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Choosing a base town for South/Southwest Ireland

My boyfriend and I are planning an 8-day trip to Ireland in July (arriving Dublin Jul 12 leaving Dublin Jul 20am). We are renting a car and would like to see some of the countryside as well as 3 nights at the end of the trip in Dublin. We would like to choose one town (or two towns at the most) in the south to southwest region as a base so that we aren't having to constantly check in & out. In reading Rick's guide, the southwest seems richer for sightseeing than the southeast - am I getting that right? Which town, or two towns, should we choose, and what are must sees (without the fumes of tour buses, if possible) for the 5 nights outside of Dublin? Also, ideas on hotels or B&Bs (air conditioning for July preferred) would be greatly appreciated. First trip to Ireland for both of us. Thanks.

Posted by
147 posts

Without knowing what sights you want to see, this is only a stab. You'll arrive on the 12th in the am most likely, and will need a day to get on Irish time. I'd push through it and head out in the am on the 13th through the Sally Gap, stop at Glendalough and down to Killarney or Dingle, someplace like that, again, depending on what sights you want to see. There's lots to play around in the south and southwest. I'd drive up to Kilkenny for a day and a night on your way back to Dublin. Look for some B&B's on-line, but July is busy so...That last part, Dublin for 3 days? I'd advise against that. Dublin is good for a day and night. It's the countryside and small towns that you find the real Ireland. Renting a car is the way to go.

Posted by
1806 posts

Don't limit yourself to trying to find accommodation that offers air conditioning. I have travelled through Ireland in June, July and August. Only one time on a trip do I remember a day in June when the thermometer reached a whopping 77 degrees. The Irish all ran outside to lay out in the sun. The next day, the temps dropped back to 58 and the rest of the trip stayed around 63. Last July, I wore a fleece jacket over a long sleeve t-shirt for most of my visit. My relatives that live there built a fire in their fireplace several times at night.

It is not the kind of hot/humid weather you find in the Northeast U.S. during July, and many budget B&Bs and hotels don't even have air conditioning.

Posted by
484 posts

Shannon, You will have a better chance of needing a sweater than you will air conditioning. Especially at night.

Posted by
520 posts

I agree with the others - no A/C needed, though believe it or not when we were there in 2006 the temps reached above 80 degrees in early June. But that is extremely rare, and even then we didn't need A/C.

It sounds as though your arrival and departure via Dublin is already set. That's okay, as Dublin is worth a day or two and there are some nice sights along the way to the southwest. If you were not interested in seeing Dublin, then the airport of choice would be Shannon because of its proximity to SW locales.

As far as spending 5 nights in one location, that's a tough one. There are so many places worth spending a night or three, but 5 can get kind of long. Places we have stayed in the last couple of years that we really liked include Galway (perhaps a bit far north for your needs), Lahinch (on the west coast), Dingle, Kilkenney, Kinsale, and Inistioge (on the way from Dublin to the south). There are many more towns in that area that I'd like to try.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
28 posts

My wife and I are going to use a Limerick hotel as our base camp for 3 days in early June. We will drive to Cork, Dingle and whatever else seems interesting.

Our first 2 nights and our last night in Ireland will be at a hotel 20 miles south of Dublin in Co Wicklow.

good luck

Posted by
100 posts

Hi Shannon,
If I were to recommend one place in Ireland that I would want to spend my time it would be Dingle. It is a great little town with plenty of pubs and things to do and just a short drive from some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The Slea Head drive has one gorgeous view after another. Conner Pass also has some pretty views. We stayed at the Cill Bhreac House and I believe that they had air conditioning, but I'm not sure, we went in October/November. Dingle can be touristy, but I have heard that less buses try to do the Slea Head than the Ring of Kerry due to the narrow roads, so you may have less of that. Rick Steve's guidebook has a great path to follow for the Slea Head drive so you know what to look for. Have a great trip!!

Posted by
20 posts

Although my family and I have enjoyed the times we have spent in Dingle and Clonakilty, a lovely village in SW Co. Cork, we prefer the West of Ireland. Even when we fly into Dublin, we head for County Clare and make that our base. We have stayed in Lisdoonvarna and rented a house in Lahinch--taking day trips to the Rock of Cashel, Galway, etc. And the wonderful sights of Co. Clare (the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, boat to Aran Is. among them) are just minutes away. Driving in Ireland is not like driving the roads or freeways in the States. It takes a lot longer than it looks. Definitely buy the Ordnance Survey map--not a tourist map--for Ireland especially for the area you focus on so that you know where the roads lead. Have a great trip!

Posted by
710 posts

I had two trips to Ireland. On the first trip I flew into Dublin and then took a bus trip across the the Ring of Kerry and flew out of Shannon. The second trip was with my husband and we flew directly to Shannon and drove to Dingle for a few days and then up to Cliffs of Moher area. I love the southwest coast and prefer it over Dublin. You would probably need a rain jacket before you would ever need air conditioning. If you definitely want to see Dublin, but want to see the southwest, why not look into seeing if you can fly into Shannon and out of Dublin, or fly into Dublin 1st and then tour and fly out of Shannon.

Posted by
9 posts

Don't mean to throw more choice into the mix, but I'm going to do it anyway!

Dingle is great. Lahinch is beautiful, too. I am not a fan of Limerick itself, but its location is pretty good, depending upon what you want to see. But, if I were going to choose something more central for the Southwest, I might choose Killarney or Kenmare. From Killarney, you can hop on a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry (I would never, ever drive on the Ring of Kerry again, if I have any choice in the matter!)

I guess that, without knowing what specific sites you are wanting to see, it's difficult to tell you where you should stay! I do know that, wherever you go, you will find something interesting and beautiful!!