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Ireland in March 2008

I have traveled to England, France and Italy, both on my own and on RS tours. I am now planning a trip to Ireland from March 7 to 23 for my husband and me, both in our early 50's. Unfortunately, there is no RS tour at that time. I have the RS Ireland tour book to help with plannning, what I am most looking for personal recommendations, especially where to go where we might most enjoy St. Patrick's Day. I've read that Dublin is really wild, not really what we want.

I love music, art and history, as well as shopping for unique items, my husband enjoys music, scenery and beer. We may go on a CIE tour or rent a car. If we do our own, we're not sure about doing a circle beginning and ending in Dublin or flying into Dublin and departing from Shannon.

I'm not worried about weather conditions as it will be much colder here at home at that time, I just would like recommendations for exceptional pubs, B&B's, tours, anything about getting to experience Ireland the back-door way.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Posted by
9363 posts

You might want to read back through this board for suggestions. Everyone has their own opinion on where to go and what to see, and a lot of helpful information already exists here. You can just scroll back through the listings, or you can use the search box at the top of the page for specific suggestions.

Posted by
199 posts

Debbie, I would rent a tiny car and have fun exploring the countryside. We found the south and west to be the best parts, with their little towns and villages. I would follow RS's advice on B&Bs, pubs, etc. Don't worry about driving; except for an occasional lapse, it's a piece of cake. Enjoy it...Ireland is wonderful.

Posted by
9363 posts

As to your question about doing a circle from Dublin or flying into Dublin and departing from Shannon (or the other way around), you would probably see more of what you want to see if you did the latter. It would also give you a better idea of the diversity of Ireland's landscapes to drive from the forested mountains near Dublin along the coastal areas of the south to the treeless fields of the west (my favorite part of Ireland).

Posted by
506 posts

Into Dublin and out of Shannon gets my vote. I've done that the last two years and it works well.

Dublin is not "wild" unless you're in the Temple Bar district late at night. Then it gets pretty rowdy. Other than that it's a pretty easy place to be in, though I personally wouldn't spend more than a couple of days there because I prefer the countryside and smaller towns.

Rent a car for sure. Best way to see Ireland.

Rick Steves' Ireland book gives great information, so there's not really much I can add. Be sure to enjoy the Guinness!

Posted by
147 posts

See the sights in Dublin then get out of there. You may as well be in New York. As soon as you leave the city you start seeing the real Ireland. We've found that it's not so much where you go, although like everywhere there are places that are not worth it, it's more what you make of the places and people you see and meet. Rick has some great suggestions along these lines in his book. Our most pleasant memories are of places that were off the beaten track. Self-Cater if you can. St. Patty's day is a big event everywhere in Irelend. For Food, Kinsale, for shopping and pubs, Kilkenny, for views Dingle Penninsula. But 2 weeks will zoom by.

Posted by
11805 posts

I really liked the Boyne Valley Tour. It goes to Newgrange, the Hill of Tara and Battle of Boyne site. You can drive, I took a Bus Eire tour out of Dublin. It was very reasonable and a great day trip.

Posted by
124 posts

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I've booked our first three nights at Kilronan House in Dublin, then we will rent a car and head out following the RS tour itinerary. I am really looking forward to seeing all parts of Ireland!

Posted by
67 posts

I was in Ireland in March/April 2006 and had a great time there. I can't wait to go back fall 2008.
For shopping we found lots of interesting shops in Galway.

Like Steve replied, Dublin is too much like New York. I prefer the countryside.
My favorite must do places are Connemara (near Galway) and the Dingle Peninsula. You could easily spend 2 days in Dingle. Lots of B&B's there. Instead of a tour bus we hired a cab (same place as tours buses) so it was just the cab driver and two of us. We stopped whenever we wanted and had a wonderful dialogue about Dingle and Irish history. It was the most beautiful place that I went while I was there. MUCH nicer than the Aran Islands tour. Also lots of good, traditional Irish music at pubs.
My co-traveler wanted to do the "Blarney Stone" thing but I would not bother with it - very touristy.
p.s. great streaming video webcam of Dublin (which I look at every day) at

Posted by
7 posts

We just spent 11 days there in October. We spent two nights in Dublin and then toured the countryside. A 3rd night in Dublin would not have been worth it. Too much hustle and bustle. Kilmainham Gaol was somber but inspiring. Take the Musical Pub Crawl -- a highlight of the trip and great value. The Book of Kells was a waste of time. (We were looking forward to it as another highlight of the trip, and all we could think was "Look, an old book on a table under a piece of glass. We spent 8 Euros apiece for this??") Glendalough immerses you in the Ireland of old - don't miss. Dingle Peninsula is stunning and worth a couple of days. Best part was Doolin. The music and atmosphere epitomized my vision of rural Ireland (only three pubs, no sidewalks, cows and sheep everywhere, ruins from different eras). There are a number of day trips that you can take from there(Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher). Rent small car w/stick shift and super CDW. Piece of mind is worth it.

Posted by
6334 posts

When in Dublin the Book of Kells at Trinity College is a must. I would leave Dublin and head to Glendalough through the Sally Gap and continue West.

Posted by
506 posts

Sam wrote:

"The Book of Kells was a waste of time. (We were looking forward to it as another highlight of the trip, and all we could think was "Look, an old book on a table under a piece of glass. We spent 8 Euros apiece for this??")"

I could not disagree more. I guess it just goes to show how different things appeal to different people. I found the Book of Kells to be a highlight of my Dublin visit. Learning about its history and fabrication (how it was inked, bound, etc), and seeing the incredible intracacy of its lettering and pictures was awe-inspiring.

I'm pretty much a cynic when it comes to religion (Irish Catholic In Recovery), but the Book of Kells moved me to suspend my cynicism and appreciate the work and devotion that went into this incredible piece of history.

You may love it, you may hate it. But please go see it and judge for yourself.

Posted by
993 posts

Mike and Pat are right. If you don't have an Irish Soul you just won't get. Debbie remember that Rick is big on open-jaw flights...Why go back to Dublin if you don't have to. We have also stayed at his recommended B&B's many times and have not been disapointed.

Posted by
484 posts

I agree with Mike. When one considers the time and effort that went into just making the different colors of ink and the tremendous amount of time required to complete all the illustrations, it is indeed awe inspiring. I doubt very much if it could be duplicated today.

Posted by
11 posts

Debbie, If you enjoy art, I recommend a visit to the National Gallery in Dublin. I think it's a very underrated museum! It isn't crowded, entrance is free, and on the weekends, there are scheduled guided tours (also free). The docent who led our tour was extremely knowledgeable and delightful. You can get more information on the museum's website. Being able to get really close to Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ was an experience we'll never forget -- particularly after reading Jonathan Harr's book about its discovery in a Dublin rectory less than 20 years ago.

Posted by
196 posts

I agree w/Kate on the National Gallery. It is fantastic.

I also agree w/the majority if you fly in to Dubs then fly out of Shannon. That way you dont have to back track back to Dubs for a flight out of Ireland.

Just an FYI about St. Patricks Day in Ireland: It is a religious holiday.

The Dublin Celebration has been getting bigger just in the last decade. Most towns will be celebrating the day; as a religious holiday. Please do not ask for 'corned beef' and cabbage to eat on St. Pat's Day... the inside joke is that: 'they only serve corned beef for the tourits, because that is what they expect' Instead, throw them off by asking for 'bacon and cabbage' and you will have the authentic St. Patrick's Day meal and you will not be disappointed. YUMMY!!!!! :)


P.S. To all Irish: I survived the 12th Night!