My 10 Day Ireland Tour

Ireland, the land of so many American family ancestors is a beautiful country filled with happy, smiling and welcoming people. Recently, I spent 10 days in Ireland, land of my paternal forefathers and saw some amazing sights.

My husband and I traveled by train, eliminating the panic and anxiety of driving on the “other side of the road” and visited many wonderful cities and quaint villages.

After our horrible experience of lost luggage in Italy in 2022, we decided to attempt carry-on only for this trip. Yes, I’m well aware that I’ve always said I’d never do that! But, hopping on and off trains is a bit of a hassle with larger luggage. Amazingly, I managed to do it! I’m so proud of myself. Of course, I did put some things in my husband’s suitcase since I ran out of room in mine LOL. I did not purchase anything huge, had all the sweaters I bought shipped and had a packable duffle bag for the return trip in case I bought too much. However, I restrained myself from over-spending in the shops and never needed it.

As for what to pack, we went in October so I packed jeans, fleece-lined leggings, long sleeves and a couple light wool sweaters, my Eddie Bauer insulated rain coat, packable puffer, waterproof sneakers and booties. Think layers and rain is my best advice. Oh, and don’t forget a scarf, hat and gloves!

Our trip started with a flight to Shannon, the closest airport to Galway. There are many direct flights to Shannon from the US, but not from San Francisco. We flew to London and then on to Shannon.

Here is my itinerary as well as tips on what to see, where to stay and eat!

Galway

Days 1-2

I arranged a private driver to take us from the airport in Shannon to Galway, with a tour of the Cliffs of Moher on the way and a drive along the Atlantic Way and the Buren. We stopped for lunch in the tiny village of Liscanore at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn. Fabulous fish and chips, very lightly battered with an enormous amount of chips (French fries to us in the States).

Galway is easily explored on foot. I recommend staying at the Hardiman Hotel, it’s conveniently located right on Eyre Square and next to the train station. Their breakfast is wonderful with plenty of buffet choices and made to order hot dishes, including a traditional Irish Breakfast. The bar is cozy and offers light fare and great cocktails. The pedestrian area of Galway is a block away, where I found tons of fun shops, restaurants and pubs.

On day two, we walked around Galway exploring the sights and city. I shopped at the Aran Sweater Market for some beautiful Aran wool clothing…and they shipped them free to the US! If you’re feeling adventurous, take a ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran islands. Ferries run seasonally from Galway City docks. The other option is to drive (or take a bus) to Rossavael and a 30 minute ferry ride to Inishmore from there. The seas can be rough, so those prone to seasickness beware.

Lunch is great at the pub at McSwiggins in Galway. Plenty of typical pub food choices and of course a pint of Guinness or two! Dinner at Brasserie on the Corner is a must. Be sure to make a reservation in advance…this place is popular. Live music starts around 9, so if you can get a table in the bar area around 8 you can stay and enjoy some music. Be sure to have their Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert…so yummy.

On day three board a train headed for Dublin Heuston station. It’s a two and a half hour train ride, sit back and watch the beautiful Irish countryside go by.

Tip: Purchase your train tickets online at irishrail.ie up to 3 months before you leave for great discounts!

Dublin

Days 3-4

Two nights was plenty for us in Dublin, I prefer smaller towns anyway. Stay at The Green Hotel in Dublin, right on St. Stephen’s Green and a quick walk to Grafton street where you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants and pubs. Visit the Temple Bar area, Guinness Storehouse, St. Patick’s Cathedral, Trinity College Library, and for those whiskey lovers don’t miss the Old Jameson Distillery.

Best dinner was at The Ivy…amazing lamb! There are tons of restaurants for all culinary tastes in Dublin, so do some research and make some reservations before you go.

On day 5, take a taxi to Dublin Heuston station and a train to Killarney. It requires a train change in Mallow Total travel time is around three hours.

Killarney

Days 5-6

Stay two night at the Great Southern Killarney…literally 50 feet from the train station and an adorable old hotel with a fabulous restaurant and bar. Take a jaunting cart (horse drawn carriage) to Killarney National Park and visit Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey and Muckross House. All doable in a day.

Spend some time exploring the village of Killarney, it’s small but adorable. Visit St. Mary’s Church, stroll through the small boutiques and be sure to pop into a pub in the evening to listen to some traditional Irish live music. It becomes a sing along and everyone has a great time. One of our best meals in Ireland was at The Flesk in Killarney, outstanding duck and lamb dishes. We also had dinner at the hotel restaurant one night where the food was delicious but the service was horrible. Maybe we just had a bad server, who knows.

On day 7, take a train from Killarney to Cork. It requires a change in Mallow and total travel time is about an hour and a half.

Cork

Days 8-10

Stay three nights at the River Lee Hotel in Cork, take a taxi from the train station to the hotel. Spend the first day exploring the city. Visit the English Market to see an amazing array of stalls selling food, cheeses, meats, baked goods, flowers and so much more. Visit the St. Fin Barre Cathedral, an amazing Anglican Church with beautiful stained glass. Dine at the hotel restaurant, it’s really good!

On day two in Cork, visit to Blarney and Blarney castle. To get there take a bus or taxi. Visit the castle, kiss the Blarney Stone and walk the grounds to see Blarney House as well. There is a woolen mill right across the street from the castle entrance, Blarney Woolen Mills. They have a restaurant and a pub to eat lunch.

On day three in Cork, take a train to Cobh. It’s a quick 25-minute train ride, tickets are available at the station. This tiny coastal town was the last stop the Titanic made, picking up more passengers and tendering them to the ship anchored just past the town. A few lucky passenger disembarked in Cobb as well. Visit the Titanic Experience museum and learn all about the fated ship. Be sure to visit the Cathedral above the village, it’s so worth the climb up just for the view alone!

Spend your last night out on the town in Cork dining at one of the many fabulous restaurants. Cork has many different international restaurants to satisfy any palate.

And that’s my Ireland tour! On the last day, we waved good-bye to Ireland and hopped on a plane from Cork to London. We stayed there for three nights to revisit of that gorgeous city…and do more shopping of course!

I hope you get the chance to visit Ireland, it’s a truly beautiful country and the people are amazing. I will be back for sure, probably to visit Northern Ireland and Giant’s Causeway.

xoxo

Susie

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