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What would you do?

Two of us will be traveling to Ireland from 9-3-18 to 9-28-18. We want to see and experience as much of Ireland as possible without getting caught in tourist traps, too much, and also have time to relax. We have 23 full days to play with. We will be flying into and out of Shannon and renting a car. We have been reading and watching as much as we can to learn about what is there, but time is going fast. I have been working up a flexible travel itinerary, but would appreciate some experienced input.

At this point we plan to stay 2 to 3, mostly 3, days at each stop, but I am wondering if we could see just as much by staying 3 to 4 days at each stop. I have been studying maps, but there are so many roads, and towns/cities/communities. My husbands people come from County Clare.

We like smaller towns, and the coast, B and B's are fine, and we are open to public transit for Dublin. We are also interested in bicycle rentals for smaller cities/towns.

My husband is not too interested in Northern Ireland but I must see Giant's Causeway and he is a Van Morrison fan and there is history there.

I look forward to your input

Posted by
359 posts

Much to cover in those questions......but I would vastly prefer 4-5 day stays most places. If you pick good locations you can easily use it as a hub for multiple days. There are many examples......but here's one. Kenmare. It's outside of the tourist trap of Killarney but close to all the wonderful stuff that is outside of Killarney. So one day can be spent in the Killarney area, another on the incomperable south side of the Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Ring. A third exploring the beautiful, quiet north side of the Beara peninsula. A fourth day could be spent biking nearby, horseback riding on the beach, exploring the town etc.

The less driving and especially the less relocating the more enjoyment and time for interaction and exploration. The magic happens then, rarely at going to a big must see spot. It's talking to a farmer and bring invited for tea and scones, it's finding an Ogham standing stone you didn't know about, or hearing from a local there is a henge (like Stonehenge) in a nearby field and being alone at a site thousands of years old......or being invited into a home based bakery to learn recipes and phrases in Irish from two amazing women. Give yourselves time for that !

Posted by
16869 posts

The longer stays are usually less "necessary" the smaller the town. You may choose a home base and make some day trips in various directions, but at some point that roundtrip driving becomes less efficient than just moving on. Rick's suggested circular itinerary gives you a good basis for planning but you can certainly cut a stop that doesn't interest you. For instance, if you don't care about Belfast, you can drive from Giant's Causeway to Dublin in 3-4 hours.

Posted by
3319 posts

If going to the Giant’s Causway you may as well stop at Carrick-a-Rede rope (cable) bridge since it’s only a few miles down the road. Near both is Old Bushmills distillery and Dunluce castle. We visited all in one day, starting in Crawfordsburn where we stayed at the Old Inn (very nice but not much to do in the town) and ending in Portrush. I have to agree with Laura that the small towns don’t merit a 3 days stay. To add to what was said about making day trips, my wife and I did that years ago. We used Bath as a base and took day trips. By the end of our 5 days there we realized it would have been better to move every couple days, as we spent a lot of time returning to Bath at the end of each day. Now, we spend a couple nights at most in each place, the night of the arrival day, then one full day to see the town before leaving the following morning. If there are nearby side trips, then we may stay 3 nights. Other places we enjoyed were Galway, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Trim castle (parts of Braveheart were filmed there) Dingle peninsula, Muckross house, Cahir castle, Rock of Cashel, Avoca and its wollen mill (also where the British show Ballykissangel was filmed), Glendalough and the Monastic City ruins. You are correct that in Dublin public transportation is best.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for your replies, :-)

I had forgotten about Rick Steve's 3 week intinerary, and the Rope Bridge. I have been reading soo much. I know it will all come together, but to utterly simplify for now. If you were to do the most and best of Ireland efficiently in 7 "hub" stops, what would they be?

Mrs. Ryan

Posted by
479 posts

The following worked for us in May; with interests similar to yours, including travel by rental car. Note, we didn't get to Northern Ireland -- not for lack of interest, but we didn't want to feel rushed on the western peninsulas:

  • Dublin - 4 nights (including arrival day from US & the all-day Mary Gibbons Newgrange tour)

  • Kilkenny (actually the terrific [RS recommended] Lawcus Farm Guesthouse a few miles south of Kilkenny) - 3 nights

  • Kenmare - 5 nights

  • Dingle - 2 nights

  • Doolin - 2 nights

  • Connemara - 5 nights (including a 1-nighter in Westport to accommodate the Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle)

  • Dublin Airport - night before return flight

Happy to share info/comments on our B&Bs (and a few AirBnBs) on any locations that match your plans. Just send a PM.

Posted by
1834 posts

I agree with above poster rca mostly. However, I would add a night to Dingle to do the Slea Head drive and Blasket Islands, which would be 2 full days. Subtract a night from Kenmare.

Posted by
479 posts

Nice tweaks by Diveloonie. We missed the Blaskets, but did enjoy an afternoon on the amazing Slea Head Drive. (Departing the area via Conor Pass, if that makes navigation sense, is another cheap thrill in the region.)

Posted by
5 posts

We just returned from Ireland and loved Dingle.

If you like to bike we really enjoyed a day trip from Galway to the largest of the Aran Islands where we rented bikes for the day, grabbed a picnic lunch at the Spar and ended the ride at a pub.

Posted by
3 posts

Well, we are back from our trip to Ireland. Thank you to each one of you who posted answers to my questions.

We had a grand time, met some great people, ate some great food, and spent plenty of time walking at our different stops around the country.

While trying to get back to this forum I saw just how active this site is and was a bit shocked as I had no idea how much was going on here as far as questions and answers. So thanks again for you help.

We stayed in Lahinch, Westport, Spiddal, Inis Mor, Donegal, Coleraine, Trim, New Ross and Kenmare. We doubled back to Spiddal to avoid the weekend crowd on the island. We also skipped trips into the larger cities and stuck to the smaller towns.

Cheers and Safe Travels!