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Planning trip to Ireland with an Elderly

Hi, I'm planning an 8 day trip to Ireland on Nov. 2013 with my family. There will be 5 of us, including my grandmother. Only one person in my party has been to Ireland, Dublin specifically. My main concern is picking cities/attractions that my family will find interesting and, more importantly, will be easy for my grandmother to navigate/participate in. My grandmother is in her early 80s. She ambulates independently and still with superb cognitive skills =) Her only main issue would be not being able to tolerate walking long distances. Our wish list for this trip would: castles/churches/medieval towns which have maintained most/if not all/ of its original look and quaint "walking towns" with beautiful sceneries and easy access to attractions (I think Dingle would be our best bet). I'm aware that daylight is cut short during November. How we plan to get around in Ireland: A.) We are open to renting a car but only one person in my party can drive using right hand drive. Ideally, if we can take public transportation to take us to our lodging and then join public tours/take public transportation to see attractions, that will be much preferred. I know though we have to pack light and sensibly if we choose this route. We can either fly into Shannon or Dublin and vice versa. B.) We would prefer to stay in B&Bs or lodgings that are close, if not within the town center, easy access to public transportation, quaint/cozy/clean with en suite bathrooms (a must for my mother) and WIFI would be awesome. I have Rick Steve's Ireland travel guide book; however, traveling during the month of November, I'm not sure which ones I can skip or still visit. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated as I would like to make this trip memorable without the added stress of attempting to "see everything", especially for my grandmother.

Posted by
117 posts

If we ever go back to Ireland, we'll go to Youghal and Cashel. Youghal is located in County Cork, right on the water. See St. Mary's Collegiate Church and Gardens, Youghal, is one of the most delightful places we visited in the entire country. The rector was wonderful and gave us a tour that was beyond terrific! It has an incredible history and he knew every bit of it! If you are fans of the original film of "Moby Dick, it was filmed in Youghal.
Cashel was everything one expects of Ireland: Beautiful little town, ruins on the hill, green-green-green! Personally, I disliked Dingle. I found it too harsh and could only feel sad for anyone that has ever had to make a livelihood on that hard scrabble (but, that's me and not everyone feels the same!). We weren't overly fond of Dublin, either. This was in 1996. It was too crowded for our tastes and the river was a cesspool. We had planned on staying in Dublin for a week. But, after seeing Trinity College (which wasn't all that impressive, either), we headed out of town quickly. Once we were in the small towns, it was a lovely experience and the people were delightful. Killarney is delightful, too. Fly into and out of Shannon (we did Dublin and won't do that again).

Posted by
3696 posts

I think renting a car in Ireland is the best way to see that country. You say there is only one person who can drive... well, it's a small country so let one person do all the driving. Actually, everyone has to do it the first time, so get an automatic and try driving on less busy roads and within no time all will be able to drive. I was there in Feb, and obviously the weather was cold, but with a car we were able to change our plans quickly according to the weather. I was also not overly fond of Dublin, and I can see the criticism of Dingle. It is a very different place, and especially during the winter has a dreary feel. There are however plenty of wonderful towns and experiences depending on your interests. Even though it will not be busy at that time of year, with 5 people I would probably try to make reservations ahead of time as it is hard to 'wing it' with an 80 year old. In and out of the Shannon Airport makes the rental car easy. Not much help with hotels as I just stopped along the way and don't remember any specific names, but what I do recall is that they were plentiful and very delightful accommodations. One thing to mention...every place we stayed had no heat at night, so it was very cold. Fortunately I had a fleece sleeping bag with me and it was a lifesaver.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Abigail,
I have been to Ireland twice in the last two years, based out of Dublin. I really like Dublin, there is so much to see and do. It does involve a great deal of walking and taxi's are not cheap. That may be a bit of a problem for your Grandmother. If you plan visits of sights in the same small area, working more or less from a map of sights and take breaks, it should be doable. We use the hop on-hop off buses the first day, decide what we are going to concentrate on this visit and the bus ticket is good for 24 hours. Some of the sights outside of the big cities in Ireland close for the winter in November I believe. Make sure to check your open/closing months. I also loved the Dingle coast, it is gorgeous, poured rain on us on and off the whole day but we had lunch in Dingle and went on to the Cliffs of Moher. It is a very rugged beauty. I would not miss either Dublin or the Dingle area, no matter how cold or wet it is, both are worth your time in my opinion.

Posted by
792 posts

My family took a "girls trip" to Ireland that included my grandmother, also in her early eighties at the time. We had a great trip. We rented a minivan with an automatic transmission. My mom and I did all of the driving and you do get used to it pretty easily. I would really recommend renting a car if you plan on doing a few different cities. If you are using public transportation, you have to consider hauling luggage, extra walking looking for the proper trains/buses, delays, and I think that could be difficult with an older person who tires a little easier. One warning about driving: Ireland is small so the distance between cities does not look far on a map but sometimes the only options for roads are small windy roads so it takes you longer than you think to get somewhere. Some ideas: 1. a bus Ring of Kerry tour. The scenery is gorgeous and you stop at a lot of cute little towns/sites easy walking. And the drive is QUITE terrifying (I learned this the hard way) when you aren't used to the winding mountainside roads. 2. Also my grandma really enjoyed the Hop on/Hop off tour in Dublin. 3. Rock of Cashel. Beautiful. If I remember correctly, it was a little but of an uphill walk but my Grandma was able to manage slowly.
4. Waterford Crystal factory (My grandmother was a huge crystal fan). But a warning, not much else to do in Waterford. Beautiful, friendly B&Bs are the standard in Ireland so you should have no problem finding places to stay, especially in November. Have fun on your trip!!

Posted by
12172 posts

There are some nice bus trips run by Bus Eirenn out of Dublin (and Cork). Hopefully they run in November. I took my mom when she was 70. She walks well but is done when she reaches her limit. We took the bus trip to Newgrange (my mom really liked both Newgrange and Hill of Tara on this trip). It was well paced and a great value. Your grandmother could walk her limit then meet at the bus for the ride to the next stop. They also run a bus to Glendalough from Dublin, which includes nice scenery, and to Cashel from Cork (there may be others I don't know of). Most of the time, my mom participated fully but reached her limit in the afternoon. I'd put her in a cab to our hotel where she could rest, then we'd pick her up for dinner. That seemed to work pretty well. She felt included without being exhausted.