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Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Help! I seem to have one big romantic "pile of rocks" missing from my itinerary.
Here I am, at the finish line. Have research done. Chosen itinerary. Begun process of booking b&Bs. Have AAA travel agent helping me get airline tickets.

But wait! My older daughter saw an Ireland calendar and was exclaiming over photos of cool romantic photos of places like the Rock of Cashel and Dunluce Castle.

Now I have done all the research and my family has willingly trusted me to plan this family trip to Ireland. (they loved the way the previous 2 trips I planned turned out...Italy and Costa Rica.)

But I am thinking...wait...do I have one big ancient impressive romantic "pile of rocks" in our itininerary? It would have to be one which looks impressive even to those lazy family members who haven't done the research! Any suggestions for coolest castles/ruins/ within day-trips of this itinerary would be greatly appreciated! Here are our bases:

Fly San Diego to LAX to Shannon (long flight)
1 night: Bunratty or Ennis
3 nights: Heaton's, Dingle Peninsula (& Blasket Islands)
3 nights: County Clare (Drumcreehy House, Ballyvaughan; will visit Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Dunguaire castle, maybe Aran islands.)
3 nights: County Mayo (Westport as base)
2 nights: Belfast area
3 nights: Dublin area (stay in city centre)
Fly home from Dublin

Thanks! I'd love to hear about your favorite "pile of rocks", which impressed you the most. Especially if I can fit it into the above itinerary. Am also considering spending less nights in Dublin. Trying to keep as many 3-night stops as possible, since the whole family prefers them. (this allows the 4 of us with varying interests time to be satisfied)

Michele, what's your favorite?

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Anonymous

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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Quin Abbey, just outside Ennis and fairly near Shannon Airport, is one of the more impressive and beautiful ruins I've seen.  Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren is a very ancient and famous iron-age (read stone age for most people) monument.  Also in the Burren, you can drive by Leamaneh Castle--not a large castle, but the shell of a large Norman fortress manor.  There are many others, but these come to mind right away.  You don't need to pay to visit them. Quin Abbey is pretty quiet, and not usually overrun with tourists.



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Anonymous

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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


If you visit Inishmore, Dun Aengus is a very impressive iron-age fortress built right up against the cliffs.  That will definitely impress them!

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Wow, anonymous, thanks for the suggestions! I need to make a new file..."Pile of Rocks". I will put everyone's suggestions into it.

Your suggestions are right on our itinerary, great! Also very nice is knowing about some places which won't be over-run with tourists, as we're going to have a lot of that problem in July.

I'm just going to try to go with a good attitude...the more, the merrier...and also include some suggestions from you folk on-line for peaceful get-aways!

Anonymous, will Dun Aengus even impress those who haven't done their research? I love research, and my family relies on me to plan the trips. But my daughters are busy college students, they won't have time to research Ireland, other than when they are home for a visit, picking up a picture book or calendar on Ireland and leafing through it!

They will, of course, learn a bit about Ireland when they arrive. They do like museums, as long as I don't overwhelm them with museums. so I'm trying to include museums, here and there, in Ireland.

Quinn Abbey...maybe a good introduction to Ireland, as we're flying into shannon. Thanks!

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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Perhaps on your way from Westport to Belfast you will be in the Sligo area. If so, check out Carrowmore. Passage graves WAY up in the Bricklieve Mountains. The view is spectacular, as is the drive up and down.

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Slán go fóill, Judy


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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Melissa,


Well, not ancient but romantic and impressive: Kylemore Abbey: http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/


There is a stone fort in the Burren you can visit: http://www.burrenforts.ie/


Kilmacduagh: http://www.gortonline.com/kilmacduagh/index.asp


Minard Castle on the Dingle Peninsula: www.lehigh.edu/~wwt1/ Dingle/minard2.html & www.geoffdore1.com/.../ pages-m/minardcastle.htm


Michele



-- Edited by Michele Erdvig at 23:58, 2005-11-30

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Anonymous

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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Second the recommendation of Kilmacduagh.  We visited in late June, and it's very quiet.  It's also a beautiful drive to get there.


 


The setting and mass of Dun Aengus would impress most people.  The one thing about Inishmore is that it's crammed with tourists.



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To the good suggestions above I would add Ennis Friary, since you're going to be right in Ennis, and Dysert O'Dea, just outside of Ennis.



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Your favorite PILE OF ROCKS


Oh, Michele, thanks for the links! My romantic heart is beating over those piles of rocks that have witnessed the history of many lives. Thank you everybody for sharing your favorite pile of rocks! (I saw this expression somewhere on-line and I like it because it can include everything from castles or monasteries which are nearly intact and restored, to literally something that might look like a pile of rocks but is ancient and surely haunted with history!

KYLEMORE ABBEY...I've heard it's one of the most picturesque sites to behold in Ireland, but that the view of it is as good as it gets...if you try to visit it, there isn't that much to see. It's a school now? I see there's a restaurant. One visitor wasn't allowed in to see the gardens. (What I am wondering is, shall we plan on just driving by Kylemore Abbey and stopping for photos, or having a closer look and spending more time there?)

THE BURREN / GUIDE: We'll definitely check out that stone fort in the Burren. Speaking of the Burren, Michele, I know the Burren has both piles of rocks and also some plant-life to interest hubby the biologist. Do you recommend any particular local experts who could give us a private guided tour of the best sites in the Burren? Someone who knows the history of the "piles of rocks" as well as knowing where to find the best spots for plant-life in July?

LEANING TOWER OF KILMACDOUGH: Wow, I didn't know Kilmacdough had its own leaning tower. Oh darn, forget where that was, I'll look it up again. Thanks!

MINARD CASTLE, DINGLE: Oooh, Michele, what a gorgeous spot on the Dingle! Those pirates sure destroyed that castle, leaving us behind just a chunk of it, but surely this is a haunting spot, if ever I saw one in a photo. Maybe we'll get some family photos here, and perhaps a ghost or two will show up in the photo. (It can happen.)

Thanks a million, Michele. I have been enjoying your book. It seems to be magic, because every time I pick it up, I find a page I swear wasn't there before! Your book, your web-site, your advice and experience, and the generous folks on your web-site have vastly enriched our first trip to Ireland, I can already tell! (Looking forward to July 2006 Ireland...one more trip with the daughters...each time I am thinking, this might be the last one! But then I get them to come for one more family vacation...)

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To: Dude RE: Carrowmore/Sligo


Dude, thanks for your suggestion. Both Sligo and Donegal areas are frequenly recommended to me. They must have captured many hearts. I will put the Carrowmore tombs in my file of piles of rocks to investigate, if time allows. (I don't know how much will be possible on our drive between Westport and Belfast. Perhaps it partly depends on the weather too.)



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Piles of Rocks near Ennis


MaggieL, thanks for recommending the "piles of rocks" near Ennis. What I love to do is to have a file of choices of sites/activities for the areas we will visit. I choose a few highlights and have my family vote on the others, but since they don't do the research, they rely on what I share with them. Sometimes they just say, I don't know, Mom, you pick!

I know it's going to be a good trip when the files are getting fuller than the time allows. Not because we will try to cram everything in. On the contrary, because we will have more choices, and just select the few best choices that are the best balance for our needs.

Photos help a lot too. Doesn't it amaze you that some of these "piles of rocks" still exist, that nobody has torn them down and built condos there or something?! I guess I have lived in Southern California too long.

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TO: Anonymous Re: Killmacduagh and Dun Aenghus


Anonymous: I see you vote for Killmacduagh as well. The rock files are beginning to divide themselves up into categories: quiet piles of rocks; crowded piles of rocks.

Well it's too bad Inishmore is crowded in July. Sigh. I keep hearing that from multiple sources. The only cure for that would probably be to spend the night there, and then we would have some quiet time early mornings before the day-trippers arrived, and evenings after the last boat left. However, I don't know if it's worth all that much trouble, the trouble of booking a b&b on Inishmore, hoping the weather isn't terrible for the boat ride, taking a night away from somewhere else...I just don't know.

I imagine Achill island in County Mayo won't be as crowded as Inishmore? Doesn't having a crowded island sort of defeat the purpose of the island get-away?! Perhaps Inishmore is one of those places that I should save for a future visit to Ireland, just hubby and I, what Michele called the Romantic Tour of Ireland, during one of the shoulder seasons? Spring sounds lovely, maybe in May...oh wait, drats, hubby can't travel in May it's his busiest season at work...okay maybe a September Romantic tour with hubby someday? What's Ireland like in September as far as crowds and the weather?

Anyway this family trip has to be in July because of the schedule of my college daughters. I'm just fortunate that they are willing to come at their ages! They are geting more independent.

Anonymous, thanks for your input on the pile of rocks subject.



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RE: Your favorite PILE OF ROCKS & in Ireland?


Melissa,


Thanks so much for your kind comments about my book, advice and website! I am so glad you are enjoying it all. Planning is supposed to be enjoyable and I am all in favor of injecting fun into the process whenever possible.


Kylemore Abbey is most impressive from outside. It is a fairytale photo op of the dreamy castle reflected in the lake and backed by brooding mountains. There are only a few rooms open to the public since it is a girl's school. The gardens are okay but not worth going out of your way for. There are some lovely walks through the grounds. There is also a self-service cafe and a gift shop.


Achill shouldn't be too crowded unless it is a weekend with something special going on there. Most of the time it is just the ocean and death-defying sheep clinging to the cliffs.


I suggest you contact a couple of Burren guides, tell them your interests and see if they can accommodate you. You might also email Bernadette at Drumcreehy to see if she has personal knowldedg of who might be the very best.


http://www.heartofburrenwalks.com/


http://www.burrenwalks.com/


http://www.burren-tours.com/


http://homepage.eircom.net/~burrenhillwalks/


Tim Robinson who does an extremely well-regarded hand-drawn map of the Burren sometimes gives tours: http://gofree.indigo.ie/~wirl/roundstone/bog.htm His contact email is on this site.


Michele


P.S. September is my second favorite month for visiting Ireland.


 



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

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Anonymous

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RE: Your favorite "PILE OF ROCKS" in Ireland?


Last summer I visited Inishmaan instead of Inishmore.  If you want a quiet, truly Irish experience, this is it.  The island is very small and untouristed.  But you really need to go for at least one overnight to make it worthwhile.  It's like being part of an Irish rural village.

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Anonymous

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Well, you aren't going to be anywhere near the Rock of Cashel, so that's off your list. You are going to be near the Aran Islands so Dun Aengus is a possibility, and I would also highly recommend it, but a trip over to Inishmore will take a whole day away from the rest of your plans so you may want to stay on the mainland and visit Kylemore instead. Very beautiful, romantic setting, with a wonderful romantic/tragic story to go along with it. You are going to be only two days in Belfast and the trip to and from Dunluce castle would require a whole day as well, but while you are there you could visit the other 'pile of rocks' the Giant's Causeway. But there are so many 'piles of rocks' in Ireland that they will be easy to find, you won't go wrong with any of the suggestions made here. One other pile of rocks that hasn't been suggested because it's not a castle is Newgrange. It is definitely one impressive pile of rocks!


Anita.


 



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Your favorite PILE OF ROCKS in Ireland?


Thanks very much, Michele and Anita!

Every day I say, tomorrow I will finish up this trip-planning. I have booked 2 b&bs and ordered my airline tickets. (Yay!) But then, when I try to book the rest of my b&b nights, I hesitate and re-evaluate...

Oh, maybe I can fit in the Glens of Antrim and the Giant's Causeway (nature's contribution to the pile of rocks!) Oh wait, I say, surely I can fit in the Dunluce Castle too. Hmmm...pluck one night from Westport, add it onto Belfast or up near the Giant's Causeway...pluck another night from Dublin, add it up near Dunluce Castle...

Too many wonderful choices. Then, I remind myself, don't forget, we like those 3-nights stays, don't break everything up into 1- and 2-night stays... Oh, but the temptations in Ireland!

How in the world can you compare such places like County Mayo, County Antrim, my grandmother's birthplace (near Belfast), Dublin area...Giant's Causeway...?!

Michele, now I know why you have taken all those trips to Ireland!!!

MICHELE: Thanks for all those links for the Burren guides! Also a good idea to ask Bernadette at Drumcreehy.

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Melissa,


Glad you liked the links. Bill and I were just chatting (on another thread) about how there is soooo much to see in Ireland. No matter how many times you go there are still those elusive places that you miss for one reason or another. I think Bill has been about half a dozen times and still has a very long list of things to see and places to go. Besides, in Ireland it seems that each field, ruin, pile of rocks, hedgerow, etc. has a story or legend or song or poem about it. It is history layered upon myth burnished by Blarney! You could spend a lifetime getting to know all about it.


You may just be like many of the other forum members here and just have to return...again and again!


Michele



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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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