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western ireland

we're going to be in ireland this summer from 6/28-7/1 before heading over to the mainland. anyone have favorite destinations to recommend? we're thinking galway and dingle.

where can we find the emerald hillsides and wildflower-strewn meadows i've been dreaming of?

Posted by
9363 posts

Anywhere in western Ireland is beautiful. It is more barren than the eastern coast, with very few trees but lots of little slate farm "fences" all over. When I took my son to Ireland we started in the south and worked our way back toward Connemara. When we got to Lahinch/Doolin/Cliffs area he said, "NOW I feel like I'm in Ireland". Apparently, that area fit his idea of what Ireland would be like more than the wooded south.

Posted by
52 posts

You asked for it! A few of my favorite things: ingle Peninsula (Rick Steve's Ireland book includes an awestome driving tour; stay in Dingle Town--both times we stayed at Walsh's Townhouse,, though it's across from a bar, so it can be a little noisy; also loved Minard Castle [ruins] east of Dingle Town); the Dublin walking tours given by Trinity College students (see Rick Steves's book) and Book of Kells at Trinity College; Beara Peninusla--less touristy than the Ring of Kerry and more doable in a day--we stayed in Kilgarvan (near Kenmare) the night before we did this at Birchwood B&B, lady who runs it is super nice, still sends us a Christmas card; when we were there in 2004, Tuesday nights at the pub in Kilgarvan local musicians came to play traditional music--one of our best experiences;

Posted by
52 posts

think this was also easy driving distance to the Killarney area--Killarney National Park,, things we did and loved Muckross Abbey, Muckross House (19th century manor house), Ross Castle, and hiked to Torc Waterfall; mass famine grave at Skibbereen (if that can be a "favorite" thing)--there's also a famine and immigration museum there, but it was closed for the off-season when we were there in January, but it looked really interesting; Aran Islands (Dun Aengus--wow!--better than the Cliffs of Mohr, I thought)--and of course, the people. Don't be shy about going into a local pub for a music session--there will be signs to let you know where is having them, and the b&b or hotel folks could also tell you.

Everthing I've listed above is in the southwest, except for the Aran Islands (off Galway) and Dublin. If you do decide to cover more ground, a good tip is to fly out of a different city than the one you arrived in.

Have fun!

Posted by
1806 posts

The Burren (outside of Galway) is where you'll find the wildflowers (in season).

Plenty of green hills all over Western Ireland. You seem to have limited time, so I don't know that you can fit in both the Galway area and Dingle in just 5 days (does that include travel days, or are you in area for 5 full days?) without it being a blur. Pick one.

Galway makes an excellent base for day tours if you are not planning on renting a car and driving yourself. From Galway you can get tours for the Burren, Aran Islands, Connemara, Cliffs of Mohrer, Ailwee Caves and others. Galway also offers a lot in the way of great restaurants, pubs and nightlife (including a lot of live music, dance and theater productions).

Dingle is best seen with a car.

Posted by
67 posts

If I had to choose, given your time frame and transportation, I would pick the Galway and the west or Ireland (Connemara, The Burren, Cliffs of Moher).

If you like cities Galway is a fun one with shops and music and lots to see and do.

The Burren also has beautiful flowers - just not green fields but is striking in its' difference.

You can do a day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway but I thought The Burren and Connemara were much more interesting and fun to see - more flowers, too.
Have a GREAT trip!
Whichever you choose you will LOVE Ireland.

Posted by
21 posts

we planned to rent a car, but we're not sure for how much of the journey--perhaps a combo of car and train to avoid the hassle of driving when it's not necessary. if making the choice between the aran islands and dingle, which would you choose since they seem similar in their appeal?

we've never been to ireland, and just making the choice between galway and the landscape to the west OR cork and the landscape to the inland south is tough, no less choosing destinations within those areas.

Posted by
8700 posts

Train service in Ireland is mostly limited to major routes. Except for any time you might spend in Dublin, rent a car for the duration of your stay.

Posted by
484 posts

Will you be flying in and out of Shannon? Actually you can go wrong with neither area as they both have so much to offer. Just flip a coin.

Posted by
100 posts

Dingle and Galway were actually our two favorite places when we went to Ireland, good picks. We would have loved to have made it to the Aran Islands when we were in Galway, but we didn't. We followed the Rick Steve's Connemara drive and that was great (although it was really rainy and sindy that day). Kylemore Abby is pretty cool as well as other sites along that road. You could also check out the Cliffs of Moher, Aillwee Cave and any of the Burren area. Dingle is lovely and a great place to relax. Rick Steve's also does a great job of mapping out the Slea Head drive there.