Ireland in March?
July 29, 2009 1:59 AM   Subscribe

Any tips for a week long vacation to Ireland in March?

My wife and I are lucky enough to have a chance to go to Ireland for a week this coming March. We know it is not exactly prime tourist season, and we like that. However that means that some of the places we might want to see may be closed.

When we vacation we are not into driving/being bussed around trying to fit 192 items into three days, if you know what I mean. We like to find an area and explore that area and possibly take in a couple day trips. We prefer the out of the way places and not the big cities. Small hotel/rental or B&B are more our thing.

For example, If on the trip we never made it out of the Cork or Donegal areas we would be fine with it. We want to see Ireland, not ~all~ of Ireland.

We have a couple ideas about what to do, but I would like to throw it out to everybody else... If you were going, where would you go in Ireland in March?
posted by Leenie to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to rent a car, then you could set your homebase somewhere in Kerry and have all of the southwest at your fingertips. I really, really loved Dingle. Maybe split your time between the Dingle Peninsula and Galway. From the latter, you can take a boat out to the Aran Islands for some real out of the way places (next stop to the west there is Boston).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:08 AM on July 29, 2009

Galway would be a good base. I dunno what you'd call a big city; Galway's about 72K, and from there you could easily explore much of the West coast and the burren, which is all beautiful and whatnot. Perhaps y'all are hardy types who don't mind tramping the bogs in all weathers, and you do sometimes get some lovely weather that time of year, but there's also a very distinct chance of a solid week of that penetrating cold damp that seeps into your bones and made me for the first time see the sense of an electric blanket. If it were me I'd want to be able to travel round during the day and yet have a fine selection of pubs to pick from in case I wanted to cozy up to a fire and a hot toddy round about 4. Galway has a ton of nice restaurants, places to shop, museums, theaters, etc.

Note: Once on a March day in Dublin, I woke to flurries, stepped out at lunch to sunshine and 55 degrees and came home at 5 in a driving thunderstorm. About the low 40s to the mid 70s is the biggest temperature range you ever get in Ireland, but on a day in March you might experience the whole of that. Bring sweaters, etc.
posted by Diablevert at 3:30 AM on July 29, 2009

Yeah, the one word for the weather in the North Atlantic Archipelago is "variable", and within short spaces of time, to boot. This is especially true of Ireland and Scotland, though some form of damp seems to predominate (particularly at that time of year). I'll leave actual visiting recommendations to people who've been there more than once, but I can heartily endorse the Guiness, and insist that you don't pass up the chance to have a cask ale if you come across one (particularly if its from one of the Irish breweries, whose beer consistently impressed me). Unless you're in a Porterhouse, then you should be drinking the excellent stouts and porters, rather than the merely decent TSB.
posted by Dysk at 3:50 AM on July 29, 2009

Remember Paddy's day is 17th March so book early if you're going to be in a city around that date. It's a Wednesday in 2010.

As for seeing Ireland...Go west my son!

Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, then maybe head North to Donegal and Sligo. Brilliant!
posted by MarvinJ at 4:08 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question, then went to Ireland in March.

-I thought Belfast was cool for a day, especially if you're into learning about the history of the Troubles.
-Stay in Galway for 2-3 days and take a trip out to the Aran Islands. Great way to spend a day, really cool old Irish culture, and solid seafood. Plus, you'll get those scenes of Ireland that you probably have in your head.
posted by j1950 at 4:38 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

The north east is pretty nice too if you're willing to venture into Northern Ireland. The Antrim coast is pretty spectacular. Specific examples of things to do/see: Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, The Giant's Causeway (and the added bonus of the Bushmills Distillery).

Co. Down is beautiful too (Strangford Lough), and includes the Mourne Mountains. Your money will go further too I imagine, the Republic is incredibly expensive at the minute.

In saying that, the West coast is fantastic. If you're down in Kerry then you need to try to get out to the Skelligs - the larger of the two islands, Skellig Michael, has a 7th century monastery on top of it, kind of like an Irish Macchu Picchu, heh - the boat trip takes about an hour and costs €40 or €50. I've been out twice and it's one of the best things I've ever done. I'd go again without a doubt. Both it and the Giants Causeway mentioned above are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

In a previous question about a week in Ireland, I also mention the Skelligs:

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 5:26 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

and the Giant's Causeway link is bodged there, should be to wikipedia's entry....
posted by knapah at 5:46 AM on July 29, 2009

A few years ago, my husband and I found great deals on self-drive/fly vacations which also give you vouchers to stay in bed and breakfasts usually run by housewives. This was great because in general we didn't have to book anything ahead; we just called the day we wanted to get somewhere, using the book provided to us as part of the package. (We did have first and last nights booked in advance.) I priced the car, lodging, and flights out separately and couldn't beat the deal we got through these packages.

We flew into Shannon and stuck to the western part of the country. I'd skip Kilkenny and the Ring of Kerry; even in May in a low tourist season (spring 2002, so people were still shy of flying post-9/11) it seemed crazy busy (though admittedly we skipped the Ring of Kerry ourselves). I agree that Dingle is lovely, and driving there gave us some picturesque Ireland: small towns on the water with neat hills in between and lots of sheep.

Galway is a great city, and we really enjoyed our stay there too, but it's definitely a city and not a town. From our b&b, we were able to walk into town, which was great. We didn't get to the Aran Islands because of weather, but that'd be great to combine with a trip to Galway after flying into Shannon.

Have you found the Irish Tourist Board website yet? They're probably your best source for opening and closing times.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:58 AM on July 29, 2009

I've mostly seen Co. Cork, as one of my best friends lives there/is from there (we were pen pals when we were twelve, and both times I've been to visit Ireland, it was more me visiting her specifically). Getting from Cork to Dublin easily is doable, although you may want to book now if you have ANY inclincation towards Dublin (the place will be PACKED if you're traveling any time near St. Patrick's Day).

If you're going to stay in Dublin, I STRONGLY, STRONGLY recommend a B&B called Number 31 -- it was surprisingly affordable for my lower-middle-class twenty-something single-traveler budget, and it was close enough to the center of Dublin that I could walk to a lot of places. It was also just nifty-keen in general -- the whole place is housed in a Georgian townhouse and its stables that an architect bought out. The Georgian part is decorated in period style, but the stables were renovated as rooms in a more modern style -- I was in one of the former stable rooms, and it came with a private bath, two twin beds, a little seating area (which was restocked daily with an electric kettle, tea bags and instant coffee packets, and even a couple of cookies) and I even had my own little porch and back yard.

That's just Dublin. Usually my trips to Ireland have been "spend a couple days in Dublin City, then spend the rest of the week in County Cork." Cork City is good for a day or so's adventure. Same to Cobh. Someone else upthread suggested Dingle.

Kinsale, now, that could take you a while; I completely and utterly fell in love with Kinsale, even though both times I went it was indeed the off season and a few things were closed. I didn't care. When I went, it was a tiny little port town, picturesque as all hell, but still a number of restaurants/bed and breakfasts/ hotels/restaurants open. There's a bike rental place in the center of town, and the town is very bikeable -- there's even a couple things outside town you could try biking to (two old forts and a Famine Monument that I found profoundly moving). Since my last visit (which was 1998) Kinsale has also become the locus for a whole Irish culinary revival, so there may be even more restaurants there now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on July 29, 2009

I agree, Kinsale is a lovely little place.
posted by knapah at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everybody. No, we wont be there during St. Patricks festivities. We'll arrive a little later, probably the last week in March.
posted by Leenie at 11:14 AM on July 30, 2009

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