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3 days in Ireland - flying in/out of Cork

Hello travel experts! I need your advice on what to see and do next month in Ireland. My husband and I just booked a trip to Ireland for May 24 (Thurs eve) - May 28 (flight departs at 6am Sun!). We fly into Cork airport. All of the suggested online itineries suggest flying into Dublin and working your way South from there. I'd like to see the Wicklow Mtns and Moher to Kilkenny but that seems like too much driving to do the areas both North & South of Cork? Should we just stay in Cork County?? What's feasible in the 3 days and not be in the car the entire time. We'd like to spend the evenings hanging out with the locals listening to live music in the pubs and seeing the beautiful countryside and towns in the daylight hours. :) Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!!!

Posted by
5762 posts

It's a small island. Cork to Dublin, depending on your route is only 2.5-3.5 hours. Time wise Cork to Belfast is like driving from Chicago to Cape Giradeau, MO. Make a list of where you want to go, buy a good map or use Goolge maps and plot a course. See what the travel times will be and then make your choice of where to go. Wicklow Mtns are beautiful but so is Dingle. Wouldn't try to cram too much into 3 days. Simply decide how your time will be best spent. Some people fly to Ireland to golf. Others hike the Wicklow way. Others try to see it all. Many only see the Guinness Factory in Dublin.
Truly all about what you want to see and do and how to make it happen.

Posted by
9363 posts

Do I understand correctly that you are flying from Chicago on Thursday evening? That would mean that your flight will arrive on Friday morning. That only leaves you Friday and Saturday, not three days. You will probably find that you will be sleepy early on Friday night, too. In four trips, I have never managed to stay up much past 9:00 on the first night, even with decent sleep on the plane. The Cork airport is south of the city, so you could easily get to Kinsale or Cobh. Blarney is just north of the city, and just beyond that is Cahir (great castle) and the Rock of Cashel. I don't think you can possibly get from Cork to the Cliffs of Moher to Kilkenny to Wicklow in the time you have. Just consider it an introduction to Ireland, and plan to go back when you can spend more time.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the advice and info! It does help us plan. I will fly from Chicago on Wed night, so we'll have 3 full days (Thur eve, Fri, Sat & Sun) and we depart at 6am on Monday. My husband is staying in Cork that week for business, so we will have to stay there on Thurs. We are thinking we could see Blarney & Cork that evening then head to another town on Friday morning. We'd spend a day in a different town on Fri/Sat and then head back to Cork city to stay in a hotel there on Sun to catch our 6am return flight on Mon. :)

Posted by
9363 posts

Your initial post said you were flying on Thursday and flying out on Sunday at 6 am. That's different than flying on Wednesday and flying out on Monday. With the revised dates, you could see Cork on Thursday evening, then head for Blarney/Cahir/Cashel on Friday. You could use Saturday to see a bit of the Wicklow Mountains, then head back toward Cork. You could perhaps go by way of Cobh on Sunday, which would put you back in the airport area by evening.

Posted by
1595 posts

"What's feasible in the 3 days and not be in the car the entire time."
Have you been to Ireland before? IMHO, the best scenery near Cork is on the west coast. You might consider splitting your three nights between Kenmare and Dingle. Both are pretty little towns, big enough to have restaurants and shops, yet small enough not to have horrid traffic jams! From Kenmare, you can visit both Beara and the Inveragh peninsulas. If you do that, I would suggest driving the Ring of Kerry's south coast to Valentia Island and back - it was more interesting than the north coast. On Beara, the most interesting parts are out at the tip. Gleninchquin Park was also beautiful - it looked a bit like Rivendell from Lord of the Rings.

Posted by
8700 posts

My suggestion would be to stick to the southwestern part of the country. Here's an itinerary for your consideration: May 24: Spend the night in Cork and enjoy an evening on the town. May 25: Drive the N 71 from Cork to Kenmare, passing through Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Bantry, and Glengarriff. You'll be tempted to stop along the way to admire the views. Continue on the N 71 from Kenmare to Killarney. The stretch along the east side of the national park is especially beautiful. Definitely stop to take a short walk or two. Drive on from Kenmare to Dingle by way of Tralee. Dingle has several pubs know for fine traditional music sessions. Visit at least one and spend the night in Dingle. May 26: Take the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula. Stop in at the Blasket Island visitor center. Stop often to get close looks at the historical ruins all along the way. Spend the evening in another pub and stay a second night in Dingle. May 27: Drive to Killarney and tour the national park as time allows. Drive back to Cork on the N 22 (the shortest and fastest route). Another possibility would be to leave Cork in the evening on the 24th and take the N 22 directly from Cork to Killarney and spend the night in Killarney. The drive should take around two hours. Drive the Ring of Kerry the next day and go on to Dingle for the night.

Posted by
27 posts

Julie, We went from Cork to Bantry, a seaside town. Try and get a room at The Bantry House, if you can't stay there , be sure and see it! We went to Mannings Cheese Emporium and got a wonderful picnic lunch and drove out on the penninsula down from the Bantry House, it was one of the highlighrs of our trip. It is a fabulous drive from Bantry to Killarney, spend the day at the park, see Muckross House and the waterfall, take the horse ride. We stayed at Hotel Europe that evening, which was a treat! The property is amazing! From there drive the Dingle Penninsula and stay a night in Dingle, we didn't, but wish we had known! That area is outstanding. We are also from Chicago!

Posted by
69 posts

Would agree to stay on west coast and plan an East coast trip the next time! Love Kenmare, Killarney, Kinsale and Dingle. Enjoy

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to all, you've been extremely helpful! Have a great weekend!!
Julie