and saw the cottage where my grandmother was raised. Not much could top that!!! :)

Posted by
102 posts

Loved Dingle and Newgrange. Hard to imagine being inside a 4,000 place!

Posted by
1886 posts

Jim,
I just Google Newgrange........wow!! Looks incredible....the kind of place my husband would really love visiting. Maybe we'll get back to Ireland for another visit someday (and I've now put Newgrange on the to-do list).

So many wonderful historic sites in Ireland. And, photobearsam, what a great question to post!!! :) Thanks.

Posted by
14404 posts

From a website: By law, Ireland's pubs can open Mon - Sat 10:30 and Sun 12:00. Last orders are Mon - Thur 23:30, Fri - Sat 00:30 and Sun 23:00.

"Last orders" means they cannot sell drinks (or have live entertainment) after that - but you can buy six pints and sit and enjoy them for hours. In Dublin, there's live music in many of the pubs in Temple Bar in the afternoons as well as the evenings.

Kilkenny, both the town and the castle, was one of my faves. The Jameson tour at the Middleton Distillery was very interesting. The gardens at Blarney Castle were nice, but the "Blarney stone" was gimmicky. Nearby Cobh was lovely, and the Titantic Museum was fascinating.

In Dublin, I went to plays at both the Gate and the Abbey. Well-designed theatres, well-performed plays. The Literary Pub Crawl was excellent. The Archaeology Museum is outstanding (and free).

The biggest "hidden gem" is the people. Take time to chat everywhere, in the shops, the pubs, etc.

Posted by
754 posts

This is exactly what I was hoping for.......Thank you all. MORE MORE MORE>......LOL

Posted by
374 posts

Well, it's hard to go wrong in Ireland when it comes to so many great sites to see, places to visit, etc.

My list includes: Connemara, the Aran Islands, Doolin (for its trad music), the County Galway village of Leenane & its Blackberry Restaurant, Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Beara Peninsula, Galway Town, Westport, Glencolumbkille, Mt. Errigal.

Just promise you won't try to see all of what anyone suggests in one trip!

Posted by
53 posts

We enjoyed every place we went to but many (Dublin, Dingle Peninsula, Kinsale, and Westport, e.g.) were greatly enhanced by walks or drives with local guides. If you can hook up with one it should really enhance your visit.

Posted by
14404 posts

Ireland's past is fascinating - and horribly complicated when you try to understand the English/Irish history (some of the history is just horrible, none of it is very simple). To get more out of your trip, read a couple of books before you go.

How the Irish Saved Civilization is short and entertaining reading, and will give you an appreciation of the monasteries and the Book of Kells. Joseph Coohill's Ireland, A Short History, is a comprehensive and pretty unbiased.

Posted by
32 posts

Our favorite place of all was Newgrange.

Actually, we drove south from Northern Ireland that morning, stopping first at Monasterboice, then the Newgrange Center, where we visited first Knowth, then Newgrange. We felt no desire to leave the area, so we spent the night in nearby Slane.

I think this was about an hour north of Dublin.

Posted by
305 posts

Ireland was on our list of travel plans but it seemed to always be on the back burner for us. We finally went 4 years ago and have gone back twice since. We fell in love with it.
Loved the history, the vibrancy of Dublin, Westport, Kilkenny where we spent a great evening of music in The Field pub, Kinsale, Cliffs of Moher, Donegal, Bunratty Castle, our stay at Cabra Castle, National Stud Farm, Dingle. I can honestly not think of any place I did not enjoy. As others have said the hidden gem is the people of Ireland . Friendly, fun loving and very welcoming.

Posted by
5693 posts

Culled from 3 different trips.

Book of Kells ( seen in the early 90's when no one was seeing them. No queues whatsoever.) Been advised that's no longer the case and the display has changed.

Glendalough. Gorgeous. Arrive early and meander

Rock of Cashel. Fascinating and I'd love to know if a cherub's head still lies alone at the NE corner of the lawn area.

Newgrange, fascinating. If claustrophobic beware. Again visited in the early 90's pre the RS generated must see places. No crowds. Arrived by car. Maybe 15 people in my group. Bliss.

Kinsale. Great overnight.

Killarney National Park in the fall. Simply enjoy the stunning beauty. Start on the trail across the from the cathedral.

Gap of Dunloe. Seen in November. Virtually no one there. 2 rock climbers, 3 hikers, 1 bicyclist. 1 trap. Kate's cottage closed for the season. Hiked half of it, returned to my car and drove the rest of it. BEST day ever in Ireland.

Dingle

Foxy John's in Dingle for a pint.

Conner Pass.

Coumeenoole beach on Slea Head. Climbed to the top of the adjacent hill. Crisp, clear, November Day.
Breath taking views of the coast line and the Blasket Islands.

Slea Head. Hasn't changed at all. Looks like it did in the film Ryan's Daughter.

The Burren.

Hiking Mt. Brandon, oh good lord what a spectacular trek.

Galway overnight.

Cliffs of Moher

Londonderry

Giants Causeway, remains one of the most fascinating geological formations I've ever seen.

Belfast

Christmas Market at Belfast City Hall

Titanic Museum, stellar.

Black cab tour of the Troubles, the Peace wall, etc.

Crumlin Road Gaol

A bowl fresh mussels and the seafood chowder at Mourne's with my GOT family. Also a few pints at the adjacent Kelly Cellars pub.

The Spainard Pub. Small, intimate.

Unimpressed by Cork and much prefer Slea Head and the Dingle Pennisula over the ROK.

Until this past Thursday taking the bus from the new modern Dublin Airport to Belfast was a breeze. Sadly, down the road, the ease of travel between Eire and Ni will change due to the BREXIT vote.

Lastly, In the early 90's I was flying over from London. It was my first visit. It was a grey day. I was seated in a window seat very eager to see Ireland from the air. As we descended through the clouds the island came into view.

In my excitement I blurted out "Expletive, it really is that green!"

A truly magical place. Enjoy.

Posted by
340 posts

New grange
Dingle -- town (Pax Guest House), Slea Head, Connor Pass
Kinsale
Kilkenny (really Lawcus Farms and guesthouse near by) Jerpoint Abbey
Dublin -- Kilmainham, long room,
Pretty much anywhere. I'd move there tomorrow if I could.

Posted by
44 posts

Favorite Lodging : Mount Juliet (five miles outside Kilkenny)...be sure the room you book is in the Manor House
Second Favorite Lodging : Dromoland Castle
Best Pub : Poet's Corner Bar in the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis...and if you should happen to meet John Francis Conrad, tell him Charley and Phyllis said hello
Best Traditional Irish Stew : Danagher's Daughter in Cong
Most Enjoyable Planned Activity : The Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon
Most pleasant Evening : Just poking around the streets of Killarney, listening to the Bag Pipe player and stopping in for some incredible Ice Cream
Best Decision We Made all week: Hiring a driver to take us to Cliff's of Moher and the Burren (wish I'd found him earlier in the trip)
Most Authentic Castle Hotel: Belleek Castle (also wins the Best Restaurant category)
Most incredible Scenery : Too close to call.
Favorite Aspect of the entire 12 days : The Irish People

Honorable Mentions for all the categories listed above:
1. ROK
2. Celtic Steps Production (in Killarney)
3. Bunratty Folk Park
4. Traditional Irish Night at the Corn Barn inside Bunratty Folk Park (Irish Food; Music and Dance)
5. Durty Nells Pub....just outside Bunratty Folk Park
6. Kyteler's Inn, Kilkenny

Posted by
23 posts

I am planning an Ireland trip too and three sights that seem conspicuously missing on these posts are Skellig Michael, Bantry House and Glengarriff/Garnish Island. I'm trying to decide if we want to go north to Galway/Connemara or spend more time between Kinsale & Kerry/Dingle (both locations I consider must visits). Are any of these places on anyone's favorites lists?

Posted by
207 posts

Great Question. This is my second trip to Ireland and this time I am going to home base first in Galway and experience the Cliffs, the Aran Islands and Connemara for a minimum of 4 nights. Then my next home base is Dingle. My first trip I did the ROK and the Muckross house but am doing it again and may stay in Kenmare for 2 nights.

I have 11 or so days and no car but I think it will depend on how much time you have.

Kathy

Posted by
624 posts

Rosanne,

skellig Michael was a very memorable experience and a must see if you are up to traveling out to the island and climbing the 600 steps. It is beautiful and magical. The wildlife is amazing and the scenery breath taking. It take about one hour to travel by fishing boat out from Portmagee. I am a little afraid of heights but was able to climb slowly and strategically to make it to the top. Coming down is more of a challenge especially when others are climbing up. There are no hand or guard rails. The climb is not for everyone as it is challenging not only physically but mentally. No bathrooms for 5 hours either.

Margaret.

Posted by
32 posts

I just returned from Ireland on Monday. Some highlights for us were:

  • Connemara region: this whole area was gorgeous to drive through. Spectacular scenery, sheep in the road, saw a dolphin pod swimming in a bay... awesome
  • Dingle: beautiful scenery and great town. Loved Browne's B&B and Murphy's ice cream!
  • Hawk Walk at Dromoland Castle was amazing
  • Trad on the Prom show in Galway: we all loved this so much. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was top notch!

For us, Kinsale didn't live up to expectations. The harbor was small and not nearly as scenic as I was expecting. Also, it was crowded and the streets are very narrow, so very stressful trying to find parking.

Posted by
81 posts

Well after 2 trips in the last 5 years, it's going to take another 2 trips to see everything I want to see but everyone has done a good job of hitting the highlights.

Newgrange
Powerscourt
Rock of Cashel
Muckross House
Dingle - Slea Head Drive
Connor Pass
Cliffs of Moher
Sky Road in Clifden
Diamond Hill (between Clifden & Kylemore Abbey)
Donegal - so far a tie with Dingle for our most favorite place.
Slieve League Cliffs are even more imposing than Cliffs of Moher and don't get near the publicity.

As you can tell we have not done anything Northern Ireland or SE down by Cork or Kinsale.

I've decided that you pretty much can't go wrong with anything in Ireland.

Posted by
332 posts

Good stuff.

We are looking at 3 or 4 nights in dingle area with family of 4. Me and wife, son and daughter (22 and 23). How does that work for staying in bed and breakfast type places? Hate to have to buy 2 rooms but may be stuck?

Posted by
3469 posts

Loved everything in the Republic of Ireland. Kinsale was the favorite. Could imagine myself retiring there.

Northern Ireland was just a bit too depressing for me. The history is interesting, don't get me wrong, but it just hit me as very depressing what all has gone on there especially since you are constantly surrounded by reminders.

Posted by
1172 posts

@ vicky vega... we booked a family room at the Dingle B&B.. two singles and a double with private ensuite