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Ireland--suggestions for rural area near smallish town

Fellow Erinophiles, I'm starting to plan a two-week trip to Ireland for next year. My husband and I have been twice already (once for our honeymoon), and this time we are planning on a week in Dublin and a week somewhere else. It's the somewhere else that has me stumped. I'm looking for somewhere rural near the beach, a lake, or mountains where we can relax and hike but that is also within a short drive of a smallish town for restaurants, pubs, and hopefully music. Any suggestions? As I mentioned, we've been twice before. Both times we did Dingle, so as much as we love it, we're going to try something new. Other places we've been (but are not opposed to repeating): Beara Peninsula, Killarney area, the Burren, and Galway. I'm having trouble even picking a region because it's all just too good! Any thoughts on County Sligo or Mayo, and if so, any particular area? Thanks! Tara

Posted by
52 posts

Donegal was a special place... The lake had surfing - good surfing, I understand. The surrounding hills and mountains had a whole list of graded walking trails. We went whale watching (in Killybegs, I think) in a boat that was no bigger than a whale. Music every night. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Dublin The people (not just those who were part of the tourist trade) were welcoming and wanted to tell us about their favorite spots....and ask if we know their cousin, uncle, etc who lives in Texas.

Posted by
524 posts

Achill Island in Co. Mayo is a terrific place. Check out VRBO or google "Achill Island self catering" for rental leads.

Posted by
61 posts

On our trip last summer, we spent a few days in Sneem, which is at the south tip of Ireland. There is a small village with a few pubs, a small tidal lake, a golf course resort nearby, the ocean is about 10 miles away, and there are activities like horseback riding. There is also a nice modern hotel about 2 minutes walk from the town if you don't want to stay in a B&B in the town.

Posted by
182 posts

tara, i stayed in kinsale for two nights and thought the food and music was excellent. cork is close, but it seemed big and dreary. probably just me. i love kilkenny, again for the food and music, worth two or three nights with the rock of cashel nearby. very easy to hit kilkenny from dublin on the way to kinsale. have fun, be safe.

Posted by
425 posts

To second the first suggestion (!) - Donegal. My mother was from there. It's got everything and it's a million miles from Dublin. Everything that the big city isn't. Roger

Posted by
484 posts

Donegal is definitely worth a look if you are interested in great,mostly deserted, beaches , hiking and spectacular scenery. www.donegaldirect.ie.
The one thing you will not find in Donegal that you will in Dingle, Killarney, Killkenny etc. is hordes of American tourists.

Posted by
3428 posts

My cousin is currently doing his student teaching in Carversheen (sp??) in the Ring of Kerry area just outside Killarney. It is lovely. We've been there once- a very long time ago. His has posted some marvelous pictures. Moutains (or hills really), ocean/bay, creeks, rivers, etc. ruined castles, roadside shrines,... I've looked online at possible rentals as I hope to conivnce my mom and sister to go this fall (after mom recovers from back surgery). There are lots of "cottages", houses, and even apartments in the area for what seems to me very reasonable rates. You can get a train from Dublin to Kilarney or rent a car there. Many of the places I've looked at have villages/pubs/stores within walking distance.

Posted by
44 posts

My wife and I really enjoyed staying in Kilkenny. Would have liked to have had a few more days there than we did. Had a wonderful time connecting with the locals and great trad. session in the pub. We also really enjoyed Kinsale. We did not spend much time there, but county Donegal is definately on the list for next time!

Posted by
47 posts

Last fall, I stayed in Clifden and had access to the beaches along the southern coast of the Connemara area. I hiked the Connemara mountains and there was very few people. It's a quaint and quiet town with good music in the evenings. And it's definitely away from the crowds.

Posted by
1035 posts

You have an appropiate first name for an erinophile (there actually is a real term, hibernophile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibernophile). Since you have been to Ireland before, you known the pros and cons. Just seems like a week in Dub out of a two week stay is an awful lot. How about heading up north? Mighty pretty up there. You also get a different take on what I means to be Irish than you get in the RoI. Belfast, Derry, Giants Causeway, Antrim, etc...

Posted by
53 posts

Thanks, everyone. I think I'm leaning towards Donegal at this point because it is somewhere we haven't gone at all and it sounds wonderful. Re the week in Dublin, we haven't really done Dublin (only there one day one other time we went), so we feel like there's still a good bit to see, and we will probably do some day trips to Powerscourt/Wicklow and Newgrange/Boyne Valley. Also, our other two trips were crazy pace and a lot of driving, which was good for seeing lots of things, but we're hoping to settle in a bit more this time. Happy travels to you all.

Posted by
2876 posts

Donegal town isn't much, but County Donegal is beautiful, especially Glenveagh National Park and the north coast. Plus it's an easy jump from Donegal over to Northern Ireland, where you could visit the spectacular Antrim coast and even Belfast if you wanted. County Mayo has a lot to see as well, and a great home base for that area is Westport.

Posted by
45 posts

I stayed at Tahilla Cove, an amazing B&B between Kenmare and Sneem. Great area to use as a base.