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Best of Ireland 2014

Dublin. 10/13/2014 I'm currently on the second day of a BOI tour. Today we started at 9am with a city history tour (excellent) and then at 1030 at Trinity College and the Book of Kaels exhibit. By 11am I was on my own so I toured the Kilmainham Goal on my own and then explored and pub hopped. Our tour was supposed to tour the Kilmainham Gaol on the way out of town tomorrow but a cruise ship has the entire day booked so we are going to a garden in the Wicklow mountains as an alternative. My advice for the future is if you book this RS tour and arrive early, take the hop on/hop off bus tour and see Kilmainham on your own. The admission is only 6 euro. Even if you repeat it later on the RS tour it's only 1 hour and it's a good tour.

I arrived 2 days before the tour start date and stayed at the Jurys Inn Christchurch. Everything in the RS book is accurate about this hotel: Loud party crowds on weekends with bachelor parties and bridesmaid parties. Room doors open and people yelling in the hallways until about 3 Am. Also tour groups with folks occupying seats in the bar/lounge and not buying anything. But, the room was nice and the breakfast was great. Take ear plugs.

Like a dummy I didn't look at the RS book until today for recommended pubs. If you like microbrews the RS recommendation for the Porterhouse is right on. I stopped there today on my way back from Kilmainham. I didn't eat there but the menu looked great for pub food.

I found another great pub, named Peter's Pub (www.peterspub.ie) ( corner of William St South and Johnson Pl) which is one block north of the Stephen's Green Shopping Mall. A nice cozy friendly pub with A/C and full but not crowded/hot/stuffy. Food choice is limited, I don't recommend if you are looking for food but drinking atmosphere is friendly with a great bar staff, 18 on tap and full wine/liquor menu.
We are staying at the Brooks Hotel, a big step above your normal RS hotel.

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks so much for posting Ray! I am doing this tour next year and your observations and comments are most helpful! I look forward to reading more about your trip. Have a great time!

Posted by
127 posts

Ray,

I also am taking this tour in 2015. Your comments are very helpful!

Posted by
260 posts

There are better locations for hotels. There are quiet areas about 20 minutes walk from the tourist attractions which are very quiet, and there are lots of nice B&Bs. Good alternatives to noisy party central!

Posted by
15045 posts

I was on a tour that stayed at the Gibson Hotel. It's at the east end of the Luas red line (tram), at The Point (north of the LIffey). It's large, modern and very comfortable, great breakfast. As long as you're back before the trams stop running, it's easy and convenient to get to/from the center by tram and you can buy multi-day Luas tickets.

After the tour I moved to the more modest Leeson Bridge Inn. It's about 25-30 minutes' walk to Trinity College, depending on whether you cut through St. Stephen's Green. There's also fairly frequent bus service to the center. Very quiet and comfortable, good selection at breakfast and the staff were helpful, knowledgeable and very friendly.

Posted by
31521 posts

Ray,

That's an awesome tour, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. BTW, who is your guide?

The garden in the Wicklow Mountains might be Powerscourt Gardens. If so, it's an incredible and beautiful site. The Celtic Women taped a show there. Be sure to have a look at pet cemetery.

I found all of Ireland to be beautiful, but I especially enjoyed Dingle. Great town for pubs and music.

Posted by
155 posts

Galway. Sunday 10/19. I'm back on day 8. We arrived in Galway about 545 pm. I thought it would be easy to do daily updates but we are busy and enjoying this tour and I haven't had the time and energy to post updates. On day 3 we headed for Kinsale, with stops at Powerscourt Gardens and the Rock of Cashel. Both are very good. We arrived in Kinsale about 6 pm with a group dinner scheduled for 730 pm. Our dinner was at Kitty O'se's and we had front tables for the 900 pm Irish music by Liam and Ger (tradroutesireland.com) who do a great show. Our whole group stayed until the end. The next day we did the Kinsale walking tour with Barry Maloney. This was our first rain day. The rain was persistent and accompanied by strong winds and lasted until about 1 pm when we returned from the Charles Fort tour. The rest of the day was sunny. I did the music again that night at Kitty's. Liam and Ger were back and performed all different songs from the night before. The walking tour and Charles Fort are both very good. We stayed at Friars Lodge in Kinsale. Typical RS accommodations; however, the room was large and the tub and shower were full size. Wifi was only available in the lobby.

Day 5 we headed for Dingle with stops at the sheep farm to watch the sheep dogs herd the sheep - amazing! And a stop at Killarney National Park. Unfortunately, the skies opened up with great rains just as we arrived at the national park so the tour members and guide discussed options and we agreed to proceed to Dingle where the guide made alternative arrangements for us to watch a crystal cutter at work and to tour/taste the Dingle Distillery. Both were great stops. Day 6 we were treated to the Dingle Peninsula and the Slea Head drive and Great Blasket Centre visit. Great scenery on this drive. Day 7 was a free day. I and two others hiked out to the lighthouse at the entrance to Dingle Harbor. Later I and a fellow tour member toured the Dingle Brewery. We also went to a couple of the hardware store bars. I especially liked Dick Mack's. Our guide arraged for an early music session for us at one of the pubs. In Dingle our group was split between Castlewood House and Heaton's Guesthouse. They both are owned by the same family. I was at Heaton's and it was primo, very nice. Besides the breakfast buffet one could also order from a 6 page menu with choices ranging from porridge to eggs Benedict. The group members staying at Castlewood reported similar positive things about that lodging. Wifi was extremely good in the rooms.
Today, day 8, we left Dingle and took a leisurely drive to Galway stopping at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. The cliffs are very impressive. Most of my fellow tour members seemed to like the Burren. We are split in two B&Bs in Galway, the Ardawn House and the Petra House. I'm in Petra and the wifi is good in my room....more later, good night.

Posted by
57 posts

Thanks so much for sharing your tour diary so far. I'm taking this same tour, same time next year & am anxious to hear as many details as you're willing to share. Much appreciated. I'll be going early as well, but will be spending a couple of days in Liverpool, before meeting up with the tour group in Dublin.

I'd be especially curious how much time you have to yourself outside of the tour activities & where it occurs.

Posted by
102 posts

Ray your tour tales spring memories back of this traveler's 2008 Ireland adventures. I knew when guide Stephen McPhilemy introduced himself, saying he might teach us some Irish songs along the way, this would provided special bonuses. I learned some songs, and even tried a little singing. We all preferred Stephen to solo. Highlights, well the whole tour first, followed by Dingle , the Cliffs of Morn, Derry's history walk in the north, Bushmills distillery where the day just slipped away, and every night a music-filled pub, sharp "crack' (spelling?) of conversation, and surprisingly early starts the following day. Time to return!

Posted by
920 posts

Just browsing thru RS travel forum wishing I could go again in 2015, but will probably go on second RS 2016 to Belgium/Holland(not sure what month). I enjoyed Ray's diary of his Ireland tour. I went August 2 2014, met a great group of people on our tour. Ireland was an awesome trip. I recommend getting there 2 days before your trip starts and try to stay in the same group hotel. We stayed at Buswell's on Molestreet. That was an awesome hotel. My sister and I loved it. I would go back to Ireland in a heart beat. Have fun RS BOI travelors.