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My Mom (90yrs.) wants to see Ireland, too!

This trip is a lifelong wish Mom wants to do, however her health is an issue. We decided that a tour might be too stressful for her. She wants to see the countryside, not so much the city sights but rather do things on an "see how she feels basis". (sigh) Anyone have any suggestions, please!
We will be flying into Shannon early Sept. and staying for 7-10 days (God willing)
Are B & B's the way to go? Should we rent a mini van or full size car (2 men & 2 women)? This is very difficult to trip to plan for...all advice welcomed!! God bless ya'll!
p.s. Anyone know if visiting the site of the John Wayne "The Quiet Man" movie is worth the time? Where is it, anyway?? Thanking all in advance.

Posted by
12 posts

I generally would agree with the advice to get the smallest car possible, but one advantage of getting something more like a minivan is being able to see over the rock walls and hedges that line most roads. Since you would want to limit the number of times your Mom would be getting in and out of the vehicle, it would allow her to enjoy more of the scenery. (From my own experience getting my parents in and out of a minivan -- get a small step stool like you might use in the kitchen at home.)

Posted by
1357 posts

You'll want to head to Cong, I believe, for sites from "The Quiet Man". It's west of Galway.

Roads in Ireland are VERY narrow. You'll want to rent as small of a car as you all can fit in.

I'd go with the B&B route, if this trip is a lifelong wish of your mom's. B&B's offer a great experience to meet the locals and get some extra TLC if needed. Check to see if you can find one without stairs, though.

Posted by
606 posts

Having an elderly parent along on a trip is about like traveling with a baby. You can manage okay, but it takes some extra planning, you have to take extra stuff, and it requires a change from your usual travel style.

I'm currently planning a trip to England and Ireland for next June, and we'll be taking our 88-year-old mother. We're planning to take a collapsible "travel wheelchair" that's easy to fit into the car. She can walk, but it's slow going. The wheelchair will just make getting around a lot easier. I'd much rather push her than worry about her falling on the cobblestones.

So we're mainly thinking of this as a drive-through vacation. Most of the sightseeing will be done from the car. If we see a place we really like, I'll drive right to the door, "park" mom near there on a bench, then go park and the rest of us will see the place while she sits and takes in the view. She's fine with this. She doesn't want to do things that are too hard for her, or that would tire her.

For accommodations, I'll be booking in advance and only at places that advertise a ground-floor room (takes some looking...most places' bedrooms are upstairs) since stairs in these old houses and hotels are often steep and narrow. She CAN climb steps, but it's not easy and I don't want her to have to climb upstairs every time she needs to go to her room for something.

Posted by
881 posts

Hi, Ginny. The nice thing about Ireland - especially that area, is that you can drive to mostly everything, and still have a good vacation.

FYI - Ashford Castle in Cong has been having a 50% off internet sale, and while still pricey, it really is a once in a life time experience of staying in a 5 star, 13th century castle. Breakfast was included.

We rented a cottage for the week up in Westport,and that was great. We l.o.v.e.d. it. Though, a B&B would have been nice to speak with more locals.

FYI - I hear the blarney stone is up 8 stories of stairs, so we avoided it.

Also, if you want to go down to the Ring of Kerry, there is a ferry you can take to save a HUGE amount of time. The road to get down there was harsh enough on my 40yr old bones!

Have a great trip!

PS - Got a Garmin 270 online based off advice from this site, and it was fantastic. We used it all over the Cong/Quiet Man area, and it even had the castle driveway on it, etc!

Posted by
410 posts

What about renting a cottage - or perhaps 2 for less than a week each? This would give her more comfort and the opportunity for a rest during the day, and all of you some real privacy. We usually rent an apartment or cottage but generally only use it for breakfast and tea, coffee and drinks. If you got one with a washer you could take less luggage - needing possibly a smaller car.

Some potential problems with B & B´s in this situation - many will have steep stairs, ground floor rooms could be noisy, you lack any real privacy and my pet peeve, often nowhere to sit aside from the bed. If you go the B & B route, try to find one with a guest´s lounge. Aside from B & B´s and cottages, a guesthouse perhaps which is more of a small hotel.

As to the car - I second any suggestion that as small as realistic to allow comfort - the roads are extremely narrow. And don´t be fooled by the distance - it will take much longer than you expect to drive anywhere.

Don´t even think about Blarney Castle - I almost didn´t make it down due to the narrow, steep and slippery steps, at about half her age. But I am scared of heights!

Posted by
588 posts

Having traveled with the elderly, I found the fear of falling is one that had to be dealt with. Europe is not for people with disabilities. A wheel chair is necessary and they are not easy to push. She will need a fold up cane and very sturdy shoes (sometimes older people do not like to wear the "ugly" shoes that are needed to traverse the cobblestones but they are absolutely necessary).

The suggestion to rent a cottage or house for a week is a great idea. Frankly I could not recommend B & B's for elderly people because of stairs, small bathrooms. Your mom is probably used to certain conveniences that only a larger modern hotel could provide including an elevator.

Good luck. This may be exhausting for all of you. You are a wonderful daughter to take on this responsibility.

Posted by
1660 posts

I believe Clifden, Ireland is very close to the Quiet Man area. We stayed there at Quay House, which is a beautiful B&B. While their rooms are up one floor, the staircase is very wide and probably would not be too difficult to use. Clifden has lots of nice restaurants and is convenient for Connemara, going over to the Aran Islands, or up towards Westport and Delphi.

Posted by
162 posts

Since you are flying in and out of Shannon a good choice for a B&B on the last night before you fly home is the Bunratty Castle Mews in Bunratty -- or maybe stay there a couple of day and do some day trips thru the Burren etc. It is all on one floor very easy for an older person. Delores the owner is the essence of Irish hospitality. She will wrap you and your mother in a happy Irish glow. In fact she has 2 older ladies from the US who come and stay with her for a month at a time.

I would spend 3 days in Dingle and do the Slea Head drive -- easy to view many sites from the car -- then 3 nights in Kenmare. If you don't drive the whole ring of Kerry then you will at least see one of the prettiest parts which is the drive between Kilarney and Kenmare over Molls Gap. From Kenmare you could also drive part of the Beara Penninsula. Maybe 2 nights in Kinsale-- which is a super cute town -- or somewhere in the Burren/Co Clare then one night in Bunratty before you fly home.

We stayed at Woodlands House B&B in Kinsale and it was a lovely home up the hill above town with a beautiful view of the harbor form the front lawn. THey have rooms on the first floor and a wonderful breakfast.

I would suggest looking at the Trip Advisor forum to find other good B&B's based on reviews-- then google their website and email each place to see if any have first floor rooms. I think staying the B&B's is the way to go. It is fun to meet the Irish hosts and it feels more like "home" . The breakfast are pretty special uaually too!

A little driving on the bumpy Irish roads goes a long way. You might want to limit how far you travel each day -- your bones will be much happier! Just "being" in Ireland is a pretty happy experience!

Posted by
12 posts

Another site which has a great forum for asking questions (and lots of other info):

We also stayed at Woodlands House B&B in Kinsale this year, and it is lovely. However, I think there is plenty to see in areas closer to Shannon -- say, between Clifden and Kenmare -- since you only have 7-10 days.

Posted by
2215 posts

Clifden is about an hour from Cong if I remember correctly. It's a really nice town to stay in, and I also loved the Quay House. However, I would not recommend it for elderly visitors because you have to walk up a steep hill to get into town where all the restaurants are.

I am not a big fan of The Quiet Man, but my husband is and he enjoyed Cong. It's a tiny little town without much to do, but a nice one. The drive from Shannon to Cong and then to Clifden is quite beautiful. So I enjoyed visiting Cong even though I'm not a fan of the movie.

I would stick on the west coast of Ireland to minimize driving. Plus there is so much to see there. Dingle is my favorite spot. A drive around the Dingle peninsula would be great -- it's quite beautiful. Your mom would probably enjoy the Cliffs of Moher too. The Burren also is a nice place to drive around.

I hope your mother has a wonderful trip. And you too.

Posted by
6 posts

My husband and I and as many as seven family members have driven and toured all over Ireland by bus and by car.

Four adults can fit in a full size car (if you pack light) or minivan (more room). A minivan is easier to get in and out of, but it's a little difficult to drive on some of the narrow roads.

The last time we went we rented a Ford Galaxy. It was smaller than the minivan, easier to drive and more roomy than a car. Perfect for 4 adults and luggage. Check out the car rental sights for Ireland they will show you how much luggage fits in each size car.

CIE Tours used to have go at your own pace chauffered tours for smaller groups. Then someone else can drive. If you drive get a GPS.

Stay at Cong if you can. Most B& B's that we have stayed at have bedrooms upstairs so you would need to look specifically for one's that are on a main floor. They are availble. If you call CIE or Authentic Ireland they are very helpful.

Google Ireland tours. Happy travels!


Posted by
1357 posts

Renting a "minivan", like we have here in the US, can be quite expensive, upwards of 1000 euro/week. My sister has a family of 7, and when they rented a vehicle to seat 7 people last month, they got a Hyundai Santa Fe with an extra row of seats in the back. So for you guys, there'd be more room for luggage, but it's a higher car, so it may be harder to get in and out of.

Posted by
993 posts

Maureen is right. Most of "The Quiet Man" was filmed in the village of Cong in Co. Mayo, much of it on the grounds of Ashford Castle hotel and golf course. A few segments were done in Co. Galway. With a mother who's lifelong wish is to visit Ireland, I also agree that B&B's are the way to go. Try asking your host about a local pub. You never know, taking her to one where there is music and locals to talk to could be a lot of fun. Either of the cars you mentioned would sense in being crowded.

Posted by
2349 posts

I think for most older people a mini van is easier to get into. You just have to scootch in, but with a car you have to go down and in. Plus, the back doors are wider so it's easier to help them.

What about using one of those walkers with the seat on them? That way she'd always have a place to sit.

Posted by
2 posts

THANK YOU, thank you, tks to ALL of u...
and all your thoughtful input!! It's a little bit overwhelming, trying to make Mom's visit perfect... (sigh) Mom has limited mobility (re: stamina, cane/walker, low sodium diet, heart issues etc...)

Looks like Mom is saving up her engery to stay in Ireland:
** For 8-9 nights

** Visit only the SW side of the island (God willing we can plan a return visit!!)

** Shannon is our arrival & departure. Suggestion where to stay 1 & last nite near the Shannon airport?

** Mom thought cottages (self-catered) would be peaceful. Comments please.

** Family thinks it best to stay a B&B's/Guesthouses
that have ground floor accomadations (middle-of-the-nite-bathroom runs) Any one have "must-stay-at" B&B's suggest? Input, please!!!

Mom doesn't HAVE TO see the J. Wyane movie site, but Dingle sound "delightful to visit" Mom said, "and the REAL Irish spirited villages, like the kind Grandmother (Cuskelly)& Grandfather (?) were raised in".

Any suggestions as where & how many nites to stay as we will be taking Mom on day trips from each of the chosen locations (Suggested: Dingle, Tralee, Galway,
Aran Islands, and Kenmare) Are these stops the best...? Add or subtract places to stay...?

Is there a loop we can drive so we will don't waste her "awake-time" on already visited sites (Begin in & end in Shannon 8-9 days whewww, can THIS be done?)

God bless Mom & all of you for your time & efforts in advising us! Ginny

Posted by
95 posts

Hi Ginny, I don't have any suggestions or advice aside from what others have posted. Bless you for wanting to make this a very special trip for your mother. Whatever stress it entails, sacrifices you must make, I feel confident you will never regret this, and the memories will be precious and something you will have; always. You are an angel. Do tell us how wonderful everything turned out upon your return and are settled back in.

Posted by
606 posts

"Suggestion where to stay 1 & last nite near the Shannon airport? ...B&B's/Guesthouses that have ground floor accomadations"

I've been looking into this lately for our own trip with our mom (only 88), and ran across recommendations for Bunratty Castle Mews B&B for the night before departure from Shannon. The whole place is on one level. No stairs. 10 minutes from Shannon airport. Excellent TripAdvisor reviews HERE.

Posted by
12 posts

Bunratty and Ennis (great town for music!) are both very convenient to Shannon airport.

In Bunratty, this lovely B&B has ground floor bedrooms. We really enjoyed our stay there.

We had a meal at this hotel, right in the heart of Ennis, but did not stay there. Looks like they have some special rates going.
Read a nice review of this B&B outside of Ennis,
Eden Hill House, which has ground floor rooms...

Posted by
3580 posts

Look at the Ring of Kerry as a possible route thru the SW part of Ireland. If you or your mom know the town/village where ancestors came from, go there and connect with older residents. Mention the name of the ancestor, if you know it. You may find a distant cousin. This can be the highlight of a trip to Ireland. I liked Dingle and Killarney. The suggestion of staying near Shannon first/last night is a good one.