Heres the SHORT of it:
Departed Orlando at 4:35 PM on Thursday, 27 October and arrived in Dublin (via Atlanta) at 7 AM on 28 October. No problem with flights but delays getting our luggage and collecting the car about an hour EACH took the umph out of us. We basically spent the day collecting the car, shopping for Phone and mobile WiFi service, eating and napping, glad we scheduled our over-night stay at the Dublin Airport Premier Inn.
On Friday, 29 October, we drove to Castletown House (near Cellbridge) for a walk-about then onward, via M4/M6, to Galway, with a Lunch Break at Tyrellspass Castle. After some distractions, (including a stop to pay the M50 Toll at the Kiltullagh Plaza) we arrived in Moycullen, at Rockfield House B&B, to our 3 bed room, 3 bath, self-catering cottage. Place was a bit dated, cold, damp and had a musty smell that we attributed to it being the end of the season. Unpacked and then drove into town (a little over a mile to the South) and purchased necessities from the very nice, SuperValue.
Saturday, 30 October, facing blue skies and sunshine, we headed along the N59, before turning off to Roundstone where we ate lunch at ODowds and then followed the R340 around the adjacent peninsula, through Cashel, Carna and Gortmore. We connected with the R336 and followed it into Spiddle for a stop into the Craft Village. After familiarizing ourselves with the town, we followed Baile Ard (L1320) NE to Moycullen town center.
Sunday, 31 October: Headed out on the N59 again, but turned toward Maam (on the R336 North), at Maams Cross. Turned East onto the R345, through Clonbur, to Cong. Toured the town and the Abbey a bit and grabbed tea and scones at Monks Café. After that, we made our way to the N17, via Ballinrobe and Claremorris (R331) and then headed to Knock.
Managed to fill all four of my wifes bottles without an impromptu Baptism this time! They have completely remodeled the Basilica since we were last here (2012) including a massive (1 million+) tile mosaic depicting the Apparition. Quite impressive!
After a lunch in a café across from the Shrine, we made our way back to Moycullen via Galway, arriving around 5 PM, in the nearly full, dark due to the Time Change the previous night. We purchased steak and onion pies from the deli at SuperValue for dinner. Neither of us was particularly impressed.
Tuesday, 1 November: We made an early-morning dash to Spiddle through the mountain bog, via the L1320 and had breakfast in the café while waiting for the jewelry shop to open. We wanted to purchase a thank you gift for my wifes Cousin (U), as we would be spending a couple of nights at her home later in the trip Plus, she, her daughter and grand-daughter were coming up from Cork this afternoon to visit with us! We settled on a bangle bracelet that included an old, silver, 3 pence Irish coin with the mint mark of her birthday (1964). They had none assembled, but assured us they could have one ready for us by Friday.
After agreeing, we headed back to Moycullen, but followed the R336 into Galway for a fortuitous change in scenery. Along the way, we discovered Silver Strand a gorgeous, wide, sandy beach that, due to it being Low Tide, seemed to stretch out, Forever. What a great place! Of course, with yet another cool, grey, dreary morning that melted into a wind-less, blue sky day, its hard NOT to be impressed. We probably dawdled for 45 minutes to an hour before driving into Galway and returning to Moycullen.
Once in town, we purchased sandwich fixings at the SuperValue and some outrageous scones (with Cream!) at a nearby bakery and returned to our cottage. Our guests arrived about 1:30 and we sat, nibbled and visited until nearly 5 Pm, when we drove toward Galway to the Westwood Hotel where we enjoyed dinner with them and the Cousins youngest son, who is a student at NUI Galway. We reluctantly parted ways around 8 PM and it probably only ended that quickly as we were now committed to joining them in East Cork on Saturday..
Weds., 2 November: Today also started cool and gray, but with occasional spells of soft rain, so we decided to spend it visiting the city. I found a Parking garage just off Eyre Square (8 Euro for the day) and we walked about the Square before making our way down Quay Street, to the Spanish Arch. Along the way, my wife shopped for fleece hoodies for the Grand children (Thank You, Galway Woolen Mills!) and we watched to various buskers. In front of the Jurys Inn, we boarded a Trolley Tour (10 Euro, each) and rode it around the city. After that, we grabbed a late lunch at a nearby café and then returned to our cottage to do a bit of laundry.
My wife was staring a cold, so we stopped into a pharmacy near the SuperValue and purchased lozenges and tissues and then bought by the bakery for freshly made, Parsnip and Apple soup and brown bread to go. The Brown bread was to die for the soup, NOT so much. Still, it was an interesting taste experience!
Thursday, 3 November: We had planned to spend the day visiting with a different Cousin (Us younger sister, B) and her family as they had booked a cottage in Spiddle for four days, but something came up to cause them to cancel. Instead, she called us to let us know that she and some of the children had driven up the night before and stayed with her daughter (also attending NUI Galway) and invited us to meet them in town. We settled on the Westwood Hotel as being mutually convenient (since I knew how to get there and back!)
Spent a few, happy hours over a pleasant meal and then returned to our cottage to pack up having decided to depart a day early to do a bit of sight-seeing along the way to East Cork. My wife was now suffering with a full-blown cold, so we decided to head to warmer climes.
Friday, 4 November: Notified our hosts of our departure plans and settled up for the Electric and Heating Oil (34 Euro) and then drove via the L1320 to the Craft Village in Spiddle. From there, we drove through Galway and around to Kinvara, stopping for Lunch at the Pier Head. After a hearty lunch (35 Euro) and numerous photos, we continued onward, to Black Head for a jaunt along the rocky shore for more pix.
From there, we ventured inland for a stop at Kiiinaboy so that I could re-acquire photos of the Church and Round Tower Ruins that a memory card failure had Lost a few years back. We had booked into the Temple Gate Hotel, in Ennis and finding their dedicated Car park required a call to the desk, but we were soon settled in. We had a light meal, a meandering stroll about town and called it a night.
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Short Version -- Continued
Saturday, 5 November: After breakfast we did another walk-about and discovered a delightful, Saturday Craft Market, where purchases were made and some Euros changed hands. My wife found a terrific hand-made handbag for our daughter for about 60 Euro as well as a few other small items. After our successful shopping foray, we loaded up the car and began our trip to East Cork.
The NUI Galway students all advised us to avoid the N20 route at all costs recommending, instead, to follow the R513 to Mitchelstown, but I modified their route slightly in order to re-visit / actually locate the Round Tower near Croom, Dysert Oenghusa. Wow! Was it WORTH it!
From there, I followed the R516 into Bruff and then, detoured yet again, for a quick visit to Lough Gur Visitors Center, before joining the R513, just North of Hospital. Made a Drive By of that Holiest Shrine of irish Tourisim The Dan Dooley Ford dealership in Knocklong (!) We then enjoyed a pleasant meander through the scenic hinterlands before joining the M8, just outside of Mitchelstown and quickly made our way to Cousin U. We spent the two nights here, visiting with family.
Sunday, 6 November: This morning, there was actually a light frost on the car! Although the weather had never been particularly warm (for someone who spent the last 40 years in Florida), this was actually the coldest day we had. More visiting with relatives and I even (barely) assisted in a small construction project prepping the pending install of a cantilevered electric gate for the happy couple from our 2012 visit: http://ireland.activeboard.com/t49038325/scenes-from-a-wedding-april-2012/
Monday, 7 November: We departed early, for West Cork. U had errands to run and my wife was determined to visit the Penneys at the Wilton Shopping Center to purchase a number of Harry Potter merchandise for our grand-children PJs, jackets and even sneakers!
I must say that this was our first, real opportunity to appreciate the new, Flyover bypasses of the many roundabouts that used to make Cork such a nightmare to maneuver around. Wow SO much nicer than before.
By the time we made it to Drimoleague, the sky had begun to turn dreary, with occasional soft moments. U and her sister N had just arrived and we settled into the End of Terrace, weekend home that U and her husband bought several years ago. U and N gave us a short, refresher tour of the surrounding countryside, before bringing us to Bantry. There, we parked, just off the square, in front of the old Church of Ireland and enjoyed some quiet moments admiring the newly-placed placard that was recently unveiled to commemorate the Great Walk Farmers Long March, back in 1966.
One of the 15 was the father of U and N Sean, who was a First Cousin of my wifes father. They started and finished the entire March. It had a massive impact on the quality of Irish life, though too often over-shadowed by that OTHER commemoration . . .
Tuesday, 8 November: Fresh scones for breakfast, thanks to an early morning visit to the bakery at the local Centra and then departed for Skibbereen, in light to moderate rain, although it proved to be quite pleasant during the afternoon. We ate lunch at The Church, followed by a driving tour of Mizen Head. We didnt travel out to the Lighthouse, but we did make stops at Roaring Water Bay, Crookhaven, Ballydehob, Shull, Golleen, and Barley Cove Beach. We ate a nice dinner at the Brick Oven, in Bantry, before returning to Drimoleague, for another late-night (1 AM) of sitting around the fire and talking.
Wednesday, 9 November: N had organized a Memorial Mass to be said at 9:30, in honor of the 6th Anniversary of the passing of my wifes father. Shortly after, we parted ways and my wife and I headed off to Killarney via Bantry and the scenic N71. After checking in to the hotel and enjoying our complementary dinner (part of a Two Nights B&B and One Dinner package), we drove into town and meandered the streets for a bit, but the drizzle drove us back to the hotel fairly early.
Thursday, 10 November: Since the weather looked promising, we made a spur of the moment decision to drive the Ring of Kerry with the expressed goal of visiting sites we had previously missed. Stps along the way included Glenbeigh Beach, Ballycarberry Castle and the Stone Ring Forts of Cahergal and Leacanabuaile. Rain chased us for most of the day seldom actually falling ON us, but frequently either just behind, or just ahead. We took LOTS of Rainbow pictures! We had a light snack / meal near Sneem, but then rushed the rest of the way back to Killarney, in order to get some gift shopping done and be back at the hotel for a scheduled Meet Up with Ciaran Wynne - a long-time friend and musician extraordinaire that we first heard in 2001 and met, in 2002. It made for a VERY pleasant evening, despite the dreary, rainy weather.
Friday, 11 November: We drove to Millstreet for our annual pilgrimage and then made our way through Mallow and onward, to Mitchelstown, where the rainy weather resumed. Spent the night on the outskirts of Portlaoise, but basically, just to sleep. Once checked in, we drove to Monasterevin, for another visit with U and her husband. He purchased an incomplete housing Estate there and is building it out with a small crew and we had dinner and a delightful visit that lasted rather late into the night, although we DID manage to make it back to the hotel around 11 PM.
Short Version -- Completion! Yay, Me!
Saturday, 12 November: Cool and gray, but thankfully, not really rainy, after a mediocre breakfast, we drove from Portlaoise to Bray, via the M50. Arriving early, we parked in the Car Park near the North end of the Strand and walked up to the Train Station, where we purchased a Family Day Pass on the DART for 20 Euro and quickly boarded the next train to Greystones.
If anyone is into hiking and walking, the Cliff Walk that parallels the train tracks would make an Excellent choice, as the path and the train CLING to the side of land, over-looking the Irish Sea. For what its worth, I felt the views heading North were slightly better than those heading South but that might just be my opinion. The ride takes about 20 minutes.
After reaching Greystones, we changed seats and rode the DART back through Bray to Pearse Station. That took about 45 minutes and there were a number of enticing stops that almost tempted us to disembark, but we had goals. We took a meandering, orienteering tour around the vicinity, locating our Primary Objective Merrion Square and ending at Tara Street Station a few hours later, for a return trip to Bray.
It was dark when we got back to the car and we had a bit of trouble locating the Old Rectory Hotel which is actually a very nice B&B, but once there, we were very pleased. The house and grounds are well restored and our room was spacious, warm and nicely furnished.
Sunday, 13 November: After a pleasant breakfast, we departed Bray and drove to and parked the car at the Dublin Airport Premier Inn, but then we walked out to the R132 South-Bound Bus Stop. The first bus passed us by; apparently, the driver expects you to raise your arm as if hailing a cab in order to stop. At least, thats what a young man who arrived shortly before the NEXT bus did and that got us onboard. Return (round-trip) tickets were 3 Euro 30 each. The driver doesnt make any change, so exact amount is required.
FYI There is also an Express bus service that picks up and drops off at the Airpark: http://www.swordsexpress.com/Tickets-Fares/ although their fares are slightly higher, they are probably more frequent and much quicker, as they have fewer stops (and do NOT go to the airport).
We exited the #41 bus on OConnell Street, near Citizens Information and wandered to Merrion Square for our reserved seats aboard the 1916 Freedom Tour http://www.1916tour.ie/1916-tour.html at 20 Euro each.
Arriving early, we had an opportunity to take a leisurely stroll through the park and to peruse the art work on display along the wrought-iron fence. I even managed to purchase a small, 5X7 piece that depicted a sea-side thatched cottage for only 15 Euro.
When the tour bus arrived, we checked in and took our seats. You ride aboard a decommissioned Military transport truck, complete with a driver and a Narrator / Guide that are both dressed in period-appropriate rebel uniforms and they have a number of replica firearms which are used as teaching aids and photo props. The tour covers most of the key Easter Rising sites, backed up with both historical background and visual aids from the time, so that it is possible to appreciate the terrain at the time that the battles took place. Over-all, VERY informative and enjoyable and we felt as if we definitely received value for money.
After the tour returned us to its Merrion Square starting point, we wandered about Dublin even more taking in Stephens Green, Grafton Street and eventually, returning to OConnel Street for our ride back to the hotel, about 6:30 PM.
Monday, 14 November: After another stop at the Starbucks across from the hotel, we set off for Trim, via Swords, Ratoath and Drumee (R132 N to R125 W to the R154). We missed the only tour by mere minutes, but we availed of the pathways to completely circum-navigate the entire castle by walking through the surrounding grounds on both sides of the river.
We then continued along the R154 to Loughcrew. The entire day had been mostly dull and dreary with an occasional bit of soft rain, so we didnt hike all the way up to the Cairns, since you must collect the key from Estate and Gardens Center and we had approached from the direction of the Loughcrew Megalithic Center where we thoroughly enjoyed a light lunch at Nellys Kitchen Café and a browse through one of the shops. http://www.loughcrewmegalithiccentre.com/
Back into Dublin, I stopped in to Top Off the Diesel and to pay the previous days M50 Toll (coming up from Bray), then we returned to the hotel, emptied out the car and I returned it, without any problems at the Dooley Depot. The shuttle drive dropped my just outside the Bus lot and a few minutes later, the premier Inn Shuttle dropped my at the hotel for a 1 Euro charge. After shuffling our luggage about with a light re-pack, we spent the evening strolling through a few of the shops in the Airpark Shopping area across from the hotel before turning in.
Tuesday, 15 November: It was gray and dreary when we boarded the Shuttle bus to the Airport (another 2 Euro, each). There were no surprises or problems. Our flight departed Dublin at 11:15 and we arrived at JFK around 1:45 PM. About 2 hours later, we took off for Orlando and landed about 7. No hassle with luggage and the Off-Site Parking staff arrived to pick us up only moments after we arrived at the designated spot. Fee was $102.84 for the nearly three week period. We were in the car by 8 PM and at the nearby (--ish---) Hyatt Place Hotel by 8:30. The place was PACKED in fact, while I was checking in ($155.89 for the night, including breakfast) the desk staff turned away at least two people. No problem with our room, though a Junior Suite with sitting area and a kitchenette and we slept peacefully and soundly. Interestingly, nearly all the other rooms were filled up with athletes from the USSR, the Ukraine and Belarus, so the breakfast fruit pretty much VANISHED as quickly as it was put out! We were on the road by 10 AM and home in Venice by shortly after Noon.
All total, in Ireland, I drove 2,312 Km ( 1,436.6 Miles) and purchased 108.9 Liters of Diesel, at an average cost of 1.19 Euro per Liter. That made fuel costs of 130 Euro. I pre-paid Dooley 195.3 Euro ($229.91) and they collected 105 Euro at pick up but, refunded me 80 Euro on my return. The 25 Euro difference was for the Paperwork Fee associated with waiving the CDW and theft.
Tolls ran 16.2 Euro total, including 2 for the M50 and 1 for the Limerick Tunnel, plus M7/M8 and M4/M6.
Trip Cost info: http://ireland.activeboard.com/t62909046/bobs-back-in-body-if-not-in-mind/
Trip Pix: https://italianchauffeur2016irelandtrip.shutterfly.com/.
Thanks Bob. Lots of good info.
"Ireland Expert" Michele ErdvigClick links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland ItineraryVisit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.