Thursday, July 7, 2016

2016 - Ireland Summary

Duration: 11 full days (June 6, 2016 to June 18, 2016)
Cost: $730 (flight) + $600 (car rental plus mandatory insurance) + $960 (accommodations)


In no particular order, this is my list of top 3 things that I enjoyed while I was in Ireland that I saw during our trip. Obviously, there are things that we didn't fit in that may have been better.

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, this was one of my goal spots to visit when we decided to visit Ireland and so we made it a priority to see it at the beginning of the trip versus the end of the trip. We ended up visiting the site on the second day that we arrived and it was really really cool. You definitely should try to get here as early as you can to beat the crowds but this is a definite must-see for me while you are in Ireland. It is roughly 3 hours away from Dublin by car, however, there are tour buses that take you there from Dublin if you don't want to drive yourself. It is just like the pictures, however, it isn't as big as I imagined, then again, I probably had ridiculous ideas for how big it would be.

Rock columns of Giant's Causeway.
Rock columns of Giant's Causeway.
Me at Giant's Causeway.
Oddly timed photo at Giant's Causeway.
Slea Head Drive in Dingle, we had heard that Dingle is a very cute and nice little town to visit, however, it is a bit out of the way and initially we thought that we would skip this and I'm glad that in the end, we made it here. Slea Head Drive is the coastal scenic drive all along the peninsula and is a must do while you are here if you happen to be in Dingle. There are fantastic views, a bunch of car stop areas and it is in general, very beautiful. It isn't a long drive at roughly 2 hours in length depending on your stops and what you do. Take your time and make sure you go clockwise since the tour buses do the same.

Slea Head Drive.
Slea Head Drive.
Slea Head Drive.
Slea Head Drive.
Slea Head Drive.

Trinity College in Dublin, it is located within the university and you should definitely come early here as well. It is just like the pictures, although the purpose of most people's visit may actually be the Book of Kells which is one of the oldest books around. My goal was to visit the library and it met my expectations. It looks just like the photos and it is just so nice to look at. It doesn't matter that you aren't a book reader, if the pictures look interesting, pay them a visit.

Trinity College.
Trinity College.

Oddly, nothing in my mind stood out at disappointing. The most disappointing thing was the tower at Cliffs of Moher which you should avoid, but that's it. All the sites were very nice and worth while. I guess the only thing that can be an issue is really the weather. It is very unpredictable here and unfortunately, we arrive after 10 days of sun! It can go from sunny to cloudy, rainy, thunderstorm, and back to sunny all in the same day, or even all in the same 2 hour drive. You just need to plan that the weather will be bad and you should be okay.

Food Suggestions:

McGann's, best Lamb Shank and Fish and Chips we had while in Ireland. If you are in the Doolin area, make sure to visit here.

Fish and Chips and Lamb Shank at McGann's.
Anchor Down, very fresh and local seafood. A new restaurant in the area and we only found out about it from the tourist information booth. The owners are actually fishermen and they only sell what they catch, how can you go wrong? We actually liked it so much we went for dinner one night and lunch the following day!

Assorted starters at Anchor Down.
Lemon Hake at Anchor Down.
What would I change?

I know that during our visit, we visited a majority of the major sites, however, we missed the northwest side and the southeast side of Ireland. Obviously we couldn't hit everything during 11 days, but I think our itinerary was good, no changes in my mind.


Driving here can be challenging for some. If you are like me, you drive on the right-side of the road instead of the left, this meant that there were some challenges. You drive on the opposite side of the road, you can parallel parking in either direction, and there are a lot of roundabouts. I found that as long as there is traffic, you will not revert back to how you normally drive. For turning, I always mentally told myself that turning right means left and left means right. What this did for me was, if I turn left, I only looked left for pedestrians, and when I turn right, I need to look for oncoming traffic. I found that this was helpful and I quickly knew how to drive.

Final Thoughts

Ireland and Northern Ireland are very lovely and scenic countries. Make sure that you travel around if you come because if you land in Dublin, like most tourist would, it just reminds you of a regular city, the real charm is outside. If you can, do rent a car so that you can go at your own pace. I wouldn't be too concerned about driving on the opposite side unless you worry about driving in general. In my mind, a must visit country if you like scenic views, drives, and just a lot of pretty sites with a lot of very nice people.