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Re: Ireland Master Thread Spent 9 days in Ireland.   A few things to note. 
-   Note that driving in Ireland is on the left hand side of the road
-   Go to Dublin either beginning or end of your trip and do not drive in Dublin.  Rent your car after Dublin or return your car before heading to Dublin.   
-   The real beauty of Ireland is the West Coast with the dramatic cliffs, beautiful waters, pretty landscape which makes it different than other vacations I’ve been on. 

Day 1 – Flew on Norwegian Air into Dublin Airport, arriving at midnight.   Stayed at Crowne Plaza hotel by airport.  Hotel was pretty decent, Used IHG points for stay. 

Day 2 – Rented car at Avis in the morning. Most cars are manual so make sure you reserve an automatic if that is what you need.    Drove an hour to Wicklow Mountains and stopped at Glendalough Monastic Site.   Spent a few hours visiting the ruins, hiking to the lake and seeing the pretty mountains.  Because the Wicklow Mountains is so close to Dublin, there are many variations and areas of the Wicklow Mountain one can visit and can be done as a day tour from Dublin.   Spent 2 ½ hours there, and we drove to the town of Kilkenny.   Visited Kilkenny Castle, walked around town and stopped by St. Canice Cathedral and Tower.  Climbed up the Tower which is very narrow and with a set of ladders and plaforrms (one person at a time).   Stayed at Zuni Hotel, which is a boutique with six rooms.   Stay was fine – just need to adjust down from the hotels in main cities. 

Day 3 – Drove 2 hours to see Rock of Cashel, a historical site and spent two hours there.  Enjoyed the visit and spent a lot of time understanding the history.   After lunch, drove to Blarney Castle.  This was more of a waste of time.  It is substantially more to get in there, and who wants to wait an hour to kiss a rock that 300,000 people kiss a year.   I wished we skipped this.  We arrived into Cork, which is the second largest city in Ireland after Dublin.  Stay at Montenotte Hotel which was a nice, updated, hip hotel with outdoor area off of restaurant.  This felt like a city than a touristy small town.   We enjoyed Cork. 

Day 4 – Drove an hour to a seaside town, Kinsale.   Stopped by the Garden of Remembrance which has a tree planted with the name affixed on each tree of every firefighter who died on 9-11.   Took my father in law there who is a retired firefighter, and he was struck with emotion seeing all the names he recognized and trained over the years.   We then took a one-hour walking tour, Don and Barry’s tour which was a great tour for only 8 euros a person.  After lunch, we drove 15 minutes to Charles Fort.  It was a beautiful, massive structure and more of a self-walking tour.   Definitely worth seeing.  We then drove 90 minutes to Killarney and stopped at Killarnay National Park and did a tour of Muckross House and Garden and walked around the park for an hour.  This was definitely worth seeing.   We stayed at a local hotel,  McSweeney’s Arms Hotel.  Big room, but right on “Main Street” and too loud from traffic and bar scene.   Killarney is a bigger touristy town used as a stepping point for the Ring of Kerry drive so lots of transient tourists coming in and out every day. 

Day 5– We are now near the Western Coast of Ireland.   We hired a private driver to take us along the Ring of Kerry (100 miles of driving altogether) and showed us the sights.  I didn’t have the energy to figure where we should stop.  Also having an experienced driver was very helpful on some of the local roads especially on Valentis Island which would have been too difficult for me to drive with a single lane shared for traffic coming in either direction.   We paid 350 euros and gave an additional 15% tip and it was well worth not doing all the driving, and we ended up seeing more than we would have otherwise.  We saw Valentis Island, Kerry Cliffs, Skellig ring, Chocolate tour, Killarney National Park.  The contact person was Peter Stanley +353871645981 and we found him on tripadvisor.  Our driver was Dennis.   Afterwards, we drove 90 minutes to the small town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula.   We stayed at Dingle Benners Hotel which was very dated but typical for hotels in these smaller town.   

Day 6 – We hired a private driver to take us a tour of the Dingle Peninsula (Mossie Stanlon – has own website).  He was excellent and some of the driving is very difficult.  Our original plan was to hire him in the morning and head to Cliffs of Moher on our own in the afternoon, but he was already booked so we hired him in the afternoon and skipped the Cliffs of Moher which may be the most popular sight in Ireland.   We drove 2 ½  hours from Dingle to Galway, the third largest city in Ireland.   We stayed at Park House, which was also a dated hotel, but served its purpose.   

Day 7 – We booked a ferry (which you can include the bus ride to get to the ferry) at Rossaveal and took the 10:30 am ferry to Inis Mor, an island community where life hasn’t changed much over the past century.   When we arrived at 11:15 am, we booked Failte Bus Tours (failtebustour@gmail.com), +353-87-134-7330 (8 euros per person) who drove us (and others) around the island in a van and gave us some history with a few stops to check out some Dun Aonghasa (a fort) and some ruins.   Most people who visited the island rented bicycles and rode around the island.  We returned on the 4 pm ferry.  We stayed in Galway a second night. 

Day 8 – Left in the morning and drove to Dublin Airport to return the rental car.   Took a taxi to the Dublin Conrad Hotel which is a very nice hotel.   Had a great lunch at Matt the Threscher and took a 4 hour private tour (250 euros, Tour Dublin, Phone : +353863551449, info@tourdublin.ie).  The private driver drove us around, gave us history but we visited the sights on our own.   We did Kilmainham Goal prison (need to book in advance and I thought this was the highlight) and walked around Temple Bar.  Learned a great deal of history from the driver. 

Day 9 -  Spent the morning at the  EPIC Museum, new museum highlighting the history and emigration of the Irish people – well worth it.    We were picked up by our private tour at 1:30 pm and visited St Patricks Catedral, Trinity College and Book of Kells and dropped off at the Guinness Storefront as a last stop and did the beer tour.   

Day 10 – flew out back to New York. 

If I had to do it all over again, I would spend less time in castles and ruins and Dublin and more time on the West Coast of Ireland.  I didn't find Dublin particularly interesting.  We could have done that in a day or day and a half.   

October 18, 2018, 01:31:13 PM
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