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Trip report - Ireland in late August - early September 2021

I gained new appreciation for the work a group tour designer does. I already knew it was challenging to schedule activities so an opening time or day would not be missed. With just myself to please, it still took planning. Most days had just one major activity.
I looked at the Rick Steves Ireland itinerary, cut out over half the activities, and nearly doubled the time. I used the skills I learned on previous Rick Steves tours to navigate and plan.
Outdoor activities are best, since so many indoor attractions are closed.
In my 25 days in Ireland, it rained only 2 days, which helped.
When I was in Dublin, I spent a night in Glendalough, to allow time for hiking. Really nice views, and well maintained paths. The bus works well between Dublin and Glendalough. It would be too rushed to try to make it a day trip by bus.
I enjoyed a rented bicycle ride in Phoenix Park (Dublin), a bicycle ride around the Slea Head Loop (Dingle), a ride on a rented e-bike in the Burren National Park from Kilfenora, and a ride on the Great Western Greenway (Westport)
The tour of Inishmore in a horse drawn cart was well worth the time.
I climbed Diamond Hill in Connemora National Park (bus tour from Galway), and Croagh Patrick (rented bike ride from Westport)
On Croagh Patrick, they are adding to the steps toward the top. Four workers had a barrier up so they could work. The traffic had to go up the scree. There were a lot of people on the mountain on a fine Tuesday. It took me over 5 hours to go up and back down. I only lost my footing twice, on the way down. The rented sticks helped. I only had to use my hands in a couple of places on the way up. Young, fit people seemed to almost jog up. Most were slow and careful, like me.
Making steps is all hand work, using material at hand. The steps will make it less likely to fall.
The Rick Steves Ireland guide book was surprisingly useful, considering the pandemic. Some locations have closed. The hotels and B&Bs recommended in the guide book, if they were still open, were still good.
I traveled solo, and set a leisurely pace. I used public transit - bus, train, tram - mostly, but occasionally used a taxi or rented a bicycle. The drivers in Ireland treat bicycle drivers well, even when they are annoying. I understand from talking to people that a driver license in Ireland is similar to getting a private pilot license in this country. Mandatory licensed instructors, rigorous written and practical tests. A woman from the United States I talked to has lived in Ireland for 9 years. It took her 2 years to get her Irish diver license. I also understand it is very easy to lose the license. Hitting a bicyclist is one way.
Many roads are quite narrow, so drivers are used to staying alert. Sheep are commonly seen on the roads, and farm machinery uses the roads.
The people in Ireland take the pandemic seriously, and I soon was comfortable wearing a mask indoors except when eating or drinking. When I forgot the mask, it felt wrong, like I had forgotten to fasten my seat belt.
Most of the tourists were from Ireland, but a few were from other countries in the EU or from the UK. Stephen O'Neill, who has a B&B in Dingle, said he rarely had Irish clients before this year. The Irish are discovering their own country.
The Irish people I met lived up to their reputation for being friendly and open to strangers.
A different experience from a Rick Steves tour, but I had a good time.

Posted by
5648 posts

How tremendous that you were able to do so much biking and hiking/climbing on your trip! Having clear weather certainly did help. Pandemic or no, Ireland certainly lends itself to outdoor exploration, and a bicycle is excellent for seeing the countryside at a pace that allows closer involvement than being in a car.

I hadn’t appreciated what getting a retaining a license in Ireland involved. Riding a bike on busy, narrow roads were nail-biting when I’ve done it. Maybe it’s challenging for drivers, too. Glad you had such a great trip, and thanks for sharing your details.

Posted by
1917 posts

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip! And very little rain was nice. :) I would love to spend 25 days there!

Posted by
1781 posts

I have always wanted to rent bikes while traveling but never have. Sounds like it was wonderful!