My daughter and I are arriving on July 8 in Dublin at 9:30 a.m. and have booked the Clarence Hotel for two nights. I was planning on returning to the airport on the morning or afternoon of July 10 to rent an automatic car. Where should I go? I am leaving from Shannon on the evening of the 13th and going to England. I would like to see a few castles. I have never driven on the other side of the road! Is the Hop On Hop Off bus a good idea in Dublin or not necessary. What should we see in Dublin? One of the nights I booked at the Clarence includes two tickets to the Guiness Brewery. We would like to visit Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel, and the new Waterford factory.
I vote for Dingle. I loved Ireland, and Dingle was my favorite place we went to.
We drove from Dublin to Kilkenny, then stopped at the Rock of Cashel on our way to Dingle. The drive from the airport in Dublin to Kilkenny was about 2 hours. For me, it was the right amount of time to adjust to driving on the "wrong" side.
We did take the Hop On/Hop Off bus in Dublin and found that because we were there for a limited time it was an effective way to get around. You might look into a pass they have (don't remember the name of it) that provides you with a round trip ride on the AirLink bus from the airport to downtown Dublin and back to the airport, a day on the HOHO bus and rides on the regular bus. They sell the pass at the airport next to the bus stop.
Have a good trip.
Thanks for the information. What exactly is in Dingle?
Check Rick and Pat's book about the best bus from the Airport. The one with the link to the hop-on-hop off might not be the right one for your hotel. Get on the wrong bus from the airport and you might turn a short walk with your luggage into a hike.
Speaking of castles, we loved Trim Castle as it's more an authentic ruin than the remodeled Victorian showplace that's Kilkenny Castle. Dublin Castle is also a very modern and interesting showplace. I walked around the Menard (sic?)Castle on Dingle (no interior visiting allowed) and it wasn't very impressive. That's my total experience with Irish Castles. There are lots more.
We didn't go to the Guiness Brewery when in Dublin. I've been through multiple breweries and the guidebook's description didn't thrill me. From what I can tell, the "thrill" is the observation tower/pub where you get your Guiness pint.
If driving from Dublin to Galway, you'll have the opportunity to drop into Clonmacnoise which is where the M/N6 crosses the Shannon. We also liked that monastic ruin as much as Glendalough. The Rock of of Cashel was also worth the visit.
On your short trip I don't think you have time to spend more than a day in Dingle which would mean two nights. There is a scenic drive (Ring of Dingle) there with various ruins.
You might want to consider either spending the entire time in Dublin with day trips to Newgrange/Knowth and Glendalough. Then you wouldn't need a car. That messes up your Shannon departure. Alternatively, skip Dublin for this trip and go from the airport via Trim through Glendalough to spend the night in Kilkenny. See the ROC on your way to two nights in Dingle. See the Cliffs of Moher (cruise to Aran Islands if good weather) while staying in Doolin. If you must do Dublin, you would probably skip the Cliffs of Moher.
I don't think there is anything in Waterford related to the crystal but a glorified gift shop.
I wouldn't consider trying to see Dingle on such a short trip. The Hop on-Hop Off bus is a great introduction to the city, and since the ticket is good for 24 hours, you can use it the next morning, too. Take the whole 1.5 hour tour, then get off wherever you want, see the area, then move on.
Just so you are not disappointed, the Guinness Storehouse is not a brewery tour (you don't see any of the brewing process). You'll have plenty of opportunities to buy Guinness merchandise, and a "free" pint at the end, but that's it.
As for Waterford, the factory is closed. All that is open there now is a gift shop and cafe. If that is the only reason you are going to Waterford, I wouldn't bother. Waterford crystal is sold at every nice gift shop.
If you are leaving from Shannon, you will be six miles from Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The Bunratty area is a great place to spend your last night before flying out. There is a small shopping area across from the castle, as well as a Blarney Woollen Mills store and Durty Nelly's pub.
The Rock of Cashel is a great stop, and very near there is my favorite castle, Cahir Castle. You could see both of those on your way west. Taking the previously suggested route of Trim to Glendalough to Kilkenny would result in driving north to Trim, then essentially back to Dublin before heading south to Glendalough - doesn't make sense.
As for what to see in Dublin: Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, Grafton Street, the Temple Bar area, O'Connell Street, the Georgian House tour, National Museum.
Also in Dublin: The Musical Pub Crawl and the Literary Pub Crawl, both at night. I love music, but if you're only going to do one do the Literary as you can usually find someplace with music wherever you go. The actors were great, and very funny.
If you like history, there's a Historical Dublin Walking Tour, and the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour.
The Guinness Brewery tour takes place in the old storehouse, I believe, which has been converted into a multi-level "experience." No one really gives you a tour, you walk around and look at loud, flashy displays (and I think listen to narration on a headset). If you are short on time, take the elevator straight to the top for your "free" pint and spectacular 360 degree view of Dublin.
If you like the Irish writers, there's the Dublin Writers Museum. It's in a Georgian house just off O'Connell street north of the River Liffey. Across the street is the Garden of Remembrance (in memory of those who fought in the 1916 Rebellion), a peaceful place with a long reflecting pool and metal sculpture of the Children of Lir.
Dublin Castle offers a tour, as well, although it only has parts of a typical castle. The rest was built during different time periods. The inside is worth a look if you have time, especially since it is still used for government functions and I think for inaugurations.