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#1 g.johnson

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:24 PM

We're planning a trip to Ireland this summer and confess to being almost entirely ignorant as to where we should visit.

Kerry is essential I suppose but after that, we're at a loss.

Any suggestions?
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#2 splinky

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:27 PM

any town with a good pub should work out fine

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#3 g.johnson

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:32 PM

QUOTE(splinky @ Jan 15 2010, 12:27 PM) View Post
any town with a good pub should work out fine

Since that equates to any town it doesn't narrow down the possibilities much.
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#4 Daisy

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:41 PM

The cliffs of Moher are pretty spectacular. I loved Connemara, it's just gorgeous. You need to go to Cork for good food and the beauty of west Cork. The Aran islands, weather permitting.
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#5 Rail Paul

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:46 PM

Dee and I did an unscripted trip in 2002, with just a few targets.

The Guinness brewer at St. James's Gate, Trinity College, the General Post Office in Dublin, St Patrick's Cathedral. The Waterford crystal plant and the Louise Kennedy Tipperary Crystal showroom. A few nights near Kinsale. The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle of Inch. Two nights at Adare manor.

And, lots of trains and shopping, of course. It was mostly bed and breakfast. I believe the exchange rate had the dollar and the euro about equal at the time.

Next trip will probably be in the northern counties (Ulster, Antrim, Galway, etc). I'd love to see the Druid theater company's work on its own turf.

I probably posted about the trip on eG or OA. I'll see what I can find.

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#6 g.johnson

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:50 PM

QUOTE(Daisy @ Jan 15 2010, 12:41 PM) View Post
The cliffs of Moher are pretty spectacular. I

Googled and found Things That I Won't Be Doing...


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#7 nuxvomica

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:51 PM

we loved Cork (Daisy's right about food and beauty), Wicklow Mountains and the grounds at Powerscourt
“Eat me,’’ it says. “Eat me and die.’’ -- Jonathan Gold

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#8 Daisy

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:52 PM

Galway is nice, although the city of Galway is skippable. We had a car, which I would recommend as the way to go. So much of what I enjoyed was scenery and impromptu turnings off the main road to park and hike or walk on the beach, etc.

I enjoyed Dublin but wouldn't spend more than a couple of days there, there is so much to see in the rest of the country. The library at Trinity College blew me away I recall.

Blondie will no doubt have tons of valuable suggestions.

ETA: We too visited Powerscourt on the most beautiful, sunny day. An added pleasure of this trip was the drive from Dublin when we passed through the beautiful seaside Dublin suburb of Dun Laoghaire.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
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The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
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I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#9 splinky

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 06:07 PM

QUOTE(g.johnson @ Jan 15 2010, 12:32 PM) View Post
QUOTE(splinky @ Jan 15 2010, 12:27 PM) View Post
any town with a good pub should work out fine

Since that equates to any town it doesn't narrow down the possibilities much.

you saw right through me on that one

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#10 SethG

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 07:20 PM

We spent our honeymoon in Ireland in May 2000, and we loved it.

If you are into golf or equestrian pursuits there are a million options for those. We are not into either one. As it was our honeymoon we spent a night at Adare manor, and it was beautiful but we felt like the place was a bit wasted on us since we don't golf. If you play and you want a nice splurge for a night I'd recommend it. The grounds are lovely.

We spent pretty much all our time hiking. There is an abundance of great hiking, through meadows, bogs, hills, and at cliffsides, much of it tramping on private land but no one seems to care. There are little green books with good maps pretty widely available for all the various counties.

The Kerry and Dingle peninsulas are both very pretty and very well-travelled, but our experience was that the crowds are all on buses on the ring roads. Each of these peninsulas has a beautiful hike through rolling green pastures to the sea, and when we did these walks we were alone with the sheep. (Of course access to sheep may be another attraction of the island, depending on your preferences.) We also thought the town of Dingle was quite cute.

I remember us climbing some hills in Connemara, which was another great day.

The Cliffs of Moher are indeed spectacular, and if you go I would encourage you to hike down the path away from the visitor's center, where all the busfuls of folks with fanny packs will be hanging around... the cliffs go on and on and if you follow the path, after a surprisingly short period of time you will be pretty much alone with the cliffs and the sea.

As wonderful as the Cliffs of Moher are, we were just as impressed with cliffs elsewhere on the island, and we felt a little more joy at the discovery of these other places since they weren't so frequented. I remember particularly some wonderful cliff walks at the northern end of County Mayo, which we found in one of those little green books. The exposure is amazing on these cliffs, and the sheep paths you follow go right next to the precipice. No one is standing around to stop you from hurling yourself right into the sea if you are so moved-- it is such an unamerican experience. Also in County Mayo is Croagh Patrick, which is not much of a mountain, just a hill with a paved path (it is a pilgrimage site in late July, best to avoid it at that time!) which features great views over pretty Clew Bay.

Also amazing, AWESOME, even, are the cliffs of Slieve League in Donegal. Hiking the edge of these cliffs takes a few hours and then I don't know how you'd get back to your car. I think we hiked until we were past the high point and descended most of the way on the other side, and then turned back. A full day's adventure and really worth it if you decide to head so far north. There is this one self-explanatory part of the cliff walk called "One Man's Pass," which I found terrifying at the time but which now (given the rock climbing I've done since then) I'm sure I would crawl right through-- at any rate, there's no need to fear One Man's Pass if you consider going up there, since on the day I refused to do it we found a way to descend a bit and walk right around it easily. I remember some other nice cliff walks in County Donegal, and a generally harsher landscape than elsewhere in Ireland. Not much else in the way of charming towns or decent food, so I wouldn't really venture up there unless, like us, you want to walk all the best cliffsides.

Dublin is nice but I agree with Daisy, the countryside is the star. And the Guinness. Drink as much Guinness as you can. That's what I tried to do.
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#11 IanT

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:21 PM

Some thoughts:

Dublin - Lots of information already on here but my top tips are (i) have afternoon tea/stay in the Merrion Hotel. Wonderful 5* hotel in Georgian buildings in the middle of Dublin. Beautiful drawing rooms with turf fires and the finest collection of 20th century Irish art outside a gallery. Also home to Patrick Guilbaud for fancier fare, worth having a look at the magnificent dining room and its stunning art in any event. Its also much cheaper than you'd think (rooms at €199 at the moment) (ii) drink Guinness in the great old Dublin pubs (all mentioned on Blondie's thread) (iii) get the DART from the centre of Dublin heading south down the coast to Killiney. Get a window seat on the left hand side of the train. Get off at Killiney and walk along the coast to Dalkey before stopping for a bite to eat/drink and hop back on the DART back into town. And as a point of principle, do not set foot in Temple Bar.

Kerry
- Umissable? No, I don't think so. Large swathes of it are rammed full of coach loads of Americans during the summer. I would give it a skip. If you find yourself in Killarney during your trip you've gone wrong.

Cork - More like it. West Cork is beautiful and probably the most "foodie" area of Ireland (this is relative, be warned that restaurants in Ireland are generally awful. Some excellent produce though and, for example, many of the rightly famous farmhouse cheeses come from West Cork). Kinsale is getting a bit overtouristed but its still a lovely town and has lots of good restaurants. Schull is further off the beaten track and a lovely spot (off the beaten track for foreigners that is, its a bit rammed with Dubliners saling their yachts in August).

Clare - Much more like it (though, to confess bias, its my part of the world) I'd strongly recommend the Burren. A large tract of limestone covered land with a strange beauty unlike anywhere else (other than perhaps the surface of the moon). Great for long walks followed by creamy pints and bowls of chowder in Ballyvaughan. Near the Ciffs of Moher which might be worth seeing if you don't mind the coachloads of tourists but, as SethG rightly said above, there are cliffs almost as good right along the West Coast. It would be a shame not to take in at least one proper traditional music session (or seisiun) during your trip and Clare is the best place for it. Doolin, Lisdoonvarna or Miltown Malbay are the best spots for music and all have pubs with almost nightly seisiuns (as well as trad festivals during the summer). Have a look at the incursion, Kilkee and duggerna reef series here for an idea of what to expect in Clare.

Connemara - Moving up the West Coast to Connemara - another very beautiful, rugged area with plenty of tourists. Clifden gets very busy so I'd suggest getting the ferry out to Inis boffin for a night or two, exceptionally beautiful island a few miles off the coast. I've only been once but really thought it was lovely. Its also pretty much undeveloped and relatively quiet (unlike the heavily touristed Aran Islands) and has some fairly stunning cliffs/hinterlands to explore. (So as you don't get confused, Connemara is a region, not a county. Its contained within counties Galway and Mayo).

Donegal - Getting a little beyond my area of expertise here but its like a more rugged, less touristed version of Connemara. Also has a great tradition for music.

A suggested two week itinerary (presuming you are flying into/out of Dublin and that you are renting a car) would be to start with a couple of nights in Dublin, drive to Cork (possibly via Adare which is postcard pretty and has two nice hotels - Adare Manor and Dunraven Arms and two unusually good restaurants), explore West Cork then over a period of time work up the West Coast via Clare and Connemara to Donegal before heading back to Dublin. If you only have a week or ten days I would skip Donegal at the end. Discoverireland.com might be useful for you as an overview/to get your bearings.

#12 Blondie

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:26 PM

QUOTE(IanT @ Jan 18 2010, 09:21 AM) View Post
Schull is further off the beaten track and a lovely spot (off the beaten track for foreigners that is, its a bit rammed with Dubliners saling their yachts in August).

I’m going to make an unconventional suggestion: rent a house/flat in Schull for a week, maybe something with a view of the harbor. I lived a few miles away for 2 years. It's worth it. You can do daytrips to the Ring of Kerry and elsewhere, and not have to waste time checking in and out of hotels. The daytrip drives themselves are so gorgeous, you might not even need an attraction at the end of it.

You’ll have plenty of real, serious eating options either in Schull or less than a half hour away in Durrus, Skibbereen, Ballydehob, Bantry, Goleen. Kenmare is doable for dinner. As IanT said, they take food seriously down there: cheeses (Gubbeen, Durrus), smoked fish (Sally Barnes), Skeaganore Duck. I could go on, but I’ll sound like I work for the West Cork Tourist Board. Stock up at Field's in Skibbereen or Brosnan's in Schull, but keep your eyes peeled for places like Mannings Emporium, a food oasis on the road between Bantry and Glengarriff.

Here are some things you can do for daytrips in the area:

Ferry to Cape Clear Island
Ferry to Sherkin Island
Walk the Sheepshead (Penninsula) Way
Drive the Ring of Kerry
Mizen Penninsula: Mizen Lighthouse, Barleycove Beach, Dunmanus Castle, and Crookhaven (go to Billy O’Sullivan’s pub), coastline view
Sheepshead Penninsula: drive out to the lighthouse, beautiful coastline
Beara Penninsula: Boat to Garnish Island from Glengarriff, cablecar out to Dursey Island, Dunoy Castle ruins, lovely villages (Allihies, Eyries), I was more impressed by Beara than the Ring of Kerry
Gougane Barra
Bantry House
Drombeg Stone Circle near Glandore
Have dinner at John Desmond’s place on Heir Island – they send a boat to get you out to the island (I am dying to do this)

If the weather sucks, you stay in the pub and, for entertainment, try to figure out what the locals are saying.

Let me know if this appeals, and I can give you more specifics.


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#13 nuxvomica

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:32 PM

QUOTE(Blondie @ Jan 18 2010, 03:26 PM) View Post
QUOTE(IanT @ Jan 18 2010, 09:21 AM) View Post
Schull is further off the beaten track and a lovely spot (off the beaten track for foreigners that is, its a bit rammed with Dubliners saling their yachts in August).

I’m going to make an unconventional suggestion: rent a house/flat in Schull for a week, maybe something with a view of the harbor. I lived a few miles away for 2 years. It's worth it. You can do daytrips to the Ring of Kerry and elsewhere, and not have to waste time checking in and out of hotels. The daytrip drives themselves are so gorgeous, you might not even need an attraction at the end of it.

You’ll have plenty of real, serious eating options either in Schull or less than a half hour away in Durrus, Skibbereen, Ballydehob, Bantry, Goleen. Kenmare is doable for dinner. As IanT said, they take food seriously down there: cheeses (Gubbeen, Durrus), smoked fish (Sally Barnes), Skeaganore Duck. I could go on, but I’ll sound like I work for the West Cork Tourist Board. Stock up at Field's in Skibbereen or Brosnan's in Schull, but keep your eyes peeled for places like Mannings Emporium, a food oasis on the road between Bantry and Glengarriff.

Here are some things you can do for daytrips in the area:

Ferry to Cape Clear Island
Ferry to Sherkin Island
Walk the Sheepshead (Penninsula) Way
Drive the Ring of Kerry
Mizen Penninsula: Mizen Lighthouse, Barleycove Beach, Dunmanus Castle, and Crookhaven (go to Billy O’Sullivan’s pub), coastline view
Sheepshead Penninsula: drive out to the lighthouse, beautiful coastline
Beara Penninsula: Boat to Garnish Island from Glengarriff, cablecar out to Dursey Island, Dunoy Castle ruins, lovely villages (Allihies, Eyries), I was more impressed by Beara than the Ring of Kerry
Gougane Barra
Bantry House
Drombeg Stone Circle near Glandore
Have dinner at John Desmond’s place on Heir Island – they send a boat to get you out to the island (I am dying to do this)

If the weather sucks, you stay in the pub and, for entertainment, try to figure out what the locals are saying.

Let me know if this appeals, and I can give you more specifics.

i like this idea a lot.

and there is a great open air market on Saturdays, with terrific local cheeses and sausages made by a Polish guy, and tons more produce, honey, chocolates, you name it
“Eat me,’’ it says. “Eat me and die.’’ -- Jonathan Gold

Everything is always OK in the end. If it's not OK, then it's not the end.

#14 Blondie

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:52 PM

QUOTE(nuxvomica @ Jan 18 2010, 10:32 AM) View Post
i like this idea a lot.

and there is a great open air market on Saturdays, with terrific local cheeses and sausages made by a Polish guy, and tons more produce, honey, chocolates, you name it

I missed the market last time.

I can't discount the other suggestions either. I have been to every single place mentioned in the previous posts, including climbing Croagh Patrick and balking at the One Man's Pass at Slieve League, and they are all excellent suggestions. I think wherever you go the important thing is to appreciate the pace, which is hard to do if you're constantly on the move.
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#15 g.johnson

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:49 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

IanT's itinerary sounds like a plan.

We'd thought of renting a cottage somewhere but they're all for a minimum of a week and we'd like to move around to see a few more places.
The Obnoxious Glyn Johnson