Just back from a 10-day trip to Ireland. One of eight people in the group, so this one was a bit more to juggle, but we did fine using two intermediate size cars and some planning.
DAY 1 -- Flew into Dublin on a rainy morning, and had intended to go straight to Newgrange. The weather instead caused us to start our drive west to our first night's lodging in Birr. The rain subsided as we neared Clonmacnoise, so we stopped there for an hour or so. I had seen it before, but others had not, so I was more than happy to play tour guide for a bit. Continued on to Birr, and came across this lovely village that I had never been to before. Our B&B was incredible, as The Maltings is a beautiful old stone building which was built in 1810 as a malt store by Arthur Guinness. It was converted in 1994 to B&B -- sits right on a river, and is incredible. Toured the fabulous gardens at Birr Castle, which is right next to the B&B, and then had dinner and drinks in two pubs a short walk from where we were staying. Early to bed as we stayed awake all day after the flight, and woke up refreshed in the morning.
DAY 2/3 -- Drove to Galway, arriving around 11 a.m. Walked the city, had lunch, did some shopping and basic sight seeing. Continued to drive to our second night's lodging, which was in Doolin. Stayed the next two nights at one of our favorite B&Bs, Daly's House. Arrived late in the afternoon, stopping first at Kilshanny Cemetary in County Clare to let some of our group work on some research for their great grandparents and others, who are buried there. That was exciting to watch, as they marveled at where they were and what was found. Arrived in Doolin around dinner, got in the B&B, and went to McGann's Pub that night for food and music. Both were excellent. Weather was now dry, but cool -- probably about 45 in the day and 35 at night.
Next morning the weather was sunny and warm, so I chose the moment to do the Cliffs of Moher cliff walk by myself. I did this last year with guide Pat Sweeney, but this time I had one of our travelers drop me at the Cliffs and I walked back to Doolin. The six miles walk was a stunner, and so peaceful. If you can do that sort of thing, I really would suggest it. Doing it the first time with Sweeney is a must, as he gives you great information on the area and how the path came about -- he takes you on the tour all for only 5 euro (you can take a bus back to Doolin from the Cliffs). That night we had dinner and music at Gus O'Connors.
DAY 4/5/6/7 -- Drove to Dingle, one of our favorite places. We stayed at the Emlagh Lodge, as Maggie's place has become our go to place for St. Patrick's Day week. The pubs and music in town are great, and we enjoy a day driving around Slea Head with a day trip to Killarney and areas south. But in the evenings, we like the short stroll from Emlagh into town along the bay, and use it as our base. Favorite pubs were The Courthouse, Kennedy's, Currans, Foxy John's, Dick Mack's, and The Dingle Pub.
DAY 8 -- Drove to Cashel, where we found another incredible B&B. Built in 1740, Ashmore House was purchased from the church in 1990 by Brendan Ryan, now in his 80s, and a 41-year veteran of the Merchant Marines. He and his wife have transformed this structure into a great B&B that is literally one block off the main street in Cashel and in walking distance to the Rock. We went to the Rock and enjoyed the tour, and stopped in Cahir before we got to town to go through Cahir Castle. Cahir is under repair right now, so there is no cost to go through the castle, although some of it is partitioned off until the summer. That night we ate at a restaurant close to the B&B and then went to Ryan's Pub -- one of the best we found the entire trip.
DAY 9 -- Sunny and 60, we got up early and drove to Newgrange. Had a wonderful tour there, arriving about 11:30 a.m. An incredible place to see in good weather -- just magnificent. Probably a place to avoid in bad weather. A lot of walking with no cover. But on this day, it was spectacular. After taking the tour, we drove the short distance to turn cars in to Dooley, and took the shuttle to Bewley's Hotel near the airport for our last night. Most of the group lounged that evening at the hotel, but me and another traveler took a cab to Dublin late that afternoon to enjoy the Literary Pub Crawl. What fun! If you have any interest in Irish writers, I suggest you take this tour. Only 12 euros and you get a quick tour of Trinity College as well.
DAY 10 -- Noon flight back to the states, no problems getting through customs. Really enjoy clearing on the Ireland side of the pond.
THOUGHTS -- Had not been to Birr or Newgrange before, and would recommend both. Birr was a lovely town and The Maltings is a wonderful place. Cost 35 euros pps. Daly's House in Doolin is top notch and is 42.50 pps. The Cliff Walk will be one of the most remarkable things you will ever do if you are physically able to walk 5-6 miles. Dingle stays at Emlagh Lodge are memorable with views of the bay and great service and food for 35 euro pps. I like Dingle a great deal -- so do and some don't -- but it's a must for me now when I go to Ireland. Cashel was surprisingly nice, and the Ashmore House was a real find at 35 euro pps. If you go there make sure and go to Ryans Pub on the main street and check out their back beer garden, which is incredible with a ruin actually on the property. The place is the ultimate traditional Irish pub for sure. Not big on Dublin (I prefer the villages), but enjoyed the Literary Pub Crawl and would urge others to do this. For the hotel, we like Bewley's at 69 euros per room, for the location and the free shuttle service to the airport.
This was a quick recap -- I will add more when I think of some things, but maybe this will help someone with some trips coming up. Oh and one other thing ... last year when I was there, the exchange rate was 1.41. This year? It got as low at 1.04.
Photos below are the start of the Cliffs of Moher walk from Doolin and Slea Head beach area in Dingle. The video I have here was a first for me -- I saw a young girl start playing a harp in O'Flaherty's Pub in Dingle right before the parade began on St. Patrick's Day. I thought she was quite talented.
Sounds like a great trip! I love mixing in 'Old' and 'New', too and try to do a bit of it each visit.
WOW!! A group of EIGHT! That makes you my new Hero!
I've never dealt with more than 6 for a trip (Though we did have 2 days, one trip, where there were 10 of us -- and that was a logistics NIGHTMARE!).
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The weather was really good after the first day or two, and Dingle was spectacular -- the water looked like glass for two days. Birr was real interesting, although things were not in bloom much yet. Can't imagine what the part of the gardens where the covered walkways line the paths must look like in the summer when all the vines and trees have leaves on them. It was incredible without that! Can't say I would relish being a quasi tour guide for 7 again, but it worked out OK. With me and another person who has driven over there many times involved, we were able to give them a more hands on experience, and there is no way they could have found some of the areas they were looking for in Clare regarding their family roots if they didn't have a car involved.
The exchange rate made it a real good trip on the wallet.
Nice trip report! Yes I'm very happy about the exchange rate right now as I'm heading over in two days. I went and saw the Irish band Dervish play in Boston this past weekend and at the end of the show Cathy Jordan (the iconic lead singer of the band) made a point to remind everyone in the crowd how favorable the exchange rate is right now for us and we should all book flights to Ireland asap. BTW Dervish was spectacular to see live especially in a intimate pub environment such as The Burren in Somerville, MA. My coming trip starting Sunday is mainly Germany and Prague but a couple of nights in Dublin on the way back to get reacquainted with some favorite pubs like the Cobblestones and probably will visit the Gravediggers and the Palace Bar as well. Mark
We went to Davey Byrnes, The Palace Bar, O'Neills, Stag's Head, The Duke, and the Porterhouse -- so many great pubs in Dublin!
Geno- Nice write-up, thanks.
I want to echo your comments about The Maltings Guest House in Birr. We stayed there a week after you did. The place is an old Guinness Malt store house. They've done a great job converting the place. The best part is the little glass atrium seating area in the breakfast room. It juts out in the river. We got to eat a very good breakfast while watching a duck paddling up stream. There was a bit of a current with all the recent rain, so the show went on for awhile. The castle ground walls abutt the parking lot.
No pubs as it was Good Friday.
Agree about the breakfast room. There can't be many better vantage points to eat than there. It almost feels like you are out in the river! Quite interesting place for sure.