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kctwinmommy

Not cruise related - but looking for Ireland advice

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So we're not taking a cruise there, but we are visiting Ireland this summer and will be there for 6 full days. I know there are some amazing people on these boards with first hand advice, so I wasn't sure where else to ask. 😀 We're going to come over from England (after 5 days there) on a Sunday, taking the ferry over to Dublin. We're planning to take the faster ferry too, from Holyhead.  We initially thought we'd have 8 days, but due to flights and work, we can only do 6 full days. I was thinking that we'd get our car that afternoon in Dublin, and head to Belfast to get there in the evening. That way the next day we could do the Titanic Museum (which is on our must see list). After that I had thought we'd go up to Giant's Causeway to see that the next day. When we leave there, we wanted to head over to the west coast, to see Cliffs of Moher (and I know that would be a long drive). From there, head south. Now, not sure that we could do Killarney and get to Blarney as well. We have to be back in Dublin the following Sunday morning for our flight and return the car and such. I know we're packing a lot in, but we're good with that. I understand there are "better" ways to do it, but it's what we can do. Between jobs and a son's busy school/swimming schedule, we're already going as long as we can. We will be in England for 5 days before coming over, and have to be there before because we have a specific event we're attending on the Saturday before we come over the Ireland.

 

So if you have advice on things, that would be great. My biggest concern is the amount of time and driving that Giant's Causeway will take, since it's really the farthest "out of the way" to other things in some ways. But I guess Blarney could be too. Just looking at the map I printed out for the circle going around the island to hit these things. As we're not really familiar with what driving is like getting around these areas, it just helps to know from people who have done this.  We just need to nail things down since there's 3 of us, and we need to book hotels. My SIL already gave me a great farmhouse to stay at near the Cliffs of Moher, so we'll contact them. Plus a beautiful B&B in Blarney if we go there.

 

Thanks in advance for all your help!

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If you stay in Killarney overnight, I highly recommend the Ross Castle Lodge B&B

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I would first ask why go via Hollyhead and Dublin. Unless you are already in North Wales, a direct flight from Heathrow to Belfast would certainly make better use of your limited time.

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36 minutes ago, Bob++ said:

I would first ask why go via Hollyhead and Dublin. Unless you are already in North Wales, a direct flight from Heathrow to Belfast would certainly make better use of your limited time.

 

I don't want to fly...  I understand that would be the fastest, I just don't want to do that.

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Have you booked your return flight already?  From Dublin?

You should consider flying home from Shannon.

 

Possible Itinerary: Ferry from UK to Belfast, (or Larne) Visit Giant's Causeway and Titanic Centre, then travel to Dublin, then across country to Cliffs of Moher, then Killarney, the home from Shannon airport.

The drive from Belfast to the Doolin area (Cliffs of Moher) would be up to 5 hours driving (on the wrong side of the road for you and on roads that are not multi lane).

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4 hours ago, VMax1700 said:

Have you booked your return flight already?  From Dublin?

You should consider flying home from Shannon.

 

Possible Itinerary: Ferry from UK to Belfast, (or Larne) Visit Giant's Causeway and Titanic Centre, then travel to Dublin, then across country to Cliffs of Moher, then Killarney, the home from Shannon airport.

The drive from Belfast to the Doolin area (Cliffs of Moher) would be up to 5 hours driving (on the wrong side of the road for you and on roads that are not multi lane).

 

Airfare is already booked. And yes we understand the roads. My husband lived in the UK for 3 years. So he's familiar with the driving.

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6 hours ago, Bob++ said:

I would first ask why go via Hollyhead and Dublin. Unless you are already in North Wales, a direct flight from Heathrow to Belfast would certainly make better use of your limited time.

 

The other issue, as I did look it up, is the cost. Flights are running about $5-600. The ferry would be about $120. I have anxiety when it comes to flying as well, so it's a lot harder for me. 😥

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8 hours ago, bubbachief said:

If you stay in Killarney overnight, I highly recommend the Ross Castle Lodge B&B

 

Thanks! My SIL recommend Westwood Country House. But we'll check them both out.

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I highly recommend that you check what ships are in port when you're in Belfast,   we had timed tickets for the Titanic Museum, but left after about 20 minutes due to crowds so thick, we literally couldn't move.   I understand that late afternoons are much better ( I think our tickets were for about 10:30)  from what I've read, you want tickets at least after 3 to avoid the crowds.  

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10 minutes ago, cruise kitty said:

I highly recommend that you check what ships are in port when you're in Belfast,   we had timed tickets for the Titanic Museum, but left after about 20 minutes due to crowds so thick, we literally couldn't move.   I understand that late afternoons are much better ( I think our tickets were for about 10:30)  from what I've read, you want tickets at least after 3 to avoid the crowds.  

 

Good to know! I hadn't thought of that. I'll check for sure.

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We visited the Titanic museum first thing in the morning and it was reasonable crowds. I would similarly recommend visiting very early or very late.

 

But I think you're being too ambitious with your itinerary, trying to see the far corners of the country in 6 days -- you'll just be spending too much time in the car, driving between places that aren't even the best things to see. For one thing, because they're on everyone's must-see lists, they're usually crowded with busloads of tourists. (Honestly, I think many of those sights end up on must-see lists because they've built large parking lots able to accommodate those tour buses more than anything.) There's a lot in between them that is well worth a more leisurely visit. I would pick either Dublin (and environs) and/or Northern Ireland OR the west of the country (County Clare and/or County Kerry), but not both in 6 days.

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Getting to Blarney castle, better go early as the line is LONG to get in, like Disney ride. the Causeway is nice too visit, being from Oregon, have something like that here but YES LONG drive. Don't forget scenic drive back. Museum closes at 6PM so we missed it being out all day, lot of riding. Very pretty countryside. GREEN

Rain sometimes, expect it

Blarney has woolen mills next to it, can walk there, lots to buy, lunch there OK

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I've been to Dublin only once but loved it - it may not be necessary to spend more than a couple of days there but I think it would be a missed opportunity to treat it only as a pick-up/drop-off site for a rental car. As suggested above, consider fitting in a couple of days to stay in Dublin and otherwise limit the amount of driving on your trip. 

 

For me, and I'm also in Chicago, I spend enough time in cars in a normal work week - if I can avoid cars while on vacation, I'm happier for it! 😁

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15 minutes ago, 3rdCoastFan said:

I've been to Dublin only once but loved it - it may not be necessary to spend more than a couple of days there but I think it would be a missed opportunity to treat it only as a pick-up/drop-off site for a rental car. As suggested above, consider fitting in a couple of days to stay in Dublin and otherwise limit the amount of driving on your trip. 

 

For me, and I'm also in Chicago, I spend enough time in cars in a normal work week - if I can avoid cars while on vacation, I'm happier for it! 😁

 

Yeah, days are already set, so we can't really change it to stay in Dublin any longer. I know we're doing things shorter than what everyone says we should, but that's the reality of what time we have. And I don't spend much time in the car, so that doesn't bother me.

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Thanks for the replies so far. I know we're putting a lot into our trip, and nothing says we're sticking with it. I do know we're not staying in Dublin for more than over night though, just not what we want to see this time. And there are a few things we do want to see, even if they're considered "touristy." We're traveling with our teenage son too, so that plays into some of this. My husband lived in the UK for 3 years, so the driving doesn't bother him at all, and we've done really long road trips here in the states. But thanks for the tips you all have provided so far. I know it may not be the way others would do it, but I am trying to get us the most info to help us plan it for the way we want to go. So thank you all for the ideas!

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6 hours ago, kctwinmommy said:

we've done really long road trips here in the states. 

Without being unkind, doing a long road trip in the US,  is nothing like driving in Ireland. The majority of the time you will be travelling on single carriageway roads with limited places to overtake. Driving for three hours in the US you could easily cover 200 miles - you'll be lucky to travel more than 120 miles in Ireland in the same length of time,  especially when you get yo the West Coast. You need to decide if you want to spend your holiday in the car, or in Ireland!

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Yes, it's not that the driving is necessarily difficult -- my Aussie husband had no problem with the left-side driving, the roundabouts, or the rural roads. It's just the opportunity cost of spending a long time in the car when you could be out actually doing things. (Many of the roads are edged by hedgerows and aren't really scenic, with some exceptions like the coastal roads.) This is especially true when you're travelling with a teenager.

 

For example, have you made time to do things like go on a Hawk Walk with a local falconry? Or try some archery in the woods or watch sheepdogs at work? Or just take a rambling walk through gorgeous scenery? (My favourite place to walk was on the Burren. We found a beautiful dramatic place along the edge of the sea. We even saw a stoat!) Or just stop for a picnic on a quiet beach where it's just you and the puffins and some curious seals?

 

If you do want to see the top tourist sites, at least visit very early or very late. (We had no lines at Blarney when we were there at the end of the day, after the big buses had all moved on.) And note that there are castles to see, yes, but also castles where you can stay. Our favourite was quiet one where we had a local fox come mooch our leftover ham sandwiches.

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Oh, and I'd agree with not needing to spend a lot of time in Dublin itself (although my favourite there is probably the Trinity College student-led tour with the Book of Kells exhibition), but there's a lot of sights near Dublin as well -- my favourite probably being the Neolithic sights such as Newgrange and Loughcrew. I think it's worth stopping to see them on the way to Belfast, if you're heading to Belfast.

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The fast ferry from Holyhead is very unreliable and not very fast. Takes 2 hours and 15 mins as against the more reliable slow boat that takes 3 hours and 15 mins. But beware that 1 of the Irish Ferries boats is more like a freight ship. The 2 Stena boats are both designed to take passengers. (1 is brand new)

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23 hours ago, kctwinmommy said:

Thanks for the replies so far. I know we're putting a lot into our trip, and nothing says we're sticking with it. I do know we're not staying in Dublin for more than over night though, just not what we want to see this time. And there are a few things we do want to see, even if they're considered "touristy." We're traveling with our teenage son too, so that plays into some of this. My husband lived in the UK for 3 years, so the driving doesn't bother him at all, and we've done really long road trips here in the states. But thanks for the tips you all have provided so far. I know it may not be the way others would do it, but I am trying to get us the most info to help us plan it for the way we want to go. So thank you all for the ideas!

I am heading there in May for a girls trip for 5 days and then over to Scotland! One of my friends going lives in Germany but none of us are brave enough to drive around so we just plan on flying into Dublin, staying for a few days and then taking the train to Belfast ($20), doing a Game of Thrones tour which will take us to some pretty good sites along the way and then fly from Belfast to Edinburgh. Having only been to Europe this past summer for the first time, I am super excited to visit a brand new country! Enjoy your trip!

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Warning! We were there in 2001 and rented a car. Things may have changed but back then if you rented a car in Ireland you could not drive it in to Northern Ireland. Oops! We discovered this in our rental contract after we had circumnavigated the island. 1600 miles in 2 weeks with 3 kids in what the Irish consider a "large" car. Not!

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The rental car companies charge a small fee (ours was 25 Euro) if you intend on driving into Northern Ireland. You can pay the fee at pick up.

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I'd highly recommend Dingle (and the whole peninsula) while on the west coast.  It's a gorgeous town and the scenery on the peninsula is unrivaled anywhere in Ireland. Just drive very carefully.

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Thank you for all the info. I'm still planning and replanning! LOL! It turns out, my husband does want to spend a little time in Dublin, so we'll spend our first night there. I guess he thinks our teenage son should "experience" the Guinness brewery! 😏LOL! And our hotel is also close to the Jameson tour as well, for my husband. So we'll see some things there before heading up to Belfast in the afternoon/evening. We may end up scraping a little bit on the south end of the country, we'll see. We know we can't see all that we want, but it is what it is. It would be great if we could spend 2-3 weeks there, but the reality is, we can't. My husband only gets so much time off and our son can only be away from swim training for so long during his summer season. And because we have plans in England, that  limited our time in Ireland. Heck - we were considering Germany for the other part of our trip! LOL! That's going to have to be a vacation on its own! I'm pretty sure we could lose our WWI/WWII history loving teenager in that country! It may be a HS bucket list trip to be honest.

 

Again, thank you for all the replies, I do appreciate it!

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On 1/29/2020 at 10:01 AM, erby2283 said:

I am heading there in May for a girls trip for 5 days and then over to Scotland! One of my friends going lives in Germany but none of us are brave enough to drive around so we just plan on flying into Dublin, staying for a few days and then taking the train to Belfast ($20), doing a Game of Thrones tour which will take us to some pretty good sites along the way and then fly from Belfast to Edinburgh. Having only been to Europe this past summer for the first time, I am super excited to visit a brand new country! Enjoy your trip!

 

Yeah, my husband drove for the 2 days we had a car on our trip there in 2017. It took him like 20 minutes to feel totally normal again. He did it for 3 years when he lived there. But I had NO desire to even try it! LOL! Have a great time on your trip! I'm not a GOT fan, but I know we'll still stop by the sites, because it is pretty cool looking, plus we'll be right there.

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