A week in Ireland, suggestions?
May 3, 2009 12:42 AM   Subscribe

A week in Ireland

My partner and I are planning a week in Ireland. This previous thread was very helpful. But here are some additional questions:

We are taking the later ferry from Pembroke to Rosslare, any suggestions for a nice place to overnight before we drive across the island?
Next would be to the cliffs of Moher/Burren Park area, again nice town to stay in in that region?
After that we are thinking of hitting the southwest coast as per the previous thread.

We are primarily interested in any naturalist experiences that can be recommended: birdwatching, hiking, good places to see wildlife and plantlife, etc...
posted by sundri to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The north Antrim coast is my favourite place in Ireland but it would be completely out of your way. Also Lough Neagh would be very good for birdwatching/wildlife/plantlife but again, out of your way.
posted by serak at 3:07 AM on May 3, 2009

Near Cliffs of Mohr/Burren stay in Doolin.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:01 AM on May 3, 2009

Not far from the Cliffs are the Arin Islands, accessible by ferry. Really cool, naturalist, with a bit of the old Irish stuff.
posted by j1950 at 5:05 AM on May 3, 2009

Second Doolin, it's a great town. Lots of traditional music there.
posted by muxnaw at 6:33 AM on May 3, 2009

First don't call it an island, yes it technically is, and it is small by US standards, but locals might be a wee bit miffed at you calling their country an island, you'd be better saying country! :)

I don't know Rosslare that well, but I've been in Wexford which is interesting old Fort town, and might be a better place to stay.

Definitely visit the Aran Islands, you can either get a ferry from near Galway, or a short local flight. I think the Cliffs of Mohr are a bit over-rated as it's just too touristy for my tastes, but the Burren is worth seeing and hiking over. West Cork and Kerry are beautiful places with loads of hiking and coastline to explore. However, as just about everyone does the Ring of Kerry, I'd suggest going somewhere totally different such as Donegal (where I'm from), if you like cliffs visit Slieve League, and stay in Carrick or Glencolmcille, do the Inishowen drive, climb Errigal. And if you do make it to Donegal and want to see islands, Tory is worth a visit to see really old unspoilt Ireland, however if the weather is bad you might get stuck out there! An alternative is to visit Aranmore island near Dungloe.

And stop in my home town to see Donegal Town Castle, if you see Christina tell her Mick say's hello, and pop in the "The Reel Inn" for traditional music every night with a real drunken local crowd and tourists. It might actually be more fun than the trad bars in Doolin, as they really just cater to a tourist audience and seem to lack a bit in authenticity. However, Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher are beautiful, and there's bound to be a bit of craic there what with all the tourists.

Also, may towns and areas in the Gaeltacht speaking areas may have place names signposted in Irish which can lead to some confusion. Make sure you've a map that has the names in both English & Irish.

Enjoy your visit, and please do post back and tell what you did and enjoyed and would recommend to others.
posted by zaphod at 6:34 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you do end up going to Donegal, I'm a fan of Glenveagh National Park.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:03 AM on May 3, 2009

If you get as far south as the Ring of Kerry, I'd suggest going out to Skellig Michael.
posted by chbrooks at 9:09 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm from Ireland. Seconding a trip to either Skellig Rock or the Aran Islands. As you are driving, there is a most beautiful Pass from Galway to West Port, Co. Mayo, it's gorgeous.

I like this new website that listed the top ten sights. I pretty much agree.

#1 as you can see is the Boyne Valley. This is kind of a hidden gem, as most folks tour the South West, which is of course truly beautiful & rugged. The Boyne Valley (North East Coast, 30 miles north of Dublin) is one of the least touristy places in Eire. Lots of interesting places to visit in a 20 mile radius. For example, Monasteries, Celtic high crosses and Castles. The most impressive being New Grange, an underground passive grave built 5000 years ago. On the winter solstice the sun lights up the passage tunnel right into the chambers. If you decide to visit, be sure to go their website & get there early. Limited numbers of people are now allowed through daily.

As you arriving via Rosslare, you might want to consider taking the anti tourist route & head north & then cross country to Mayo, then drive south along the West Coast. I did this many years ago, it was January. The weather didn't matter. We had rain, hail, snow, gale force winds & sun all in one day. It didn't stop us & I think it actually suits the spectacular scenery. We hit random B&B's along the journey, because it was such an organic visit, no hectic schedule. We had a loose plan but where open to any happy accidents along the way. It sounds like you are definitely more interested in the scenery, so I would recommend skipping Dublin.
posted by sequin at 10:56 AM on May 3, 2009

Doolin, Lisdoonvarna, or Lahinch are all quite popular places to stay.

Here's a list of accommodation in Co. Clare to give you some ideas.

Definitely go to the Skelligs, I strongly recommend a guy called Des Lavelle to get you out to them. He's lived on Valencia Island all his life as far as I know and has written a book on the Skelligs. He's a great one for storytelling and even though his boat takes longer to get you out to the islands, you'll hardly notice.

I've been out twice, once with him and once with someone else. Des was much better. (That's leaving from Portmagee rather than Ballinaskellig)

Also, if you're going in July/August you'll see thousands of Puffins on Skellig Michael.
posted by knapah at 12:09 PM on May 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all for your feedback so far. Lots of great stuff and we may revise our plans as a result. Luckily nothing is booked yet. Dying to see everything everyone has mentioned thus far.

zaphod: my apologies and thank you... I have been living in the u.k. for 2 years now and no one has called me out on the island thing yet. Maybe they are simply quietly resenting me.
posted by sundri at 1:04 PM on May 3, 2009

I've got to recommend Offaly. My family's from there so I'm a bit biased, I'll admit. What I love about it is that it's not as tourist-y as other parts of Ireland. It's one big tourist attraction is Clonmacnoise.
posted by echolalia67 at 1:50 PM on May 3, 2009

I'm Irish, and I wouldn't be too worried about saying island. Nobody's likely to complain, particularly in the context you used it in the post - "drive across the island". That, to me, says drive from the east to the west coast (or vice versa).

Context matters a bit, so probably don't say, "I've enjoyed my time on your island", better would be "...in [your country]/[Ireland]". Don't worry about it though, if you're in the west and southwest you're going to meet some of the most spectacularly relaxed people you can imagine.
posted by knapah at 4:18 AM on May 4, 2009

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