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IRELAND, first time, Now with Trip reports #7073
01/30/2009 05:04 PM
01/30/2009 05:04 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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Making our first trip to Ireland from the end of April to the first part of May. Coming from USA and landing in London first. Any help with good bets for airfare from London, and things to see and do in Ireland on a budget will be greatly appreciated!
Thanks,
Dave

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Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7074
02/03/2009 02:56 PM
02/03/2009 02:56 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12
E
Emers410 Offline
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Definitely Ryan Air for flight. Super Cheap. www.ryanair.com As far as what to see and do in Ireland, are you focusing on a certain area (northern/southern/east)?

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7075
02/03/2009 04:17 PM
02/03/2009 04:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 520
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Temery Offline
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Dublin has this thing called a "Dublin Pass" that gets you into most of the "sites" (museums, zoo, castles, etc) for 1 price (35 Euro for 1 day and multiple day passes avbl too)and a Hop-on, Hop-Off bus system (just like London does) to get around. Check out www.visitdublin.com for lots of info. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Grin.gif" alt="" /> I envy you, wish I was going....

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: Emers410] #7076
02/03/2009 06:45 PM
02/03/2009 06:45 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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i have seen ryanair,thanks to friends in england...and with the time alloted, probably about 10 days, will probably stay in or around dublin mostly, unless you have some good suggestions...
thanks
dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: Temery] #7077
02/03/2009 06:47 PM
02/03/2009 06:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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north carolina
was looking into the pass....it might be good, altho is seems like it covers some things that are free anyway...but i heard you get to go to the head of the lines with it tho...what places would you suggest?
thanks
dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7078
02/03/2009 11:19 PM
02/03/2009 11:19 PM
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Posts: 963
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SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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If you have 10 days, you should travel around Ireland. Consider flying Ryan Air to Dublin and then flying back to London from Shannon.

If possible, rent a car when you are ready to head out of Dublin.

My favorite part of Ireland is in the west: Galway and County Mayo.

Dublin is a lovely city...but it is a city. I'd suggest only 2 nights there. Stop at an Irish Tourist Board and book a B&B near Galway. It's about 4 hrs.+ driving. Eat in the Old Quay area. Then head up into Co. Mayo. You can go either along Lough Corrib, or the other way which is out via Salt Hill area.
You could spend a couple of nights in Co. Mayo making a loop that will bring you back south to the Galway area.

At that point, continue south along the coast...see The Cliffs of Moher...Doolin...maybe take the car ferry at Tarbet...and go to Killarney.

You can drive the Ring of Kerry.

When you're ready to head back to London, leave from Shannon.

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7079
02/04/2009 08:32 AM
02/04/2009 08:32 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 252
Ohio
sxmcpl Offline
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Ohio
Hope this isn't out of line, but this site was helpful in planning our trip to Ireland a few years ago.

www.irelandyes.com

Have a great trip wherever you go.

MJ

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: sxmcpl] #7080
02/04/2009 01:22 PM
02/04/2009 01:22 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 347
Tennessee
seaside2 Offline
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I might suggest getting a car in London, drive to the west coast, probably take a ferry from Wales, then do the big loop, going south from Dublin (Or wherever the ferry of choice lands)first. By the way, if you choose the ferry, reservations are almost esential.
Lil Seaside lived in London for several years and we made several trips over there, did the north part of England, Scotland and all that, but Ireland is far and away the better place to visit IMHO. People are friendly, lots to see. We always took pot luck on bed and breakfast and came out famously. Get a Frommers and make some definte stop plans ahead so you don't get slammed on time.

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7081
02/05/2009 08:25 AM
02/05/2009 08:25 AM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 88
Tennessee
DanGay Offline
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Dave, Dublin is a great beginning for a couple of nights if only to absorb the Irish street life and the pubs. By all means rent a car---you can see more and still conserve time. We toured the entire perimeter of Ireland in 2007 and enjoyed especially the awesome north coast of Antrim.

Only one regret with Ireland, never enough time to absorb it all---so much to see within a few days. But, for sure, Ireland will call you back so, like others of us, plan for a future return. We envy you. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Cheers.gif" alt="" />

Dan

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: DanGay] #7082
02/10/2009 06:01 AM
02/10/2009 06:01 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 347
22degrees N. lat of Paradise
ohtoobtan Offline
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22degrees N. lat of Paradise
A must stop if you are in the southwest of Ireland is the town of Dingle. One of the only areas where galic is still spoken. Some of the Pubs are unbelivable. Foxy Johns which is a hardware store and a pub and Dick Macs which is a shoe store and a pub in one. If shopping were like this in the states we would never tell our wives we didn't want to tag along. Enjoy your trip.


"May the Fourwinds blow you safely home."
Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: ohtoobtan] #7083
02/21/2009 03:46 PM
02/21/2009 03:46 PM
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Posts: 599
Orange County, CA
Caribsearchers Offline
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Quote
ohtoobtan said:
Foxy Johns which is a hardware store and a pub and Dick Macs which is a shoe store and a pub in one. If shopping were like this in the states we would never tell our wives we didn't want to tag along. Enjoy your trip.

Hilarious...we are going in June, and this sounds like a terrific couple of spots to look for!


Scott & Bette
OC,CA
Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: ohtoobtan] #7084
03/26/2009 08:39 AM
03/26/2009 08:39 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 4,201
here and there ...
Rasputin Offline
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here and there ...
I think that the town of Dingle, in Ireland, is about one of the only places in the world where you can find dingleberry jam.

It might be hard to find, but you need to ask for it in any shop. But then again, maybe not.

I understand if this is deleted, some may not get it. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Yikes.gif" alt="" />


Rah Rah Rasputin
They put some poison into his wine
He drank it all and said "I feel fine"
Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7085
03/26/2009 10:43 AM
03/26/2009 10:43 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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Thanks for all the help, less than 4 weeks to go! Another question now please. Is there a site where I can plan the driving, and print very detailed maps of the routes I plan to take? I have found sites that prints directions, but not the maps. With zoomed-in detail maps, it would be so much easier.
Thanks again,
Dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7086
03/26/2009 11:23 AM
03/26/2009 11:23 AM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,429
Villa Euphoria Leverick Bay, P...
mdoyle9999 Offline
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Villa Euphoria Leverick Bay, P...
Google Maps should get you most of what you need. Several years ago, we bought a Garmin with a European chip. It works very well on the major destinations - gets a bit confused in the neighborhoods - but, well worth the investment - a good one goes for about $350.

We have been to Ireland many times. If you need additional advice, please send a PM.


Mike
"The journey is the thing." Homer
Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: mdoyle9999] #7087
03/31/2009 11:01 AM
03/31/2009 11:01 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 4
UK
M
maximum Offline
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M
Joined: Mar 2009
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UK
Yes I think Google Maps is probably your best bet with that. or possibly Streetmap? We always use AA (Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous!!) but that's just a route planner with directions - they don't have maps you can print out.

Other than that...you could just buy a map from the shop of course!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: maximum] #7088
03/31/2009 01:14 PM
03/31/2009 01:14 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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Try the "Route Planner" on www.discoverireland.ie.

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7089
04/02/2009 05:14 PM
04/02/2009 05:14 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 252
M
mmk Offline
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You have received alot of great info on this site. Have been to Ireland many times as it is one of our favorite countries. Rent a car and get out of the larger cities. Rural Ireland has so much history and is so friendly. In a week or more, you can easily drive all over the country and even into Northern Ireland. Enjoy.

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: mmk] #7090
04/03/2009 12:08 AM
04/03/2009 12:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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Thanks, yes,there have been some great suggestions. I have rented a car, plan to spend a few days in Dublin, and then take off to see as much as possible. Does anyone know if the last week of April and first week of May might offer any whale viewing? Down to less than 3 weeks now!
Thanks again,
Dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7091
04/03/2009 09:23 AM
04/03/2009 09:23 AM
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Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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Here's a link for whale viewing in the Cork area:
www.whalewatchwestcork.com

You'll have to decide if you want to spend a day out on the sea, or touring the countryside. The probability of actually spotting a whale is low, so I'd suggest sticking with the land-based trip.

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: SMC_Irish_68] #7092
04/03/2009 01:55 PM
04/03/2009 01:55 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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P.S. One more good web site for Ireland...
www.hiddenireland.com

Hidden Ireland lists some very interesting places to stay. We've stayed at Delphi Lodge twice in Connemara, and at Temple House which is near Sligo.

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: SMC_Irish_68] #7093
04/05/2009 09:36 AM
04/05/2009 09:36 AM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 503
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Toronto_Frank Offline
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Another good map site is Michelin it is more Eurocentric then others. http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/viamichelin/gbr/tpl/hme/MaHomePage.htm?ck=OK

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: Toronto_Frank] #7094
04/05/2009 02:01 PM
04/05/2009 02:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 237
Colorado
DLJ Offline
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Another good mapsite for outside the US is map24 - the ireland link is
http://www.ie.map24.com/
I can also recommend the Dingle peninsula. We road the bus into Dingle with some school children and I can tell you they were none too happy about "Irish" (gaelic) class. But it is very cool to walk into a pub full of people speaking gaelic and having the bartender switch to his second language - English - to take your order.
-Dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: Emers410] #7095
04/10/2009 11:25 PM
04/10/2009 11:25 PM
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Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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Thanks for the Ryanair suggestion...like you, I had heard they were very cheap, but believe it or not, I found a flight from London to Dublin with Aer Lingus, for free!...yep, it was free, there were about 5 dollars tax, but that was it....so needless to say I took it...cost about 25 coming back from Shannon, but still very, very reasonable!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7096
05/15/2009 04:32 PM
05/15/2009 04:32 PM
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Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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Just got back from the trip,funny thing about the free airfare to Dublin out of London....I left a 3 hour window to catch the flight, and Northwest cancelled our original flight, and by the time we got rerouted, it took us in 4 hours late, so we missed the free flight. They would not honor the original ticket, so we had to purchase 2 more, for $600...so much for free!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7097
05/17/2009 06:10 PM
05/17/2009 06:10 PM
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Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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How about posting a trip report...I'd love to hear about Ireland.

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: SMC_Irish_68] #7098
05/17/2009 11:05 PM
05/17/2009 11:05 PM
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Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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Hi Karen,

I am actually working on that, with the 17 day trip, there is a lot to do, but hope to do it in segments soon...thanks for asking!

Dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: Toronto_Frank] #7099
05/18/2009 08:51 PM
05/18/2009 08:51 PM
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CJIMI Offline
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I'm leaving for a week in Ireland on May 23. We are renting a car (Hertz had a good deal & Mastercard should pick up the CDW ). I have the most recent Michelin map of Ireland. I have had good luck with Michelin maps in the past.

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7100
05/21/2009 10:21 AM
05/21/2009 10:21 AM
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Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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DAY 1.
I will only mention a few things about the start of the trip, as it does not directly apply to Ireland. As we boarded our Northwest flight in Charlotte, after a long taxi, wait, and more taxi, we were told there was a glitch, and we had to go back to the gate for a minor repair. After a long wait, we were told to de-plane, as the repair required the engines to be shut down, and it would be warm on the plane. We gathered all our belongings, and went to wait some more in the gate area. Finally, we were notified that the flight was cancelled-the luck of the Irish! After much turmoil for everyone, and being ticketed to 2 flights that would not even have worked due to connection times, 4 hours later we caught another flight to Atlanta, another 4 hour layover, and finally overnight into London for our Aer Lingus connection to Dublin. Of course, we missed that flight due to all the delays. As the Aer Lingus flight was not part of our original ticket purchase, we had to purchase more tickets for Dublin. Two last minute tickets set us back an unexpected $600, but we finally made Dublin, if half a day late!

DAY 2
As Ireland is very green, the only way that is possible is for it to rain. On the way to the hotel, our cab driver talked to us about the Wicklow Mountains, which, on a clear day, are easily seen from Dublin. He told us if you could not see the mountains, it was raining, and if you could see them, rain was on the way. But a rainy day in Ireland is far better than a sunny day at work!

We started our long awaited trip with a four day stay in Dublin, at the Arlington Hotel. It is located right in the center of town, on the River Liffey, within walking distance of virtually every main tourist attraction. Dublin is a large city, but almost everything that is of interest to the average tourist is located in a very small area in central Dublin. Our first day was shortened considerably due to the flights, but we still wandered around the area close to the hotel to familiarize ourselves with our location, met many wonderful, smiling, Irish people, had a wonderful Irish dinner at our hotel, and then settled into our room to catch up on some sleep, and prepare for our first full day in Dublin.

DAY 3
The Arlington hotel, as do most hotels and B + B s in Ireland, offers what is termed a "Full Irish Breakfast, generally included in the cost of your room, and it is an excellent value. If you take advantage of it, you just about can skip lunch, and save those Euros for sightseeing. At the hotel, you will find a full buffet, with more than you can possibly eat. You will also find one of the best dining room managers that you will ever run into, a wonderful lady named Carmel! Carmel has to be one of the most friendly people you will ever meet, (and you will find Ireland is full of friendly people), as she will remember everything about you, what you like to eat and drink, and make sure that your every need is taken care of. When you meet her, tell her hello from Dave.

First, a quick note, 3 things that can save you money and make your trip more enjoyable. First, in Dublin, they have a hop-on, hop-off bus that runs a continuous loop through the city. It is an excellent way to get your bearings in town, takes you to most of the things that you will probably plan to see, and the drivers have some interesting and funny commentary. Second, there is a Dublin Pass. It can be purchased for 1,2 or 3 day periods. It will give you free entry to many sites in town, and in the areas close to Dublin. Third, if you are going to tour the Country, there is a Heritage Pass. This also gives you free admission to sites all over the country. On line you can find out which specific sites they cover, check the normal admission cost, and see if they will be a value to you during your travels. Usually, if you plan to see about 3 or 4 of the sites, the pass is a good value.

After breakfast we started walking, first to the historic Trinity College, a fully functioning college, which is only a few minutes walk from the hotel. It is one of the main attractions in Dublin, and houses the world famous Book Of Kells, the oldest book in the world. From there, we went to the National Museum, the Architecture and History division. It houses unbelievable historic items that are up to a few thousand years old. Even without your pass, most of the museums in the country are free. We then went to St Stephens Green, which is a beautiful park right in the center of Dublin. Lakes, wonderful flower plantings, ducks, walking paths, and once again, the wonderful Irish people are to be found here. There are gazebos here, and many of the locals come here to enjoy the park, bringing there sandwiches for lunch. You will usually find they have no problem talking with you, and can answer questions to help you on your way. You can also find horse-drawn buggies near the park to take you on a fun tour. Then working our way around, we went to St Patricks Cathedral, (don't miss stopping at Marsh's library while you are there), Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty Library, Crist Church Cathedral, city hall, and the area known as Temple Bar. It is not a bar in the normal sense of the word, but an entire area that offers restaurants, pubs, retail, most anything that you could want. It is the happening area of town, during the day, and party central during the night.

After a full day of exploring, we attended the Irish Show at the Arlington Hotel. Every evening they have a show that has the Irish step-dancing, musicians, a wonderful meal, and an all-around fun evening. It may seem a bit touristy, but it is very representative of their culture, and everyone has a great time! After covering many of the city's sites in the first half of our Dublin stay, we retired to prepare for the second half, the wonderful attractions in the surrounding area of the city.
Next, we finish Dublin on days 4 + 5.

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7101
05/22/2009 10:08 AM
05/22/2009 10:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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DAY 4
We awoke to another wonderful breakfast at our hotel, and great conversation with Carmel, our host. Dublin has great transportation available, the local hop on bus, your standard city bus for all your in town exploration, bus lines for surrounding areas, and the DART, or Dublin Area Rapid Transit. This is a train that goes North and South of Dublin for about 15 or so miles to local attractions. Today we caught the DART North, to visit Malahide Castle. An organized tour to the Malahide Castle attractions is about 30 Euro per person, and the Dart roundtrip ticket was only about 4. More savings for a night out! This is what you expect a castle to be. It is not in ruins as many are, even though the ones in ruins are great to see also. Malahide was founded in the 12th century, and is wonderfully restored, with furnishings from the 17th-19th centuries. The descendants of the founder lived in the castle until 1973. The grounds are also beautiful, and a great place for a picnic.

Also located on the grounds are two other attractions. The Fry Model Railway, and Tara's Palace, a great collection of antique dollhouses and toys. All 3 of these sites have free admission with your Dublin Pass, by the way. When you arrive, before you go to the castle, you really need to walk around the small town of Malahide. The shops are beautiful, as are the people that you meet there.

After our Malahide visit, we returned on the DART to Dublin, where we had tickets to the Abbey Theatre, the famed national theatre of Ireland. We saw a great production of Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, updated to modern times. It was still done in the original English verse, but done in modern times, it gave it a unique twist, plus the show is hilarious!

It was Saturday, and one of the fun things to do in Dublin on a Saturday evening, is go to the dog races. It is really an event for them there. We caught a cab, and went to join in the fun. We met a great guy, not an unusual trend you see, who showed us how to do the bets, and just how to enjoy the evening. He said that you don't come there just to bet, that is only a small part of the experience. He said that meeting new people, as he had with us, was the best part of the evenings. He had 7 sisters, and all of them come on the race nights, and have dinner, play a few of the races, and generally have a great evening. None of the kindness that you will find in Ireland is put on just for tourists, it is genuine, and that makes it something that you cannot buy. It really is a family event. That evening had apparently been a first communion, or a confirmation for some, as many of the small girls were still in their beautiful white dresses from it. I think there are 11 races or so, we stayed for the first 7, actually picking 3 out of 7 winners. Okay, I picked 1, and my wife picked 2, but that is still 3, right?

We caught a cab back to our hotel to wrap up the night. As we approached the hotel, the great smell of Pizza caught our attention, and we just had to stop. Apache Pizza is right next door to the hotel. We had smelled that delicious aroma every day, and knew that it was time to try it. We were not disappointed, as it was great. Small place, but great food. We went through our lobby on the way to our room, and heard the sounds of the Irish Show going on in the lounge. We started to go in and see it again, but as it had been a long day, we went to crash and get ready for Sunday, our last full day in Dublin.

DAY 5
Sunday morning, breakfast of course before our adventure. Today, we caught a double decker bus, south about 12 miles to the beautiful Powerscourt House and Gardens. Once again, tours are offered if you like that sort of thing, but our tickets were about 4 Euro, tours about 40, do the math! Powerscourt House and Gardens were designed about the mid 1700s, and are spectacular. With the estate covering about 1,000 acres, ponds, statues, gardens, gift shops, restaurants, you could easily spend the whole day and not see everything. You have to try the cafe, but be careful, you will catch yourself drooling as you go through the lines, the meals and the desserts are to die for. But go hungry, because the portions were huge! One note about the bus trip. When the bus dropped us off at the town of Powerscourt, it is still a very long walk to the House and Gardens. I did not know that before we went. If you have trouble walking, it would be a problem. The town is very lovely, and very small...so small there is no public transportation. Since you can't call a cab, you have to walk,or find a way. We got lucky, as we got off the bus, our driver explained that to us, and he happened to see a taxi driver that was returning from the House to drop off wedding guests. On his own, he flagged down the driver, and pointed him to us. The driver came to us, picked us up, drove us to the House and Gardens, and would not even let us pay him! How often do you see that anyplace? I can't stress how nice the people are. Since we knew there was no public transportation, when we entered the cafe for lunch, we asked the hostess what would be the best way to get back to town, to catch the bus. She said she would look into it, and let us know. This is a large restaurant, but later during the meal, she hunted us down, telling us that she had found a taxi driver that was eating lunch also, and told him about us. He searched us out when he finished eating, and drove us back to town to catch the bus. We should not have been suprised! We looked around the little town while waiting on the bus, meeting more nice people, then caught the bus back to Dublin, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Since we had missed most of our first day due to the cancellation of our flight coming in, and that was the day I had tentatively scheduled the hop-on, hop-off bus to familiarize ourselves with Dublin, we took the mid part of the day to do that now. The tour stops at about 23 different sites, and covers a lot of territory. Even though we had already seen a good portion of what is covered on the tour, it was nice putting it in perspective to the other attractions, plus there was no walking!

For our last evening in Dublin, I had planned something a little different, that many tourists do not see, and turned out to be one of the highlights of our stay in Ireland. The oldest pub in Ireland is in Dublin, The Brazen Head Pub. It was founded in 1198. That would be enough to bring me in, as I enjoy finding things older than I am! But if you go on line before you go, look up An Evening of Food, Folk, and Fairies. This is a great evening, hosted by a wonderful storyteller, Johnny Daly, upstairs in The Brazen Head Pub. Johnny used to work in the travel industry, doing the average tours, etc. He finally had enough people asking him about the history of Ireland, and many of the tales of folklore, elves, fairies and such, that he has started a wonderful business of his own. It is an intimate evening, so you usually have to book in advance. He starts with some of the history of Ireland, goes through the famine days, not to try to evoke sympathy, but more to show what the country experienced, and why some things are like they are today. Many times when people cannot understand why things are happening, they make up their own ideas, or folklore, and it can become fact to them. Hence, many of the stories of fairies, etc. As the evening goes on, you are served a great meal, hear live Irish music, and get to chat with each other during the breaks. Johnny weaves his story with perfection. There was total silence as he softly spoke of the history, the problems, and the way much of the Irish folklore originated. You will certainly enjoy your evening, and if you are not careful, you might even learn where to find some of the fairies in Ireland! A definite must-see if you get the chance! As we wrapped up our wonderful evening of storytelling and friendship, we headed back to the hotel to pack, and prepare for the real excitement to come tomorrow, driving the Irish roads!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7102
05/22/2009 02:41 PM
05/22/2009 02:41 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
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destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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DAY 6
Monday morning, all packed, we go down for one last scrumptious breakfast at the Arlington Hotel, and we say a sad goodbye to Carmel, the best hostess in Dublin. If you happen to be in Ireland and it is raining, (which is common), she can bring you a ray of sunshine!

We call a cab, and he takes us to the Dublin car rental site just a few minutes away. Our car is waiting as promised, we load up, and prepare to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road for a couple of weeks! A tip on car rentals in Ireland. When you get your rental car, the first 2 numbers of the license tag, are the year of the car. So if you prefer a newer car, you can tell what year it is without asking. Ours was an '07, and was in very good shape. We had rented a GPS before we left the States, it was delivered to our home, and we brought it with us. I plugged it in, and gave it our first destination. I say plugged 'it' in. Shortly, we had to name the GPS, and 'it', became Clare, as we thought that is what she sounded like, and Clare was perfect for Ireland. More on Clare later though!

We headed west out of Dublin, as we had covered the city, and most sites just north and south of it already. To the east is the Irish Sea, so I didn't drive that direction, regardless of what Clare would have told me! The first section of these notes will cover the southeast portion of Ireland.

Our first stop was about 15 miles west of Dublin, in the small town of Celbridge, to visit the Castletown House. This is Ireland's largest, and most impressive Palladian styled mansion. It was built between 1722 and 1729, and the descendants of the original owners lived in the home until 1965. It is one of the Heritage Pass sites too.

We left Celbridge and the Castletown House, driving about 25 miles to Kildare. As most of the small towns are, Kildare is lovely. Most of the small towns have no tall buildings, and have multi-colored fronts. They are so unusual, you can even buy books with nothing but pictures of the pubs fronts. While there, we visited St Brigid's Cathedral. It was originally built in the 1200's, but was restored in the 19th century. It has an small, but interesting cemetary also. From Kildare, we rode about 45 miles south to spend our first night out of Dublin, in the Laragh House, a B + B in Kilkenny, (go ahead, do the SouthPark jokes, we did!) Most of our stays were in B + B's, as we like to experience the 'flavor' of many of the owners. The personal touch is nice, too, as they can tell you about everything to see and do in their area. Once again, very helpful people.

DAY 7
Tuesday morning, we had the Breakfast part of the B + B, and started out to explore Kilkenny. Our first stop was to the tourist information center, and meet our guide, Liam, to take a walking tour of Kilkenny. There are others, but the one we took was Pat Tynan's walking tour, and leaves from the tourist office. I can't say enough about Liam and the tour, it was great. He grew up in Kilkenny, spent 50 years in the furniture business as a salesman, retired, went back to school, and got a Master's degree. Not bad, huh? So he certainly knew his stuff about town! From the information, you can tell that Liam was not a young man, but let me tell you, you best have on your walking shoes, because no grass grows under his shoes! We also visited Kilkenny Castle, built in the 12th century, and another site that is on the Heritage Pass. The castle and the grounds are outstanding, so if you have time, you can wander the grounds, and get lost in their peace and quiet.

From Kilkenny, we drove about 35 miles west to visit the small town of Cashel, once again beautiful! The main attraction in Cashel, is the Rock of Cashel. And no, it is not a rock, who would have thought! It is the ruins of an impressive Celtic Cathedral, sitting high on a hill, overlooking the countryside. You can see it way before you get to town, so you won't have to ask where it is. It also has a very well preserved round tower, of which there are many in Ireland, that dates to about 1100. There is also a large graveyard, that has many of the beautiful high crosses. Take a few minutes if possible and walk through them. The hills below are peppered with sheep and cattle, so it is very relaxing.

From Cashel, we drove about 10 miles to the small town of Cahir, and visited Cahir Castle. It is a 15th century castle in excellent condition, sitting on a rocky island in the River Suir. Even if you have never been to Ireland, you may have seen it, as it was used for some of the scenes in the movie, Excalibur. I also heard that part of Barry Lyndon was filmed here. From Cahir, about 40 miles southeast, to spend the night at Glenorney by the Sea, a B + B in Tramore, a small waterfront community just outside of Waterford, so well know for its Crystal.

DAY 8
After another great breakfast, we left the B + B for Waterford, to see the world famous Waterford Crystal Shop. Sadly, the shop is closing down, most of it is already closed, actually. You can go through the gift shop, see and buy many examples of what they have produced, and see films of how the glass was produced. From what we were told, the furnaces have already been shut down, a process that takes months, and are being relocated to Europe. We picked up a couple of beautiful small pieces to bring home. Had we purchased any more, we would have had to sell the rental car, AND Clare!

Heading west out of Waterford, we swung by the small town of Lismore, which has Lismore Castle, (funny how they are named after the town, huh?). The castle is not open to the public, as it is, and has been, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire since the mid 1700's. But it may be one of the most stunning castles in Ireland, and its position in town make the exterior and the castle grounds very visible and worth a stop. If you are a movie buff, as we are, it may interest you that many of the castles in Ireland were used in movies, this one is the star of Northanger Abbey. Even Trinity College in Dublin, was the star of Educating Rita, with Michael Caine, even though the movie is supposedly set in London. In Lismore, we stopped in for a snack, and met a lovely lady named Mary Clare. Can you see where this is going? She was great to talk with, had a ton of personality, and at first thought we were kidding when we told her our GPS was named Clare. She was so much fun, that hereafter, Clare became Mary Clare! This covers the Southeast portion of the adventure. Now, from Lismore, we head west to spend the night at another B + B, the Blarney Vale, in, did you guess yet?, Blarney. The next 4 nights will be in the Southwest portion of the country, wild and rugged!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7103
05/22/2009 04:52 PM
05/22/2009 04:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
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destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2005
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DAY 9
We arrive in Blarney for a great stay in Blarney Vale B + B, ALMOST within sight of the famous Blarney Castle, dang trees! After a yummy breakfast, we head off to do some kissing. The castle sits right in the middle of a lovely small town, (what a suprise!), with a beautiful green park area out front, and multicolored shops. The Blarney castle is about 600 years old, and with the castle itself, fast-rushing stream, and beautiful grounds, you could make a day of it easily here. Of course we climbed the narrow stairs all the way to the top, and kissed the stone. If you don't kiss it, they toss you off the top! Of course not, but it isn't the easiest thing to kiss, either. You have to lie on your back, hang over the opening that the stone is in, hold onto 2 hand rails, and ease down to kiss it. There are people there to help you, and you can't fall, so it is completely safe. The view from the top of the castle where the stone is, is wonderful. I guess the view from the top of a castle HAS to be beautiful, right?

From Blarney, we drove a few miles south to the city of Cork. Cork is a large city, so it lacks the flavor that you get from all the small towns. But if you miss the big city feel, maybe you will enjoy it for a change of pace. In the downtown area there are some great shopping areas, and there are also some good sights, it will just take you longer to find them, and to get around in that TRAFFIC!. St Fin Barre's Cathedral, and St Anne's Church are two of the good attractions there. Right out of Cork is Cobh, pronounced cove, which is a colorful seaside town. The original name was Queenstown, and it was the port that many of our forefathers sailed from to reach the freedom that they sought. Many of the victims of the sinking of the Lusitania are buried here, and there is a memorial there for the Titanic. Cobh was the last port of call that the Titanic sailed out of before she sank. Out of Cobh we caught a car ferry, the first we had been on, to head west to Kinsale. The ferry takes about 3 minutes, 5 Euro, and you never have to get out of your car. If you are heading west from Cobh, you would have to go up and around Cork in all of its traffic, wasting close to maybe an hour, a no-brainer! In Kinsale, we stop for the evening at the Woodlands House B + B, a great place in this lovely, seaside town. A wonderful restaurant there is called, Fishy, Fishy. Yep, that is the name, and it is a very nice place, right by the harbor. If you have been Jonesing for some great seafood, this is for you!

DAY 10
There are walking tours available here, or you can just wander around the harbor and the town, and chill out with some great people. Kinsale is a great town to begin the drive out to the southenmost peninusula, which at the tip is called Mizen Head. So that is where we headed, stopping at a little town along the way named Clonakilty. We called it Clone-a-kitty. There are 2 worthwhile attractions here, other than the town itself, once again, beautiful. One is the model railway village. This is a fully scaled down replica of some of the villages in the area, with model railways running through it. The attention to detail is wonderful, and you can feel like you are in a plane flying over the real thing. It is complete, down to the cows and sheep. If you look very closely, coming out of one of the buildings is Mary Poppins, complete with hat and suitcase! The second main attraction here is just out of town, the Drombeg Stone Circle. This is along the lines of Stonehenge, but smaller. It is a monument of 17 stones, dating from about the beginning of the Christian era.

After leaving there, we continued west toward the Mizen Head area. When the road runs by the ocean, it is so pretty you want to stop every 100 feet to take pictures. Oh yeah, another thing about the driving there. Many of the roads there, most actually, are very narrow. To complicate things, there are rock walls everywhere...they are beautiful, but they are RIGHT BESIDE THE ROAD! I'm not talking 10 feet away, maybe 10 inches, or less. So between the roads being barely wide enough for 2 fat sheep and a chicken, you have to be careful about approaching vehicles. Often you will probably have to ease over to the edge, with your mirror almost touching the rock wall, and let the other car ease by doing the same. It only adds to the adventure though! Just be careful if there are 3 sheep! Actually, you WILL have to watch for sheep and cows a great deal in the western part of the country, but mostly sheep. Often there are no fences, so the little guys wander, and they think they have the right of way. So unless you want lamb chops on the front of your car, be careful! But, I digress. We finish driving around the peninsula, taking tons of pictures, no sheep casualties, and roll into the town of Kenmare, to spend the night at the Willow Lodge B + B.

DAY 11
After a good night's sleep, and a great breakfast, off we go. The next portion of the drive, is around what is called, The Ring Of Kerry, the most famous section of road in Ireland. Words cannot begin to express the beauty of the area. The farther north you begin to go on the western coast of Ireland, the wilder, and more beautiful the scenery becomes. The drive around the peninsula will take every bit of 4 hours, probably more if you love pictures. The ring goes pretty much around the entire coastal section of the peninsula. There are many small, great towns to stop in here, just depending on your time. Almost all of the tour buses travel the ring in a counter-clockwise direction. Given the size of the roads, and the amount of bus exhaust, we chose to drive clockwise, so as not to follow the exhaust, and not to have to pass those monsters! After the drive, I was extremely pleased with that decision. We finish the drive, and come into the pretty town of Killarney to spend the night in a wonderful place, The Killarney Lodge. Our gracious hostess, Catherine Treacy, was kind enough to let us know when I asked about a reservation, that the weekend we were wanting to come, there was a road rally that is held yearly, and the traffic would be intense. It was great of her to let us know, but with the schedule that we were doing, we would go for it. All in all, it wasn't too bad. Yes, the traffic was heavy, but it worked out that it flowed mostly in the opposite direction we were driving, both coming into town, and leaving. It added some pizazz to the evening, tons of the sport cars, many done in the decals, cruising through the town. I only saw a couple with sheep in the grills.

DAY 12
We said goodbye to the Killarney Lodge, and started farther north. First we stopped at Ross Castle, a stoic old castle with a beautiful location right on a stunning lake. Then on to Muckross House and Gardens. These are located at the Killarney National Park, and a great place to spend a slow, relaxing day. The house is huge and beautiful, the gardens and flowers are stunning, and there is a section called the Muckross Traditional Farms. This is what you would expect from a typical Irish farm, if you had visited in the 1930s and 1940s. A great place to spend the day.

The next peninsula going north, is the Dingle peninsula. I will do no jokes about the berries. The drive on it is similar to the Ring Of Kerry, but far shorter. The namesake city is Dingle, a fishing village as you approach the end of the peninsula. It is beautiful, has great scenery, atmosphere, people, and was just generally fun. We finished the drive for the day, with a glitch. Mary Clare got lost, blew a transistor, or simply had a meltdown. When we were going along, she started saying, 'go left, go left, go left, go left'. I tried to tell her that 4 lefts have us going in the same direction we were to start with. After that, she really broke down. Sometimes if she, or even possibly I, made a wrong turn, she would say, 'recalculating', until we both were going to the same place. At one point today, she starting saying, 'recalc, recalc, recalc, recalc, recalc'. She couldn't even get out the whole word. It was really sad, even if we were in hysterics! Even though she finally righted herself, we had to add on to her name now. Instead of just being Mary Clare, she was now renamed Mary Clare O'Doofus, as a tribute to her Irish heritage, and her inability to stay focused!

We finished the day with a special treat. We drove to the town of Tralee, to spend the night in an honest-to-goodness castle, Ballyseede Castle. One of the first things you will see if you go to Ballyseede, is one of the biggest dogs you have ever seen. Arthur, is an Irish Wolfhound, and pretty much runs the place, or you would think so from his actions. He has a huge bed, right inside the front door, and wanders the property at will. He has a little buddy, who we thing was also a dog. He looked like he could have been made from spare parts from other dogs, maybe even something else, we were not sure. He was a hoot, though. On top of it, his name is Einstein. If you ever want a dog to stand and stare at your shoes, then Einstein is your dog! I'm serious, if you got in front of him, he would stare unflinchingly at your shoes. I'm not sure what he thought was going to happen, but it was hilarious. Einstein, so appropriately named! We had a wonderful dinner in the castle by a large fireplace by the window. Outside we could see a couple of donkeys in the pasture playing, and of course, our little buddy, Einstein. We retired to our corner room, claw-footed tub, and flat screen tv, a great combination of old and new. This ended the Southwest portion of the trip, tomorrow we head farther north for our last section, the North and Northwest.

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7104
05/23/2009 01:11 PM
05/23/2009 01:11 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
DAY 13
It is Monday morning, and we enter our last 5 days of Ireland exploration today. First we have our wonderful breakfast in the Ballyseede Castle, look across the grounds one more time, load up the car, and of course, give Arthur and Einstein one more rub. We head northeast to the small town of Adare. We wanted to visit it because it is famous for having some of the original styled thatched roofs that Ireland was famous for. We get into town, and they are right on the main road. It is interesting to see the construction of them, and we are told that they can hold up for 10 years or so.

Next, we had planned to go to Limerick, and visit King John's Castle. It was built in the 1200's, and sits right on the Shannon River. Mary Clare O'Doofus had a tough time with this one. As are many attractions, it is right in the center of town, so there are many one-way, narrow streets. Mary Clare about blew a transistor or two before she took us around our elbow to find our thumb! Once winding our way there, I was a little disappointed. With the castle sitting on the river and with the front view of it being obstructed by a large visitor center, the only good exterior view of it was from across the river, which meant more BIG CITY TRAFFIC. We did not even go in, as Frommer's said that it was overrated, and what was there did not justify the price charged. At least we were able to mess with Mary Clare a little bit.

Next, it was just a few minutes to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The castle is from the early 1400's, and has been restored with period furnishings. During the day it is open for visiting at your own pace, and is very interesting. At night, they hold two dinners there, in the Medieval style. If you have been to that type of dinner show before, then you are familiar with it, but to do it in a location that is original adds a great deal to it. Surrounding the castle, is about a 20 acre park, Bunratty Folk Park. It is a re-creation of a 19th century Irish village, complete with the thatched roof cottages, school, and an entire Irish small town street. They are all open to visit inside, and gives a great glimpse into earlier life in the country. Once again, this is somewhere that you can spend an entire day if you have the time.

Now, northwest through the town of Ennis, on to another of the main attractions of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are about 700 feet straight up, rising out of the wild Atlantic Ocean. They stretch for about 5 miles on the coast, and are unbelievable. There is a tourist center at the top, and if the weather and visibility is very bad, access to the cliffs is limited. After all it is straight down, and that first step is a killer! They are a definite must-see.

In addition to the Cliffs, this is another place that we had looked forward to. There is a small town here, I mean s-m all. But is is known world over for its music. Doolin is so small, they had to widen the road there to be able to paint the white line down the middle. It is so small, the welcome to, and you are now leaving signs are on the same post. It is so small, well, you get the idea, it ain't big. It only has a couple of pubs, but on any night you can find some of the best true Irish music going on there that you can find anyplace in Ireland. We stayed at O'Connor's Guesthouse while we were there, and so we thought we would try something different, and go to O'Connor's Pub! Actually, no relation, what are the odds of more than 1 O'Connor in Ireland? It was a great evening, as usual, it was packed with mostly locals, and some tourists. Watching everyone enjoy themselves in the pubs is just a great feeling. Pub is actually short for public house, so there, a pub is not what we would normally look at as a bar. There is plenty of Guinness downed, of course, but it is more about the meeting and talking and enjoying, than the drinking-absolutely unforgettable. After some excellent pub-grub, everyone gathers to the center of the pub right in front of the bar, where the music takes place. Local musicians are there, and if can play an instrument or sing, you are welcome to join in, and maybe become a star! We didn't last as long as the music did, so back to the room, and time to crash.

DAY 14
Another yummy Irish breakfast, and we go past the pub again about a mile to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands. There are 3 islands, and we are going to the closest, Inis Oir. Although you hear so much about Ireland being green, part of the green was some of the people on the boat going over! I have to admit, it was very rough on the sea that day, but some people may not remember all of it. When we landed, my wife said we were moving there. Not because it was so beautiful, but if we didn't move there, it meant another trip back on the boat! On to other things. The island was beautiful. It is the smallest of the 3, and the first language of the residents is Gaelic, although English is also spoken. We went to a pub, and, once one of us felt like eating again, had some more great pub-grub. We wandered the small town, and walked to the ruins that sit on the top of the island and give fantastic views. You can see the layout of all the fields with the patterns the stone walls make, and see for miles. I guess we are not moving there, as while we were there, some wonderful tourist had a couple of extra motion sickness pills that she sold to my wife for only $50...just kidding, the wonderful lady gave my wife her last 2 pills and we made the trip back, thanks again! Leaving lovely Doolin, we drove around Galway, and west to our B + B for the night in Clifden, the Ardmore House.

DAY 15
The Ardmore House sits right on the Atlantic Ocean, and since we got in late the prior evening, we did not get to see the wonderful view it offers. After a great breakfast, with all effects of the boat trip behind, we walked the short walk to the cliffs right behind the house. The view was beautiful. The owners have placed a picnic table out there, so if you wanted to have a lunch there you would have a wonderful view. It was very windy the day that we were there, so if you plan a lunch, hang onto your sandwich!

We packed up, and headed northeast about 10 minutes to Kylemore Abbey. The Abbey is Gothic, and sits on the edge of beautiful Kylemore Lake. It also has some great gardens to walk, and a large restaurant. If you like beautiful buildings and scenery, don't miss it. Next, we head east about 25 miles to one of the things I had really wanted to see, the town of Cong. Nope, nothing to do with a big ole monkey. Cong is where the 1952 movie, The Quiet Man, with John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald was filmed. It had to have had one of the best fight scenes in movie history in it! On the way there, we ran into our first traffic jam out in the country. Actually, we didn't run into it, as the traffic jam was sheep in the road! A whole covey of the guys were in the road as we came around a bend, and I think in their language, they said that the road belonged to them. Anyway, they finally moved, and we continued on to Cong. By the way, we had lamb chops that night.

The original house is no longer intact, but an exact replica, including the thatched roof is in town, including items like Mary Kate's table and chairs, and the tandem bicycle. You feel just like you are in the movie while in the house. There is a walking tour that covers many of the sites used in the movie, including a stop at the ruins of the original house. If you like the movie, this is a great stop, and yes, I bought a shirt with The Quiet Man logo and John Wayne's picture on it.

Now, northwest to the coastal town of Westport, for our stay at the Cillcomen Lodge B + B. We walked out for dinner that evening, and on the way back, we saw a field full of, wait for it, sheep! How suprised were we? Becoming Dr Doolittle for a minute, I thought I would speak with them. I started with the simple things, like baaaaa, and strangely enough, they came running to the fence beside me. They didn't appear angry, so I don't think that I offended them. So I continued, and they came closer. Then, I said 'lamb chops', and honest, they all took off running. We couldn't see anything other than sheep butts! Was the funniest thing I ever saw...well, maybe you had to be there. So back to the room for the night, and get ready for another day.

DAY 16
We are in the home stretch now, only 2 days left. We drive east from Westport, (does that sound right?), for a scaled-back day, seeing ruins and great scenery along the way. We go into Ballina, as I had heard it was a very pretty town, and also because I had heard nothing but good things about a restaurant there. I'm a foodie, if the 'lamb chops' hints didn't tell you that already. The name of the restaurant is The Broken Jug. If you are in the area, that is a must do. There were so many choices that it was hard to pick, and don't be slow choosing, as they keep loading you plate with food. Everything was great, and the desserts were sinful, not to mention huge. Probably one of the best meals we had in Ireland. Thinking of that, I cannot remember ANY meal that was not good. Some years back jokes were made about Irish food, but that is no longer the case. You will be hard pressed to find something that is not very good! Of course, you may get an argument about that from the sheep.

Southeast out of Ballina, we head down to do what is called the Lough Derg Drive. Lough Derg is a large, long lake in the center of Ireland, and it has some great scenery along it. We chose to drive the western side of it, through great scenery, and many beautiful little towns on the lake. The day brought us right outside the city of Athlone, to a small town called Glasson, and to our B + B for the night, The Benown House. We settled in just before a storm came up, and before we knew it,the wind was howling and it was very dark. We heard the rain pounding on the roof, but it sounded very loud, and as I looked out, there was a hailstorm! They say in Ireland, if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes, it will change. While here, we have now seen almost everything except snow!

DAY 17
Our last full day starts with another great breakfast, and then south toward Shannon, as that will be where we depart tomorrow morning. I wanted to stay close to Shannon, as our flight back to London was in the morning. Shannon is not far, but we swing west just before Shannon, and go a few miles north to a small town named Newmarket-on-Fergus. I tell my wife I want us to see one more castle, (you can't see too many castles), before we check in to our last B + B near the airport. We drive to Dromoland Castle, with its history going back over 1,000 years. It sits on over 400 acres, has a great golf course, and is known as one of the finest castle hotels in Europe. As we drive up, it is breathtaking. Between the long drive into the grounds, the sight of the castle as we near it, and the countryside in general, everything is perfect.

Near the front of the castle, I stop for my wife to take one of over 1,000 pictures she took on the vacation. She gets out of the car, and the ground starts to become covered with ducks. They begin to walk toward her, as they apparently are fed by the tourists. Seconds pass, their number doubles, triples...ducks everywhere! I think at this point, even Mary Clare O'Doofus was a little concerned. As we had nothing to feed them, my wife eases back into the car, and tries not to slam any beaks in the door. I think she was successful. We drive around the castle, and the entrance area is gorgeous. There is a 1975 Rolls Royce there, which we later found out had been owned by Sir Lawrence Olivier, and it is used as their limo. I pulled up to the front, and was asked if we were checking in. My wife sort of laughs, and I said, 'what the hey, let's do it'. Of course, I already had the reservation, and she had no idea that we were staying there. We are escorted inside, and I do the check-in while she walks around with her mouth hanging open. Of course, she was not too much in shock to take pictures.

Needless to say, everything about the castle was perfect, the service, the room, the food. When we got to our room, it had a huge flat screen tv, that even had a welcome on the screen with our names on it. The place is first-class all the way. After check-in, we took a carriage ride with Sean, (of course), and his beautiful horse Lily. Sean was excellent. He rode us around the grounds, across the golf course area, back into the wooded areas, all the while telling us the history of the castle, and even showed us the tree where the fairies live! He gives an excellent tour, has a wonderful personality, and takes great care of his animals. I highly reccommend taking his tour while in the area, even if you do not stay at the castle. Tell him Dave + Cindy say hello. I am not sure if it was a compliment or not, but he said that I was, 'a bit of a rogue'!

That evening, a wonderful meal, great service, we met some golfers that were from Boston, and we talked about the NFL draft, and eased back into non-Irish things. My wife did a 'girl-thing' soak in the huge tub, and I used a shower that was powerful enough to surf with. A great evening, and off to sleep. We knew that tomorrow was back to reality. The front desk knew that we were leaving early in the morning, and asked what time we needed to leave. They did the wake-up call for us, and I found printed directions to the airport, in case Mary Clare O'Doofus was still asleep. The had prepared a silver service in the lobby with tea, coffee, and about 15-20 warmed Danish of various types. I did my best to find a bad one, but alas, I could not!

Since we could only stay one night or have to sell the ranch and all the sheep, we loaded up, and made the short drive to the airport. Shannon airport is much smaller than that of Dublin, so it was a piece of cake, or is that Danish, to get through. We caught an Aer Lingus flight to London, and Northwest back to Minneapolis/St Paul, then back into Charlotte. We arrived in Charlotte about 10 pm Saturday night, the trouble is, our luggage didn't want to come back, and stayed in Minneapolis/St Paul. It did however catch the next flight out Sunday, and was delivered to our home on Sunday afternoon. It wasn't fair that the luggage should have a longer vacation than we did.

Ireland is a wonderful place. When asked over and over by our friends what we liked best about it, we both have to say, the people. As great as the scenery is, the stunning castles, cathedrals, and picturesque towns, the people will stand out as being the best overall that we have met in the world. I can't recall in 17 days even seeing a person frown. So if you are looking for a spot to visit, I can't say enough about Ireland and the wonderful people there. I hoped this helps anyone that is thinking of going, and if there are questions, please email me, I will do what I can for you.

Well, that was it, our trials and tribulations of Ireland. Oh yeah, Mary Clare O'Doofus was sent packing too, and I told the company that she may need to retire soon. She acted baaaaaaadly!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7105
05/24/2009 02:23 PM
05/24/2009 02:23 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 890
WBL_Couple Offline
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WBL_Couple  Offline
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What a beautiful trip and your report made me feel like I was there! I so enjoyed it from beginning to end!

Also, what a lovely, romantic surprise to spend your last night in a castle! How cool is that!

Thanks again for taking the time and effort to compose such a lovely journal!

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: WBL_Couple] #7106
05/24/2009 07:41 PM
05/24/2009 07:41 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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north carolina
Hi,

Thanks for the note, it was my pleasure to write it. I didn't realize it would run that long, and I only touched on the highlights! Hopefully it was informative for you, and that a touch of humor kept it from being so dry. If you have any questions, let me know, and I hope you get to go experience the great people and country sometime.

Dave

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: destinydave] #7107
05/25/2009 11:37 AM
05/25/2009 11:37 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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SMC_Irish_68  Offline
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Posts: 963
Virginia

Dave,

Excellent report! I particulalry think the section on using the public transportation is very helpful to anyone planning a trip.

I'm glad to made the loop south, west, and then north to Westport. You really did a good job in selecting your route.

Your last night's stay sounds fabulous!!

Whenever we can make the trip, we enjoy flying into and out of Shannon. We like to spend our first or last night at the Ballinalacken Castle Country House Hotel (Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare). It's approximately 45 min. from the airport and not far from the Cliffs of Moher.

If anyone enjoys salmon fishing, Delphi Lodge in Connemara is a charming location.

I'm looking forward to seeing the trip photos!

Karen

Re: IRELAND, first time, help please! [Re: SMC_Irish_68] #7108
05/27/2009 08:47 AM
05/27/2009 08:47 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
Hi Karen,

Thanks for taking the time to read my sheepish saga! It was a ball, except next time I will try to have them pump in some sunshine, there wasn't a lot of that while we were there. I took almost a year to do the planning, since it was our first trip, and with a few more days, would have made it north. I would have loved to have seen the Giant's Causeway, it looks unbelievable. I will try to find time to put in some of the bazillion photos, as soon as I figure out how! I am far better with sheep than technology!

Thanks again,

Dave

AUTOEUROPE + GPS RENTAL WARNING! [Re: destinydave] #7109
05/29/2009 03:14 PM
05/29/2009 03:14 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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north carolina
I gave this company every chance I could to fix this problem before I wrote this. I hope my experience with them will save others the problems and costs I have incurred because of their company. I will try to make this as accurate as possible, and let others draw their own conclusions as to whether they want to rent from a company that does business like this.

Autoeurope rents both cars and GPS units for Ireland. They are, the best I can tell, 2 divisions of the same company, as when I called one, they could forward me to the other division. Before I left for my trip to Ireland, I reserved a rental car from them, and rented a GPS. The GPS was shipped to my home from their US office before we left, along with a shipping label to return it upon the completion of our trip. If you read my review of our trip, the GPS earned the surname O'Doofus, because of how poorly it functioned. We could be driving on a road that was comparable to an Interstate in the US, when the road would just disappear on the GPS screen, and the unit would start telling us to turn left, right, or completely give incorrect directions. This made it extremely difficult to find our way to many places. If I followed the directions that I was given, it often took us far out of our way, and down some roads that a sheep would have trouble on. This being the case, as the trip wore on, we had to navigate without the GPS, as I could follow a map better than the problems that we faced using it.

As we prepared to leave and turn in our car at the Shannon airport, I began to take the GPS out of the car, so I could take it home and ship it in the box as I had planned. The rental car agent who checked in the car, told me not to remove it, that they would take care of it. Over the course of the conversation with him, I told him 3 times that the box was at my home to ship it back in, and that I was responsible for it. He INSISTED that I leave it in the car, so I did, since I knew that they were all connected, if not the same company.

When I returned home, I called them immediately, and explained what had happened at the car check-in. They told me that I was responsible for the unit until they had it back in the US, and immediately charged my charge card $300.00, saying it would be removed when they got the unit back. I also indicated that the unit did not function properly, and was told that when it arrived, they could do a diagnostic check on it, and if it was not working correctly, then they would waive the rental fee of $90.00. I can't think how many calls I made, speaking with so many different people in their company, to no better result. I finally had to call their Shannon office where I checked in the car myself, spending much time and money, as there is no toll-free number. They said they had not seen it, and worse, I was told that no employee would have told me that. They said that they would look for the car, and see if they could find the unit. After many days, and countless calls to them, since I could not get a call returned, I was told that Shannon had found the unit, but they could not return the $300.00 charge until they had the unit back in the US office.

It seemed interesting that I was told in my first conversation upon returning, that the card would not be charged until a grace period of about 7 days or so had passed, giving you time to get home, pack it up, and return it. Only then would they consider it 'missing', and charge you. So since I was honest enough to call them the minute I returned and explain it, they charged my card the $300.00 RIGHT AWAY, PLUS added on a $10 per day late fee until it was in their hands again. Long, frustrating, and expensive story short, Shannon finally sent the unit, I made call after call to see where it was, they finally said that it had arrived in the US, but that they couldn't find it. The $300.00 charge would remain on my card until they did. More phone calls, they finally found it, but were still charging the $10 per day late fee, and it was 'found' 9 days after we arrived home, so there was an additonal $90 even though as in the original conversation, the late fee would not start for a week or so after my arrival home. I made one last call to them, giving them a chance to do the right thing, and all they would offer is removing $20 from the late fee. The bottom line is, they said they finally removed the $300.00 charge, they charged me the late fee of $70.00, and upon asking about the usage fee waiver, I was told they had completly checked out the unit, and it was working perfectly, given everything else, why am I not suprised? That was interesting, considered they had just found it.

No company is perfect, people make mistakes, and that is to be expected. But a customer should not have to do the job for the business, and I think, should be treated fairly. I have to say that dealing with Autoeurope was one of the worst experiences that I have ever had, and I will do my best to let everyone know how they treat people. There are many different places available to rent a car and GPS from when you are lucky enough to go to Ireland, and if I get to go again, I will navigate by the stars before I would get a GPS from a company that would treat a customer as badly as Autoeruope did me. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions if you want to try to rent from them. If you have any questions on the trip, or about this, please email me, and I will be glad to help.

Thanks,

Dave

general trip ? [Re: destinydave] #7110
06/10/2009 06:28 PM
06/10/2009 06:28 PM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 520
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Temery Offline
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Temery  Offline
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Posts: 520
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Hi Dave, just a general ? about your trip, did you make reservations at all of the B&B's or did you "chance it" in the smaller towns? (I realize that the castle at the end was reserved for sure and great suprise by the way <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/circle.gif" alt="" /> ). loved your whole tale, thank you for sharing...

Re: general trip ? [Re: Temery] #7111
06/10/2009 07:42 PM
06/10/2009 07:42 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 109
north carolina
destinydave Offline OP
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destinydave  Offline OP
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Posts: 109
north carolina
Thanks for the question. I made reservations at all of the B + B s and the 2 castles before I left. Many of the towns are very small, and by nature, a B + B only has a few rooms. I also would say that you would be happy with any of the ones that I mentioned, as every aspect of each was wonderful. It was a wonderful trip, except for the glitch with the cancelled flight, which couldn't be helped, and the disaster with Autoeurope and the GPS. I don't know how they could have handled it any worse than they did. Thanks so much for reading the saga, and I hope that it was informative, and maybe put a smile on your face!

Dave

Re: general trip ? [Re: destinydave] #7112
06/11/2009 11:40 AM
06/11/2009 11:40 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 963
Virginia
SMC_Irish_68 Offline
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SMC_Irish_68  Offline
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Posts: 963
Virginia

Dave,

I just read your report about the nightmare experience you had with the GPS. Thanks for sharing as it may help someone else.

Karen

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