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Do I really need to pre-book accomodation during the period between the 4th to 13th April

Do I really need to pre-book accomodation during the period between...

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Posted Thu 14 Feb 2019 11:16 AM
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I am planning to self drive around The Republic of Ireland and Ulster during the above period, my intention is to stop overnight at different locations but to be as flexible as possible. Because it is not peak season (I hope it is not School Holidays) I would like advice if it's absolutely essential to book in advance hotels all along the way (which kind of ties you down to a fixed itinerary) or if it is reasonable to expect to find accommodation in most towns if I arrive before 6:00 pm. In Australia (where I live) this is not recommended, as quite often it is difficult to find accommodation available in small towns, especially in the late afternoon or early evening when many motels already display a NO VACANCY sign unless you have made a reservation one or two days before, which makes it hard to plan a flexible itinerary. I hope it is easier in Ireland, but just want to know. Any comments will be appreciated.


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Posted Fri 15 Feb 2019 10:42 AM
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Hi Bill,

It's a lovely idea to be visiting in April for a bit of a self-drive holiday!

The time you have mentioned is just before the Easter school holidays, Friday 12th April being the day most schools finish for the holidays.

It is indeed possible to travel around without any firm bookings, although I would recommend pre-booking to avoid disappointment. Some locations allow for a reservation that can be cancelled without a cost and some require payments in advance with pre-booking. 

One suggestion I would make is that the first and last nights be booked as these are potentially important places to be as you start and end your time with us. Pre-booking, especially online, has its advantages with online discounts against the normal prices but the flexibility to stop where you end up is also appealing as well. There's an approved accommodation search page that is helpful for finding accommodation. Enter a location and accommodation type to see what is available in the area. I have pre-selected B&B and Donegal as an example, please feel free to have a look and alter to best suit your needs.

We have a previous community forum post on a similar subject of booking accommodation in advance which you may also wish to have a look at. There are some excellent suggestions and links that could be useful.

Have you started to build up a likely itinerary for your time with us?

I hope this gives you some help, and I'm sure your fellow members and some industry partners will be able to add to this also!

Speak soon,
Martin

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Posted Fri 15 Feb 2019 1:17 PM
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Hi Bill,

April is a lovely time of year to come to Ireland. 

The best advice is to probably pre-book as where possible.  We have a very good website call www.visitarmagh.com which allows you to see what accommodation Armagh Banbridge Craigavon has to offer.  It also gives you some information on what our area has to offer.

www.discoverni.com is a great website for booking accommodation. I hope you have a lovely time and please don't hesitate to contact us especially if you have any queries or questions.

Regards

Karen

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Posted Mon 18 Feb 2019 1:44 PM
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Hi Bill,
I am delighted to hear of your forthcoming trip to Ireland and just want to encourage you to be sure to include the Causeway Coastal Route in your plans.

This stunningly beautiful road stretches from Belfast all the way to Derry/Londonderry.  In fact, Belfast and the Causeway Coast were named Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018.  Whether you pick up the Causeway Coastal Route in Belfast or in Derry, you are in for a treat.  It takes in coastal villages at the foot of beautiful river valleys known as glens.  It hugs the coast, giving stunning views of cliffs and long sandy beaches, all waiting to be explored.  Central in the route is the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its hexagonal–shaped basalt stones and columns it is a remarkable place, particularly on a bright, sunny day. Come prepared for rain and wind as well though - our Irish weather is very changeable which just contributes to its beauty! 
  
The Causeway Coastal Route is popular all year round.  There shouldn’t be a problem finding bed and breakfast accommodation, but with popular hotels in sought-after locations, it might be wise to book.  I would also recommend booking the final Friday and Saturday nights if you happen to finish your trip along the Causeway Coastal Route – just to be sure.

Our website www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com has an accommodation search facility and it also has a section where you can download our new Visitor Guide for 2019, plus a map of the Causeway Coastal Route.  https://www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com/welcome/maps-guides/

I sincerely hope you have a great trip.  Do get in touch if we can help you further.
Kind regards,
Mary.
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Posted Tue 19 Mar 2019 12:29 AM
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Hi Martin, Karen and Mary,
Thanks for your advice which is much appreciated. I've already planned my itinerary (see below), Following your advice I've booked accommodation for every night, except for the second last night of my trip, where I'm still undecided where to go. If you have any suggestions they would be appreciated.
I fly into Dublin staying there two nights, then pick up a rental car and drive to Killarney. The next day I will drive around the Ring of Kerry and continue to Galway. The following day continue to Londonderry taking in parts of of the  Wild Atlantic Way (the Sky Road near Clifden is the one I selected). The following day drive along the Causeway Coastal Route to Belfast and stop to visit the Giants Causeway. Planning on staying two nights in Belfast to visit the major attractions (including the Titanic exhibit) and spend some time in PRONI researching my ancestral background. My father and grandfather lived in County Fermanagh near the town of Magheraveely on a property called Clonatty. I think I've located the homestead where my father was born and grew up near there and will drive past it. Google maps show a house there and although the photo I have is about 100 years old, it appears like the same house with the addition of some extra rooms. I may be able to learn more about my ancestry there. At present I only have scant information, recollections about stories my Dad shared with me about his life there as a boy (his father was a farmer who bred and raised thoroughbred horses) and old documents (his Birth Certificate, Passport, Driving license) which my father left behind among his personal stuff when he died. From Belfast I plan to drive to Clones, which is near the old homestead, this will allow me some time to explore the area and perhaps talk with old folks still living there who might have more information. Who knows, I could even have relatives still living in the area that I know nothing about. This is an exciting part of my visit to Ireland and one of the reasons I am going there. My previous visit to Ireland was 70 years ago as a young boy. After Clones I have two more nights in Ireland before I fly out from Dublin airport. I have booked the final night of my trip at a Hotel in Swords, to be near the airport, as I have an early departing flight, but I have not decided where to stay between Clones and Dublin. Perhaps you could suggest an interesting area or town I could visit.
I'm hoping the weather will be kind, I arrive on the 4/4/19 and depart on the 14/4/19. I know ten days is a short time, but I'm trying to include as much as possible during this period.

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Posted Tue 19 Mar 2019 10:58 AM
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Hi Bill,

Many thanks for getting back to us with more details of your plans and itinerary!

You certainly have set up a wonderful tour including time in Dublin, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, along with seeing Galway as you drive up along the Wild Atlantic Way to continue your time on the Causeway Coastal Route and Belfast.

It's also lovely to hear that you will be adding some family history research and a visit to the homeplace of your father and grandfather too! There is an organisation called Ireland Reaching Out, where great volunteers attempt to connect Irish descendants to their roots, through reverse genealogical research. You can contact them for more information on finding family members on the island. 

For your last days and night after Clones and before Dublin, it may be a perfect idea to visit Athlone and the wonders around this mid-Ireland town. We also have a super trip ideas article for things to do between Galway and Dublin that highlights some excellent locations to visit as you drive to your final overnight in Swords.

An alternative is always the Brú na Bóinne area including Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth if this would be something of interest to you. Also, Malahide Castle and Howth just above Dublin would be great places to visit, again lots to see and do before your trip with us ends.

I hope this gives you food for thought and that you enjoy your time with us, and feel free to get in touch if you need some help with the research into your roots. There are some very knowledgeable members here who are always happy to help. :) 

Please let us know what you manage to see and do for your last couple of days and all of the other wonderful things you have in your itinerary.

Martin

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Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 11:29 AM
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Hi Martin,
Thanks for the advice. It has been appreciated.
I have booked into Athlone as you suggested and look forward to visiting the historic sites nearby.
Seems I might be lucky, if a hard Brexit happens (which is looking increasingly ominous), I plan to cross the border into Ireland on the last day before any border changes take place and won't be affected by any changes to the border rules. I hope sanity prevails, for the sake of everyone living in the Emerald isle. When I get back I will provide you with some feedback on my trip, highlighting my experiences, which I'm  sure will all be good. As good as Guinness served in a good old Irish pub. I can almost taste it now!

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Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 1:17 PM
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Good afternoon Bill
A self-drive tour of Ireland is a great way to explore the Emerald Isle. Have you considered staying in B&B accommodation on your travels Bill? They are a great option, as they are located throughout Ireland and not just in the main spots. B&B hosts are so welcoming and are a fountain of local knowledge, so they will be able to advise you on what to do and see in their region.

Check in times are between 3pm and 6pm. If you are delayed, then you can inform the home to ensure your room is kept.

As Martin suggested, I would also advice booking your first and last night of accommodation in advance. Then as you tour around, maybe pre-book online a day in advance of your next destination.Here's a few links that might be of interest to you. 

The B&B Experience                     
B&B Locator Map
Top reasons for booking a B&B online with B&B Ireland

Hope you have a great trip.
Kind regards
Claire
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Posted Wed 17 Apr 2019 5:09 PM
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Hi,
I have enjoyed a wonderful trip driving all around Ireland and Ulster. I even found the farmhouse where my father was born and grew up. In over a century almost unchanged.
Only one quite annoying thing happened to me and I’m hoping someone can advise me what are my options. In Belfast I used my debit card to withdraw money in Pounds Sterling. The ATM at the Danske Bank near Belfast’s Trade Hall dispened £20 notes issued by the above mentioned Bank, not the usual Bank of England notes with the Queen’s image printed on the reverse side. I was surprised but experienced no problem using these banknotes to purchase goods and services in Northern Ireland. However when I tried to exchange what I had left over at the airport (about £90) the tellers refused to accept these bank notes and advised me that they could not be used outside of Ulster, not even in other parts of the UK. I feel cheated and ask why did the ATM not warn me of this? Can anyone offer advise on how I can get my money back? I’m sure I’m not the only visitor who has experienced this situation.
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Posted Wed 17 Apr 2019 8:41 PM
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Hi Bill, 

I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed your road trip around the island, and that you got to see the house your father grew up in! :) 

The Northern Irish Pound Sterling banknotes are indeed a valid means of payment in Northern Ireland and although it is legal tender in the rest of the United Kingdom, a shopkeeper can refuse to take them. I'm so sorry about the inconvenience. Have you reached out to your local bank or currency office yet? They will be able to trade them for normal pound notes. 

Let me know if you have any other questions, and keep me posted! 

Warm regards,

Melin

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