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Old 04-06-2010, 06:28 PM   #1
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Going to Ireland - Tips and Suggestions Welcomed

So I've finally decided to stop dreaming about someday taking a trip overseas, and have come to the decision that "someday" is next Spring, and "overseas" is Ireland, as that's the country I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. (Or, you know, high school. I can, for the record, remember farther back than high school.)

I'm thinking about 9-10 days, I'm thinking spring (likely early to mid May), and I'm going it alone. ( )

My rough itinerary at this point is:

- fly into Cork, spend a day and night there

- drive to the Dingle Penninsula, spend a day or two there, do the Penninsula drive (rather than the Ring of Kerry)

- drive to Doolin and through The Burren and see the Cliffs of Moher, spend a night there

- drive to Galway, spend a few days there, including taking a drive through Connemarra region

- ditch the car, hop the train to Dublin, spend 3 or 4 days there, including seeing the in-town sights, a tour bus up to Newgrange, and possibly another day trip, possibly to the Antrim Coast/Giant's Causeway in the north, and then fly home from Dublin

I can't possibly see everything, so I had to cut out some things I'd like to do (mostly because I don't want to spend my entire vacation for the year on one trip). Plus, there's a chance my choir will be traveling to that area in 2012, so I can always check out more at that time.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Any tips for solo traveling? Has anyone traveled solo and not rented a car? I think a car is the best option for my itinerary, although it's the part that has me the most nervous (at least I already know how to drive stick!).

Also, the expected question on this site: what are the cool U2 sites to see in Dublin? I was thinking popping by the studio, just to see it, and I may try and stay at the Clarence while in town (I'm going cheap for lodging the rest of the trip so I can do a bit of a splurge in Dublin). What else should I see? I don't see Slane listed in any of the travel books - sounds like it's not open to the public?

Tips, suggestions, and snark welcome.
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:59 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great trip

I moved to Europe by myself at 18 before moving to Asia the following year, all the while backpacking/travelling throughout different countries on my own. I wouldn't have done it any other way. You'll be just fine!

As for Ireland, I remember, after the hustle and bustle of London, I wanted something as quiet and peaceful as possible so settled on the Aran Islands, a grouping of small, charming islands reached by ferry from Galway. At the time (1994}, it was relatively quiet and isolated but I don't know if it still is. I stayed at a B&B and would spend my days taking leisurely strolls and bike rides up and down the islands. Breathtaking. Anyway, makes for a nice getaway, if only for a day. Here's the official site:
http://www.aranislands.ie/

During one of my stays in Dublin, my hostel was right around the corner from the 'BonoVox' hearing aid store which shouldn't be missed (I probably don't need to add that's how Bono earned his nickname}.

If you're interested in musical sites, not just U2, there's a 'Dublin rock tour'
Dublin Rock 'n' Roll Bus Tour

I haven't been back to Dublin since Slane in '01 but I seem to recall various signs throughout the city indicating where different musical events occurred (for eg. I think there's one in front of the Baggott Inn where U2 played when they were wee lads}

I'll see if I can think of more

Too bad the Kitchen isn't around anymore - the night I went, Bono and Edge were there and Edge danced with my friend!!
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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If you can at all, definitely check out local bands Aslan and The Guggenheim Grotto. They are both fabulous! Also, since you're in a choir, go see The Gardiner St Gospel Choir. Some friends of mine are in it. The Gardiner Street Gospel Choir

The Temple Bar area is kinda meh...I saw more Americans there than I did Irish, so we left quickly. Grafton St is great for shopping. If you go on a weekend, you can see many artists selling crafts all over the place.

I know it sounds weird to go to a college campus, but Trinity College is magnificent. The library is massive, and there's usually people standing in long lines just to tour the library!

St. Stephen's Green must absolutely not be missed! One of my favorite moments was getting a sandwich at a cafe, and picnic-ing in the park, enjoying the nature and people-watching.

If you have time, you should definitely hop on the DART and go to someplace like Killiney Beach. I loved the idea of rocky beaches. I actually found a beautiful, perfectly spherical black and white rock when I was there.

Malahide Castle is definitely also a thing to see, there's also a beach. (This is in walking distance from the train.)

St. James Gate, obvi, if you're a Guinness fan.

Kilmainham Gaol is also a historic place. Be prepared emotionally, though. It's a tear jerker. You should definitely go on a tour to hear the stories.

All of these are accessible by train, btw. I didn't have a car when I lived there briefly over a summer. Not too many of my friends living in Dublin had cars anyway.

Other than Kilmainham, I really didn't do anything U2 related while I was there. Oh, I did take a picture in front of the Bonovox store. But, my fear of meeting Bono was enough to keep me away from the U2 fan attractions.

I hope you have the time of your life! Feel free to msg me on facebook if you have any questions.


ETA: PLEASE do not forget to visit the Botanical Gardens!
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:48 PM   #4
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Don't forget to kiss the Blarney stone!

And have fun in Galway. That was my favorite city in Ireland when I went there.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions! I'm currently not planning on doing the Blarney Stone, as I already have the gift o' gab. Really looking forward to Galway.

Mia, good to know about Temple Bar - I've seen a few recommendations for hotels in other close-by areas, I might be swayed from my Clarence plans. Also, the choir sounds really cool - that's something I haven't seen in the gardens!

I'm definitely not going to have the car in Dublin. I'm hoping I'll be able to pick it up at the Cork airport and drop it off in Galway, and then take the train to Dublin and rely on public transport or walking everywhere.

The U2 stuff is definitely at the bottom of my "must see" list, but if I have the time and it's not a huge pain, I'll run out to the studio to take a picture or something. I wasn't sure if there was anything people could recommend as a "must see" U2 thing.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:02 PM   #6
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When you're walking around Dublin, it might be cool to have a map of this handy just in case you're near any of the designated locations:
Guide to U2's Dublin on Google Maps

Mia - I forgot about your fear of meeting Bono
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:07 PM   #7
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Ooh, that's cool. Thanks!

Dude, if I ran into Bono, I'd probably be all "Hi! Oh my god, you're Bono! We met, like, 6 years ago in Seattle and I work at ____, I met you there! Let's call Mr. CEO! You have his number, right? Can I buy you a pint? Hey, look at your shoes! I love Ireland!"

.... and then I'd watch him run away very fast.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
Ooh, that's cool. Thanks!

Dude, if I ran into Bono, I'd probably be all "Hi! Oh my god, you're Bono! We met, like, 6 years ago in Seattle and I work at ____, I met you there! Let's call Mr. CEO! You have his number, right? Can I buy you a pint? Hey, look at your shoes! I love Ireland!"

.... and then I'd watch him run away very fast.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:59 PM   #9
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+jealous+
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:05 PM   #10
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Travel! Yaay!

I've never really driven in Europe (relied on rail/ferries/planes) and the thought does slightly freak me out but I would think that your itinerary doesn't sound too bad - I mean, it isn't Italy.

You'll have an awesome time!
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:16 PM   #11
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It's funny...as fearless as I am about travel I've yet to drive when overseas. Never even crossed my mind. Besides, I love love love rail travel.

As I've said to you already, you're going to have an amazing time!
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:28 PM   #12
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I want to go back. I probably will in the next 2 years. Have a great time.
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:54 PM   #13
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Don't kiss the blarney stone

The roads have really improved (be prepared with change for tolls), but outside of the bigger towns they can be sketchy as in tight curves with sheep lying wherever they like.

Galway is wonderful.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladywithspinninghead View Post

Mia - I forgot about your fear of meeting Bono
yeah...I can't even really explain it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
Ooh, that's cool. Thanks!

Dude, if I ran into Bono, I'd probably be all "Hi! Oh my god, you're Bono! We met, like, 6 years ago in Seattle and I work at ____, I met you there! Let's call Mr. CEO! You have his number, right? Can I buy you a pint? Hey, look at your shoes! I love Ireland!"

.... and then I'd watch him run away very fast.
I hope you run into him in May.



And although you said you're not going, don't ever kiss the Blarney.


Reading this thread has made me "homesick". I miss that place. I will perhaps be traveling with your choir, in a cello case, in 2012.
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Old 04-07-2010, 03:34 AM   #15
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Never had the time or money for a proper Ireland trip, but a few years back I did spend an idyllic few days hiking in Connemara with some colleagues from a conference I'd just attended in London. We stayed at a hostel in Leenane--can't recall the name, but there ain't much else in Leenane, so it wouldn't be hard to look up. Beautifully situated little town at the head of a fjord, close to the great hiking in the Connemara national park as well as the ferries to the Aran Islands (we went to Inishmaan, which was quiet and lovely, with an interesting ruined fortress to check out). Gorgeous region to just drive through, too. Clifden and especially Galway were much larger towns with some fun shops and pubs to check out.

I think we flew into Shannon and rented a car there--the driving was definitely a bit of a challenge, since as redkat mentioned there are lots of very tight turns on very narrow roads, with stone walls just inches from your car on one side and freely wandering sheep on the other. If you do use a car to drive the highways, be sure to get a good mental picture in your mind first of your route and all the major towns located along it, because you'll encounter numerous traffic circuses where you have to make quick decisions about which turnoff to take, and often those turnoffs seem to be labeled only with the next major destination they lead towards, rather than road numbers or the next nearest destination or whatever to Americans would seem the 'obvious' way to label them. And of course, really concentrate hard initially when making turns, since that's when being on the 'wrong' side of the car throws your sense of space off the most. But don't worry--in the end it's not that bad, and once you get off the busier roads, you'll be able to relax and enjoy the scenery much more, and oh boy is the scenery amazing.

Be forewarned that food tends to be outrageously overpriced for what you get, so make sure you've allowed enough room in your budget for that. Socially speaking, the Irish style seemed to me much like ours--'open,' friendly and unpretentious--so even for a fairly shy American like me, it's generally pretty easy to plonk yourself down in some teensy pub in the middle of nowhere and soon find yourself engaged in a pleasant conversation with the folks at the next table.

Good luck...sounds like a fantastic trip!
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