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Our Ireland Trip Report

My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit the beautiful country of Ireland April 23-30. I want to thank everyone on Trip Advisor, especially Sarnia, who gave me invaluable advice leading up to my trip and really helped me develop a well thought out itinerary. The landscape, historic sights and the phenomenal people of Ireland we met along the way were amazing.

We purchased a package deal with Aer Lingus Vacation Store for a self guided tour- the package included 6 nights of hotel (they pre-selected the hotels and booked the rooms), a rental car through Dan Dooley and direct flights from Orlando. The total cost for 2 people with tax was $1900. The staff at Aer Lingus Vacation Store were very helpful in answering all questions before and after booking. I would totally book through them again.

A few quick details:

CAR RENTAL- while we booked our trip with a World MasterCard that provides insurance in the Republic of Ireland, Dan Dooley stated that we would have to still have a hold put on our credit card. So, prior to the trip, we purchased Super CDW insurance for $175 from Aer Lingus Vacation Store. There was no deductible and it was "walk away" insurance. It gave us piece of mind. The car we received from Dan Dooley only had about 2000 km registered on it at the time of rental. We had the lowest model, manual car but it was a Renault and worked out great for the two of us.

CELL PHONE- My husband travels international, so we have an inexpensive phone that takes SIM cards. We purchased a SIM card at Tesco grocery store for 10 euro and they gave you 10 additional euro. We have two boys that stayed behind in Florida with the grandparents so we called home every other day, talked for about 25 minutes each call, and never came close to burning through even the 10 euro.

INTERNET- every hotel stayed at had free Wi-Fi. We were able to connect easily with our smartphones and our IPAD. Additionally, many restaurants, tourist sites and pubs offer free Wi-Fi making it very easy to keep in contact with everyone.

FOOD- We loved the food in Ireland and how much the country embraces the farm to table movement. We picked up baked goods and fruit every morning from the market; as we were always on the go, our lunches typically consisted of French bread, fruit and artisan cheese picnics; followed by an evening of pub food which was quite delicious. I had mussels twice that were fantastic. My husband favored the Guinness Beef Stew while I loved the bangers and mash with red currant gravy. We both tried the white pudding and black pudding. The flavor of the black pudding was a bit strong for my taste but definitely worth a try!

WEATHER- Let me preface this by saying we are from Florida...we prepared for the worst and were pleasantly surprised by the weather. The rain, when it occurred, was usually just a brief cloud burst. We had hail one day. At the cliffs on Achill Island as you closed in on the Atlantic Ocean the wind kicked up. But all in all, the weather was not detrimental to our enjoyment of the great outdoors. Most days were sunny and we saw the biggest rainbow I have ever seen- looked for the leprechaun and pot of gold to no avail.

WHAT WE DID- the package set our hotel locations for us (Enfield, Castlebar, Ennis and Dublin) so that dictated where we were going and mapped out locations along the way:

Day One- We arrived in Dublin; picked up our rental car from Dan Dooley and headed out to Malahide Castle. After such a long flight it was nice to get fresh air and stretch our legs through the castle and gardens. After Malahide Castle, we headed to Castletown House in Celbridge as it was enroute to our hotel. This home is incredibly beautiful. We toured the property and we were the only two in our tour group- the guide as passionate about the home and history and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We also walked the grounds. We stayed at Johnston House Hotel & Spa in Enfield, County Meath. The staff were extremely friendly and upgraded our room at check in for no charge- that was a nice surprise.

Day Two- We checked out of the hotel and made 2 stops enroute to Castlebar. These 2 stops were suggestions from TA forum members and we really loved them. We visited Belvedere House and Garden, Co. Meath and Strokestown Park and Famine Museum, Co. Roscommon. We stayed on Day Two and Three at Breaffy House Hotel in Castlebar. The accomodations were clean, bed comfortable. We don't ask for much ;o)

Day Three- We went to the Country Life Museum in Castlebar, then headed out to spend the entire day in Achill Island- we did the Atlantic Drive- scary roads, sheep in the middle of the roads, switchbacks and breathtaking scenery (we also saw the deserted village, tower at Kildavnet and Keemy Bay). We ended our evening at Matt Molloy's Pub in Westport. No music, but late in the evening Matt Molloy did come to the pub which was pretty cool. Spent the evening talking to the most fascinating Irish couple.

Day Four- Thanks to Sarnia for mapping our assault on the Burren- we had a fun day traversing through the County. We visited Aillwee Cave, Dungaire Castle, Corcomroe Abbey, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Ballyvaughn, Kilfenora Cathedral, and Cliffs of Moher. We headed to Doolin for dinner and traditional Irish music at a pub. Great night. We ended our evening at our hotel in Ennis, The Temple Gate Hotel. The location was fantastic as it was in walking distance of all the restaurants and pubs. However, the room was the least desirable of all we stayed in- it had a double bed and a twin. Not very romantic ;o) We asked for a king or queen bed room but they were unable to accommodate our request.

Day Five- this was our one low key day...we slept in, had brunch in Ennis and then headed out to Bunratty Castle. I thought the site was worth a visit and the furnishings in the castle were amazing. Spent the afternoon and early evening, at a pub watching English Premiere League soccer. The crowd was great.

Day Six- We checked into the Academy Plaza Hotel (they were kind enough to upgrade our room for free), dropped our luggage and we had mapped out a four mile walking tour of Dublin. We shopped, and saw Trinity College, Bank of Ireland, Grafton Street, St. Stephens Green, Christchurch Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Hapenny Bridge, Guinness Storehouse and then back to the hotel. Beautiful day for a walk. We did not feel like we needed to do the HO-HO (we did on a past trip to London but Dublin is a much more compact city). We had purchased a Living Social Deal for LaMaison for dinner and our meal was wonderful.

There is so much more of Ireland I would love to explore on a future visit. I don't think I would go again for less than 10 days. We crammed a lot in, which was easy to accomplish by ourselves, but if we bring the boys back we need to travel at a much slower pace. What set Ireland apart from other places we visited, were the people themselves. Everyone was so kind. It was great to talk to everyone from the sheep farmer herding his livestock, to store clerks, and the great people we met every night in the local pubs.



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Thanks for the trip report.  biggrin   biggrin

You mentioned a number of places that I have fond memories of.  We visited Cellbridge in the Autumn and our walk about the property was inspiring.  Strokestown was VERY informative, even a bit, 'chilling' to contrast the disparity of the Class Structure during Famine Times.

When at the Museum of Country Life, did you visit Turlough?  You can actually see the ruined Church and Round Tower from the entrance to the Museum.  Achill IS a special place, as well.  Temple Gate is my 'Go To' hotel in Ennis -- it's a pity you didn't find it so.  We thought Breaffy House was a gem, too -- within a peaceful setting.

Again, Thanks for sharing.  Have you started planning your NEXT visit?  biggrin  biggrin 



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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Thanks for your report. I'm glad to hear that you had a good value vacation with the Aer Lingus Vacation Store. The price seems right. You fit in a lot of great things. Did you walk through the Fairy Garden at Belvedere? It isn't very large but cute for kids. You really did a lot in your one Dublin day. Glad you are thinking of visiting again in the future. There is so much to do and see in Ireland and you just had a brief "appetizer". I totally agree that the Irish are wonderful hosts.


"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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