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OVERWHELMED by all the options! Please help us make an 8-ish day itinerary.

OVERWHELMED by all the options! Please help us make an 8-ish day...

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Posted Fri 19 Jul 2019 7:41 PM
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So here's the deal: my wife has always wanted to visit Ireland.  ALWAYS.  So we're going this year - to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  Needless to say, we are very excited and very much looking forward to the trip.

But here's the thing: we are SO OVERWHELMED by all the options of what to see, where to stay, and which route to take in order to make all of that happen.  Seriously - we have contracted "paralysis by analysis" and we are officially STUCK.

We're leaving in just a few weeks.....and have not booked one night ANYWHERE, no tours ANYWHERE, have reserved NO CAR, and still have NO PLANS.  Are you starting to feel my panic?  I can hear the clock ticking as I type...

PLEASE - ANYONE - can you just tell us the top sights, help me make a loose itinerary of roughly 8ish days (I think we'll be there around 10 days, give or take - but the first and last days are in and out of Dublin).  We love hiking, don't mind more modest accommodations, and don't have an open-ended budget.....but hey - it IS our 25th anniversary, AND our very first trip to Ireland....so I don't want a few bucks to stand in the way of seeing those "must-see" stops.  Does that make sense?

Every time we jump online or open a guidebook, we see something else amazing and spectacular, but that is in a different direction.....and all our plans start over.  I'm getting frustrated and also feeling the pinch of time.

Can any of you seasoned travelers just give it to me straight? 

Something simple and clear: as in - Start in Dublin, see Guiness, the Book of Kells, Dublin Castle, and Grafton Street.  Take one night, two days, then rent a cheap car at Dan Dooley's and head north/south/east/west.  Make a drive for the Wild Atlantic Way.  Stop here, see this, see that.  Eating here is a must.  Spend three days, two nights ___________________ .  Move on.

I know that's asking a lot, but we're floundering here.  Not even joking.  And we're normally really good at this!  We're relatively well-traveled, but all within the USA.  International stuff is all new - so we're a little taken aback, I guess.

Can anyone steer us in the right direction?

In the meantime, I'm so thankful to have discovered this forum; I'm going to be sitting right here, reading away....

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!  I am very grateful for any and all input.....

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Posted Fri 19 Jul 2019 7:50 PM
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Honestly, I think we're just trying to do TOO MUCH in just 8 days.  

You couldn't do the entire USA in 8 days, and you wouldn't even try.  That's ridiculous.  You'd need to focus your time on one area, and just savor it.  I think we need to just pick an area and do the same.  With, of course, the plans to return in the future!

So - that being said - we arrive in Dublin, can hang out there for a day or two (or however long), and get trucking.  We'll also leave via Dublin, and can hit a few highlights on the tail-end as well.

Which direction to go first......
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Posted Fri 19 Jul 2019 10:48 PM
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Making progress.  Feeling good!

So I think we'll stick to the south and east coasts at this point.  Maybe get as far west as the Cliff of Moher...then head back east to Dublin to catch the ride home.

So - narrowing my questions a bit: does it matter if we go from Dublin SOUTH, or would you go from Dublin and head WEST?  Any preferences?

I think we'll stick to the Cliffs of Moher, the Wild Atlantic Way south/east, hit Dublin and the Boyne Valley/Wicklow.  That's more than enough for our time.

Does anyone concur?  Should we be looking for a tour (lodging and car all included) or just sort of piece-meal it together ourselves?  Anyone have a great experience with the tour packages that would allow for self-guided driving, but would still be relatively "packaged" - that is, we pay once and get set up with lodging, car, etc....
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Posted Sat 20 Jul 2019 12:16 AM
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OK - it's happening!

First night in Dublin.  See all that we can on this first day/night in Dublin.

Next day move north to Boyne Valley, night at Kells.  See the highlights.

Day three, head south.  Roundwood, Powerscout, Glendalough....then what?  Can we get all of that done in a day?  Or do we need to overnight somewhere in there?  Can we get from Glendalough back to the main highway south?  Maybe truck down to Cork?

That's all I've managed so far....



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Posted Sat 20 Jul 2019 9:45 AM
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Hi Tucker,
I think you could benefit from some sample itineraries. Let's look at Dublin first. You are saying 1 day for Dublin but you could easily spend 3 days there and still feel like there was more to see. I would recommend doing 2 days in the city at least.
This is a 3-day Itinerary for Dublin that covers the top 9 attractions, 

Your next plan looks fairly solid, and achievable, have a look at this guide to the ancient east,
It covers, Powerscourt, Glendalough and a few others.
You could use this to fill what you have currently as day 3, and bump it up to 3 full days as well.

Finally, and really just as an afterthought. there are some good spots on this guide, you could use to fill up that last day without having to travel further afield.

Let me know how you get on if you still have gaps, I have plenty more I could send your way

Best regards
Gordee
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Posted Wed 24 Jul 2019 4:53 PM
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Thanks Gordee!

Hey, we're slowly but surely creating a plan to tackle what we can.  We'll land in Dublin, make a clock-wise trip around the island to see what we can see in the short time we'll be there....then start making plans for the return trip!  Haha.

Any good castle-style lodging in the North Ireland area?  Anybody have good experiences with any particular place?

That's on the wife's wish-list, so I'm poking around...
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Posted Wed 24 Jul 2019 6:44 PM
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Hi Tucker,
                 You are in luck, I have a passion for castle and period style accommodation.  Now before I begin, you have not stated a preference regarding self-catering, so my list will contain both. I will label the self-catering ones with an *.

Crom Castle*, County Fermanagh -: The castle overlooks Lough Erne and is surrounded by vast parkland. guests get the west wing with its own private entrance.

Narrow Water Castle*, County Down -:  Elizabethan revival style castle, You stay in the hub of the castle.

Ballygally Castle Hotel, County Antrim -: the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. The hotel is reputedly haunted by a friendly ghost and brave guests can visit the ‘ghost room’ in one of the towers to see for themselves. 

Belle Isle Castle, County Fermanagh -: In the grounds of Belle Isle Estate. The rooms are tastefully restored and furnished in a style that bears all the characteristics of a majestic stately home.

Gosford Castle*, County Armagh -: Inside Gosford Forest Park. with your own private entrance to your dwelling. ( I am not sure this one is taking guests at the minute)

There are more but this is a good selection. You may also be interested in looking at gate lodges. often I find these a much more intimate setup but you still have the old-world feel of the castle.

A couple of gate lodges worth looking at are
Barbican Glenarm*, Co Antrim -: Positioned beyond an old stone bridge over the Glenarm River, is a charming building with gothic windows and a stone turret staircase. 

Tollymore Gate Lodge*, County Down -: Recently fully refurbished with a well-equipped kitchen, comfortable parlour complete with wood burning stove, and open fires.

The castles are great to stay in, but if I was taking my wife on a romantic period getaway I would pick the Barbican. Simply because of both the building and the setting, being so perfectly period while still offering a bit of seclusion/privacy. 

Whatever you choose, they are all excellent. 
Let me know what you go with.
Regards,
Gordee.

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Posted Sat 27 Jul 2019 11:40 AM
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Hi Tucker,

I see that Northern Ireland is on your wife's wish list so hopefully I can give you some useful information for your trek north. 

If you are touring around the island in a clockwise direction from Dublin, you will most likely find yourselves travelling the Wild Atlantic Way as you come up the west coast of Ireland.  It joins the Causeway Coastal Route at Derry/Londonderry, and travelling east from there is the Causeway Coast and Glens region, famed for its rugged coastline, golden beaches, the Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Bushmills Whiskey.  The Open Golf Championship was played in Portrush last weekend, so I think I can also safely say the area is also famed for golf!

Gordee offered lots of excellent suggestions for castle-style lodging and if I may I would like to add another one to the list.  The Old Bushmills Inn, originally built as a coaching inn back in the 1600s, is now a 4* boutique style hotel that is situated near to the many attractions in the Causeway Coast and Glens.  It has inglenook fireplaces, turf fires, a secret room and regular live traditional music sessions. 

The Causeway Coastal Route heads east and then south as you travel towards Belfast passing the Glens of Antrim on one side of the road and the sea on the other.  If you would like to find out more about the area please take a look at our web site:  www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com  

I wish you both a great trip as you celebrate 25 years!
Anne
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Posted Fri 16 Aug 2019 1:40 PM
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Hi Tucker,

I just wanted to check-in with you, see if you are set to go or need more help.

Maybe you are even already here! 😄



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Posted Mon 19 Aug 2019 3:50 PM
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Howaya!

The biggest worry I'd have from reading the above is that you haven't got the accommodation locked down.

What often happens (it's happened to me many, many times over the years) is that a lot of the central, reasonably priced accommodation gets booked out, especially if you're visiting hotspots/busy towns or villages.

You then tend to get stuck away from the action.

So, you need to lock your itinerary down and get booking. Some tours (e.g. Kilmainham Gaol and the Skelligs) book out well in advance. It can be also far more cost-effective to book online.

Here's a bit of help, as requested (I've taken into account that you want to see a good chunk of Ireland during your visit. On certain days, there'll be a good bit of driving. If you're the type of traveller that doesn't mind just getting stuck in, then this shouldn't phase you):

- Day 1: Dublin

Things to do:

- Take the DART out to Howth and do the cliff walk (leave the city EARLY and do this)
- Grab a post-walk bite to eat then in Howth Harbour
- Take the DART back into the city and head off in the direction of Trinity College (do the Book of Kells tour)
- Take a bit of chill time and nip into McDaids for a pint (great Guinness and a proper old dublin pub)
- Walk to O'Connell Street and do the Witness History Tour (all about the 1916 Rising - excellent tour)
- That'll give you a good mix of the city and a taste of the wider county

Day 2: Wicklow

Get your rental and then:

- Visit Lough Tay (Guinness Lake)
- Do the Sally Gap Drive (starts from Lough Tay)
- Get a coffee in the Wicklow heather (gorgeous spot)
- Drive down as far as Glendalough (parking can be a pain, but you'll manage)
- Do the spinc loop walk if you're active (4-5 hours) or just walk around the lake
- Head for Redcross and do the Wicklow Brewery Tour (you can also spend the night here - it's a place called Mickey Finn's)

Days 3 and 4: Cork

I'd spend day 3 in cork city and then day 4 spinning around west cork.

Day 3: Cork City/near the city:

- Visit Cobh
- Take the ferry to spike island and do the tour
- Drive to the city and visit the shandon tower for a brilliant 360 view out over the city
- Take a walk to cork city gaol (excellent tour)
- Take a pitstop into the old-school pub Mutton Lane Inn
- Head for a ramble around the grounds of university college cork

Day 4: West Cork

- Head to kinsale first (lovely fishing village) and walk around the town
- If you want to stretch the legs, do the Old Head of Kinsale Loop (takes 1.5 hours)
- Drive from here to inchydoney for a stroll on the beach
- From here you can take the long drive, if you like, to Mizen head
- There's some lovely spots to see on the way (Union Hall, Glandore, Baltimore)
- Spend the night nearby

Days 5 and 6: Kerry

Day 5: Kerry

- Molls Gap
- Ladies View
- Torc Waterfall
- The national park
- The Gap of Dunloe

You could spend the night in Killarney, or you could take the long road (that passes through the magnificent Ballaghisheen Pass (google it, it's incredible)

Day 6 things to do:

- The Skellig Ring
- Valentia Island (google geokaun mountain)
- Rossbeigh Beach
- Inch Beach
- The Slea Head Drive
- Spend the night in Dingle

Day 7: Clare

- The cliffs at kilbaha
- The cliffs of moher
- The Doolin Cave
- The Burren
- Spend the night in Doolin and have the craic in Gus O'Connor's pub

You could also take a ferry from Doolin to inis oirr if you fancied

Day 8: Galway

- Galway city for a ramble
- Head out to connemara then (loads of things to see here)
- Spin along the sky road
- Spend the night in the only brilliant little town of Clifden

I had two cups of coffee while typing that... it's a bit of a brian dump, so apologies!

This really is a flying visit to a lot of places, and it won't be for everyone.

A shamless self-pug: if you're looking for inspiration on other things to see, I've written a detailed guide to 113+ things to do in Ireland.

A good chunk of them are off-the-beaten-path.

Definitely try and get your itinerary locked down, though. The sooner you get it done the sooner you can stop stressing and actually look forward to it!

Safe exploring!

Keith


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