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TRIP REPORT- 7 Nights In Illuminating Ireland

Overview; We are a family of 4, two adults and two girls ages 11 and 14. This was my girls first trip to Europe. We spent a total of one month. We spent 10 nights in Norway, 12 nights in Scotland and 7 nights in Ireland in July and August, 2018.
This is my Ireland trip report, it was my second visit there. My husband had to leave us after Scotland, so this part of the trip was just me and the girls. I planned everything and did all the driving. With the departure of my husband, I had to be the navigator, so I upgraded our rental to include sat nav.

Itinerary; 3 nights Dingle, 3 nights in Agrahadoe (near Killarney) all in County Kerry.

Weather; We lost our good luck with the weather here. For the first couple of days it was rainy and while we had a few nice days, it was typical Irish weather.

We arrived in the am at Shannon airport and proceeded to pick up our rental car. I had reserved a manual, but since we had had automatics the whole time, I didn’t get to practice my manual driving skills and since I lost my navigator, I decided to upgrade to an automatic with sat nav. It was expensive, but I was very glad I did this!

Day 1- We headed out and stopped in the town of Adare for a rather pricey lunch at one of the cute thatched roof cottages Adare is known for. Then we drove to Dingle and checked into the Pax House B&B. This B&B was amazing, the best one of the trip so far. The only negative was it was about 1km from town and with the narrow roads and rainy weather, I ended up driving back and forth a lot. It wasn’t too much trouble, although parking could be difficult in Dingle.

The first night we had reservations at Global Village. A very nice and expensive restaurant. After seeing the prices we just decided to order appetizers. Then I took the girls back to the B&B and left them, while I went into town. I ended up at a concert at St. James Church. I had to buy a ticket, but it was half price since I came in halfway through. I enjoyed the concert, but there was no fiddle, which I missed.

Day 2-The breakfast at our B&B was amazing. Really gourmet and lavish. The girls and I loved it. This was the day I was going to drive the Dingle peninsula, but the weather was suckey. Plus, the girls were very resistant to another drive. So, we just walked around the town and went into shops. This is not my thing, but it’s what my daughter wanted to do. We stopped in at the Dingle Music Shop and I found the CD with the song I wanted on it and also found out they were having a concert that night. It sounded good and since it started at 7pm, I bought tickets for the girls and I. We had dinner that night at the Marina Inn, it was ok. The concert however was fantastic and the absolute highlight of our visit to Dingle. The girls loved the male Irish dancer. He was very cute, very fast on his feet and just so much fun to watch. I took the girls back to the B&B since they did not want to join me at the pub and then I went to Nelligan’s and that was fun. There was a woman who worked there that was organizing and instructing the patrons how to do some Irish dances. I did not dance, but it sure was fun to watch.

Day 3- This turned out to be a nicer day weather wise and I had booked an eco-tour for that afternoon. We didn’t do much during the day until our 2pm time for the boat tour. So, the boat tour was for me a disappointment. It was a three hour tour. While we did see some of the islands (but we did not get off the boat at all) and some dolphins joined us, overall it was an expensive thing to do and I did not feel it was worth it. That evening while wandering the town looking for a good pub with music, I ran into one of the tour guides my DH and I had last year in Ireland on our music tour. It was great to chat for a bit and of course, he was leading another tour.

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Day 4-We had a leisurely morning, where I made more progress in the book I had started. Then we checked out of the Pax B&B and drove to our next destination Killarney. We stopped at Inch Beach along the way and chased some seagulls. For the next three nights we stayed at Killeen House, a small boutique hotel located a few miles from Killarney town. I really liked this place and we had a large room and had our own beds. There was also a pub and restaurant which we ate at all three nights as the food was good.
We had some time that afternoon so we drove to Killarney N.P to Muckross House and took the tour and also of the traditional farms (kids wanted to do this). Then back to the hotel for dinner and bed.

Day 5- We signed up for a tour that picked us up at the hotel and took us to Kate’s Cottage which is the start of the walk/ride through Killarney N.P. to the Gap of Dunloe. Some people walk the road, but the girls and I elected to take the jaunting cart so we found a driver to do this and we were on our way. This was fun and the girls and I enjoyed it. Thankfully, this was a decent day weather wise and the scenery was beautiful. We arrived at Lord Brandon’s cottage and had a bite to eat and waited around for awhile. Then there was a long boat ride to Ross castle. The driver of the boat was quite entertaining which was good, because the boat ride was boring. After we arrived, we boarded the bus back to our hotel. That evening we went into Killarney to get some ice cream and seek out some Irish music in a pub. We went to the Grand hotel, which is what we had been advised to do. There was some good Irish music here, but boy, was it crowded. We listened for about an hour and then the girls wanted to go. I was happy that they sang some songs from The Dubliners and I knew the words so everyone sang along! Love that!

Day 6- Since we had not driven the Dingle penninsula, I talked the girls into doing the Ring of Kerry drive. We got an early start 8:30am and the weather was not good for the first half of the drive. My wipers were getting a workout. So we really didn’t stop until we reached Valentia Island. We took a short car ferry and then tried to find the Tetrapod tracks, but we couldn’t find them. Then we drove to the Skellig Experience and let me say that now, I really want to do Skellig Michael! We continued on and the next stop was at Derrynane Estate, which is the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell. We did a self-guided tour of the home and then went out to the gardens, which were fab. The next stop we made was in Sneem, where we got some ice cream and looked at the falls. Our final stop was at Kissane Sheep Farm for a sheepherding demonstration. The girls loved this, an absolute highlight for them. We arrived back at our hotel about 5:30pm, just in time for happy hour!!

Day 7- We had another leisurely morning and then drove back to Shannon for our final night at Bunratty Castle Hotel. This was a repeat stay for us since my DH and I stayed at this hotel last year, but now, I would not stay there again as the WIFI was awful. We had dinner at Dirty Nelly’s pub and the girls went back to the room and I stayed and had another drink. Our final night in Ireland was beautiful weather and I wanted to enjoy my drink as I was looking at Bunratty Castle. Love.

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Day 8- Had a little trouble trying to return our rental car as I was not sure where to go, but got squared away and caught our flight to London. A rather long layover here, then our flight to Iceland and home.

Final thoughts; Of course I love Ireland, that is why I came for a second visit. We did lose our luck with the weather, and for most of our visit, it was typical Irish weather. At this point too in our month long trip, the girls were not as enthusiastic for travelling and wanted to get home. I will go back, next time, no kids! I mean I still haven’t been north. I really want to go to Sligo and Donegal!

The total cost for 7 nights for three people (NOT including airfare) ; all meals and accomodations, rental car, activities, alcohol, music concerts and souvenirs=$3,883

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We.were in County Kerry in April. Things were just a little too early in the tourist season, and it was very quiet. Our B&B was.great, and so were the people. Food was very expensive, and there was really no pub life. The pubs are now sports bars with 8-10 men sitting around watching soccer. I doubt we will go back.

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I love Ireland...I feel like I have returned home, every time I go. Sounds like a great experience (the total month) with your girls. They will never forget it.