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Help with Northwest Ireland Itinerary


Hi everyone -

It's been several years since I posted here - but remembering how helpful everyone was to start my planning for a 2011 trip to Ireland that never came to fruition, I wanted to return for more advice. My husband and I are planning a trip to Ireland in late May/early June 2017 for our 10 year wedding anniversary and my in-laws have decided to join us to celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday. I am in the initial stages of planning and trying to focus.

This my in-law's first trip to Ireland. My husband and I spent 15 days in Ireland in October 2007 staying in Dublin, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Killarney, Galway, Ashford Castle and Bunratty and saw many of the larger attractions near those cities (Glendalough, Cashel, ROK, Cahir, Doolin/Burren/Cliffs, Blarney). We will be visiting London for a few days prior to arriving in Ireland - my father-in-law wants to visit the airfield where his father was stationed during WWII and then we will be heading to Ireland, probably for 10 days (wish we had longer but...it is what it is). Id like to see things we didnt see before but there are a few things we wouldnt mind doing again (Cliffs and wed like to get to Ashford Castle again).

I have quick gone down the rabbit hole researching itineraries and Im trying to keep the advice in mind that I shouldnt think about what we wont see but rather what we will see.  Since we were mostly South last time Id like to stick with the North/North West region this time around.

My in-laws wont be picky about what we see if I put together an itinerary theyll follow along. My husband and FIL are interested in all things history whereas my mother-in-law loves beautiful gardens and manors, churches and castles. My husband and I love good food and drinks and will definitely want spots where we can go out at night.

This is my current take on an itinerary:

Day 1 depart NY to London

Day 2 Arrive London. Day in London, overnight in London.

Day 3 train to suburbs/drive to Rattlesden. Drop car/ train to airport. Fly to Dublin. out of Gatwick. Overnight Dublin. (this may be aggressive still debating a second night in London and flying to Dublin in the morning)

Day 4 Dublin. Overnight in Dublin.

Day 5 morning train to Galway. Afternoon tour to Cliffs. Overnight Galway.

Day 6. Kylemore Abbey/Connemara out of Galway? Overnight Galway Or head to Westport and do that tour out of Westport?

Day 7 Pick up car. Head to Westport via Ashford Castle. Lunch at Ashford?  Overnight in Westport. Or do we day trip to Ashford and stay another night in Galway?

Day 8 to Donegal. (any stops in between?) Overnight Donegal.

Day 9 Glenveagh Park. Overnight Donegal.

Day 10  to Belfast (any stops in between?) Day in Belfast.

Day 11 GOT / Tour Bushmills, Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges, etc.

Day 12 to Dublin via Trim Castle. Overnight Dublin.

Day 13 10 fly home

Im looking for suggestions on places to stop in between locations as well as any advice you may have about the itinerary. This is about my sixth draft and I'm sure I'll see a few more! The biggest piece Im struggling with is the Galway/Westport piece. I know my in-laws want to see the Cliffs, and Id rather do a tour than drive it ourselves. Im wondering if we should do a few trips and base ourselves in Galway longer vs. two nights in Galway / few nights in Westport thoughts? I also originally thought about staying up in Portrush but now thinking that well do a tour out of Belfast and the driving time is less from Donegal. Thanks! Anne



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Day 5: Have you found any tours from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher that depart in the afternoon? Most would have a morning departure. If you cannot find one then I suggest just renting a car in Dublin and driving to the cliffs on your way to Galway. That way you are not hampered by anyone else's schedule.

Day 6: To me it makes no sense to do all that backtracking when you can just continue north. Either have or get the car, have lunch at Ashford and continue on to Connemara and Kylemore Abbey before overnighting in Westport. This will combine Day 6 & 7 into one day and give you extra time elsewhere.

Letterkenny is probably a better base than Donegal town to do Glenveagh from.

I realize you are trying for 2-night stays but perhaps consider an overnight stay in Portrush or Bushmills or Ballycastle while doing your Antrim sightseeing. Because of the drive from Co. Donegal to Co. Antrim (depending on where you stay in Co. Donegal) you may not get to all your Antrim sightseeing in just one drive through day. If you base in Belfast that is a lot of backtracking.

Those are my suggestions so far. Try tweaking the itinerary and playing around with the days to see what makes sense to you.





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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Michele, thank you for the suggestions - I will play around with some itinerary options based on your advice and report back.

This was the tour I found that offered a 1:00 Cliffs tour out of Galway (website says it's only available on the weekends)

http://www.galwaybustours.ie/cliffs-of-moher-burren-tour

Thanks!



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Hi - after some time tweaking our schedule, this is where I am at currently with an itinerary. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Day 1 depart NY to London

Day 2 Arrive London. Day in London, overnight in London.

Day 3 train to suburbs/drive to Rattlesden. Drop car/ train to airport. Fly to Dublin in evening. Overnight Dublin.

Day 4 Dublin. Overnight in Dublin.

Day 5 Pick up car in Dublin. Drive to Cliffs of Moher/Burren. Overnight Galway.

Day 6. To Westport via Ashford Castle. Lunch at Ashford Castle. Kylemore Abbey/Connemara in afternoon. Overnight Westport.

Day 7 day in Westport (or other sightseeing...see how we're feeling). Overnight Westport.

Day 8 to Letterkenny. Overnight Letterkenny. Any suggested stops en route to Letterkenny?

Day 9 Glenveagh Park. Overnight Letterkenny.

Day 10  Northern coastal Drive. Stay in Portrush/Bushmills? Bushmills, Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges, etc.

Day 11 Still working on this day. Either 2nd night in Portrush or stay closer to Dublin.

Day 12 to Dublin via Trim Castle. Overnight Dublin.

Day 13 10 fly home



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That's looking better.

You will want reservations for lunch at Ashford Castle.

A nice day trip from Westport is Achill Island and Atlantic Drive or if the weather is bad The Museum of Country Life near Castlebar.

On your way to Letterkenny, the Sligo area is lovely. If you have extra time the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive (north of Sligo) is wonderful. Then there is Carrowmore, Rosses Point, Glencar Waterfall, Parke's Castle, Drumcliff. Donegal Castle in Donegal town. Too much for a drive-though day so you may have to save much for another trip.

There is never a shortage of things to see and do in Ireland. biggrin

 

 

 



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Achill Island is amazing! And if you like antiquities, Carrowmore has over 30 standing stones, cairns and circles in a mile radius. Glenveagh Park is beautiful, but it may not take a whole day. Inishowen is another option. On the way up to Donegal, you shouldn't miss the Sliabh Liag Cliffs, and Glencolmcille (historic folk village).

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Green Dragon, thanks for the suggestions. I'm starting to rethink the Letterkenny stay - I get the convenience to the park but the accommodations there seem just ok and the overall town isn't really impressing me. I was chatting a few weeks ago with a colleague who is from Ireland and she recommended a few alternates to staying there. I'm thinking we might do a night or two at Lough Eske and then maybe hit Glenveagh on the way to Portrush. Still tweaking the itinerary.

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Letterkenny is a good base but an unremarkable town. It has decent places to stay, restaurants, etc. Lough Eske Castle is beautiful in a peaceful rural setting. If you do Glenveagh on the way to Portrush plan on spending a good part of the day at Glenveagh (weather permitting).

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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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Hi! Wanted to check back in as our flights are booked out of Toronto and I'm starting to book lodging ...next up I need to get reacquainted with the car rental situation. With four of us and luggage I'm thinking we are going to need a small SUV. Last time we went I purchased a supplemental insurance plan but it looks like that company no longer exists. Our credit card won't cover the excess insurance. As for the itinerary, my husband wanted an extra day around Galway and my mother in law wants some castle time so I adjusted our itinerary accordingly. I also booked a photographer in Dublin for my husband and I to have some anniversary photos taken. Just about four months to go!

Day 1 depart Toronto to London

Day 2 Arrive London. Day in London, overnight in London.

Day 3 train to Stansted Airport/drive to Rattlesden. Drop car at Stansted. Fly to Dublin in evening. Overnight Dublin.

Day 4 Dublin. Overnight in Dublin.

Day 5 Pick up car in Dublin. Drive to Cliffs of Moher/Burren. Overnight Galway.

Day 6 Galway. Sightseeing TBD. Overnight Galway

Day 7 To Westport via Ashford Castle. Lunch or tea at Ashford Castle. Kylemore Abbey/Connemara in afternoon. Overnight Westport.

Day 8 day in Westport (or other sightseeing...see how we're feeling). Overnight Westport.

Day 9 to Lough Eske via Donegal. Overnight Lough Eske Castle.

Day 10 Glenveagh Park. To Portrush. Overnight Portrush.

Day 11 Northern coastal Drive. Bushmills, Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges, etc. Overnight Portrush.

Day 12 to Dublin via Trim Castle. Overnight Dublin.

Day 13 10 fly home


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Sounds like the planning is coming together.  Waiting truly IS the hardest part!  biggrin

If you are still wanting a supplemental, third-party Excess policy, check:  http://www.moneymaxim.co.uk/faq/car-hire-insurance/non-uk-residents-expat-car-hire-insurance

I bought an Annual Policy from Worldwideinsure this past October for about 50 GBP. 

 



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Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



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Your trip is shaping up nicely. You will love Lough Eske Castle. I liked the rooms in the castle itself as opposed to the ones in the courtyard.

A great day trip from Westport is Achill Island and the Atlantic Drive.

Let us know if you need accommodation recs. I know a very nice one in Portrush.

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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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Bob - thank you for the insurance suggestion, I'll check that out.

Michele - thank you for the room suggestion at Lough Eske. I haven't booked there yet. I have the following booked so far:
Dublin - Brooks Hotel
Galway - Park House Hotel
Westport - TBD I'm a little torn on lodging here. We'll be there a Mon-Tue night so hoping that it wouldn't be too loud in the evenings but seems like I was seeing that a lot of places in town tend to have quite a bit of evening noise. Was looking at the Westport Plaza but still not 100%.
Portrush - booked Pier 39 B&B
Dublin (last night - probably near the airport) - TBD

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Bob, you really caught my eye with that insurance recommendation.  I am typically only on TA and there is no mention of it there. 

We will be in Ireland for 42 days, so at 5 Euros a day via Dan Dooley's coverage, this looks much better (47.5 GBP)! 

I requested a quote and Annual is 1/2 the cost of Single trip.  Is that right?  Or am I mis-reading?

 

This whole insurance thing drives me crazy.  At DD, they basically said not to bother with it, but most contributors on TA seem to think it is a must.....

Thanks. 



-- Edited by mezzsop on Saturday 21st of January 2017 05:38:27 PM

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On a longer trip, the Annual Policy is often cheaper.  Remember that the Supplemental coverage is for Excess coverage only -- so the $ limit is relatively low -- typically, $3-5,000.  I don't buy the Basic CDW and Theft Cover -- using my Credit Card coverage instead -- but MasterRental doesn't cover tires, glass, lost keys, wrong fuel -- and the Supplimental does.

You should know, too, that Car Hire companies do NOT accept any 3rd party coverages (other than from 'Certain' US or Canadian Credit Cards) so all claims are billed to YOU and you file for re-imbursement from the Insurance company. 

In more than 20 rentals over the years, the only expenses I've ever incurred have been for tire and wheel damage caused by striking potholes -- but, NONE since I started buying a Supplement!  confuse   confuse 

Still -- it worth 50GBP a year to NOT have to deal with a flat tire!  biggrin  biggrin  biggrin



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Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



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Keep in mind that car rental companies will generally only
rent for 28 days. After that you must start a new rental. It is possible you might have to change vehicles.

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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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Hi. Michelle. We have to fill out the papers for both rentals at the time of pic-up, for the 4 wk/2wk portions, but that is it.

We are good to go thankfully anyway, as we are coming in and out of Shannon and spending the major portion of our time right in Clare.

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