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Will Irish eyes smile with this itinerary? :-)

Our 30th anniversary was last month, but we are planning the trip mid-June with our 22 year old daughter. We are laid back and just want to have fun in Ireland. We will be renting a car. We love historical things more so than hiking. This has been a difficult trip to plan for, but with many hours researching forums and things to do, this is what we have come up with....I know this is a great forum, that I will get honest feedback to help make our first time in Ireland smooth!
Flying into Shannon (1 nights)-- Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle
Dingle (2 night)
Killarney (2 nights) Ring of Kerry (we are planning a hired driver for the day) , Muckross House, Torc Waterfall
Portmagee (2 nights) Skellig Micheal---this is really are top priority of the entire trip! So that is why we are planning 2 nights so if we don't make it out the first day, we will have another shot for another!
Cork (1 night) )
Kilkenny (1 night) Rock of Cashel
Dublin (2 nights) Normal things---Book of Kells, etc...
Flying home out of Dublin

Posted by
569 posts

I would skip Cork and go to Kinsale, it's only an hour further, and it is a quaint little harbour town with great restaurants and Charles Fort nearby for an interesting walking tour.

Posted by
359 posts

Personally would skip Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty and spend an added day in or near Portmagee. Moher will be tourist slammed....they are beautiful but very very touristy......instead right next to Portmagee are the Cliffs of Kerry which are not tourist overrun and developed.....super beautiful....calm...real wild Ireland. There you also have access without much driving at all to Valentia Island, the Castle and Abbey at Ballinskellig and the insane beauty of the road above Caherdaniel. Moher IS beautiful but hard to enjoy when tour bus after tour bus drops off the hoards.

Also agree about Kinsale over Cork. Excellent advice. Less is more.....for me too much driving and too many tourist clogged spots on your itinerary but some great stuff too. The magic there happens in the little quiet moments .....don't worry about hitting all the listed "must sees". We enjoyed talking with and sharing tea and scones with a local fisherman in Portmagee or stopping by a fence in Ballinskellig to look at the cows and horses and having the farmer offer to let us help him feed them FAR more than the Cliffs of Moher despite their beauty. Leave time for those small moments - the Irish people are so warm and welcoming they happen constantly if you leave open the chance for them to occur.

Posted by
1172 posts

I love your itinerary. We did a similar itinerary in the summer of 2016 , with a few differences and loved our trip.

If you like history, I would strongly recommend getting tickets to Kilmainham gaol in Dublin. If you have Irish ancestry, there is also a great new museum called Epic in Dublin that covers Irish emigration over the years. That is only list for next time I am there :)

Enjoy your trip and Happy Anniversary!

Posted by
1940 posts

Another thumbs up for Kinsale instead of Cork, and I will add the specific recommendation for the Old Presbytery Inn in Kinsale (check it out on Trip Advisor).

Posted by
2 posts

We did a very similar route a few years back and enjoyed it 💯! The only difference was we went to Kinsale. We drove ourselves as well and did a day bus tour of Ring of Kerry while we were staying in Killarney. I can’t compare locations as I haven’t been to Cork. Kinsale was one of my favorites and we stayed at The Old Presbytery. In regards to Cliffs of Moher we arrived very early and it was much less crowded. Yes there were people but I expected that as it’s a hot spot ... it was beautiful. Once again I can’t compare it to other sites having it been here. I’m sure you’ll have a great trip! Enjoy!
If they are still doing the Smithwicks Tours in Kilkenny, I would recommend that ad well. Loved it more than Guinness.
Have a great trip,

Posted by
409 posts

I agree with skipping Cliffs and Bunratty and spending more time in Kerry as a previous poster, posted! (I think he/she and I must have mind melded, some of our answers are so in sync!) The Kerry Cliffs are way better than Moher and every single person I've talked to who has seen both says the same thing. Every single person.

Portmagee is a small village, if you have issues with finding a place to stay (The Moorings is great!) look at Knightstown or Cahersiveen or Ballinskelligs.... all very close by and worth a look.

I don't recommend the driver doing the Ring of Kerry tour. I say this even though I have a friend that does this (a taxi driver in Killarney). I think it's ridiculous what the drivers charge, and you'll have way more flexibility on your own. Don't miss Skellig Loop..... as a matter of fact, if you want to do less driving you can book Iveragh Historical Tours in that South area of the Ring of Kerry and so drive parts of RoK yourself and get a small tour by very knowledgeable locals! If you go with a driver they are limited by law to how many hours they can drive each day, and you'll see way more on your own. That said, I spend two nights a month in Killarney and I think you might consider not staying there -- why not Glenbeigh, or Killorglin, or Sneem? Much less touristy than Killarney. Old Glenbeigh Hotel has live music 7 nights a week in the summer!

Expat in Waterville

Posted by
11832 posts

My thoughts:

Cork wasn't particularly special so an alternative is a good idea.

I would put Portmagee as early as possible and give yourself some slack in case boats are cancelled on a particular day. If you get to Skellig Micheal right off the bat, then you can continue on and have time for other things.

If you can, give yourself extra time in Dublin. I don't love Dublin but there are some outstanding history related activities. A personal favorite was Newgrange. I haven't been to Trim castle since it's been redone but it's an impressive place. Another would be Glendalough Monastery (maybe you could see that on the way from Kilkenny?). In Dublin, there's the Trinity College library with Book of Kells that may be interesting. I'd also try to take a literary pub crawl (or traditional music pub crawl).

Posted by
246 posts

I also spent two nights in Portmagee just in case there was bad weather for the Skillig Michael trip, and I’m glad I did.

It was great to not have to rush and face a long drive the morning of the trip. The weather was great, so the boat sailed on schedule.

I enjoyed having time the evening before the Skillig Michael trip and the afternoon after to explore parts of Valentia Island and the museum just across from Portmagee. Plus the restaurants across the street from the departure docks are excellent.


Posted by
2 posts

Darlinda, there are 10 of us arriving Shannon Sept 10 and departing Dublin Sept 24. Have been researching to come up with the best itinerary. Love this chat! It has been so helpful!! I did ask about best means of transportation so we can all stay together - thinking train. Have seen all positive comments about using the rail. Good luck with your trip!

Posted by
401 posts

I'm curious what the attraction of Portmagee is, and why it would deserve two nights. From a map it looks like a wide spot along a coastal road.

Posted by
375 posts

Also, I recently read something about Skellig...access is somewhat limited/complicated (but couldn't find that article), but perhaps since you're allowing 2 days...just in might already know that.

However, thought you might enjoy this article though, link below.

I would say Bunratty would be more fun with younger kids.

what its like to visit skellig

Posted by
359 posts

Portmagee is a wonderful small town and is a great base to do many things. Valencia Island is right there with all its attractions......the Cliffs of Kerry (better than Moher) right there. The Glen and Ballinskellig are just over the insanely scenic pass with Waterville just beyond that. Just up the road the other way is Cahairseveen with it's ringforts, Ballycarberry castle ruins and shops. Portmagee itself is scenic with some great restaurants. So if your waiting for the sea to calm to get to Skellig Michael......Portmagee gives you a base for LOADS to do within a super short drive.

Posted by
2233 posts

Bob, Portmagee is the jumping off point for boat trips out to the Skelligs...either those landing on the island for the trek up to the beehive huts (for which you need to book months in advance) or a trip from the Skellig Center that circumnavigates the islands and takes about 3 or 4 hours. Both excursions are weather/sea state dependent.
Portmagee is also strategically located along the Skellig Ring Road - a very pretty stretch off of the Ring of Kerry. As was previously mentioned, there's lots to see and do in the immediate area using the little town as your base ... time and interest permitting.

Posted by
401 posts

Thank you to those explaining why one might want to visit Portmagee.

Posted by
6 posts

Excellent info, as usual.
Bob, if you haven't picked up an Ireland tour book yet, get one-- RS's Ireland 2018 has LOADS of detail about various destinations in terms of activities, food, lodging, practicalities, etc. I've read thru large portions of it--planning my trip for May 2019, & all of the detail in the book is really helpful. And then it leads to more research.... :)