Friends trip to Ireland

Hello all, we are three women traveling to the old sod. Our plan is to arrive in Dublin or Shannon and fly out of the opposite. According to all the post I have seen, it appears getting into Shannon first is preferred. With that said, if we establish a base in Galway area, is it feasible to take day trips to Connemara, Dingle, Blarney Stone, Cliff of Moher? We plan on renting a vehicle for ease, also I read we could take a train over to Dublin and drop car there. Any feedback would be great, we are planning to go in October.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

You can't do Dingle or Blarney as day trips from Galway. Dingle is over a four hour drive from Galway, and Blarney is not much less. You can do Connemara or the Cliffs and the Burren. You might base somewhere else, like Kenmare, to get to Blarney or Dingle but Dingle as a day trip is really not worth the effort. It needs more than a day.

Posted by patricia
avondale, az, usa
11 posts

Thank you for your response. Ok so perhaps arrive in Shannon, stay in the Galway area for a few days drive around Galway over to Connemara then to Mayo, then move on down to Dingle, stay there for two days then continue on to Blarney then Dublin? I appreciate your help. Anything else you could think of would be wonderful.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

This plan is more workable, how many days do you plan to stay? For car rental, highly recommend automatic and don't forget CDW as credit cards do not cover collision in Ireland. Don't know if money is tight but there are some B&B's who do have triple rooms but you need to do research on this.

Posted by Tod
San Diego, CA, USA
218 posts

I would recommend considering a more traditional circular trip across Ireland where you are in one place for a day or two and then move to a new place. This works well in Ireland and it means that when you travel you're seeing news places and not re-tracing the same road you were on earlier in the day. Outside of Dublin I found a lot of the charm of Ireland is the rural lifestyle and culture and I think that's much more accessible staying in someplace like Dingle rather than tripping in for the day. Ireland is not like Italy where you can go to a city and checklist a series of "sights" and then move on it's more about just absorbing the local flavor. I personally didn't find the city of Galway all that charming or 'Irish' feeling and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a base of operations if you do decide to day trip places. Just my $.02,
=Tod

Posted by patricia
avondale, az, usa
11 posts

Sounds like good advice from both of you. We really do not have any specific schedule to adhere to so the options you have provided works well. I do not think we should have any problem staying at places since we are going off season, October/November time frame.

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
843 posts

Patricia - Our family did a trip to Ireland last year. We stayed in Galway at Amber Heights B&B 4 nights and used Galway Tour Company for trips to the Cliffs of Moher & Connemara & Cong. Galway Tour Company will pick you up and drop you off at your B&B. We then drove down to Dingle for 3 days and stayed at CoastLine B&B. When we were in Dingle we also did a drive around Sleigh Head Road.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

I do like Galway a lot but agree with Tod that the "best" of Ireland is the small town charm - so I'd recommend not spending all your time in cities. Dingle would be a nice stop. Renting a car would be my preferred way to get around. The roads are good and the signage is English. I enjoyed Killarney. Limerick is one to avoid. The people are nice enough but the city itself is industrial and grey. Dublin is also IMO too big. It offers some great "must see" sights but doesn't offer as much charm as you find elsewhere. Sights to look for: A Traditional Music performance in a local pub - called a "trad session". Meeting locals is a highlight. In a small town pub, it's harder not to be in a conversation than to meet a local. I like Blarney, many think it's too touristy. I also like Bunratty's castle and displayed homes, but that can be touristy too. Hopefully, October will be quieter (if also chillier and wetter) so you can enjoy sights without too many crowds. Tour busses generally arrive mid to late morning and leave early to mid afternoon. Outside those times will be more pleasant visiting times. Newgrange is a great visit. You can get a tour bus for a day trip from Dublin out of the downtown station. If you like history, visit Glendalough or Clonmacnoise monestic settlements either on a bus tour from Dublin or a stop enroute.

Posted by tom
Ithaca, NY, USA
30 posts

I find myself agreeing with Tod from San Diego. We spent two weeks on the West Coast in June and drove from Shannon to Connemara and around that area- a side trip by ferry to the Aran Islands out of Rossavil is highly recommended. We then went south to The Burrens and the Cliffs of Moher and then down to Dingle and Kenmare. We took public transportation to Dublin out of Rosslare and avoided Dublin traffic and hassle. Tom

Posted by patricia
avondale, az, usa
11 posts

Wow, I am so happy that I found this website. You people are wonderful giving these great ideas.

Posted by Ardith
Barcelona, Spain
10 posts

Keep in mind that you just can't see it all. Try to picture yourself chilling out in a cozy pub with a pint of HArp, a warm bowl of fish chowder or a bowl of mussels, or a cup of tea. A roaring fire, and a view of a harbor or green fields or both. Are you going to want to cut that short to jump back in the car to get to the next place? No. If I were you I would skip Dublin. Fly in and out of Shannon. The first day you will arrive into Ireland in the early morning Decide how much you are willing to drive at 6 am in the foggy darkness. Dingle is really beautiful but it's a tough drive any time of year. Consider basing yourselves in Cork. The city is fab with its own market, history, & charm. Quite near is my favorite town of Kinsale. If you go on Kinsale's website you can see that there's live music every night. Old Head is nearby if there are any golfers in your group. Blarney Castle & the JAmeson Factory are also close as well as The Titanic Museum in Cobh. If GAlway works into your plans, great. Personally I would top it off with a final night stay in Dromoland Castle. Treat yourselves before heading back. Another plus is that it's not far from Shannon. As far as Ennis, if you've never been to Ireland you're going to find it charming regardless. It's a good first stop if you've just flown in and want to get to bed after your flight. It also has a cute town to walk around in for those who are jetlagged on day 1. I recommend the Old Ground Hotel,centrally located. No matter what you are going to have a fantastic time! Enjoy!!

Posted by patricia
avondale, az, usa
11 posts

We will be taking as much car insurance as possible due to the post I have seen. Thanks again for all help, truly looking forward to returning to Ireland.

Posted by Melissa
Phoenix, AZ, USA
4 posts

I'm one of the women going with Patricia and I love the feedback. I am not worried about seeing it all. I want to enjoy my time there and just feel at home. The pint of harp at a local pub and enjoying a visit with the locals... ahhh, heavenly! Of course, the cup of tea looking out over the lush landscape in the rural areas - deep sigh. Thank you all so much for your ideas and suggestions. Keep 'em coming please!

Posted by Eric
Beaverton, Oregon, USA
84 posts

Don't forget the North. I really enjoyed Derry given its relatively recent history with the Troubles. The murals and the Museum of Free Derry were fascinating. Portrush, Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede bride are well worth it. Belfast was a pleasant surprise as well. I enjoyed all of Ireland and would like to spend more time in the North next time. One downside of the north, is that I didn't find the traditional music as prevalent as in the Republic. Dingle and Kinsale were wonderful music towns.

Posted by Jenny
Des Moines, IA
5 posts

I see the comments about flying into Shannon and then out of Dublin. But I don't think that is necessary. We arrived (2 woman friends) in Dublin. Spent 5 days. When leaving, we then rented our car at the airport and then flew out of Shannon. Worked fine for us. We had 3 main bases.....Dublin for 5 nights, Killarney for 4, and Galway for 3. We spent our last night close to the Shannon Airport. I wouldn't recommend having less than this amount of bases just because it does take longer to drive any place than you are used to. I wouldn't have wanted to drive from our stop in Killarney all the way to the Cliffs and back.

Posted by Melissa
Phoenix, AZ, USA
4 posts

Jenny, thanks for that perspective. We need to sit down again and block out some time and plans. I'm not the type that needs their entire agenda/itinerary laid out completely - but I do like to have a flexible game plan. What was your favorite place?