What to see in Ireland?

My wife and I will be in Ireland in mid-November. We have 3 days and nights to make our own itinerary, will have a car, and will be staying in B&Bs. The only real constraints are that we need to begin and end the trip in Dublin, and not drive so much in a single day that there’s no time for touristy stuff.

We also have a couple of days in Dublin bookending the trip, so tips on that area are welcome.

Thanks in advance!

Do not drive in or near Dublin. Buses are great.

Here’s four things to see in Dublin, but there’s lots more:




Glenalough is close enough for a day trip from Dublin (though there are plenty of places to stay as well) and it is a beautiful part of the country.

On the plus side, it’s not a very large country. I’d recommend at least a day trip up to Belfast to see the city. It’s only a couple hour drive from Dublin so if you’re cool with a long day, you can drive there, see the place, and come back to Dublin in a single day.

Seconding Glendalough. Very close to Dublin and a beautiful place. Much of Co. Wicklow is stunning.

Kansas Beekeeper’s suggestions are great too although I’ve known people to be disappointed by how little of the Book Of Kells you actually get to see. If you did decide to go to the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Cemetery is nearby and if you have an interest in Irish history it’s a great place for a visit or a tour.

As interface2x says Ireland isn’t all that big. Furthest drives from Dublin would be to Western Mayo, Donegal or Kerry but nowhere is more than say 5hrs drive from Dublin really.

Belfast is a good spot, again if you’re into local history there’s a lot to see, from political murals to the recently built Titanic Museum, the Ulster Museum, etc. If you stayed a night in Belfast you could take a drive up to the Giant’s Causeway and there are tonnes of other things to see nearby like the Bushmills Distillery, Dunluce Castle, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Glens Of Antrim.

Bear in mind in Mid-November (as with every other time of the year) you could get a lot of rain and cold so factor likely bad weather into your itinerary. If you do want to do outdoors stuff I’d suggest having other indoor activities planned in case the weather is dreadful.

Lastly, I live in Dublin, so you could always meet me and other locals for a pint.

Thanks for the suggestions. Historical sites rate high with me, along with meeting locals. Unfortunately, we’re a couple of teetotaling Mormons, but not too weird otherwise!

Pint of lemonade it is then. :slight_smile:

If you make it to Northern Ireland you’ll be way down on the religious weirdness scale…trust me on this… :wink:

“An Ulsterman I am proud to be, from the Antrim Glens I come!” :smiley:

[General Observation] You know an Irish straightdope meet might be interesting, there are a few dopers from the land of Saints and Scholars, right? [/General Observation]

Trinity College in Dublin (that’s where the Book of Kells is located)

I’d suggest the Guinness Brewery, but seeing that you don’t drink, maybe not. :slight_smile:

The Hill of Tara and Newgrange are just to the northwest of Dublin…if historical sites interest you, those are two of the most important ones in the country.

Agreed. You have to remember that’s it’s literally a BOOK and it’s under glass so for each volume, you can only see it opened to one page spread. You really only get to see something like 4-6 pages in person. I’ve seen far more of it in books than I did in Dublin. Still cool, though.

I personally thought the long room just after you see the Book of Kells was far cooler to see. Some really cool historical artifacts in there.

Agreed. The Book of Kells is a nice display, but probably not worth it on its own. But it gets you to Trinity College, and the Old Library is very cool. Worth it overall, but not just for the Book of Kells.

Scacarius, since you like history, what I’d recommend most is Kilmainham Gaol. You will learn there the importance and tragedy of the War of Independence. Our guide there (as I think maybe they all are) was a history major at Trinity College. She was amazing.

If your interest in history has a neolithic bent, I’d suggest taking in Newgrange and the rest of Boyne Valley. It’s informative, beautiful, and enjoyable (we enjoyed wandering around Slane). Co. Wicklow is also definitely worth doing. Western Ireland is my favorite part, but the hike there and back may not be worth it to you. And personally, I wasn’t all that impressed with Belfast (sorry guys), but YMMV. Let us know how it went.

Agree with touring Trinity College; I got shivers looking at the Book of Kells, even though it was just open to two pages, under glass. I remember I suddenly thought: “Some of my distant ancestors may have worked on that!” (Suggest reading “How the Irish Saved Civilization” before you go over.)

Trinity also organizes walking history tours of downtown Dublin, with the tour guides being history students at Trinity. Our guide was a Ph.D. candidate and she did a great job. She began by saying: “If anyone tells you they really know and understand Irish politics, they’re talking shite. And that includes me.” Lot of fun.

The musical pub crawls in Dublin are very touristy, but Mrs Piper and I enjoyed going on one.

A good day trip from Dublin is Powerscourt, which is one of the old “Big Houses”. Getting out of Dublin by car wasn’t too bad, and once outside of Dublin I found driving easy. (Although I was baffled at one point. Came to an intersection with three different roads leading away from the one we were on. Each road had a signpost, with the name of the village we were looking for, and without any indication of which route was shorter or longer.)

Farther away, I recommend Kilkenny, with Kilkenny Castle and a lot to see. And the Rock of Cashel is a must-see, in my opinion.

For shopping and eating, anytime you see one of the Avoca Cafés and Shops, well worth stopping, just for a tea or a meal, and browsing the shop.

I don’t drink, but I’ve found other brewery and distillery tours interesting.

I was just at Guinness a couple of weeks ago and it’s more of a giant 4-story commercial than an informative tour about making beer. So in that respect it was a disappointment. There is, however, a wonderful view of the city from the bar on the top floor, and the gift shop is great if you want to pick up some small presents to bring back for beer-drinking friends & relatives.

When I was in Dublin, we also drove up into the Wicklow hills, which were lovely, passed through the village of Avoca (Ballykissangel, if you ever watched that show) and visited a stately home called Russborough House: www.russboroughhouse.ie/.

Thanks for the suggestions. We definitely have more to work with now.

This. Drink or no drink, there’s nothing like sitting down with the people that actually live there in a relaxed environment. If An Gadaí can stand it, many of the pubs have great local music, too. Alcohol is certainly present, but it doesn’t seem to be the point of a pub and no one looks at you funny if you order a soft drink (as opposed to American bars where drinking is the point.)

My two favorite memories of my 2 weeks in Ireland nearly 10 years ago: making Chicago style spaghetti and meatballs for about 20 hungry Irish lads one rainy night in a hostel in Dingle (they taught me how to hand roll a cigarette in return), and a night sitting in a pub listening to the locals’ tall tales and laughter.

There was also a truly trippy indoor Viking tour somewhere in Dublin (I think; it may have been another town, but I think it was Dublin), where you rode around in a wooden “Viking ship” on wheels while a short movie played, and then walked around a recreated Viking settlement complete with actors in period garb answering questions, and then ended up staring a a huge wall o’ archeology that showed layers of excavation and artifacts found in the area. It was so neat, but I can’t seem to google a match, so it’s possible it doesn’t exist anymore. An Gadaí, any idea what I’m talking about? (I have the feeling I’ve asked you this before, but I can’t recall the answer.)

Sounds like Dublinia to me.

Very possible. That looks a bit more extensive and polished than what I recall, but they *have *had a decade to expand and improve the exhibits. :slight_smile:

Agreed. Remember that pubs are a place to eat also. No one cares if you drink alcohol or not. And when people hear your U.S. accent, you may find people striking up conversations with you. I met lots of interesting people in Ireland in pubs.

I will second (third?) the recommendations for Glendalough and Newgrange. Both sites were breathtaking. Glendalough for the landscape, round tower, etc, and Newgrange for how interesting an old iron age site can be.

I think I went in 2000 to the same Viking “museum” WhyNot went to. I remember really enjoying it, despite the cheese factor.