Air travel – we prefer flying directly to Shannon not connecting in London. gives a 4 hour flight from Texas to the east coast and then a 6 hour flight to Ireland. also on the return you do US customs at Shannon and not in the US. much easier with no long lines.
Car rental – rented from Hertz- painless and nice cars. you will have to buy CDW insurance when you pick up the car for about 16 euros a day. they have mobile hotspots for rent that work well so you always have internet. sign up for Skype and you can make phone calls.
Driving – not a problem! everyone is on the same side of the road so just jump right in. some roads are very narrow but people just work it out. very polite. except of course for the feckin gobshite tour buses! don’t worry about getting lost. just find a roundabout and check the signs. one of them will point you in the right direction. best signage in the world!
B and b’s – wonderful way to see Ireland and meet people. every b and b we’ve stayed in has been good. some excellent. they cost about 35 euros per person a day. for the 3 of us that worked out to $142 a night for lodging and breakfast. stayed in hotels in Galway to be right on quay street.
Food – ate everything everywhere! all excellent! could have just eaten seafood, but the Irish beef is phenomenal. the breakfasts are huge with sausage, bacon, puddings, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. but you can also order ala carte. a 3 or 4 course meal at night includes about everything and is about 25 or 30 euros. we found that a lot of the time all we wanted was a late lunch and then snacks later. but we were always ready to try anything. some lunches we just stopped at a coffee shop and had great pastries. after all, we were on vacation. pub grub will usually be exactly what you want. a full blown restaurant isn’t always necessary. eat the locally produced food. the Irish are justifiably proud of what they produce. Wexford strawberries, Irish cheeses, Guinness, fresh fish, BUTTER!
Shannon – landed and drove to Clonmacnoise – important monastery during the middle ages at an important crossroads on the Shannon river and an ancient road
Galway -wonderful city and university town. daughter says it reminds her of Austin, Texas. stayed right on quay street in the middle of everything. pubs, buskers, old businesses. bought Claddagh rings at a place that’s been in continuous business since 1750! same family.
Murrisk -drove the wild Atlantic way to get here. so many things! Clifden, sky loop road, Killarey fiord, Doolough pass (not well known but shouldn’t be missed).
Croagh Patrick – this is Ireland’s holy mountain and even was before St Patrick did his 40 day vigil there. there is a trail to the top and it is a VERY gruelling hike. it’s steep and gravelly for the first 2/3 of the way and then you get to the hard part! the last ascent is straight up and is half climbing and half scrambling on all fours, but when you make it that far it’s hard to not finish. there is a chapel on top and extraordinary views of clew bay. you CAN make it! i’m 65 with arthritis and i made it. one of the greatest things i’ve ever done.
Galway – rest up from Croagh Patrick with fish and chips and soft serve ice cream. which is everywhere by the way and really good!
Doolin – this year’s trip was centred around the Doolin folk festival. stayed at Doonagore farmhouse like last year and loved it just as much. the festival was killer. 3 days of music ranging from old fashioned trad to rockin trad to crazy kila music. try to see music everywhere you go. it’s what all the generations have in common. you can hear the same song done all different ways all equally masterful. Gus o’connor’s pub on Fisher street is a must! trad music all the time and great pub grub! try the cottage pie. get all that done and then take the 8 km cliff walk with Pat Sweeney from fisher straight to the top of the Cliffs of Moher. it’s a wonderful way to see them. just builds the whole walk and then you’re at the top. honestly indescribable. scope of it all, intense colours – greens and blues!
inch beach – what a surprise! beautiful mile long surfing beach surrounded by mountains. stayed here 2 nights and explored the dingle peninsula during the day and came back to the beach in the afternoon. there are lots of antiquities on the peninsula and incredible seascapes. Slea head boggles the mind it’s so beautiful. then take an hour or so and drive Connor pass.
Port Magee and the Skelligs – Skellig Michael is a monastery built in the 5th century on an island 15 miles off the coast of Port Magee. it was inhabited for 1000 years. the monastery itself is right on top and you have to climb 600 steps to get to the top. needs to be on everybody’s bucket list. hard to describe – one of those “thin” places like Croagh Patrick. lots of puffins that sound like little chain saws, dolphins, seals and sometimes whales.
Killarney – we had walked up and down every hill and mountain in western Ireland and spoiled ourselves with our stay in Killarney. friar’s glen was a truly extravagant b and b with the best food and nicest people in the world. on the first day we went on the gap of Dunloe trip which is a 15 mile boat trip through 3 lakes and then a Jarvey cart ride for 7 miles. spectacular scenery and a chance to talk with great guides all day. second day was spent at Muckross house and gardens. my daughter’s favourite place. then a nice drive to the Beara peninsula.
Beara peninsula – this is most undeveloped part of Ireland we were in. very country and not touristy. stayed at a b and b that catered to fishermen. they cooked us monkfish for dinner.
Kinsale – stayed with the fieldings at Seafield farmhouse for 2 days. stayed there last year and got to be friends with Eileen so we stayed 2 days this year. explored Charles fort again and visited with the lady who makes delicious hot chocolate. then spent the rest of the day in Kinsale seeing it more thoroughly this time.
blarney – last year we almost didn’t go to blarney castle but my daughter said “we’re not going to Ireland and not seeing blarney castle!” she was right. what a class act. owned by the same family and beautifully and pristinely maintained. the castle is great as you can see everything. you can even crawl into the dungeon if you like. we also toured the owner’s house which is truly elegant. this is always our last stop in Ireland and we love it.
Kildimo – last night in a small town not far from the airport. very nice b and b not an airport motel. good pub grub at a locals pub.
that was our trip but what needs to be said now is how welcome we felt in Ireland and how nice everyone was and how well we were treated. i hope we gave back as good as we got! thanks again! hope to see you soon!