Please sign in to post.

Dublin/No. Ireland/Doolin trip

Spouse and I will be in Dublin for a business meeting in mid-March, and will stay there for three nights (our first trip to Ireland). After that, we'd like to head up to the Antrim Coast (stay at the Dieskirt Farm B&B) for a couple of nights, then head over to Doolin as a base for a couple of nights, and from there get ourselves to Shannon for return flight home.

Since we neither want to do our traveling by all train/bus or by all car, we have thought about taking the train from Dublin to Belfast, and renting a car there for our Glenariffe stay. Then we'd drive to Sligo, stay there a night (where spouse's company has a plant, so accommodations would be free if he spends a few hours at the plant), then after the visit the next morning, head to Doolin.

Actually, I'd prefer to use public transportation on the longer trips (Dublin/Glenariffe; Glenariffe/Doolin) and rent cars from where we're based (I'm assuming this would mean renting and returning a car in Belfast, then renting in Galway and returning in Shannon). The nerve-wracking part of the trip would be most likely getting around Belfast if we rented in Dublin and drove to Glenariffe. I'm more worried about driving in the cities than the countryside.

So tentative itinerary would be: spend three nights in Dublin, arrive in Glenariffe the evening of the fourth night; stay there two nights (which would really only be one full day in the area, then, so maybe three nights in Glenariffe); drive from Glenariffe to Sligo and stay there one night; drive from Sligo to Doolin and stay there two-three nights. An interesting tidbit - the second leg of the trip will place us back in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, which coincidentally happens to be our anniversary.

If we rent a car, we will splurge for an automatic; I've seen several car rental companies mentioned on this board, but spouse's company gets a special rate through Avis. Any thoughts? Oh, and what is CDW insurance?

Posted by
9363 posts

You can, however, buy the "super" CDW insurance through your rental company in Ireland that completely covers the deductible. I've had that kind twice.

Posted by
511 posts

Sounds like a great trip/route. Check with car rental agencies before you leave on your trip. I'm not sure you will find companies in Galway, but perhaps it depends on the specific rental company. We rented from (Thrifty?) in Dublin and when we had car trouble near Galway we called the company asking if we could exchange it in Galway. They didn't have a Galway outlet, so we had to drive to Shannon for a swap. Train/bus service throughout Ireland isn't the greatest, so car rental is usually the way to go. Automatic will boost the cost by close to 50% over manual.

RE: insurance, usually when you rent a car in Europe your US auto policy covers you and it's a waste of money to buy the rental company insurance. Sometimes even your credit card will provide coverage. Not so for coverage in Ireland. Buying the CDW coverage (basic or super, you'll be given the choice) is pretty much a necessity. Expensive, but necessary.

Posted by
11 posts

Spoke with my brother tonight and am feeling a bit more comfortable with the car renting issue. Like I said, the area I'm most worried about drivng through is Belfast, on the way to Glenariffe. He said we shouldn't worry about that stretch because it's probably the easiest part of the driving we'd be doing... all nice divided highways.

One lesson he learned though... be very cognizant of what gas you're putting in your rental. He had a lapse of attention one time and put unleaded in a diesel engine! Said his mistake cost him $154!

Posted by
67 posts

I agree that car rental is the way to go but, like you, will be opting for automatic trans my next trip. It just costs so much!

On my first trip to Ireland (toured by car) I learned that it takes almost 2 times as long to get most places than i thought. Roads very twisty turny (but beautiful) and road signs not always there or correct.

Have a great time!

Posted by
11 posts

An update... we have the car rental, automatic, with GPS. Have a place to stay on the Antrim Coast, but our stopover in Sligo is not going to happen since it coincides with St. Patrick's Day and it's a national holiday (so the plant is closed). So I've been looking at maps for appropriate routes from Glenariffe to Doolin, and it seems to be more of a two-day drive. We need a place to stay Sunday night, somewhere along the route between Glenariffe and Doolin.

We also have our accommodations lined up in Doolin... just need some recommendations for traveling through the mid Midlands.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I've seen other threads where people have asked about clothing needs for certain times of the year. Any advice about mid-March? I'm planning on rain and highs in the 50s.

Posted by
11 posts

I thought I would update anyone interested in how we managed this trip.

Arrived in Dublin on a Tuesday morning, and stayed there for three nights before heading out. On Friday we drove up to Glenariffe in County Antrim (took us about three hours, going along the coast once we got past Belfast), Northern Ireland. Stayed there two nights in a B&B; our highlights from there were the Giant's Causeway, the rope bridge and a long hike through the Glenariffe Forest. It sprinkled on and off the day we did the Causeway and rope bridge, but there were many people out, and we survived. Sunday we headed to Westport (a really long drive, probably close to five or six hours driving time), where we stayed overnight (this was to break up the drive). Westport is a lovely town, but due to it being Sunday most stuff was closed. Monday, we drove from Westport to Doolin through Connemara. Also stopped at the Kylemore Abbey (took pictures from the outside)

(continued in part 2)

Posted by
11 posts

part 2: also did some hiking through the Connemara National Park, and stopped in Clifden (very cute little town) for some lunch and to do some shopping. I HIGHLY advise, if you spend any time around Clifden to take the Sky Road scenic drive just out of town. It was one of the prettiest scenic drives we took on the whole trip. Got into Doolin, on St. Patrick's Day, had dinner at one of the pubs and listened to some Irish music. Day two in Doolin we went to the smaller of the Aran Islands (Inisheer); the ferries weren't going out to the larger one due to weather coming in. Surprisingly, the afternoon we spent on Inisheer was the best weather day we had the whole time... it was beautiful. Also did the Cliffs of Mohr after returning to the mainland that afternoon.

A couple of surprises: once we got on the west coast in some of the smaller towns, we could not find a public laundramat (several places offered drop off/pick up, but we weren't around long enough to do that.
(cont.)

Posted by
11 posts

Also, ATM machines were difficult to find, or if we did find one, it was either broken or out of money (or inside a bar that didn't open until later). Another surprise - when you're driving from Ireland into Northern Ireland, we expected some sort of border crossing where we'd have to show our passports, etc. We didn't even know when we crossed into and out of Ireland/N. Ireland until we realized the road signs changed from miles to kilometers, and visa versa. Not a sign anywhere, and we were on major roads!

What we learned about the driving - my husband caught on pretty quickly, but the driving was actually fairly hard on my body and I found myself with a sore back/neck due all the curves, potholes, etc. I couldn't believe speed limits were as high as they were on these inadequate roads (by our standards). The GPS helped, but we couldn't program it to get us to Doolin (or any nearby towns); I don't think it's very thorough.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to post.

Posted by
2788 posts

I spent 3 weeks in Ireland last year (summer of 2007) traveling completely around the country (including N. Ireland) and NEVER had a problem finding ATM machines when I needed one every 3 days or so. Maybe I was just lucky?

Posted by
11 posts

There are none in Doolin. Husband went to three neighboring towns around Doolin, and they were either broken or out of money. We were finally able to locate on at Cliffs of Mohr visitor's center, and basically emptied it out. Had we come a couple of hours later, it would have been empty.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks Teri for the followup to your earlier posts. I am curious about your auto rental experience, cost, etc. Did you take the super CDW?

And maybe someone can answer me if they have ever tried using a TomTom GPS in Ireland. We are headed there in September and expect to do a lot of driving. I'm not sure if TomTom software is available for Ireland.

Posted by
11 posts

Chuck; yes, we did take out the CDW; I think it was mandatory. We rented from Hertz; our total was $338 (US dollars); we picked up on Friday around lunch in Dublin, and returned it on Thursday morning in Shannon. This cost included the CDW, the option of returning the car with the tank empty (they refilled it), GPS and an added charge for the GPS to be returned to Dublin. I don't think it was bad at all. I'm pretty sure the GPS that came with Hertz was a Magellan. I have an installed GPS in my Acura at home, and I've yet to find any portable that's as easy to use and thorough (and my nav DVD is three years old), but we had to take what we could get. Oh, and the car we had was a Nissan, equivalent size of a Toyota Corolla - standard transmission. I think from Dublin, up to Northern Ireland, to Westport to Doolin, to Shannon required us to refill the tank two or three times.

Posted by
9363 posts

The Sky Road drive from Clifden to Kylemore Abbey is even better than going the other direction. At every turn we were surprised by increasing beautiful scenery. My son said, "There has to be a better word than 'wow' but I can't think of one."

I've always gotten the super CDW insurance when driving in Ireland, except for the one unfortunate time that I trusted my credit card company when it told me I was covered by them.

And I'm not sure if it's true of all rental companies, but the one I rented from, Irish Car Rentals, told me that it's sometimes a better deal to return the car full of gas rather than empty. They tell you to bring it back empty, but if you fill it you have the fuel charge that they charge you up front refunded. We found that to be a better deal on our last trip.

And yes, TomTom software is available for Ireland, though I haven't used it.

Posted by
484 posts

Hi Teri, Regarding the public laundromat-- I have never seen one in Ireland they were always drop off your laundry and pick up later.