Ireland- suggestions please
Thinking ahead for a next summer trip to Ireland, in honor of my 40th b-day! I need suggestions for travel books, and or web sites, etc for planning my trip. I will be traveling with my two daughters and one husband.
Ireland is a special place to visit. One of my favorite trip planning sites is Discoverireland.ie The best way to tour Ireland is to rent a car and stay at a bed and breakfast. A full Irish breakfast is a thing of beauty and not to be missed.
Although Ireland is a small distance from coast to coast, it takes longer than you would anticipate to get from point A to point B. The routes can be complicated, the traffic horrendous and the tarmac bumpy. Most people do the major sights by travelling a figure 8 pattern starting and ending in Dublin. A more exciting itinerary to me is starting in Cork and working my way west. If you plan to spend at least 2 nights at each B&B you won't spend the entire trip in the car racing from sight to sight. And if your budget allows it, definitely stay one night in a castle. Dublin and Cork are large cities and while they do hold their appeal, the real flavor of Ireland is in the smaller villages. The important thing to remember about Ireland is that you need to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of just being there. If you miss something promise yourself you'll catch it the next time. The worst Ireland trip is the one you never leave your car and everything is seen from behind the windshield as you race from one ruin to the next. Oh, one last thing. If you rent a car, get the smallest one you can comfortably fit in. The roads are very narrow and there's no shoulders just rock walls which seem to claim a whole lot of hub caps of the uninitiated first timer.
There's a magazine called "Ireland of the Welcomes" which has a regular feature called "Byways Rather Than Highways" which is a route planner for day trips and lists all the must-see's along the route. Karen Brown's "All Ireland Itineraries" is another good resource book. Rick Steves has an Ireland book but I disagree with most of his choices on what to see and what to skip. But one thing I do agree with -- your number 1 rule in Ireland -- don't even attempt to drive in central Dublin. Save that for the professionals, your trip will be better for it. Have fun!
You might actually be able to glean a lot of really helpful information over at our thread about Italy (http://forums.tombihn.com/travel-tips/4028-italia.html) in this Travel Tips forum. Although there's some Rome-specific tips, there's a lot of handy information about European resources that will apply to your trip!
I'm going to recommend Rick Steves again; he has a resource web page for Ireland here: Rick Steves' Europe: Best Destinations: Ireland
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Thank you Lani, and Kinsale. I will check it all out!
Steves has recently pointed out that most of the places he features in his early series, as "where the locals hang out", are no longer this way.
They have become American tourists hangouts.
Due to his success, PBS is rerunning his programs every year, being the first line of info for anybody who wants to go to Europe.
I can assure you that there is nothing as disagreeable as sharing spaces with loud tourists on a romantic, wildlife watching or cultural vacation. It spoils the mood.
Now, I don't want to put the man down, because he is genuine and PBS did a special behind the scene episode and it was really cute and I always fall for cute.
Lonely Planet website has good tips, friends who have visited, acquaintances from Ireland and Tripadvisor for accommodations and services within the country, always check the worse then most recent reviews and be aware that some establishments will use staff members to write glowing reviews for each bad one from a customer.
One can use a theme, like castle viewing, food glorious food or the most beautiful landscapes or a preferred mode of transportation, trains, bikes, boats, planes or cars to plan the trip.
Last edited by backpack; 08-13-2011 at 10:57 PM.
Don't forget about Northern Ireland! We went to Giants Causeway & the Bushmills Distillery. I would go back again in a heartbeat!
Always have a plan for "rain" and "not rain." The weather can change quickly and if you're determined to do an outdoors thing, you either need to have some flexibility in your schedule or some raingear that you can throw on.
You perfectly described my visit to the tiny town of Bacharach on the Rhine River. Loads of Americans running amok throughout, several actually carrying a Rick Steves Guide Book. His narrative on the Rhine River in his book is very good, though. Too bad about the town.
Originally Posted by backpack
Yes! A theme! I once spent an entire vacation travelling in Ireland staying only in B&B's painted pink. We called it the Pepto-Bismol tour. There are a LOT of pink B&B's there.
Originally Posted by backpack
Since it's for a special birthday, might I suggest the Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork for dinner? This is the hotel, restaurant, and cookery school run by Darina Allen, who is sort of like Ireland's Delia Smith. Mrs Badger and I went there on our honeymoon, and let me tell you what happened: we arrived about 45 minutes before our reservation so we could walk around the grounds, and then we went inside and had drinks (Hendricks and lemon for me, kir royale for the Mrs) before a lovely peat fire (it was June but the warmth was very nice). We enjoyed our drinks and conversation for a bit, then were seated in the dining room. There's a prix fixe menu, but you have lots of choices for each course. The wine flowed; the Scottish guy at the table next to us became increasingly effervescent as the evening progressed. At the restaurant, the focus is on local and seasonal food that is prepared in an updated Irish style. I think I had guinea hen with bread sauce and red currant. Then they wheel around a groaning dessert cart, and come back as often as you'd like. Finally, you can drink a whiskey or a cordial in a different sitting room, and have chocolates. This dinner was not inexpensive, but I thought it was good value for the quality of the food and the experience. The restaurant can accommodate children, but if the kids are young and squirrelly and you and your husband want an adults-only meal, the hotel can arrange for child sitting and a special meal for them.
I haven't actually stayed at Ballymaloe; from what I've heard, the house has gone a little tatty in the past few years. I think a class at the cooking school could be fun, if you like that sort of thing. We stayed in Garryshannon, which is about 20 min. by car. Cork city is nearby, and you also can daytrip to Kinsale, which has a great view and really good food (it's Ireland's Slow Food capital). There are also great cliff walks in the area, the Old Midleton distillery, and you can go boating or fishing.
If you drive east from Cork back towards Dublin, I'd recommend stopping in Wicklow town. It's very quaint and right by the sea. Wicklow is short driving distance from the Glendalough National Forest, which has good hiking and St. Kevin's tower. If, on the other hand, you drive north from Dublin city, you'll get to Howth city, which has good hiking up to Howth Head and King Sitrics, which is good for seafood. From there, you can continue several hours on to Belfast city in the north; Armagh is also nice, and has several fine cathedrals.
There are many things to do in Dublin itself, but some things that tend not to be in guide books include seeing a film at the Irish Film Centre in Temple Bar, checking if there are any student concerts being presented at the Royal College of Music, and having tea at the Chester Beatty Library. If you tour St. Patrick's cathedral (which you should, because gargoyles!), you can have really good Victoria sponge or lemon meringue at Queen of Tarts afterwards.
Last bit of advice: when in Dublin, there's Burdocks and Beshoffs fish and chips. I always go with Beshoffs, Westmoreland St, D. 2.
Say more about what you like to do, and I will try to recommend things that aren't religious sites or food, ha ha.
Thank you! Thank you, Badger. I'm going to print out all of this good information. I will be traveling with children, however they are used to the adult world and love museums, etc. Two places I really want to go are: To see the Book of Kells, it's in Dublin at Trinity College. AND I would like to travel to Lindisfarne. We are planning on staying for two weeks. Any suggestions on the best time of the year to travel? AND of course fit in a many pubs as possible, and/or a tour of a single malt scotch facility wouldn't hurt.
As instructed I have put in my early order for the Rick Steves 2012 book about Ireland.
Lacy, the Book of Kells will not take too long; they only display two pages at a time, and the rest of the exhibit is quite small. It's definitely worth looking at though. A few pubs in the Dublin area that I think are quite good: The Duke (Duke St), O'Neills (which I think is just off Dame St), The Stag's Head (Dame Ct, off Dame St), Davy Byrne's (Duke St.; it's the pub in Ulysses where Leopold Bloom eats a gorgonzola cheese sandwich), O'Donoghues on Merrion St.
Most of the whiskeys in Ireland aren't single malts--they're usually blended. But they're still really good! If you like Guinness, you can also take the brewery tour at St James' Gate in Dublin--there are some elements that are family-friendly (obviously the kids don't get the free half pint at the end).
Personally, my favorite time of year in Ireland is late September-early October. The days are warm but the air is crisp, and the peat fires are lit at night. If you must go during the kids' summer vacation, I'd suggest July since it does tend to be quite rainy all through the month of June.
I went on walking tour of the west a couple of years ago. It was sponsored by the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Clifden. Highly recommended.
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