14 night trip to Ireland . . . where to start?

We are planning a 14 night trip to Ireland, flying into Dublin. I can't figure out which way to go. We can start with a drive to Trim/visit Newgrange for the first day of driving, then over to Co. Clare, Dingle Peninsula, Kerry/Kenmare, Kinsale, Cashel, Kilkenny, end in Dublin. Or we can go the other way, start in Kilkenny, but that is a longer drive for the first day with not much sleep, anyone have any suggestions? Is it better to go/tour Ireland one way over the other?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

There's no advantage to going one direction over another. A lot depends on when you are traveling as to whether Newgrange would work on your first day. I did it in February, but in, say, August it might take longer to get to your turn. You really need to start with several guidebooks to get an idea of what you want to see. Look at a map, and see what order makes sense, then check www.viamichelin.com for distances between them. Add about 25% to their time estimates to get a more realistic answer - driving in Ireland can be slowww. We can help with more specific questions once you have narrowed things down a little. When will this trip be? How many people? What's your budget for lodging?

Posted by Jennifer
Granby, CT, USA
3 posts

Hi Nancy, thanks for your reply. We will be going in early August of next year. I have Steve's Ireland 2012 book and it has been quite helpful. His 3 week tour starts in Kilkenny, but he does mention starting a trip with a drive to Trim until you get your bearings driving in Ireland, which I am terrified about! So I just wanted to see what people thought about going one way over the other. We have 2 adults, 2 kids, and the budget is not unlimited, but we don't mind spending more for something worth while. We have no interest in staying in your average hotel, would rather have a more "authentic" Ireland experience, see those quaint villages and pubs, etc. If you have any suggestions on that, I would love to hear them!!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Jennifer, if you are terrified of driving I suggest you rent a car with an automatic. It will cost a little more, but it is just one less thing to worry about. I was glad I was able to just concentrate and staying on the left! Have a fun trip!!

Posted by Stacy
Connecticut
98 posts

Hi Jennifer, I think you would be OK going in either direction. On the one hand, Kilkenny from Dublin is mostly motorway, so it's easy driving. On the other hand, it's easiest to get your rental car at the Dublin airport, and that is on the way to Trim. But honestly, I would see how your sightseeing and lodging choices fit, and go from there. For example if there's one place you REALLY want to stay, and they only have rooms on a certain date, build your itinerary from there. I highly recommend Newgrange. I agree with the other poster that if you're going in August, plan on getting there as early in the day as possible, to avoid a long wait. Maybe that should decide your itinerary!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

I forgot to mention that we landed in Dublin, picked our car and drove straight to Kilkenny. It took about 2 hours. That was in late April, so you could possibly have more traffic in August. I didn't feel that it was too far to go on Day 1, but I would not have wanted to drive further. I traveled from the West Coast with a LONG day of travel, changing planes twice and enduring an 8 hour time difference. You will presumably fly direct with a 5 hour time difference, so I think it would be no problem for you to start in Kilkenny if that is what you decide on.

Posted by Daniel
Ocean Shores, Wa, USA
71 posts

Jennifer, You say you don't want to stay in "average hotels" and want to see the "authentic Ireland with small towns and pubs" so I would suggest the B&B route for you for lodging. The authentic Irish experience would include the gigantic Irish Breakfast that is the norm at most Irish B&B's, and then the ability to visit with the owners of the B&B's who more than likely will give you great advice on pubs, restaurants, trad music, and sight seeing in the area. Been to Ireland 3 times, and it sounds like you are on the right track. Only on the third trip did we venture into Dublin....and it was ok, but enjoyed the smaller towns like Kenmare, Westport, Kilkenny, Clifdon, Doolin much more. We even liked the pub/music and variety in Galway City, even though it is more urban. Dan

Posted by Tod
San Diego, CA, USA
218 posts

Did this for 3 days in Dublin and 6 around the country and loved it. We started in Dublin and I think that worked well for us and left us with rural Ireland as the last thing we saw rathe rather then Dublin last. We did counter - sorry - anti-clockwise like you suggested and it was fine but I don't see why it would matter. One advantage is picking up the car at the airport puts Newgrange and Trim within easy reach and I recommend both of these highly. You need to get an early start to get both in one day but we did it and then went on to Galway. We also loved: Coast road in Burren from Galway Cliffs of Moher Dingle - give it a couple of days and stop at Blasket Island museum. Grounds of Muckross house were amazing - the tour is okay. Have a great time!
=Tod