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Which small Irish towns are a must see?

My husband and I are traveling to Ireland in late April. I believe we'll primarily be along the coast, from Dublin around to maybe even Westport (and possibly cutting across the country through Athlone). We'll be renting a car, and while we'll have our basic itinerary planned (which will include many of the bigger "must sees," like Galway, Dingle, Kinsale, etc.), we'd like to visit many small, quaint Irish towns that are off the beaten path.

Which towns do you recommend? What have you seen that you'd love to go back to? I'd like to hear suggestions about ones you might not necessarily find in any guidebook.

Thanks!

Posted by
67 posts

I was in Ireland in 1999 and am returning next year to see some places I missed the first time!

My favorites were Kinsale and the Ring of Kerry. There are small towns with B & B's along the Ring of Kerry that might have been nice to stay in.

The Dingle Peninsula, Aran Islands, Connamera and up into Northern Ireland have all been recommended to me. I suggest doing some research on that area. I'm beginning my research now and I'm going for a month next time!

I would read Rick Steve's book on Ireland and go with his thoughts. I have done that in Holland, France and Switzerland and saw lots I wouldn't have known about.

I traveled with a friend who had been to Switzerland before and didn't particularly like it. I made up our itineary using RS book and she said her trip with me to Switzerland was one of her best Europe vacations ever!

Have a great trip ~ Ireland is magical!

Posted by
196 posts

Hiya:
Are you flying in and out of Dublin? Or are you flying into Dublin and out of Shannon. If you are flying in and out of Dublin it would be a good idea if you cross the country to Galway. If you want to really go to Westport; which is a beautiful town one thing you may want to head there first and then start taking the roads south thru Connamarra to along the coast road to Galway.

Must see: Galway City, Fanore, Doolin, Dingle, the beach at Inch on the Dingle Peninsula, Kenmare, Mizen Head, Rosscarbery, Kinsale, Cobh(pronounced: Cove), Midleton, Cashel & Glendalough in the Wicklow mts, Arklow & Naas(pronounced: Neese).

These are just a few. :)

Posted by
194 posts

Whoops, I should have included that. We are flying in and out of Shannon, and we're doing a clockwise loop. We actually have our nights pretty much planned out, and some towns (including Galway, Athlone, Glendalough, Kinsale, Cobh, Dingle) planned, but any quaint, small town recommendations are appreciated!

Thanks!

Posted by
67 posts

I echo the above post - Cashel is a real high point since you will be in that area more or less. Along with the Dingle Peninsula it was the highlight of my last trip!
Enjoy.

Posted by
147 posts

Kilkenny is a must. Great pubs, great lodging, good food and good shopping.

Also Dunmore East, southeast of waterford on the coast.

Most smaller towns are drive-throughs, and you need to stop and explore.

Posted by
10 posts

Noting your tentative "itinerary," I would also second Kenmare as a great little town to spend a day in. It's on the "Ring" but if you spend a day or two there, you'll know what I mean. Also recommend Roundstone (just north of Galway City) or Clifton, although the latter is more a town than a "blip." Doolin, and the nearby towns of Lisdoonvarna, Liscannor and Lahinch, were very nice about 10 years ago, but haven't been back since so it may have grown in popularity somewhat. All the above are smaller and less touristed than Kinsale or Dingle.

Posted by
196 posts

Rosscabery is a small town in County Cork on the road between Kinsale and Bantry. It is a wonderful little gem. When you drive up into the town there is a nice square. There is a coffee/tea/book shop in the town that run and owned by a mother and daughter. The book shop isnt your average book shop; as they specialize in old books. Not far out of down is the Dromberg Stone Circle. My family discovered this town via the magazine 'Ireland of the Welcomes' that did a story on a Quilter in Rosscabery. My mam is a quilter and we arranged via internet to meet w/this quilter; who is also the 'mother' who runs the tea/coffee shop. We all had a wonderful time. Another town is Kinvarra in County Galway on the Bay. That is where you will see the 'hookers' in the mud!

Posted by
11978 posts

Notice that St. Pat's is right after Palm Sunday. Heard the church wants to keep the raucus behavior down this year. Not sure how that will effect this year's festivities.

Posted by
9363 posts

We loved Kenmare. Visit Kenmare Lace and the stone circle. Lahinch is a cute little coastal town near the Cliffs of Moher. And Ballyvaughn is worth a visit, in the Burren area. A previous poster mentioned "Clifton" in Co. Galway -- it's actually Clifden. It's not far from the Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey.