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RS Best of Ireland tour

This is a little late (we're leaving Thursday), but I thought I'd put a call out for any of you who have been on the Best of Ireland tour. I've done plenty of research and I feel quite prepared for the tour, but I do miss all of the "insider" information I was able to gather from the tour reviews. Our guide will be Declan Field. Any suggestions, thoughts, or words of advice on would be most welcome.

Posted by
8206 posts

Well, am sitting in the hotel in Westport most of the way thru my Ireland tour! I'm having a terrific time.

My only real thought is that everyone says it is to be really warm over the next week so adjust your clothing. I have 4 short sleeve shirts and 3 long sleeve and have not worn the long sleeve ones. I have a couple of sweaters and have had them off and on multiple times each day. One of the sweaters is wool and it's been too warm for that. Of course having said that I don't know where you are from, so don't know how heat tolerant you are! I am used to it being chilly when it is rainy or foggy but it has been quite warm. Editing to add: after I posted I could see you are from Beaverton so prepare for warm!

Bring sunscreen. I didnt have enough on on our free day in Dingle and got my arms burned. On that day several of us walked out to see the lighthouse (tear out the page of instructions from the Ireland book....they are exact!). We left the hotel about 9 and got to the lighthouse about 10, took some pictures, and were headed back in when we saw the first tour boat heading out to see Fungi the dolphin. We had been looking for him and had not seen him but as soon as the engine was evident we saw him streak out into the channel. My advice if you like to walk and want to see him is to be out near the lighthouse as the first boat of the day heads out. In retrospect we would have taken some water and snacks and hung out there longer!

Which place are you staying in Dingle?

The lodging in Dingle is the best so far. Really lovely. The B&Bs in Galway were sort of a come down, although perfectly adequate.

Breakfasts in Dingle were the best, followed by Kinsale....but of course I'm not done yet, lol!

Wifi was least convenient in Kinsale...had to go to the lobby, but really that was fine.

Do you have any specific questions?

We have a different guide. We have Stephen McPhilemy who is just hilarious. My favorite stories so far are tales of him taking buses of Australians around Ireland. Hearing him do an Aussie accent with his Irish one is a treat!

I know you will have a wonderful time!

Posted by
672 posts

Pam, how kind of you to take the time to give me this wonderful response while you're still on the tour. I didn't have anything in particular in mind, but this is exactly what I was looking for.

So glad you mentioned the weather as I was leaning toward taking more cold weather clothes. Will adjust according to your advice. Also, I'd never had thought to bring sunscreen - I was thinking more along the lines of sweaters.

Love your suggestion about Dingle and the walk to the lighthouse. We'll definitely be up and on our way early in the morning. The lodging listed for Dingle is Castlewood House.

Thanks for the heads-up about Wifi. You've have had it (one way or another) everywhere you've stayed?

Many thanks for taking the time out of your tour to share this info. This is why I miss the tour reviews because there's really no substitute for personal experience. So glad you're having such a good time!

Posted by
524 posts

We had Declan as our tour guide, two summers ago. He is a lot of fun. Sings beautifully and tells hilarious stories. We quite enjoyed this tour. We feel the tour leader influences this, to some degree. He is an artist and did live in France, at the time of our tour. Our weather was very wet. It rained almost every day, but we took rain jackets and dealt with the wet. My favorite place was Dingle. So much to do and see. The best pub, in my opinion, is located there, The Courthouse. We also had the best meal, on our own, in Dingle, at Out of the Blue. The group will be divided in two groups, the B&bs aren't large enough to house entire group. This is where you can get your laundry done, if needed.
We enjoyed the landscape, but mostly the people. You won't meet strangers, very friendly and chatty.

Posted by
672 posts

Thanks, Debra. I'll add the pub and restaurant in Dingle to our list. And, we'll bring our rain gear!

Posted by
1930 posts

Hi Nancy
Will you please post some thoughts when you return? I am looking at this tour as a possible next family tour for my kids and grandkids. It seems as if this might be the best way to get reviews from folks who have actually taken the tours! Thanks to all previous posters here for your wonderful ideas. I will file them away for the future!!

Posted by
8206 posts

Yes, Dingle is where you will get laundry done. You will be given a bag by either Castlewood or Heatons (side by side and owned by the same family) and they will handle the laundry for 15 €. I did mine by hand but I will tell you that a couple of people had clothing come back a slightly different color. Incidentally, these are the nicest lodgings and wow, the breakfast is amazing.

I wish I had had the forethought to pack lunches a couple of days. I did not have enought time at the Blasket Island Center to look at all the displays as this was also the lunch stop.

I would suggest packing lunches the day you move from Kinsale to Dingle so you can spend more time seeing the area around Muckross House. We chose the farm buildings over the house, but that was just preference. We ran out of time and wound up really having to hoof it back to the bus.

I would probably also pack a lunch on the Cliffs of Moher day. For us it didn't really matter as it was totally fogged in and you could see nothing so it was fine to stay inside the cafe area.

In Dingle the music store is having concerts on Tuesday/Thursday/Sat for 15 €. These are unamplified musicians. We heard the Granville sisters and they were excellent.

I wont recommend restaurants as I am vegan so our tastes are probably not the same! (Best vegetable curry....The WhiteHouse pub in Kinsale!)

Have a wonderful tme!

Posted by
91 posts

Did the trip in 2011. Be prepared for rain, but on our trip, only had 1 day of it. Agree with the recommendations above, especially liked The White House pub in Kinsale. If you go there, wander back to the bathroom where they have a memorial to a 9/11 fireman ( his jacket and many notes) in a display case (a relative of the pub owner if I remember correctly) that we found to be very moving.
If you or travel companions are golfers, the Pitch and Putt 18 hole course is an easy walk (20 min) from central Dingle and was a fun thing to do during the free day that did not take a lot of time. In Derry, we had time to visit the Museum of Free Derry and found it very informative, helping to put a lot of pictures to what our guide Stephen McPhilemy had described during our walk earlier in the day ( he lives in Derry by the way.) Do not be an early bird to bed! The music in the pubs usually doesn't get started until 9PM or later. The music was great in Kinsale, Dingle and Galway. If you like live theater and have extra time in Dublin, check out what is playing at the Gaiety Theatre. We saw Riverdance with a mostly Irish crowd and loved it. Ate at Bewley's Cafe on the second floor landing overlooking Grafton Street and enjoyed people watching.

Posted by
8206 posts

Ron, just a bit of gossip! Stephen has bought a guest house in Dingle right by the pitch and putt which is just across the inlet from Castlewood/Heaton's. It's the Mill House and it's where Robert Mitchum stayed during the filming of Ryan's Daughter. It is listed in Rick's book but the location is wrong on the map.

Posted by
672 posts

Many thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I've added them all to our daily notes and will try to take advantage of every one of them. Two more days and we're off!

Posted by
672 posts

Andi, I forgot to mention this in my PM, but tell me again the ages of your Grandchildren and I'll keep that in mind on the tour.

Posted by
1930 posts

Nancy-my Grands will be 14 and nearly 16 by the time we go next summer. Yikes!!!
I have to tell you their first Rick Steves tour (Family Europe) was when they were (barely) 7 and nearly 9. They really enjoyed it and we've been taking one of the tours every other year since then.

Posted by
30 posts

Out of the Blue in Dingle was amazing - I had the Potato crusted cod - it was so yummy 😊
Enjoy the tour

Posted by
31272 posts

Nancy,

I assume by now that your tour is over. With Declan as your guide, I'm sure you had an amazing and wonderful tour (all the Ireland guides are incredible, but I've only toured with Declan).

Posted by
672 posts

Many thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I so appreciated the time you took to share your ideas. We finished the tour a week ago and have been in a Paris flat since then. While went prepared for rain, we had only one day of it and that was on our final day. Pretty amazing for Ireland. Now, that we're in Paris, however, we're getting our payback as it's rained every day since we arrived.

We enjoyed the Ireland tour, but it wasn't one of my favorites. I can't imagine having done it in the rain as so much of it is outdoors. Declan was an awesome guide and was so much fun!

Again, thank you for your help!