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April 18, 2012 8:48 PM   Subscribe

If you could go to one other city in Ireland besides Dublin for two days, what would it be?

So, I'm planning a vacation in May. I've lived in Dublin myself and will be returning there with friends for several days; I have bunch of ideas for stuff to do for that portion of the trip. But since my friend has never been to Ireland before, I thought it might be fun to see a bit more of the country than just Dublin and the surrounding area.

Quibbles: Both of us are city kids, really --- camping's right out, and I'd like to go somewhere we could go out at night. But I feel a bit stumped trying to figure out the best way to divvy the time to get the most out of the two days. Galway, Cork, Belfast, somewhere else? Train, plane, automobile? Does anyone have any recommendation for a fun overnight that won't take up too much time to get there and will let us see a different side of the country?
posted by Diablevert to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I loved Kilkenny when I was there. It's more of the 'quaint' feel of Ireland, but it was a lovely city with awesome pubs and history.
posted by The otter lady at 9:01 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Derry. Relatively close to Belfast, lots to do, more of a city than some of the other places you list.
posted by Aquaman at 9:03 PM on April 18, 2012

Kinsale. It's compact enough to wander about and see it in the day, and is kind of known as "foodie central".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 PM on April 18, 2012

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Belfast definitely satisfies the "different side" bit.

Galway's a two-hour drive, the town centre is dinky, you can stay in a B&B pretty cheaply, and I know that I had a cracking night out there. (Boistrous Irish discussion thread here.) It gets a bit of ribbing for being perhaps too pubcrawly, but it's definitely not a west-coast Temple Bar.
posted by holgate at 9:10 PM on April 18, 2012

Cork. Sure it was over 20 years ago, but it was drunken singing in the streets with dozens of local lads and a sweet makeout session with a fair lass.

Small city, big fun.
posted by vrakatar at 9:15 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Derry. Relatively close to Belfast, lots to do, more of a city than some of the other places you list.

I'll second Derry. Its walls give it a truly unique feeling and the history is almost eerily palpable there. The Bogside murals are amazing and the Tower Museum is one of the best little museums I've ever been to. The people there are lovely and you'll have plenty of fun in the pubs there. The bus is probably your best bet to get there and it looks like it takes about 3.5 hours.
posted by otio at 9:36 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Galway is really McIrish IMHO; I am not a fan. I think you're better off taking the train to Kilkenny, which is a really different city experience to Dublin and goes about being charming without being twee or gross. It's got a castle bang in the middle of the town, and an excellent pub on every corner. You will have an awesome night out.

I live in Cork and I love Cork but it's too far for your purposes, I think. My 2nd choice would be Belfast, only because it is the Titanic anniversary and there is an asston of stuff going on and to see this year.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:33 PM on April 18, 2012

Thirding Kilkenny. It was by far my favorite town in Ireland for all the reasons mentioned by DarlingBri. We drove there from Dublin without any troubles, and it was a nice enough drive too. I forget the distance, but it was nothing terribly arduous.
posted by piedmont at 11:41 PM on April 18, 2012

posted by kdar at 11:56 PM on April 18, 2012

Kilkenny. Nice, earlier capital of the country, and much closer on than Dingle or Galway (less wasted time). Can train or bus -- and train is nice.

If not Kilkenny, Carrick-on-Shannon (Leitrim) -- if you like the arts and time it right. Train between Dublin and Carrick is just lovely.
posted by tamarack at 12:06 AM on April 19, 2012

will let us see a different side of the country?

Well, it may not satisfy the "get there quickly" part, but Cape Clear Island is a pretty different side in many ways. Just the ferry ride out was an adventure in itself. If I was going to Ireland today, it would be part of my trip just because it is not (or at least wasn't) like the rest of the country.


Not exactly much for nightlife, but if you want to get away from it all, it falls into that end-of-land category pretty well.
posted by lampshade at 12:25 AM on April 19, 2012

Kilkenny is good craic. Lots of fun to be had, and if you hire a car, you could do some nice driving for a day around beautiful mountains etc in Wicklow and make your way there. I love Kinsale to pieces, but as DarlingBri says, it might be a bit of a hike from Dublin (over 3 hours) but the food is so worth it, and it's so very charming.

(In Dublin, I love to go to The Winding Stair - a gorgeous little restaurant above a book shop overlooking the river, across from Temple Bar.)
posted by honey-barbara at 3:16 AM on April 19, 2012

Kilkenny is a good choice, takes you outside the tourist horde but leaves enough of the infrastructure to be easy and comfortable. Killarney has a similar lots-to-do-in-a-small space thing going on, but is more touristy.

Whether or not you rent or otherwise access a car will make quite a difference to where you can go without the journey being a multi-hour bus epic. I think the most beautiful part of Ireland is around Sligo and Donegal, but then I would because I'm from there. But I would suggest renting a car in Dublin, driving to Sligo town (motorway all the way! God bless our short-lived boom) and then exploring the small towns and backroads. If the weather is good, the scenery is magical (it inspired Yeats, among others). Strandhill in Sligo is full of surfers and Dublin types and can be a bit on the hipster-hegemony side, but other towns nearby (e.g. Rosses Point) offer some lovely out-of-the-way experiences in the local bars talking to the local people.

Belfast is also great to visit, though even now you don't want to go exploring the suburbs without an idea of where you're going. The architecture of the city is understandably more British than other cities on the island of Ireland and will provide a nice contrast to Dublin.

Whatever you do, getting out of Dublin is an excellent idea. Dublin is very different to the rest of Ireland, and the rest of Ireland is very much worth seeing.
posted by StephenF at 3:19 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bear in mind that if you go to Belfast or Derry, this currently involves crossing a national border and needing a different currency... This may or may not bother you, but it's worth considering.
posted by altolinguistic at 6:02 AM on April 19, 2012

Galway is fun and has a city vibe.

When I was there with a friend in 1994 (Shannon => Doolin => Dun Laoghaire => Galway => Limerick => Shannon), we used only public transportation (train & bus), which approach put us on a school bus with giggling 5th graders out in Doolin at one point. Unforgettable.

We were in our 20s at the time so walking everywhere with lightweight backpacks was completely doable.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:14 AM on April 19, 2012

Galway's also reasonably close to other things, if you've got a car.

And I don't know about your frame of reference, but I am a child of the American Midwest so my willingness to drive two or thre hours in the moring made my trip to Ireland with a car vastly different from my trip to Ireland without one. When we controlled our travel, we saw lots more thigns, and were able to stop whenever we wanted; when we were prisoners of a bus/train timetable, we ended up staying close to the scheule and not often strying from the ares around the transport.

*shrug* Just my experiences. No matter what, you'll have a great time if your attitidue is right.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:41 AM on April 19, 2012

few points from a Dubliner here. If i had the choice myself i would probably go to Galway, although some of the comments on it being "McIrish" aren't too far off. Its a great spot though. Other places mentioned...

Belfast - i really wouldnt be arsed, its small and kind of ugly. Although the titanic thing that Darlingbri mentions is meant to be pretty cool.
Derry is nice, but again, meh.
Cork is a great spot, and is about as far from Dublin as Belfast is, no?
Dingle is lovely, but be aware it is a tiny tiny wee town.
Killarney is lovely, pretty touristy too, like galway, but more sedate, nice spot really.
Kilkenny, yep, great suggestion actually. Not as big as galway, but great spot nonetheless.
Carrick on Shannon is very nice, but it is VERY popular for stag and hen night parties these days; that's either a plus or a negative depending on your humour i guess.
Same applies to Westport - lovely spot, big on stag nights.

hope that helps!
posted by kev23f at 8:56 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Galway! I loved it when I was there and plan on spending more time there when I go back. Besides, if you're in Galway, you can easily ferry out to see the Aran Islands, which would be a great way for you and your friend to see more of the country.
posted by chatelaine at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2012

Galway's also not far from Dublin on the train -- 2.5 hours or so? You can also get to the Aran Islands without a car, as well. Galway's great fun, lots of young people & pubs, good restaurants, small enough to get to know quickly . . .
posted by caoimhe at 2:20 PM on April 22, 2012

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