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21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations? by RoelJewel
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RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 1
(8/6/05 5:58 pm)

21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations?


Hi :)

Just registered here. I'm Roel from The Netherlands, 27 years old and I hope I'll enjoy my stay on this forum :) .

I'll visit Ireland next September for the fourth time in my life. I'll be travelling on my own.

I've done a three week round-trip in 2002 and now I want to see more of the western part of Ireland.

'Restrictions':
- I'll fly in at Shannon Airport on Saturday September 3rd and depart on Saturday 24th on Shannon Airport again;
- I will rent a car for a couple of weeks (not the whole three weeks);
- One of the Aran Islands will be part of my trip.

So the question is what the must-see spots are. Ofcourse, there are a couple of places ALL tourist go to (Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Dingle ...), but what are the non-tourist spots which are worth visiting? I've a reasonable long time, which must be enough to explore the western coast :) .

When arriving at Shannon Airport (just before the afternoon) I consider traveling to Galway to stay there for one night. From Galway I want to go to one of the Aran Islands (will probably be Inish More) for a three or four night stay. From there I'll go to Galway again (for two days or so). At Shannon Airport I'll pick-up a car to explore the western coast, including Dingle (which I already felt in love with in 2002 ;) ).

Any recommendations for the rest of my trip?



Michele Erdvig
Administrator
Posts: 3314
(8/7/05 2:16 am)

Re: 21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations?


Roel,

Welcome to my forum. I hope you find it helpful for planning your fourth trip to Ireland. It sounds like a great trip and you have plenty of time for seeing the west of Ireland.

Do you have any particular things that interest you? That would be helpful to know when suggesting places to see. For instance, do you like gardens, scenery, castles, ancient sites, historic houses, churches, drives, coastal scenery, etc. I'm sure you have a few things on your "must see" list. Are you interested in nightlife and pubs? Do you prefer the countryside or city or a combination of both? Are there any activities that you want to do in Ireland?

Let me know and I will help with some suggestions.

Michele




RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 2
(8/7/05 8:16 am)

Re: 21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations?


Michele,

Thanks for your reply.

I'd like a combination of several things. Because I'll rent a car it's possible to do some nice autoroutes (instead of driving straight to the next B&B or hostel). So I like scenery (coastal) routes, but also walking around (for example Croagh Patrick or on Dingle peninsula but also in a larger city). In pubs it'd cool to chat with local people (must be no problem in I guess), especially because I'm travelling on my own. I like the small villages and want to combine staying in hostels with some B&Bs.
Places I really want to visit (or visit again; like my trip in 2002) are Dingle, Aran Islands (3/4 nights), Galway (first night), Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Achill Island and probably Donegal.

I'll rent a car for about two weeks (after visiting Aran Islands first), so I guess there must be enough time to see those things. I don't want to travel hundreds of kilometers a day (there must be time for enjoying the landscapes and a pint ;) ).

I'm sure there'll be points of interest while travelling from one place to the other. Any pubs, B&Bs or hostels? Places to eat? A memorial site? That sort of things :) .



Robin
Unregistered User
(8/7/05 10:05 pm)

Traveling the same time as RoelJewel


...sounds like we have taken the same route and are doing it again. My husband and I traveled to Ireland in 2002 and we're leaving again this September 5 ...staying until the 19th. It gets in your blood, doesnt it. We are also traveling the West...going to the Aran Islands but then heading more North and even into Northern Ireland. We loved Dingle too...probably the best spot we found but anxious to see more of the great Island than just Dingle. We want to do a more leisurely trip this time. We plan to stay put more...walk more....visit more....relax more. I planned our last trip ..minute by minute. This time I want to have one or two spots picked out but then want to wander. I would appreciate any tips you receive or anything neat you find out about. I think we are going to the Middle Aran Island...Inis Meain because it is less visited. I dislike all the touristy areas. I want to sit in the pub, watch the waves crash, and visit with some good Irish people again.



Michele Erdvig
Administrator
Posts: 3319
(8/8/05 1:27 am)

Re: 21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations?


Roel,

With 21 days I'm sure that you can see everything you want while enjoying a leisurely pace. First go to my "Links" page and under "Accommodations" you will find links to hostels and B&Bs. Tourism Ireland usually sends out free info to those in the USA. I don't know if they charge abroad for info to be sent. But you should contact them to see. If they will send the info free order books on B&Bs, hostels, etc. If they will not send it free you can buy the books when you arrive in Ireland. But meanwhile you can look at various places online.

Next, I suggest getting a few current guidebooks about Ireland. You can go to your bookstore or library to look at them and choose those that suit your needs and style. I have heard favorable feedback about Lonely Planet for those who use hostels and are looking for more "budget" places to stay.

Achill Island is fabulous if the weather is good. It can be lonely and dismal in bad weather. Be sure to do the Atlantic Drive and go all the way out to Keem Strand. All of Connemara is very scenic and Clifden or Roundstone might be a good base for you. I just answered Robin's question about the area and suggested seeing Dog's Bay, Kylemore Abbey, a boat ride on Killary Harbor, and Sky Drive.

If you like rugged coastlines then you will love Donegal. It would be easy to spend your whole time there. Some other great towns along your route are Westport, Sligo, Letterkenny, Killybegs, Donegal.

That will get you started.

Michele



Andi
Unregistered User
(8/8/05 1:21 pm)

western Ireland


I'd just like to second Michele's suggestions above. Aside from Achill Island, I've been to and love all those places, and all have great "wandering around" potential. Another area I love is around Cong and Neale.

Last summer, I visited Inishmaan and it was a great experience. Very few tourists go there; in fact, the boatmen asked if we were sure we were on the right boat! I think the B&B was called An Dun, and it was very friendly and served great food. I believe there was only 1 pub, and you can get to know people there quite easily. We spent 2 nights, and wandered around the whole island on foot.

Have a great time!



RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 3
(8/8/05 2:40 pm)

Western Ireland


Thanks for the replies so far :) .

I already own the latest edition of Lonely Planet and some other Ireland guides (National Geographic), but I was/am just curious which of the many places in those books are really worth visiting :) . Now I have some ideas which I can use for my route. I'll let know when I've planned more :) .

And indeed Robin, looks like we're doing the same again :) . Western Ireland is too beautiful to visit it only once ;) .



yesiree100
Registered User
Posts: 54
(8/8/05 3:31 pm)

Re: 21 days in (Western) Ireland - any tips/recommendations?


If you make it to Donegal, I'd recommend a stop at Muckross Head...west of Donegal town near Kilcar. It's a great spot to experience some of that dramatic Donegal coast.



RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 4
(8/11/05 3:50 pm)

My trip so far


It's me again :) .

I'm planning my trip and this is what I have so far:

Sat 03/09 Arrival @ Shannon Airport. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Sun 04/09 Galway. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Mon 05/09 Going to Aran Islands (Inishmore). Staying in Mainistir House Hostel (already booked)

Tue 06/09 - Thu 08/09: Aran Islands (Inishmore). Staying in Mainistir House Hostel (already booked)

Fri 09/09 Going back to Galway. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Sat 10/09 Pickup of car @ Shannon Airport. Driving to Mountshannon (already booked)

Sun 11/09 Driving to Ballylongford. Staying in B&B Castle View House (already booked)

Mon 12/09 Driving to Dingle. Staying in Cloghane (Mount Brandon Hostel)

Tue 13/09 Enjoying Dingle. Staying in Cloghane (Mount Brandon Hostel)

Wed 14/09 Driving to Doolin (via Tarbert)

Thu 15/09 Staying in Clifden or Roundstone

Fri 16/09 Climbing Croagh Patrick (depends on weather). Staying on Achill Island (Wild Haven Hostel?)

Sat 17/09 Achill Island

Sun 18/09

Mon 19/09

Tue 20/09

Wed 21/09

Thu 22/09

Fri 23/09 Staying not too far from Shannon

Sat 24/09 7.15 pm: Departure from Shannon


What do you think of the route above? Should I skip Dingle in favor of spending more time in de west/north west? And do you have any ideas of places to go to after Achill Island? I'd like to make it to Donegal, but I do not want to drive hundreds of kilometers a day to get back to Shannon on Saturday. Any ideas of nice (and reasonable priced) B&B for single-travellers would be cool! :)

Thanks!

Edited by: RoelJewel at: 8/12/05 5:00 pm


Michele Erdvig
Administrator
Posts: 3340
(8/12/05 11:48 pm)

Re: My trip so far


Roel,

I notice at the start of the trip you start off gradually spending multiple nights, then pick up the pace to one-night stays for a while. Is this to transition from one area to another? For instance you could drive directly from Mountshannon down to Dingle. But perhaps you prefer meandering along?

You could drive from Achill Island up to Sligo and Donegal for a few days. If you don't want a long drive back to Shannon then give yourself a day in-between to break your journey on the way back south.

I notice you are only spending one night in Roundstone or Clifden. Have you visited Connemara before? If not you might enjoy more time there. It really is a lovely and very different part of Ireland.

Go to my "Lodgings" page for suggested accommodations. You will find that most B&Bs charge a single suplement unless they actually have a single room available. So don't be shocked that the price is a bit more for someone traveling alone.

Michele



RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 5
(8/16/05 5:06 pm)

Re: My trip so far


Thanks for your reply, Michele!

So, here is mu updated travel schedule :) . And yes, I skipped Dingle. I've been there in 2002 and now I want to see more of the west/northwest. It takes a couple of days to go to Dingle, which is just too much :) .

Sat 03/09 Arrival @ Shannon Airport. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Sun 04/09 Galway. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Mon 05/09 Going to Aran Islands (Inishmore). Staying in Mainistir House Hostel (already booked)

Tue 06/09 - Thu 08/09: Aran Islands (Inishmore). Staying in Mainistir House Hostel (already booked)

Fri 09/09 Going back to Galway. Staying in Sleepzone Hostel, Galway (already booked)

Sat 10/09 Pickup of car @ Shannon Airport. Driving to Mountshannon (already booked)

Sun 11/09 Driving to Ballylongford. Staying in B&B Castle View House (already booked)

Mon 12/09 Driving to Drummin, Miltown Malbay. B&B with fabulous view booked :)

Tue 13/09 Drummin, Miltown Malbay. Same B&B

Wed 14/09 Oughterard?

Thu 15/09 Clifden?

Fri 16/09 Keel

Sat 17/09 Strandhill

Sun 18/09 Glencolumbkille

Mon 19/09 Dungloe?

Tue 20/09 Inishowen?

Wed 21/09 Inishowen?

Thu 22/09 Carrick-on-Shannon

Fri 23/09 Ballinasloe?

Sat 24/09 7.15 pm: Departure from Shannon


I think this route contains not too many long driving days. I have picked some places which might be interesting. In some of them I already found a B&B or hostel which sounds good. But ofcourse, I'm still finetuning the itinerary ;) .

Does this route sounds good to you, Michele (and/or others)? Or should I really skip some of the places I named above? :) Still doubting about the Milltown Malbay to Oughterard or Clifden route. I think it is too far to drive from Milltown Malbay to Roundstone or Clifden in one day (so I have more time in Connemara itself). Or is it possible?



Michele Erdvig
Administrator
Posts: 3349
(8/18/05 12:48 am)

Re: My trip so far


Roel,

I am curious about your short stays in Mountshannon and Ballylongford. Is there a particular reason for them? You might be better off concentrating on the northwest rather than driving here and there and everywhere.

If you go directly from Miltown Malbay to Oughterard or Clifden you will be okay.

Michele




RoelJewel
Registered User
Posts: 6
(8/18/05 12:08 pm)

Re: My trip so far


Michele,

There's no very special reason to visit Mountshannon and Ballylongford.
At first I was planning to visit Dingle, but that'd cost my too many days (although Dingle is beautiful ofcourse). At that moment I already booked these B&Bs, also because Lonely Planet is positive about Mountshannon. And it's something different compared to the coastal route I'll do later during my holidays :) . And I liked the view of the B&B in Ballylongford (Castle View House).

But indeed, you are right. It's not the most efficient way to make it to the North ;) .



Michele Erdvig
Administrator
Posts: 3351
(8/19/05 1:11 am)

Re: My trip so far


Roel,

Mountshannon is a very tiny but nice town. There is nothing much over in Ballylongford but a nice view can be enticing. I'm sure you will refine your trip as you ago along.

Michele

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