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Two Girls, Two Weeks, and Ireland at our feet

Hello All! My sister and I are traveling to Ireland together, hopping the Irish sea from England, where we are spending a semester in the fall. We will be in the Emerald Isle from Aug 18 to Sept 1, and are just now solidifying our itinerary. So far it looks like this: 1) Fly into Cork from London early morning} visit Rock of Cashel, and stay the night in Kilkenny 2) Explore Kilkenny before making our way to Cork, night in Cork 3) Travel Cork to Dingle by bus 4) Dingle 5) Dingle 6) Dingle 7) Travel Dingle to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher (stay in Doolin) walk cliffs of Moher 8) Doolin to Aran Islands, stay the night on the large island 9) after exploring the Aran Islands, head to Galway for the night 10) Galway to Donegal 11) Day in Donegal 12) travel Donegal to Dublin 13) Day in Dublin, visit Hill of Tara
14) Finish in Dublin, take ferry and rail back to Oxford We would greatly appreciate help with the following questions: 1) The first difficulty is that we cannot rent cars (not yet 25) but we are realizing that many of the places that we want to see may not be bus accessible. We prefer landscape and people to city touring (thus very few days in cities) but of course that means that we want to take lots of hikes. Would these be accessible without a car? How likely is it that we could hitch-hike to some of them with another group? (thinking of the Cliffs of Moher, hiking in Donegal, traversing the Aran Islands, etc.) 2) Again, without a car, is it even possible to get from the Rock of Cashel to Kilkenny? Thanks so much for your help!

Posted by
2397 posts

Can't tell you much about public transport in Ireland as only used it a little but I know just the drive by car from Dingle to Doolin is long and would image by bus will be almost a whole day. Have you researched the bus transportation at all as I do know there is no train to Dingle/Doolin. I think 4 days in Dingle is too much especially with no car but I am sure you can hike and rent bikes there.

Posted by
1035 posts

Just one night in Galway? It is a fun town, especially for the college-aged.

Posted by
9363 posts

The bus goes just about everywhere: www.buseireann.ie. Just a personal opinion, but there isn't really much to see at Hill of Tara. You might find Newgrange more interesting.

Posted by
2349 posts

Nancy, her name is Tara, not Newgrange. I'd think it would be worth it just for the photo ops.

Posted by
9363 posts

Ah, didn't catch that! But what if her name was Tara Newgrange? :)

Posted by
119 posts

When I visited Ireland by myself, I took a Mary Gibbons bus tour to see the Hill of Tara and Newgrange; it was a day long tour, and stopped all over Dublin to pick people up. I would highly recommend it.

Posted by
104 posts

My friend and I did your basic itinerary last summer, so here are my suggestions. I think you have too many one-night stays. Do you really want to see Kilkenny? It seems a bit out of the way, and your first few days sound exhausting. What time does your flight get in to Cork? I would spend Day 1 in Cork, and take a day trip to the Rock of Cashel on Day 2. If you do your Day 1 the way you have it now, you will have your bags with you at the Rock of Cashel. I did this, and it was not fun. They don't have a secure location, just an entrance area where you can leave your bags. Also, it is up quite a steep hill, which was not fun to walk up with my backpack. On day 3, take the bus to Dingle - it's less than 4 hours from Cork, and a really pretty bus ride. Three full days in Dingle is a lot. Definitely do the bike ride around the peninsula. It was a long day, but the best day of our trip. To minimize your one-nighters, I would see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands as daytrips from Galway. You could even do a daytrip into the Connemara too. There are lots of companies that do bus tours, and I found them to be really reasonably priced, and very informative. They generally offer quite a bit of free time too. I didn't go to Donegal, so I can't comment on that. You can take the train from Galway to Dublin (or the bus). I did the Mary Gibbon daytrip to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange as well, and it was a great day. Dublin deserves a day in the city - there is a free, student-led walking tour that I enjoyed. Also, we took the bus to Trim to see the castle, and it was another really fun day. PM me if you have any questions, or if you want hostel/B&B recommendations. Hope this helps! Ireland is great - you'll have a blast!!

Posted by
78 posts

I had good success using trains and busses while visiting Ireland last summer so I think you could do your itinerary using those transport methods. But definitely spend some time studying the bus and train schedules (I spent hours and hours on the bus website fiddling around with routes and time schedules that would allow me to get to where I needed). I would second the idea to allow yourself a bit more time in Galway if possible. I had a total of one afternoon in the town, and found it really enjoyable to walk around and spend the day there and wouldn't have minded an extra day in town. Also, I notice you identify your location as McMinnville, OR. Any chance you are studying abroad with Linfield College? I graduated from there many years ago. The first time I traveled to Europe was through their Jan-Term program a wonderful experience! Enjoy your semester abroad!

Posted by
635 posts

I'll second what Cait said about Kilkenny. My wife and I stayed 2 nights there but, quite honestly, you can see the town in about half a day. The castle is worth a couple of hours. There is the old church with the requisite round tower and a few minor sites. We didn't think the pubs were all that special and it's a pretty busy town. Trying to do the Rock of Cashell is good. I loved it and wish we had spent the night there. There are some abbey ruins visible from the Rock that looked interesting we didn't visit. Getting to Cashell will be a bus adventure but doable. Get ready to spend hours studying the bus and train schedules. Careful planning will let you maximize what you can see and do.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all so much!!!! And we are not studying with Linfield, but I love the college! I grew up in McMinnville so everything there is really familiar. We are starting to solidify our plans, and thank so much for the encouragement about bus schedules - I think we will be able to get everywhere with enough determination. I will post the official itinerary as soon as it is finished so you can give more suggestions :) Thanks again!