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9 days in Ireland: Dublin,Kilkenny, Kenmare and Dingle: June 7-17, 2022

This was a first trip to Ireland for us (husband/wife in our 60s).. We flew Aer Lingus from San Francisco nonstop to Dublin. Flight went smoothly and when we landed we found an ATM, got some cash, went to the taxi stand and got a taxi to our hotel.
We had a reservation at the Schoolhouse Hotel in the Ballsbridge neighborhood of Dublin, which we loved. I did not want to be in a noisy part of town, and this fit the bill perfectly. It also had outdoor seating for lunch/dinner, and the restaurant was very good. The Schoolhouse Hotel is partly an old school building with a lot of woodwork and charm. FYI, our deluxe room was below ground- it did have a full-length window, it was more like a garden level. I have to say, though i was put off at first, it was excellent for sleeping - very quiet. Our included breakfast was excellent- Full Irish, or options like scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
The thing about Ireland in June is that sunset is 10pm, and the sun rises super early! I recommend an eye mask if light wakes you up.
We napped on arrival and had a walk and dinner at the hotel.
Newgrange/Bru Na Boinne: We had booked tickets to tour Newgrange and Knowth a month in advance. We decided to get there on our own, so we took a taxi to the train station and took a train to Drogheda. We hoped there would be a taxi stand, but there was not! i asked the person selling tickets and she showed me where taxi drivers posted their cards on the wall. We called one and he came right away. It was about a 15 minute ride.
The process of visiting Bru Na Boinne is very formally set up- you can't really customize how long you stay. This is fine, it just wasn't clear to me from their website. The time of your reservation builds in 45 minutes to go through the visitors center and see an exhibit about Newgrange. You are then given a wristband for your bus which will take you to the sites. The visitor center is very beautiful and there is a cafe- (would have liked to be able to shop in the gift shop but it was completely closed down.) After this, you walk on a beautiful pathway over wetlands to the bus stop (about a 5 min walk) and wait for your bus driver. Each site has a mandatory stop time and you wait for your bus after each stop. It was raining and cold but we had a personal guide at each site, who were both excellent. Newgrange is where you get to go inside, so that was amazing! It was an incredible visit.
It was a bit of stress to get a taxi and then back to the train station to make it in time for the express train, but it turned out fine. At Connolly station that was a nice pub, Grainger's where i had the first of many fish and chips and my husband had some beef stew which was also very good. We were gone from about 9am-3pm. Afterwards we walked around the city - Dublin has beautiful parks!
The next day was our rental car pickup day. I booked the pickup for a city location as the airport is north of the city and we were driving west. After a few hiccups (someone in the lot picking up their standard transmission car, rolled back and hit our car!) we were on our way. We had booked a night in Kilkenny because we didn't want to have a long driving day while we were learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road.
We stopped for lunch on our way out of Dublin, at the Dew Drop Inn and Cafe in Kildare - this was a recommendation from the forum and it was excellent! The first of many meals with great friendly service from the wonderful Irish people.
From there we continued to Kilkenny and our room at the Kilkenny Ormond hotel. It was fine, but I'd pick somewhere else next time.
Downtown Kilkenny was cute and has a castle right in town! We had a very nice dinner at an Italian restaurant across from the castle. The next morning we were off to Kenmare. Will continue...

Posted by
158 posts

The next morning we drove from Kilkenny to Kenmare (with a stop in Cork for lunch). There's always a mix of road types in Ireland, you go from multilane freeways to single lane roads, and there are the many roundabouts, of course. It takes a lot more energy and attention to drive in Ireland, but lots of fun going through different towns. When we came into Kenmare we were so pleased! It's an adorable little town. It won "Tidiest Town" in Ireland a few years back. We arrived about 4pm to the Mountain View Bed and Breakfast. This was a spotlessly clean house hosted by a Dutch couple. It was about 1 mile from town. Even though it was close to town, we had a field of sheep behind and in front of us. It was so beautiful! Highly recommend this B&B. (We booked most things with for ease of use.)
The next day was a drive to Kissane Sheep Farm and a sheepdog demonstration. It was so much fun! the sheep farm is near Moll's Gap which is beautiful, and we had lunch at the Avoca cafe nearby. Every evening in Kenmare, we tried a different pub with live music. they would usually put out a sign that day if they had entertainment. We also had an excellent dinner at the Limetree and also at the Boathouse Bistro.
Another stop we made near Kenmare was the Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara peninsula. This was an amazing sight. the stone circle is laid out on a very remote (think lots of sheep and one car width road to get there!) but unbelievably beautiful location. Inspiring!
At this point we made a change in our plans. Our original trip plan was to drive to Galway after 3 nights in Kenmare but we decided that maybe we wouldn't enjoy another 3 -4 hour driving day in our short trip. So we made the decision to book 2 nights in Dingle instead, and then our last night near the Shannon airport.
We loved Dingle and are so glad we did this. We booked the Greenmount House - ended up staying in 2 different rooms because it was last minute. One had a beautiful sea view.
A highlight of our time in Dingle was The Ancient Dingle Tour with Michael Collins. I called him 2 days before our arrival and fortunately he had 2 spaces left on his tour. I believe it's described in the Rick Steves book. He is an amazing archeologist/historian and we drove to some great sites covering part of the Slea Head Drive. I was very happy not to be driving myself, as the scenery was really jaw-dropping (and so were the cliffs!).
The other highlight of Dingle was getting to hear so much live music. There are quite a few pubs in Dingle and it is a center of Irish music. There are more tourists, too, but they are concentrated by the marina (where there is parking for tour buses). We had good lunches and dinner at pubs, as well as the Fish Box which is a very popular place.
It was sad to leave our last day. It was a bit over 2 hours to our hotel near the Shannon airport. We stayed at Bunratty Meadows, a very cute B&B. Bunratty was recommended as a more attractive option to Shannon. We went out for a very good dinner and drinks near Bunratty castle at JP Clarke's, recommended by Barry, our innkeeper.
It was a nice last night, and Shannon airport was wonderful. No crowds, and being able to pre-clear immigration (they even have Global entry set up) saved so much time.
Can't wait to go back!

Posted by
1417 posts

Sounds lovely. We were in Ireland in May. The countryside is definitely grand.

Posted by
214 posts

Loved your report. We are doing the RS tour in September.
Regarding your day trip to Newgrange and the Boinne Valley, if you had it to do over, would you book a tour from Dublin or do it on your own again? Thank you in advance