Where to stay in Ireland?

Where to stay in Ireland?

I’m going to be in Ireland in March, and I’m looking for a location to spend 3 nights, from where we can take comfortable day trips, and return evenings for the craic. I’m generally looking in the area along the south bank of the Shannon - North County Kerry or West County Limerick. I’m looking for a friendly town (aren’t they all?) with good pubs/sessions, and large enough to have a choice of places to go, but not large enough to be "touristy". I will be visiting with 4 couples, and we’re looking for a guesthouse or hotel that could accomodate all of us, if possible. We’re looking for Sat, Sun and Mon nights, March 19-21.
Can anyone suggest a town, or even an actual guesthouse/hotel? I know this probably isn’t the proper forum for this request, but you all are the only resource I have at the moment.
Thanks!

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

This is a bit north of Shannon, but only an hour + drive from Shannon Airport. Last Sept we stayed in Kinvara, a delightful fishing village on Galway Bay SW of Galway. We stayed about a week at Fallon’s B&B (highly recommend) in the center of the village. Sessions most every night at Keogh’s or Winkles. Set dancing on Wed night. Local violin maker and nice trad music store. Good base for exploring the Burren, Galway, and other interesting places.

Cheers, Stewart

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Three of us (wife and child) stayed in the Merriman Hotel in Kinvara, which is walking/stumbling distance from Winkle’s.

http://www.merrimanhotel.com/

The Merriman has the largest thatched roof in Ireland(!), 32 bedrooms, and ‘The Quilty Restaurant’ and ‘M’asal Beag Dubh Bar’. The hotel is perhaps a bit, uh, twee perhaps, but the restaurant is very good. The salmon and potatoes are excellent, and they have a nice wine list. Kinvara has a number of places within walking or a short driving distance, and it is not overrun with buses and touri, especially in March. Kinvara is also just across the bay (a short distance, actually) from Galway if you need a city fix. I really liked Galway, for some reason. It’s on the water, it’s actually quite nice downtown, if a bit touristy, and it’s not as chaotic as Dublin.

Enjoy!

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Thanks for the suggestions so far — I’ll add those to my list of places to consider. I was, however, looking for someplace probably further south. Perhaps some details of my trip are in order.
I will be spending the first 3 days of my trip in Galway, so from there I’ll probably get to the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and possibly Connemara as well. What we were really looking for is a "home base" of sorts for our more southern plans, where we can do comfortable day trips - one of which we plan is the Dingle penisula - and then return in the evenings to recap our trips with the others in our party, and the locals. Many people suggested Ennis as a good base - small enough to be un-touristy, but large enough to have the amenities an American might be used to, or expect; and apparently, the sessions are good there.
The issue however, is how long a trip is it to get down to, say the Dingle peninsula for a day trip around, and then get back, without having to rush. Looking at a map, it is deceptive for me, because I don’t see any bridges over the Shannon! Is that true?
So, general questions for any Ireland natives or those in the know: How far is the drive from, say, Ennis to Dingle? What else would anyone recommend for County Kerry, or Limerick, or should I spend more time in Co Clare?

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Your question of "how long" depends on how you get there. My daughter and I went from Cork to Galway on th emain road- the problem is (sincweeyou are from R.I. and I’m from California) we have a skewed sense of travel time. The map I had showed main road; actually it was one lane each way with some two lanes ( need help- can’t remember what they are called over there) each way once in a while, entering towns, etc. I would 1.5 or 2X estimated travel time.

I wanted to from Cork to Derry and was told about 8 hours +.

We stayed at a small B&B in Galway, close to the center of town, on the sea (somewhere…beats me) and walked to the center of town and caught some music. The other advice is to prioritize what you want to do; you can’t do it all, at least on the first trip.

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Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Or you could try self catering http://www.quiltycottages.com just a mile from Milltown and all the great music of west Clare.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

If you want the music stick to Clare/Galway. The last bridge over the Shannon is at Limerick ( A long way round form Ennis).
There is a Ferry over the Shannon at Kilimer this route would take 5 - 6 hours Ennis to Dingle. The Max speed limit is 100kmh on National roads 80kmh on regional roads 50kmh in town. That translates to 62mph National roads 50mph regional roads 31mph in town (on the old system). There’s plenty of accomodation in Ennis including a Hostel, B&B or Hotel depending on how much you are prepared to spend. Sessions all year round every night in Ennis and good sessions round about.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Clare is definitely the best region for music and you can do a lot of sightseeing, too. I’ve been to Ireland many times, but the best B&B I ever saw was the Doolinlodge in Doolin. They also have self-catering facilities. Just take a look at www.doolinlodge.com and if you go there, plase say hello to Niall and Deirdre 😉)!!

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

You might consider Listowel, a very nice town but don’t know of any sessions on there.

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Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

If you’re wanting to explore the Dingle Peninsula, you’d be better off setting up your base a fair bit further south than Galway. You could try Killarney as a starting point - admittedly touristy, but some lovely hotels and lots of sessions/gigs going on.

K.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Except for short stretches between Dublin and the west coast on the main highway, I don’t think there’s a straight road in all of Ireland. Virtually all of them are curvy and narrow, and there are many small towns that will slow you down. Think pre-Interstate U.S., and give yourself plenty of time to get around.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Pre-U.S. interstate road is an apt description.

I wrote my daughter for her comments and she writes, " Ennis is about halfway between Cork and Galway, but I’m not sure how far from Dingle. The housemates and I drove to Dingle peninsula from Cork and back in one day, but it was a whirlwind quick tour and we were incredibly beat at the end of the day. it was a long day, too."

She used the Lonely Planet Guide book to plan trips when she lived in Cork.

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Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

It’s about 3 hours between Ennis and Dingle, if I recall correctly. I think I left Dingle around 8 to get to Shannon by 10:30 to return a rental car to catch a 1 pm flight. Add 25 minutes from Shannon to Ennis. That’s by the N18 bridge at Limerick, not the Kilimer-Tarbert ferry, which is longer unless you’re coming from West Clare.

The only two towns I can recall in the North Kerry - West Limerick area that were lively are Listowel and Tralee. I don’t know what the lodging and session scenes are like there, but the location seems to be about what you’re looking for. Tralee is maybe half an hour from Dingle and Listowel maybe an hour.

One warning: when you stay out late at sessions (which run roughly 10 pm to 1 am for the most part), it’s hard to get moving before noon the next day. I don’t know how long the days are in March, but in January we had about 4 hours of daylight after sleeping for the morning. In two weeks near Miltown Malbay, we managed to see the coast from Loop Head to Black Head, Kinvara, Galway City, Ennis, and Bunratty (actually nice without the crowds). We had hoped to see Connemara, the Rock of Cashel, and Lough Derg, but couldn’t get up early enough for the long trips.

When you see how long it takes to get places even in this day and age, it’s obvious how there could be such diversity of musical styles.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

for journey planning and trip time use the trip planner at http://www.theaa.com and click on the ‘Ireland Routes’ link. It is very accurate and always up to date.

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Just curious: has anyone here done the house-swapping thing?

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Just remembered- multiple lane roads-"Dual carriageways" ta da

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Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions! I wish we could "bump" discussions on this forum to keep people looking at them, but I guess I have to just hope I get some more readers/repliers.
I have found theaa.com — and if the driving distances/times are accurate, that should be extremely helpful in choosing a location. Really, my biggest concern is finding the right atmosphere for the evenings. Nothing like spending a day out in the country, and then having nothing to do but go to sleep.
Sounds like I should stick to Co Clare, and either plan for a long gruelling drive to do the Dingle peninsula, or just scrap the idea altogether. Of course, there’s Killarney or Tralee as well, but those are further from the Shannonn airport than I thought I wanted to be (a 1 pm departure flight).

Anyway, thanks so much, and any more info and comments are most welcome!

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

We are making that same trip in March too but we are doing it backwards. We drive the three hours to Dingle town and stay there at John Benny’s Pub (http://www.johnbennyspub.com) and then make the day trips. On the last two days we will be in Ireland we go to the Cliffs of Moher and stay in Doolin and Ennis. The last day we drive the 17 miles to the airport and fly home.

We like this routing for two reasons: my mother’s family is from the area and we meet a lot of people who look like my uncle Ed Shea who are very friendly when they find out. Second, the music in Dingle is every night and sessions will appear out fo the woodwork if you are a musician and the word gets around. John Benny is a great box player and his wife Eilis Kennedy is a well known singer in the area. Both love to have musicians stay with them. It is very easy to find a session at night in Dingle and even when there are performers (at the Small Bridge, for instance) you can sit in with no problem.

This time of year is a nice time to visit because the tourists are not overwhelming and the music is more relaxed. The Dingle peninsula has enough things to do and see for a week and day trips to as far away as Waterford are feasible if you don’t mind driving in Ireland (which for Americans has been described as "minutes of boredom punctuated by hours of terror.")

An alternative is to settle in West Clare and make the trips although if you really want to see Dingle you will short change yourself - of course that is true of any place you go to in Ireland that you don’t settle in for a while. You can only see so many castles

MIke Keyes

Re: Where to stay in Ireland?

REMEMBER: Next trip!!!!

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