My daughter (30yrs) and Myself (50+) are making our first trip to Ireland in October.Flying in and out of Shannon. I'm doing visual research in Tralee, Dingle, Ardfert, Fenit, Ballylongford, and Kenmare in Co. Kerry. Sightseeing in Co. Cork - Cobh & Kinsale. Family Roots in Tipperrary, Meath,Co. Clare, and more research in Balleyshannon, Co. Galway. We'll be there 14 days and are renting a car. Need some tips on safety,clothing, avoiding tourist traps,and really getting to know the Irish people and their history. Planning on staying In B&B's, made reservations for the first 2 nights , and renting a GPS for driving. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. By the way we want to go to the great pubs, but I don't drink, do the serve non-alcoholic beverages? Thanks again !
I too am going to Ireland for the first time this September and in preparation for my trip I purchased Rick Steve's book on Ireland - lots of information and answers to most of your questions - have you got that book yet?
You can always get tea or Diet Coke anywhere, even in a pub. Tea is reasonable, Diet Coke in a pub is wildly expensive. Staying in B&Bs is the way to meet the Irish people. The hosts are usually very chatty and happy to tell you about the area or give suggestions for things to see or places to eat. Heritage sites have great information about Irish history (you can buy a heritage pass that allows you to see lots of sites for one price -- they can be ordered online or purchased at any heritage site). I've never used a GPS in Ireland, so I'm not sure how well that will work. I've been to Ireland three times since 2001, and have always used a combination of the map the rental place gives you and guidebook maps to get around. Whatever method you use, though, be warned that it takes a lot longer to cover a distance in Ireland than it would at home. Please feel free to message me if I can be of more help.
Thank You for the information. I did purchase Rick Steve's Book. It is really helpful. How difficult is it to get used to driving over there? any tips would be appreciated?
Thank You Again!
I travel frequently to Ireland and yes a GPS works well there. I used one a few months ago.
You should plan on bringing a rain coat - or something with a hood as rain is always a possibility even if only for a short while in the day. For October a good sweater is must idea. It will not get very cold - temps should be in the high 40s and 50s - but it will feel damp especially in the evenings.
Don't think that pubs are the only places to meet people, also try the tea rooms where you can find them. Pubs do serve non-alcoholic drinks but they are expensive - many pubs in the cities are also good places to eat lunch. "Pub grub" is plain and usually inexpensive compared to restaurants.
You should get used to the driving pretty quickly. The first time I went I imagined I was in the left lane of the interstate, and it didn't seem weird. It's good that you're flying into Shannon because it's out in the country and there isn't the traffic that you have picking up a car in Dublin. The trickiest part for me was turning into driveways (like at a gas station) and having to remember to stay LEFT. Also, be careful to look to the RIGHT when you pull back out.
I just returned on Fri from a week in No. Ireland. A few years ago I spent a week in southern Ireland. I have no idea about the GPS; all you really need is a good map. I suggest that you go to www.theAA.com and get driving directions. You will still need a map - Michelin or an Ordnance Survey one will be the ticket.
Safety: Just use common sense. For the first few road trips, have someone in the car assigned to repeat "stay left" regularly! Just remember that the driver is always supposed to be the one nearest the center of the road and you will be fine.
Tourist traps: Didn't find many of them, but tourist attractions still have lots of tourists.
Clothing: Take umbrellas as well as jackets with hoods. You will probably need both at some point.
Driving in general: Get the smallest car that will hold the people and luggage you are taking. The roads are VERY narrow, and American size cars are just too much trouble. Parking is geared to the small cars, too.
You and your daughter are brave. I went to Ireland alone (I am 53) and loved it but there is no way I would drive there. I drove in Scotland once and got in a fender bender coming out of a roundabout within the first hour. For me, it isn't worth the stress. I took buses everywhere and did fine.
Dingle and county Kerry are wonderful.
As Jo says, you'll need a detailed map for driving in Ireland. While I've found the Michelin Ireland map to be detailed enough, for even more detail buy the Ordnance Survey spiral-bound atlas.
While the Rick Steves guidebook is very good, it leaves out some areas of the country altogether. For more complete coverage you might also buy the Lonely Planet guidebook. I'm glad I had both books.
I've been to Ireland several times. In addition to other recommendations I suggest that you and your daughter split up some of the time. As a lone traveler, it is easier to meet and talk with people in almost any country. Definitely try to find places to hear Irish music. Ask at your B&B or at the pub. If you are lucky, you may even hear some of the Irish language in the west.
it's going to be great!! don't forget to pickup a B&B guide (about 5 euro) at the local tourist office or ask at the airport (there's someone working on a little station far on the left when you exit the arrivals door) It's better to have more options for lodging then one place you heard of.
Ireland is pretty tourist savvy now. We never encountered tourist traps but you'll be encountering things like the new Cliffs of Moher tourist center and the Auwille Caves tour. Things are more expensive than they were a year ago. Make sure you get up to Joyce country.
Prices are pretty standardized, don't be afraid of small shops - you'll usually get better service than a supermarket and prices aren't more expensive.
The Irish are known for their good nature and willingness to help a stranger. I've never been anywhere where I've had so much fun just talking to people!
Make sure you get a good road map (michelin), good luck to the navigator and watch out for those tour buses!
my sister and I ( both in our 50's at that time) went to Ireland for 12 days in 2000.We rented a car at Dublin airport-were delayed getting it and ended up on the ring road around Dublin in rush hour traffic! What an experience, but we did it ! We, too, had the mantra " left " all the time.The roads are much more narrow, the signs sometimes confusing but the people were wonderful when we needed to stop for directions because we were lost ! Of course ,take the CDW on the car- most credit card travel coverage will not cover Ireland and with narrow roads and heather and fuschia plants hanging down the sides of the roads, it is easy to get a scratch-well worth the money for the peace of mind.We ate at pubs most of the time.we enjoyed it so much that my husband and I plus another couple are going back this September-will do the B and B's and rental car like before.
I have been to Ireland a bunch of times. I suggest you spend your last night at the Park House B&B in Bunratty, a short walk from Bunratty Castle and Durty Nelly's Pub and Restaurant, which is a great place for dinner and traditional Irish music on your last night in Ireland. Park House is 10 min from Shannon airport, is a beautiful modern home and Mairead is a great hostess!
Sounds like a great trip. We stayed in Kinsale and found it to be a nice little spot. Visit the fort. Eat at Bulmers restaurant, very good food. Pub food is good, but sit a look at other folk's platters to see what it looks like first. Kinsale had one great tourist shop that had shirts hats etc., very reasonable prices. It's in town, not out towards the water. If you're in Tipperrary, a side trip to Kilkenny is worth it, definitely visit the Rock of Cashel, and eat at the pub right downtown. Good grub.
Good read: Ancient Ireland. And Princes of Ireland, for some good reference.
I just got back and feel really excited for you. When we picked up our rental car they asked if anyone had ever driven on the left. That was the first time I had the question asked, but don't worry. My brother and I sang "Stay left except to pass" for the first few hours and that helped my first time. This last time these are the things I invited my navigator to remind me: "Turning left is a right turn (not across traffic) and vice versa; give me directions (stop, or red light) not scared gutteral sounds ;-). The traffic lights are not in the middle of the road but on the sides, so be sure to look there; make sure you understand the roundabouts - if you are turning into the first exit stay left, second (straight usually) or to the right stay in the middle of the round about, always signal to leave them and watch where the other cars are in them. I think they're great, but definately the least familiar to my driving experience. You'll do great! Have fun.