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Advice for first time visitors


Hello to all. I was thinking that as a public service I would start a thread of advice for first time visitors to the most wonderful and magical land on earth, Ireland. While I don't claim to be an expert, my wife and I have been lucky enough to visit every year since 2005, so I do feel like I have something beneficial to contribute. This thread is open to one and all, so hop on board and feel free to contribute.

 

My biggest pearl of wisdom would be to not try to do too much during your visit. There are hundreds and hundreds of places to see and things to do: castles, gardens, megalithic sites, golf courses, scenic drives, abbeys, the list goes on. Every year that we have visited, we have always heard at least one couple complain that they tried to do too much. To really savor any destination you must be willing to spend leisurely time to fully get the feel, especially in Ireland. If you only have 1-2 weeks, you will not be able to see everything, so don't try. Planning our first trip we were almost overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. We then decided to narrow it down to 3 must see places each, allowing for enough time to fully explore each place, which worked our very nicely. I don't know about you, but when I go on vacation I want to relax, and driving many hours each day from place to place is not my idea of relaxing. As I have said many times on this forum, spending a late afternoon in a pub listening to the local news and gossip is a wonderful way to spend quality time. Wherever you go in Ireland will be fantastic, it is that great of a place to visit, so don't regret the places you don't have time for.

Another piece of advice I would offer would be to try to stay in the same place 2 or 3 nights at a time, taking day trips from there. Every county in Ireland has some place special to visit, and the driving times between towns within the same county are not long at all. This way you will return to the same place each night, waking up in the same bed in the morning, which is very nice and relaxing. Doing this you avoid the feeling that you are always on the go.

OK, thats my bare bones advice. Lets hear not just from the experts, but also those that have discovered things on their own or the hard way. I'm sure that future visitors will appreciate it.

 

-- Edited by site2017 on Sunday 17th of December 2017 11:55:31 AM



-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur on Sunday 17th of December 2017 02:41:49 PM

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Those 2 are very good ones to start with.

If you are staying for 2 weeks or longer, think about renting an apartment at the half way point for a few days. You can do your laundry and enjoy a slower pace for a bit.

Groceries are cheaper than where I live in the US, and the prepared meals you can get are very good. A picnic is always a good idea in my visits.

Location: If you want to see trad music, than stay nearby. Most sessions start late, and walking a few hundreds yards on your return to lodgings can be an adventure (in a good way). With luck a doner stand will be open, great late night shop in Westport. If out in the sticks, bring a flashlight. It wasn't that far to the B&B in Doolin, but it sure does get dark....

I've only been 4 times, 2x's May, once the first week of April, and once late September. I really enjoy the 'shoulder season'. People were eager to talk in April, and lambs were bouncing all around. Then and September there were a lot fewer tourists then May, with July/Aug being quite busy (I imagine). No matter when, bring plenty of layers with a good waterproof/windproof outer layer. Be prepared to hunker down in a pub if it's a particularly grey day.


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My wife and I have been there eight times. We like to visit ancient stone circles, cairns, etc., so I recommend the flashlight too so you can see inside the cairns; a rechargeable LED light helped us get some good photos inside Four Knocks tomb. We usually leave the last week or two of August and stay into September. We went once in May, but then we missed Spring here in North Carolina.

Bring your binoculars if you will be out in the country much. Heck, they'll come in handy even at the Cliffs of Moher.

Good camera, of course. We found it convenient to bring a laptop. Every day or two we download the photos from the camera and did some deleting. This helped cut our workload when we got home.
Several times we had to wander across fields to get to a stone circle, and a pair of Wellington boots would have come in handy. On this last trip we brought some along, which allowed us to walk in water without fearing leaks in the hiking boots.

We have found good music in Kenmare and Dingle. Dingle has a nice program of music on Mon, Wed, and Friday nights at Saint James church. Starts early around 7:30 and then at the end you can usually follow your favorite performer to a local pub to hear more music. Haven't been to Doolin for several years because found the music too overamped and overtouristed too.

Dress for all kinds of weather. This last trip we had a bright sunny day to start our hike along the coast, which turned into windy, then thunder (sheep jump up at every clap) and rain, then hail for about ten minutes, then bright sunny again as we walked back to the car to change our soaking wet socks and hiking boots (leave spare clothing in the trunk). I usually started out the morning wearing a T shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, a jacket, and a raincoat, discarding things as needed. A raincoat makes a great windbreaker.

Several times we have contacted people while still at home and made plans to go out with them on hikes, etc.

Don't forget to ask for your VAT forms at stores when you buy things you will be bringing back to the US and process it at the airport. I forgot to do this last time and lost out on about $39 worth of refund.













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Best trad sessions: Sligo @ Shoot the Crows, great time both nights, friendly bartenders, and saw members of the 'No Crows', including the fiddle player from the Waterboys. Small place, get there early, the No Crows play on Wednesday's.

Westport @ McCarthy's Lodge and Pub. There was a sports team full of 'energetic' young men checking in, I think this and the fact the pub is on the far end of town kept the crowds away (all the rest of the pubs with music were packed, and very hot....it was Early October).
The musicians were very good, chatting with us between songs (maybe 7-8 people listening),
we were in a snug by ourselves with a window, perfect. Quite a varied song list, including 'Knocking on Heavens Door' w/ a squeeze box, was quite hauntingly good.

Spiddal, not sure of pub, but there aren't that many, it's on the side furthest from the water. They have an early Sunday gathering around 1700, we've made it twice and there was 16 musicians the first time and 13 the second. Great fun.

My wife always has her knitting with her; something about a lady (retired Army SFC) knitting socks, drinking a Guinness draws interest from the musicians and conversation follows.

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Good camera, of course. We found it convenient to bring a laptop. Every day or two we download the photos from the camera and did some deleting. This helped cut our workload when we got home.
Several times we had to wander across fields to get to a stone circle, and a pair of Wellington boots would have come in handy. On this last trip we brought some along, which allowed us to walk in water without fearing leaks in the hiking boots.

 

 



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