I have to agree with pp who say stay away in the winter. It’s depressing here. lol the sun comes up at like 9am and goes down at like 4:30pm… its cloudy, cold, windy and rainy… everyday, it’s especially bad on the west. It’s just not a fun time lol Summers here are a bit better, this summer was gorgeous in terms of weather, like I saw the sun most days (a big deal!). The days are also super long in the summer .
I avoid dublin like the plague. It’s fun for a quick shopping trip, but its a very busy, americanized city. If you really want the irish experience, go elsewhere. I’ve lived in limerick in the past and i’m on the coast in co. clare now (Ballyvaughan) I’ve only been in ireland for a iittle over 2 years now, so I haven’t seen EVERYTHING but from what I have seen I would recommend:
– Galway is gorgeous and is has the original maker of the clauddagh ring still in business. I made my fi buy me one when he came over for a visit last year lol There’s also a segway tour that i’ve heard great things about (unfortunately i haven’t had a chance to do it yet)
– Dingle is stunning, and theres a dolphin (a single dolphin, not a pod, just one lonely, tourist loving dolphin) that loves getting his picture taken
– The west coast has ballyvaughan (i’m living here right now, so i’m biased, but its the cutest little town, and has the nicest people! there’s plenty of waterfront cottages available for tourists here, and the locals are used to all different kinds of people. Most tour buses stop in here on their way to the cliffs). Theres a bike rental place that you can rent bikes from and go biking through the burren (google it! its stunning!) The ailwee caves are also nearby, and they have a birds of prey and an art exhibit, also theres this wierd rock structure/ancient grave about 15 minutes away in the burren (forgive me for not knowing the term, I drive past it everyday and have never bothered to look at what its actually called, but theres always a tonne of buses/tourists stopped in there). The aran islands are also nearby and accessible by boat.
– The cliffs. I only spent an hour there… ya its pretty… but its just like it is in the million pictures you’ve seen of them… nothing super unexpected or exciting.
– I went on a horseback riding trek in lisdoovarna co. clare (check on tripadvisor, its one of the top places to go for the area). Even though it rained the entire ride, it was AMAZING! they take you up in the hills, and on a clear day you can see the cliffs, plus the scenery is fabulous, and they take those who are up for a challenge for a trot and/or canter. I was afraid FI would hate it because he’s not really into horses and the weather was awful, but he ahd a blast, it was his favourite part of his trip! It was also nice being better than him at something and having him ask me for help 😉
-i would never advise a tourist to visit limerick. ever.
You’ll pass signs for about a million ruins/castles as you drive across the country, maybe pick a few that you’d really love to see otherwise you’ll waste your entire vacation stopping every 10 minutes for another ruin/castle
If your looking to save money and aren’t picky about accomodations, most major towns/cities will have hostels which are super cheap, and you can get most places by bus/train.
If you can work it in, I’d advise flying into/out of shannon airport in clare. I HATE (with a passion) dublin airport. Shannon is significantly smaller, so you’re in and out alot quicker, it’s also easier to find your check in desk and gate, and if your american they do a pre-clearance for customs so you fly in like a domestic flight when you get to your home airport. It’s also closer to the prettier parts of ireland 😉 It has bus routes that take you to all the major cities through bus eirann, or you can grab a cab (just a word of warning though, don’t ask for a “ride”… its a “lift”. some cabbies will giggle like a little girl if you ask them for a ride.)