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Ireland Trip Planning

by cth6 Online Now Feb 1, 2013 at 5:32 PM

I have the first half of our Ireland vacation in June planned and we are struggling a bit with the second half. We are a family (2 Adults, 2 teens) that is used to traveling, but have never been in Ireland. We will be renting a car for the trip. We are more into the natural beauty and sights as opposed to really touristy types of locations (ie Blarney Castle). We will have an Ireland Heritage card.

The second half of the trip starts on a Tuesday when we depart Galway and we depart from Dublin on the next Tuesday AM.

We are thinking of the following itinerary;
Wed - Connemera, Croagh Patrick, night near Sligo or Donegal Town area.
Thur - Slieve League, Glenveagh area, Letterkenny night near Derry.
Fri - Potrush, Giants Causeway, Glens of Antrim stay somewhere outside of Belfast
Sat - Titanic Museum and Boyne Valley, stay in Trim.
Sun - Boyne Valley and Dublin in afternoon
Mon - Dublin
Tue - Fly home

Too ambitious? Really want to see Giant's Causeway and Boyne Valley. They first part of the trip is pretty laid back so not too concerned about back to back days.

Any must see's along the way, great walks to take in?

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8 Answers
  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by wabat Online Now Feb 1, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Actually looks good and well though out.Not too ambitious.

    A few suggestions
    Croagh Patrick - Climb it - Its a pilgramage walk with small chapel at the top. Not a hard climb unless you decide to do it barefoot.
    Thur Night - Stay in Derry. It is worth time in itself (Historic city walls and Cathredral if nothing else.... I note your later visiting the Boyne Valley. You would be aware of the historic links.
    Friday (a very fully day - see how it goes stops wise - Early start for look around Derry - if you didnt get in in time on Thur evening. Suggest you replace Portrush with Portwtewart (though you will pass through former immediately after Portstwert). Grab an ice cream from Mauds on the Promenade in Portstweart and got for a walk along promenade (keep it to 30mins as Giants Causeway beckons). En route to Causeway you could stop at Carrick na Read Rope bridge and then just after the Causeway - Bushmills Distilllery. Continue along coast Road towards Belfast.
    Sat - Im told (yet to visit it) that Titanic museum can talk quite a time to visit - depends on your interest in the subject matter.

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  • GrainneB3's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by GrainneB3 Online Now Feb 1, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Hi there, I know you will have a super time but you need to be far less ambitious. The driving might look easy when you see the map but while the motorways have vastly improved, you will never get all that done better to limit yourselves to the most important things for you which seems to be Giants Causway, take your time to look around and drop into the local places then do Belfast and go on one of the 'republican tours' of the city so called but really you get to see both sides of the divide on a guided bus interesting for all and a great way to give the car driver a rest! Go into the famous ancient Globe Bar in Belfast, yes you are allowed bring children before 7pm. Titanic stuff well worth it and then really you should go to Newgrange the ancient site older than the Pyramids and an ancient wonder of the world, fabulous natural surroundings and interactive visitors centre and tearooms etc for all. Then onto Dublin and I would suggest you get on one of the tour busses, you pay a fee and can hop on and off at will during the day and visit the museums and see the sights best way to do it really, I would suggest that before leaving Galway you go to the Burren and see the amazing lunar landscape there, there are guided walks etc. Connemara is just something else and again you might consider just getting in the car and driving and stopping at will, quite normal in Ireland and call into the local pub for your evening meal and live traditional music children and young adults welcome. Family orientated fun and craoic. Try and allocate two days to Dublin and Belfast etc, there is also a great tour bus that takes you on the coastal tour of Dublin as the city is located between the sea and the mountains. Petrol is expensive in ireland and you may find the cost of living is higher than you thought but if you take your time on the trip you will really enjoy it, the pleasure of the country is to be more laid back and relaxed and slowly explore. Be prepared for rain with light easy fold up rain gear and layers as it can be cooler and damper than you might expect.... well thats why we are so green. On the other hand it could be 20 degrees+ so layers work well. Enjoy it. Grainne

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by leics Online Now Feb 1, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Agree that you are trying to squeeze in too much. If you don't want to trim your plan, it might be better to be sure of an absolute 'must' for each day and then accept that you may not make the other 'wants' for that day.

    Have a look at the reliable journeyplanner here;

    theaa.com/route-planner/inde...

    to get an idea of driving times, and then add on some more because the times given are optimum, as are routes (so you won't, for example, be given the rather pleasant but longer coastal route from Derry to Portrush). It will give you info about route, roadworks, speed cameras etc.

    Do allow yourself at least a couple of hours to 'see' (i.e. walk to and explore a bit) the Giants Causeway; it's worth the time. And you'll probably want to include Carrick-a-Rede on your way along the Causeway Coast to the Glens of Antrim? That's another hour or so....

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by planxty Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    I am not so sure about the Republic, I know N.I. better but in general terms it seems like a very full itinerary. The Saturday specifically looks like a lot to do. Even if you only see the Titanic Exhibition (I have not been yet) and do nothing else in or around Belfast, that still makes for a busy day. Thre is a lot to see and do in Belfast and around, things like one of the "political" bus tours, the Folk Museum in Cultra which is excellent as is the adjacent Transport Museum.

    If you decide to rejig this day a little, I would suggest that rather than heading straight down the M1 you detour slightly to go through Co. Down via the Mourne mountains which offer some lovely scenery. With a little more time you could even drive down the Ards peninsula, across on the Strangofd ferry, then through / past the Mournes before rejoining the main road at Newry and continuing South. If you want any further advice about this section, please feel free to either contact me here, on my homepage or per VT mail. I am originally from Northern Ireland and know it reasonably well.

    It would be interesting to see what you have planned for the first week so we can get an idea of what you have already "done" by the time you start this leg of the journey.

    Whatever you decide, you'll get some good advice here in addition to that which you have had and also a very warm welcome in both parts of the island. Of course, if you have visited before, you will know this already!

    Hope this assists,

    fergy.

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  • tony2phones's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by tony2phones Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 2:30 AM

    Point to Point it's doable. Galway to Donegal can be done via Sligo in just a few hours up the N17. But Connemara along the N59 to Clifden missing all stops along the way, then Kylemore Abbey stop long enough to take a few pictures. From Leenanne up the Doolough Valley without stopping to admire the most scenic drive? Sorry forgot the Sky road between Clifden and Kylemore. Under Crough Patrick (time to walk up this? that's a laff)into Westport along Clew Bay. Stop at the Thatched Pub for a bite to eat before a half hour walk round town and onwards. no time for the best of Mayo, dash past Achill island, the Ciede Fields, Blacksod then into Sligo. Photo of Yeats statue and back off again into Donegal Town (Drumcorry Guest House is just 2mile north of Town, if you are too exhausted to enjoy the evening)

    I could continue but you might get my point by this stage having not had chance to get out for some of the book full of great walks you have missed on the first leg. Some things you will have to Save for another time, only you can decide which these will be. Without knowing the first half and if cuts can be made there then? I can tell you that the road trip round the coastal Island of Ireland takes at least 14 days and that misses the odd bit. 4 of you in a hire car will have to get on really well to tackle the challenge.

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  • skippermax1's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by skippermax1 Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Hey! I am Irish and have lived here all my life.
    The motorway network is good now and you can drive to Cork/Limerick/Galway in about 2.5 hours easily. But when you get onto the national roads it takes a lot longer to cover distance.
    Your itinerary looks really interesting.
    I would recommend West Cork; Kinsale, Schull and the Bear Peninsula: beautiful countryside, roaring Atlantic Ocean, fab beaches & great seafood and beer!
    Kerry is a fab county: the obvious tourist hotspot is Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, but Valentia Island & the Dingle Peninsula are beautiful...
    Galway is another great county...Galway city has fab restaurants, pubs and has a really cool, slightly hippy/collegy vibe: I love it!
    There is a beautiful drive you can do out towards Clifden and around Connemara via Leenane and Cong.
    My cousins have a holiday home in Ballyconneely: lovely area outside Clifden with white sandy beaches, wild bogland and lakes and the Twelve Ben mountains in the background...
    The coast up by Mayo and sligo to Donegal is all good; some great surfing spots like Easkey and Bundoran...3,500 miles of ocean can stir up some monstrous waves along this coast.
    Climbing Croagh Patrick is really fun and just wear good walking shoes: is only very steep in one part. You could base yourself in Westport; has lovely pubs and restaurants; there is a really good cycle track which runs from Westport...oh yea another beautiful spot is Achill Island: you could base yourselves in Keel and visit Keem beach, Dooghill, and surf, swim, eat and drink in Keel; great walking and hiking on Achill too: be careful with weather and cliffs etc..
    Donegal is a wild and beautiful county; i have to see more of it myself.

    So if you havent included West Cork, Kerry or Galway: i highly recommend these for you!

    I just hope you have fine weather: my finger are crossed for you!

    Regards,

    Dave.

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  • annemariebyrne's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by annemariebyrne Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    For me it’s too ambitious! Take your first day for example, after leaving Galway you suggest : Wed - Connemera, Croagh Patrick, night near Sligo or Donegal Town area. In my opinion this is way too much ground to cover in one day unless you just want to drive, drive, drive!
    My advice would be to slow down and enjoy Connemara for at least a full day. After you leave Galway drive out to Connemara passing through Moycullen and Oughterard, continue on till Recess then turn right and drive along the shores of beautiful Lough Inagh, eventually taking a break at Kylemore Abbey. You could then continue to Letterfrack and visit the National Park Centre, maybe taking a walk up Diamond Mountain before heading over to Clifden for the night. Next day take a drive along the spectacular Sky Road before moving on to Westport, stopping off at Leenane and Killary Harbour along the way. Like others, I’d recommend spending a day and night in the Westport area. You could visit Westport House, Croagh Patrick and/or the beaches around Louisburgh then spend the night in one of the good hotels in Westport with maybe a visit Matt Molloy’s pub for music in the evening.
    I don’t want to re-arrange your whole trip but it seems to me you need a couple of bases and then make visits around that location. Trim is a good choice for a visit to Trim Castle, a walk along the Boyne, a visit to Newgrange (a must) and maybe a visit to the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge.
    If necessary you could use Trim as your last base and just head to Dublin airport from there, leaving Dublin city for another time. As someone who lives in Dublin I am loathe to suggest that you skip all that the city has to offer but you just cannot do everything in one trip!

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  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Re: Ireland Trip Planning

    by wabat Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    'While I first commented and stated that I felt the plan was doable that was on the basis that seeing the Giants Causeway, Titanic Expo in Belfast and the Boyne Valley were non negotiable. We have all added things to the stop list such that if OP tried to fit everything in the trip is impossible.
    As you will all agree if the three items mentioned are the only stops they are doable in time allocated. Whether it is best use of time (and it does involve a lot of hours in the car) only OP can decide based on their interests. While I agree spending days exploring things in particular areas is great its just not feasible. If a few extra stops can be thrown in along the way that is good - a lot will be missed. OP plan could be equated with "doing Europe in a month on Interrail " which equates to long hours on trains and a day or two max in each capital city.

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