Kelly’s Trip to Ireland in 2018
Flew into Shannon (West Coast). Dublin is the primary East Coast airport. Flights can be cheaper depending on when you need to fly. Customs is a breeze. Mary Ann and I have Global Entry, but even without that, it’s a snap. Make sure to fill out the form on the airplane so you can move on through the line.
TIP: Renting a car is interesting. Ireland is right-hand drive country, meaning the steering wheel is on the right and you drive on the left side of the road. Cars are manual transmission mostly, so reserve an automatic if you need one. It’s not hard for me to adapt to driving on the wrong side of the road. Most people adapt too. Also, cars are almost always diesel. Your American Express or Credit Card MAY NOT provide Ireland CDW (collision damage waiver). Check before you go because a premium credit card make work just fine. Car rental is pretty cheap, Car insurance not so much.
We then drove to Listowel on N69, a beautiful scenic national highway. May I recommend working on staying on local roads. I try to stay off “M” routes are like interstates and “N” roads which are like state highways except if I’m in a hurry. “R’ routes and “L” routes are where you get to SEE things. Like sheep crossing the road. Anytime or anywhere.
From there we went to Tralee, then to Killorgin and started driving the Ring of Kerry, which is a well marked highway, albeit small at times.. You can stop once or 1000 times for pictures. The whole thing is amazing. I’m not including pictures because you can see millions on Google. It’s gorgeous all the way around. There are lots of places to stop and shop, eat, relax, walk and relax.
We ended in Killarney and stayed at the Woodlands B&B, which was excellent. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant of all places for my tour guests. But then we went to a local pub to enjoy the local atmosphere.
TIP: There are a few more hotels in Ireland over the past few years, but B&Bs are the way to go. You can pre-book if you want, but I’ve never NOT found an available B&B when I got to town. It makes my wife nervous that way though. The country uses Euros, which you already know. Innkeepers prefer cash generally, but the pre-booking sights require pre-payment. I often call them and ask if I can pay them in cash, and they are always happy to do that.
We started EARLY the next morning and went to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, at the Head of The Gap of Dunloe, which is where you pick up a trap to take you through the Gap of Dunloe. It is one of the MUST DO things in Ireland. A trap can carry up to 4 people. The driver will give you a history of the area. The Gap of Dunloe is a huge attraction due to it’s beauty.
Then we went to Kenmare, on the South Atlantic for lunch. From there, we drove to Blarney’s Castle. It’s a must do to say you’ve been there, although I’ve never been there when the line was worth waiting for to kiss the Blarney Stone.
From there we drove cross country to Comeragh where we stayed at the Comeragh View B&B. They were a little perturbed that we were “late” as they wanted to be there for our arrival. Our phone reception was poor in that area so I apologized and that took care of the problem. They were super sweet hosts and mailed back a jacket that one of us left.
I don’t know the Copper Coast Road is so appealing to me, but all of the highways around Ireland, it’s the one I like the best. I take the route circled in red. It’s just amazing. There is an old copper mine that you can walk down to the ocean on a ramp that was used to get copper into boats. One zillion rocks of all colors are there.
After a full Irish Breakfast, we headed north to Limerick for lunch and then to Doolin’ for an afternoon visit to The Cliffs of Moher. Remember that Ireland is the size of South Carolina, so going “across country” isn’t that big a deal. Had we been leaving from Shannon, the trip would have been more circular around the country.
Doolin is classic Ireland. We did the boat tour as it was raining. We stayed at Nellie Dee’s B&B which was fine. The innkeeper suggested the highlight our our evening which was a visit to Gus O’Connor’s Pub. It looked like NO ONE was in town and the place was closed, but open the doors and sure enough the place was packed and it’s known for traditional Irish music which was great. I highly recommend Gus’.
We left after breakfast for The Burren. It’s an interesting piece of geology, but a quick drive through is all you need.
From there we went to Claremorris and then Balla, from which we spent the day visiting family friends and their farms, which wouldn’t be of interest to you. I’d suggest that you go to Castlebar for some sightseeing. I recommend a visit to a castle for one night if you have the ability. B&B are really nice, but a castle is over the top. Belleek Castle is one I’ve stayed at a couple of times, but there are lots of them. The grounds at Belleek, basement museum, atmosphere can’t be topped.
May 23 –
We went to Dublin from there. Must sees in Dublin include the Guinness Storehouse, Trinitiy College if you have time, I’d suggest a bus tour where you can get on and off as you want. The old Kilmainham Gaol is a fun place but that’s probably because of my background. There are hundfreds of pubs, but the The Brazen Head is allegedly the oldest. It’s a fun place to visit.
In Dublin there is a Famine Museum on the sidewalk outside of Dublin Custom House Quay. It’s very a very moving memorial. From there, we headed to the Dublin Airport as our week trip was over.
IF YOU HAVE IRISH HISTORY seek it out. Spend a day in the area. It doesn’t matter where it is, it will be beautiful. I always spend a day in Bala, Corskeagh, Mayo Abbey to learn more about my heritage. Do the same.
In no particular order, were I in Ireland for a week only, I’d do:
- Cliffs of Moher, Dooln’
- Ring of Kerry
- Gap of Dunloe
- Cooper Coast Highway scenic drive to Waterford
- Dublin for a day or two at most
- A small town – Kenmare for example
- A castle stay or a visit to Blarney Castle