Ireland

Old Dec 12, 18, 8:41 am
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Ireland

I leave May 8-24 for Scotland/Ireland. Itís not the amount of time I wanted to take; however, pricing of ticket I couldnít justify extending the trip. I anticipate about 9-10 days for Ireland. I 100% know I canít and wonít see all of Ireland- I will need to return. However, in that period of time, which part would you recommend exploring?

I am normally 100% on planning trips but Iím stumped by this one!

Thanks!
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Old Dec 12, 18, 11:26 am
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Always useful to give us something to work with, i.e. what are your interests, are you travelling solo/with others, using car/public transport, etc etc
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Old Dec 12, 18, 11:51 am
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Iíll be traveling with my mom and potentially my brother. All really like history (especially WWII), old buildings/architecture. Enjoy seeing nature but not really hikers. Enjoy live music/touring wineries or breweries. Iíd say the only thing neither of us choose to do is art museums. I am 80% sure weíll be traveling by car.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Jenna Carpenter View Post
Iíll be traveling with my mom and potentially my brother. All really like history (especially WWII), old buildings/architecture. Enjoy seeing nature but not really hikers. Enjoy live music/touring wineries or breweries. Iíd say the only thing neither of us choose to do is art museums. I am 80% sure weíll be traveling by car.
This is my personal view but backed by a dozen trips since 2000 and a bit by my experiences traveling with others: unless you're a city person, plan no more than two or three days in Dublin and then spend the rest of your time around the rest of the country that you can reach. I really like Dublin, and I'm not saying you'll see everything you want to see in two or three days, but you can see most of it, and you'll understand after one trip there that there are two Irelands--Dublin and the rest of the country. Dublin is a modern city with a lot of history and a solid literary background. But no one I've ever taken there, all first timers in Ireland, needed to spend more than three days seeing the city and hitting the pubs at night, and in one or two cases, my fellow travelers have said that Dublin was their least favorite part of Ireland.

Since you like music and breweries, you should look at musical pub tours of Dublin and check out the Guinness and Jameson tours. I very much recommend Guinness, even if you don't like the product, for several reasons. First, the tour is totally self directed, which means that you can shrink or expand your time there to fit the rest of your schedule. Second, there are aspects of the Guinness experience, such as their long advertising history and their presence in Dublin for so long, that I think can be interesting in and of themselves. Third, the view from the Gravity Bar at the top is one of the best views of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains. Jameson is worth several hours, but there, you're part of a tour group and must apportion time for that. Phoenix Park is a huge public park on the north side of town--twice the size of Central Park. St. Stephen's Green is a much smaller, in-city park that you easily walk around in less than an hour, but it's very pretty and a good place for a picnic lunch. Dublin Castle is probably worth a visit, but don't expect a classic castle experience. Since Ireland was neutral in WWII, you won't see much about that, but Dublin was central to Ireland's eventual independence from Great Britain, and there are a number of sites related to that time. Dublin is also an improving restaurant city and a city with a good theater scene.

Once you're outside the city, you'll have to pick and choose because as you have already said, you don't have enough days to see the entire country. Most visitors want to go to the Ring of Kerry in the southwest, and there's no doubt that the scenery is spectacular. Killarney, the unofficial capital of this area, mostly because of its congregation of touristy chain hotels, is a natural starting point. But I have gravitated to the nearby Dingle Peninsula because it's not yet overrun with tourists the way the Ring of Kerry is, and Dingle Town is far less touristy than Killarney although the prices at some of the restaurants are sky high as you'd expect from a well-traveled tourist haunt. In either case, either join one of the bus tours or if you drive, prepare to spend most of your driving time behind one of the tour buses. Each of these coastal routes is a narrow, twisting two-lane road and you're only likely to get around one of the slow-moving buses when they choose to pull off at a viewing point or one of the tourist trap stops they'll make along the way. If you work your way up the western coast, you'll come upon another popular tourist attraction, the Cliffs of Moher, which is a spectacular site but also a place overrun with tourists.

Galway, on the west coast, is a good pub town, but on a visit this past September, my group liked Cork , in the southeast, much more than I would have expected. Conversations with locals revealed that because of urban improvements around Cork, it's probably a better place to be than it was 20 years ago. Killarney, Galway, and Cork are all within a couple of hours of Dublin on the hub-and-spoke road system that features motorways all leading to Dublin. Keep in mind, however, that driving around the rim of Ireland between towns like Cork and Galway, you won't see such great roads. Many of the major rural roads in Ireland, called National or N roads, are no more than two-lane roads that can be a terror to drive the first time and especially after dark. BTW, since you plan to drive in Ireland, it's a good idea to get familiar with this thread: Car Rental Insurance in Ireland -- Very Confused. The TL;DR version: don't assume that you can stroll up to a rental counter in Ireland as you would in the US and waive local insurance so you can rely on insurance offered by your credit card. You can use insurance afforded by your credit card, but it's almost certain the rental car company in Ireland will require written proof of the coverage afforded. That thread covers that issue and more.

In addition, the "drink driving" laws as they are called in Ireland and other parts of Europe are much stricter than in the US and just recently became stricter with an immediate three-month ban (for local drivers) if found to be over-the-limit. Combined with the quirks around the roads, I'd advise being able to walk between your accommodations and any pub or restaurant you visit in Ireland.

If you really want an off-the-beaten path experience, going up to Donegal in northwest Ireland will take you into the most unspoiled part of the country. The towns are smaller, and you'll find more signs and spoken language in Gaelic than in any other part of the island. If you go there, however, the nearest spoke road back to Dublin runs from Sligo, and it easily takes several hours to get there from the far reaches of Donegal. You may not have enough time to get to the southern parts of the country if you choose to go up there.

One more BTW--don't overlook Northern Ireland. It took me ten years before I made my first visit there, and I'm sorry I waited that long. First, the bad. I think the people in Northern Ireland are far more reserved (less fun?) than in Ireland. I've warmed a bit to Belfast, but if Dublin isn't worth more than three days, Belfast isn't worth more than two. But the good is wonderful. The scenery is every bit as fantastic as in the Republic, the train trip from Castlerock to Londonderrry is one of the most spectacular in the world (and runs through a tunnel underneath the Mussenden Temple, which my friends who love Game of Thrones tell me has played a role in that series), and the Bushmill's distillery is definitely worth a visit. If you decide to go to Donegal, it's easy to get to Northern Ireland at this point although the potential for a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a real, possible side effect of Brexit. Right now, crossing the border between the two is like crossing the border between two states in the US--a road sign marking the border is about all you'll see--but that could change.

And a final BTW, although you've asked more about Ireland, I think Scotland is worth more time than the five or six days you've apparently allocated for it unless you've been to Scotland before, and this is your first trip to Ireland.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 8:06 pm
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Lots of info- thank you. I will need to read with fresh eyes- itís almost bedtime here! Itís my first trip to both; however, airfare from Philadelphia-Edinburgh was $430 RT and to extend my trip an extra two days would have been almost $300 more. I have no problem going back to either and fully anticipate I will.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 8:14 am
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Originally Posted by Jenna Carpenter View Post
Lots of info- thank you. I will need to read with fresh eyes- itís almost bedtime here! Itís my first trip to both; however, airfare from Philadelphia-Edinburgh was $430 RT and to extend my trip an extra two days would have been almost $300 more. I have no problem going back to either and fully anticipate I will.
That makes sense. Budget can be a constraint on any trip, and I'll jump on a cheap fare when I can--I went to Ireland in September 2017 on a $250 fare out of BWI even though I'd already been in April 2017. Your weather in May should be good in both places although frankly, you'll want to pack something waterproof and something warm because I've seen temperatures in the 50s and frequent showers in both Scotland and Ireland anytime from April through September. On the other hand, I've also seen sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s in April, 70s in May, and the very occasional low 80s from late June through mid-August.

How are you getting from Ireland to Scotland? Air travel and ferries will require some positioning at both ends of the trip. If you can take the time (and probably the extra money), I love ferry travel, but here is some information on both modes: Ferries and Flights from Ireland to Scotland.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 10:16 am
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One suggestion, look up bus tours. These are offered by many different companies. I am not suggesting taking a bus tour, Ireland is best experienced by car, but check out the itineraries of the tours offered. It will give you a good idea of the main places to visit, what you might see there and how long it might take to travel between places. Decide what interests you the most. For car rental, be aware that some companies charge a fee for crossing the border, some donít allow cross border travel. The border itself is invisible, at least in the north west. The only way I knew I had crossed from Ireland to Northern Ireland on a recent trip was when my GPS switched from kilometers to miles. Personally I would allow 7 days for a trip Belfast-Donegal-Belfast or for a trip Dublin-Kerry-Dublin. If you were planning to do all 4 that would be two weeks minimum for me but there are plenty of people who would dash around and do that in a week. Beware of too much traveling, too little being there. I would pick either north or south and if you like it, go back to the other some other time. If you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan then you could make a great trip in the north based around filming sites.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 2:40 pm
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if you are going to Ireland and are interested in WW2 and history then NI is for you. Fear not about Brexit and hard borders, although lwildernorva reports the concerns correctly it wont happen for years and the current political turmoil is precisely because both North and South of Ireland don't want a "hard" border between the countries again.

If you head towards Belfast you can find within ten miles the following:
Belfast Titanic Centre - https://titanicbelfast.com/
They built a ship here. It was OK when it left here.
Carrickfergus Castle - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrickfergus_Castle
This is a Norman castle that has links to John Paul Jones during the earlier terrorist campaign waged by Mr Washington and his men against the British Forces in 1778!!
About two miles away is a cottage that belonged to a local lad, Andrew Jackson, who went to America and got a job in local government there after Mr Washington. Some other Americans were based here in WW2.
The Ulster Folk Park - https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/uls...seum/Home.aspx
Worth a good day out.
Further afield is: The Ulster American Folk Park - https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/uls...park/Home.aspx
Also a good day out.

You may find out more about WW2 and the US here: https://ww2ni.webs.com/
and here: https://gitrailni.com/about/?doing_w...26831054687500

If you are looking for a place to stay in Fermanagh there is an interesting US link here to the sinking of the Bismark!
https://www.manorhousecountryhotel.com/history.html
https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/...-the-bismarck/

I can thoroughly recommend the trip to the Giants Causeway/Bushmills distillery area, and the coast road drive from Belfast/ Carrickfergus/Larne to there is fabulous.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 5:38 pm
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Adding to antichefís itinerary, continue on to Londonderry. You can walk the walls around the old city and the Free Derry museum is an interesting couple of hours. Then keep going west into Donegal, itís wonderful. Glenveagh National Park is a very nice place to visit and it is free. There are two wonderful drives that join together, the Coastal Causeway route along the spectacular NI coast, and the Wild Atlantic Way that travels around Donegal and then all the way south.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 6:04 pm
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Some very good info above in the thread - for live music listings I would recommend the following sites to see if your trip coincides with any good live shows:

Ireland:
https://www.thelist.ie/

Scotland:
https://www.gigsinscotland.com/gigs
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Old Dec 13, 18, 8:37 pm
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A couple of additional pointers. If you decide to go to Dublin first after arriving in Ireland, don't rent a car immediately. Cars are almost useless for foreigners in Dublin as the roads are narrow and poorly suited to modern automobiles, it's a terrible place to navigate if you're just learning right side driving, parking is expensive, and the public transportation system in central Dublin is excellent. Use the Airlink bus from the airport into central Dublin. It's less than 15 euro roundtrip, is available right outside the terminals, and is as fast, if not faster than renting a car to drive into central Dublin. Then, when you're ready to leave Dublin, go back to the airport by Airlink and rent a car from there. If you decide to go somewhere else first and make Dublin your last stop, drop the car off at the airport and take the Airlink into Dublin for the reasons cited above. You'll save several hundred dollars of rental car fees this way.

No matter which direction you're headed, if you are like me and think a shower after an all-night flight is almost non-negotiable, there's a travel center similar to the commercial rest stops you see off the interstates in the northeast US that's located off the M1 about 15 minutes north of the airport. Search Google for "Applegreen Lusk," which is the name of the convenience store (Applegreen) that's at the hub of this complex and the area where the complex is located. There are rudimentary showers here--no towels or toiletries provided so anyone wanting a shower will need to pack one of those microfiber Packtowels that places like REI sell to hikers. In addition to the Applegreen convenience store, the complex has a Costa Coffee (sort of the European competitor to Starbucks), a Burger King, and a bake shop. I'm not saying it's great, but given the lack of lounge facilities at the Dublin airport with showers that you can access on a coach ticket, it's not a bad place to refresh yourself after a long overnight flight (especially since your flight is likely to land around 7 a.m. Irish time) and get a quick breakfast if you intend to drive on your first day in Ireland. Plus, although I doubt this is encouraged behavior, you and your party might be able to take a nap in the car in the parking lot since the lot is fairly large and not particularly monitored for cars full of sleeping passengers.

Two more things in regards to renting a car. You have three people and their luggage. Because even in small towns, parking is difficult, get the smallest car you possibly can but understand that the smallest cars in Ireland are much smaller than in the US. It is unlikely that the smallest car available can handle three passengers and three carryon pieces of luggage. Most of the online rental sites will tell you how many passengers and how many pieces of luggage each car can handle. You will want a car that at a minimum, can handle four passengers and five pieces of luggage. On my September trip this year, I took a compact car, which is one level up from the smallest car, an economy class, for two people. We could just barely fit everything we had into this car, and I packed fairly light because I knew my companion, a first-timer to Ireland, would pack heavily. You'll probably want another level up, the standard class, which is something like a VW Jetta.

Second, unlike in the US, assume that when you are parking on the street or in a parking lot, you will need to pay for parking--even in the smallest town and even at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Google "pay and display parking Ireland" to get more fundamental information about the parking situation, but unlike the US, where you'd probably never expect to pay for parking in many cities on certain weekend days or in small towns almost any time, in Ireland, you are very likely to need to pay for parking anytime, anyplace.
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Old Dec 14, 18, 1:37 am
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I agree, you do not want a car in Dublin.

I have friends in the city who find driving the car a problem and parking difficult - you wont find it any easier!
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Old Dec 14, 18, 12:32 pm
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Wow! So much more info- thanks! My plan is to get on the computer in the next week and start researching all of this.

Right now now itís just two of us going to Ireland. My brother has not committed at this point but he is thinking about it. As to drinking- no worries- my mom will be the individual driving (her Irish grandfather taught her how to drive!) and is the best parallel Parker in the world- and she will not drink if getting behind a wheel.

My plan was to fly in from Edinburgh to Dublin. Shannon RT to Edinburgh is pricey. Plus, I didnít go to Helsinki from Tallinn this summer on ferry bc of wind and I throw up on ferryís. As to this thought: Iíve had multiple people (including an Irish person I met at a hotel stay over Thanksgiving) tell me I could completely skip Dublin and be happy. Then a coworkerís son said to tell me to skip Dublin because Iíll think itís similar to Washington DC?


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Old Dec 14, 18, 1:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Jenna Carpenter View Post
Wow! So much more info- thanks! My plan is to get on the computer in the next week and start researching all of this.

Right now now it’s just two of us going to Ireland. My brother has not committed at this point but he is thinking about it. As to drinking- no worries- my mom will be the individual driving (her Irish grandfather taught her how to drive!) and is the best parallel Parker in the world- and she will not drink if getting behind a wheel.

My plan was to fly in from Edinburgh to Dublin. Shannon RT to Edinburgh is pricey. Plus, I didn’t go to Helsinki from Tallinn this summer on ferry bc of wind and I throw up on ferry’s. As to this thought: I’ve had multiple people (including an Irish person I met at a hotel stay over Thanksgiving) tell me I could completely skip Dublin and be happy. Then a coworker’s son said to tell me to skip Dublin because I’ll think it’s similar to Washington DC?



If there are only two of you instead of three, planning gets easier. You can cut down the size of the rental car, and accommodations can be a room with two twin beds (one more European wrinkle--unlike in the US, many accommodations in Ireland will not even be available with one queen-sized bed in a room, much less two). I can certainly understand avoiding the ferries between Ireland and Scotland given the potential for seasickness plus air travel is faster.

I would conditionally agree with the assessment that you could skip Dublin, but given that it's a relatively compact city for tourist purposes and that it's a lively city, I don't think two or three days there is wasted. And although both DC and Dublin are national capitals and a mixing bowl of tourists from many different countries, I don't see many more similarities between the two cities. First and foremost, Dublin is just a lot more fun than DC. Second, Dublin has an entire literary atmosphere that is completely lacking in DC. Third, unlike DC, which has seen history but which was founded after the US established itself as an independent country, Dublin has been the central focus of Ireland for many hundreds of years.

I have found that many Irish who tell you that you could skip Dublin are from outside the city. I would base my decision to skip Dublin on your travel preferences--for instance, if beautiful scenery and small towns are more your style, then skip Dublin; if you enjoy cities, Dublin is worth two or three days. Given that you're going to use Dublin as an airport stop, I don't see any particular harm in staying in the city for a day or two after your arrival or before your departure.

One more BTW, I wouldn't stay at one of the hotels that advertises itself as an "airport" hotel. Most of them are kind of soulless, and some of them are located not much closer to the airport than accommodations in central Dublin, especially if you use the Airlink. If you decide you really don't want to stay in Dublin but want to stay in the area of the airport, you should consider the nearby seaside town of Malahide. You'll need a cab to get there, but it's a pretty, walkable little town with several good restaurants (I favor McGovern's) and Gibney's, a great, representative Irish pub. Malahide Castle can be a pleasant way to spend several hours. And should you regret the decision not to go into Dublin, there's a DART train station near all of these places that will take you into central Dublin in about 30 minutes for less than $15 roundtrip.
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Old Dec 29, 18, 4:04 am
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As a Corkman, through gritted teeth, can I just advise that you really shouldn't skip Dublin. It is a great city, so do give in a couple of days. And I know you said you are not a museum visit type, but you really should give the Book Of Kells and the long hall a quick look. Buy a visit ticket online. Don't get stuck in the queue.
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