Aillwee Cave is a place I did not enjoy at all, but of course I know lots of people who enjoyed that place a lot ! I dont like it simply because they make a lot of advertisment and all over Ireland you will get their brochures and when you are finally there, you just may walk inside a cave and see places, where obviously bears hibernated a long time ago. And around that simple fact they constructed a gigantic program, light-effects in the cave etc.
In the underground of all of the Burren there are several caves, BUT Aillwee Cave is the only one that you may enter :
Aillwee Cave is open for visitors daily
all year long after 09.30a.m.
entrance-fee is 10 Euros / children : 5 Euros !
see their web-page : www.aillweecave.ie
Unique Suggestions: At least I think that Aillwee Cave is a good place to take a rest, use the toilettes, park your car on a large parking, cook a meal inside your motorhome or go to the tea-room of the cave...
Fun Alternatives: Go Hiking as much as possible through the beautiful and interesting landscape of the closeby Burren - BUT Aillwee Cave DOES NOT show at any place, what the Burren looks like 1-2 meters beneath the surface - THAT would really be interesting to see with all the small gorges and gaps, where the different exotic plants start to grow out...Related to:
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
Tourist Trap of all Tourist Traps, Mideval Banquet
Well this was my third trip to Ireland so it was time to take a dive for the #1 Tourist Trap of all Tourist Traps...Bunratty castle and the Mideval Banquet, the night before our flight out of Shannon. I think ours was tough to take because it was off season and we had a bare-bones crew. The silliness got to me with the performance and I would have much rather preffered to hear more of the lovely voices of the singers . They shuffled us in and out and about like cattle, so if you do not like close crowds....beware. Also, some folk do get a bit rude and rowdy from drunkeness (the meade drink of honey and wine).
Unique Suggestions: I will say it was kinda of fun which I am almost embarrassed to say....but I could have done without this experience. And the cost was not quite worth it. The food was okay but uncomfortable and I know that was supposed to be part of the charm ( we ate with our hands and a knife only).
I did enjoy the decorations and authenticateness of the Tudor Style furnishings.
Fun Alternatives: The Bunratty Folk Park alone was a nice time.....historical and interesting. But leave the Banquet alone, unless there is nothing else to do. I think next time I would take refuge in an out of the way pub with some original local folk.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
unusual traffic jams where you are stuck >>>
ANYWHERE on a rural route actually ---- the danger looms in form of wooly things with legs and rather little brains... they attack in groups, blocking roads and sometimes settling in for a good natter baa-baa-baaa and a snooze on the tarmac....and THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO!
3 major road blockers are:
1) SHEEP (wooly things with 4 legs making baa-baa - about knee-high)
2) COWS ( tall fellas with sorta big butts - come in all colours, have horns)
3) HORSES (stubborn a** long 4 legs, hufs and short fur mostly bog-colored)
> see pictures below for proper identification ;)
Unique Suggestions: > DO relax and take deep breaths
> Try not to use abusive language (it'll help ya nothing)
> DO NOT venture out cause you might be nipped in the butt or kicked by the ram (alpha-male of the sheep herd) outch
Fun Alternatives: > Sit still, take out the lunch pack and watch the lovely surroundings
> if ya have some old bread throw it out the window - ideally in a ditch, that might help them get off the road
> take out the rosary - so you could and keep praying, it might help - ah go on!
> Ahhh isn't it a nice day, so it is!!!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Whale Watching
- Religious Travel
Not a real Irish Pub!
The Temple Bar Pub in the heart of the Temple Bar district of Dublin caters mostly for tourists. The bar has traditional Irish music and serves Guinness. That's about all there is to this place! Yes it tries very hard to recreate what tourists want, but it fails as there is just no ambience in the place at all. It's noisy and crowded most of the time.
Unique Suggestions: That's not to say it's a bad place, quite the contrary, it may be just what you are looking for..But don't expect to be rubbing shoulders with men talking in broad Dublin Accents, you will more than likely hear the sound of an American, or German accent next to you.
Fun Alternatives: Look a little further away from the city centre if you want to find a true to life Irish pub.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
The town of Killarney is a major tourist center as it's usually the base for touring around the scenic Ring of Kerry, a drive round the Kerry peninsula which is also a bit of a tourist trap in that in the summer, the traffic around the ring is just one tour bus after the next. Killarney is just to mundane for me, all hotels and tourist shops.
Unique Suggestions: There is a nice big natural park there but ther's also the jaunting cars, carts and horses that take the tourists around it as well. We did go on one as we had been in the bus all day round the Ring of Kerry and it was nice to get the fresh air but, well, it's not anything to write home about.
Fun Alternatives: We stayed in Tralee which isn't that far from the Ring of Kerry on the northern entrance, crossing the Shannon on a car ferry and then driving up into the mountains.
A nicer and less bussed route is the Dingle peninsula, just north of the Ring of Kerry, equally spectactular coastal scenes.
the word "Leprechaun" means "little people" who were shoe makers or cobblers. The origins are hazy but one theory goes that when the tall, dark, warlike and aggressive Celts invaded, the natives were small, peaceful folk who lived in ring forts which probably became the fairy rings of legend. These people seemed to disappear at will through perhaps they just fled the intimidating invaders. The cute little leprechauns we see were invented for the English tourists and it just got out of hand. Now they are out of fashion and considered tacky. I agree. Ireland to me is not the cartoon pot of gold and frisky, naughty little men in green coats. It's a place of Celtic origins, of shamrocks and a people who are easy going, traditional and open and friendly. And the beer ain't bad either!
Shop the Blarney Stone
After seeing a number of castles this was just one more on the list. The kissing the stone part was all touristy but fun for those who participated. It could be missed. While the castle was interesting - I'm sure there are other more impressive ones to find.
Unique Suggestions: The best part of the stop was the Blarney Woolen Mills store. Great selection of all things Irish. Kind of a one stop Ireland buying spot. Get it all over with at once. Looked like good quality and prices seemed fair.
Fun Alternatives: If you're traveling in the area (to or from Kerry) it's an OK stop if you want to get your Irish shopping done. I'm not a shopper - I just wanted to get it over with and this put everything Irish under one roof. Skip the castle and do the Woolen Mill if shopping is on your agenda.Related to:
- Road Trip
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle was not on my list of "must sees", but when you travel, you have to make some compromises. The Blarney Stone is located at the top of the castle and a man is there to help lower you backwards so you can acquire the "gift of gab" You are allowed to take pictures of your friends bending backwards from a not so great angle ,but there is a photographer who snaps pictures from an excellent view. If you desire to purchase this picture, it is 7 Euros. You can also buy a small certificate with your name on it verifying that you have indeed kissed the stone for 2.50 Euros.
There are the rumours that I am sure most people have heard about what locals do to the stone. Although I doubt these stories are true, I didn't feel like slobbering on it.
Unique Suggestions: I wouldn't visit here during high season when there are crowds of people from the tour buses climbing the narrow steps and then waiting in line to kiss the stone. In December, there weren't any lines at all.
Fun Alternatives: If you are with people who insist that they can't visit Ireland without kissing the Blarney Stone , you can of course, visit the castle with them(it is worth checking out) and snap their pictures for them. You can also take a stroll around the grounds which have pretty winding paths with a stream ,bridges and a rocky glen. It is a pretty place.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
Burial chambers from the 4.000 BC. There is a guided tour: you will take a bus from the information center of Newgrange to visit the 2 tumbs which are currently openned to the public. You will need an hour for each tumb and more time to visit the exibition
Hill of Tara
In the V century ther was a custom in Ireland. One night the king lighted a candle when everything was dark. But one night in 432 there was a candle lighted in Slane Hill and the king who was in Tara Hill got angry. He sent soldiers to bring the man who lighted the candle before him.
It was St Patrick. And St Patrick explained the king and his soldiers about the Cristian faith and all of them converted.
This is (more or less) the begining of the Catholicsm in Ireland
Unique Suggestions: There is an exibition and a film with explanations in the information center in the Hill of Tara.
It is located about 40 miles north of Dublin.
To get there: take the bus in Busaras (Dublin) to Navan.
They say that there is no one as irish as O'Bama !
And it is true...new research has traced Mr Obama's maternal family tree back to his great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Kearney, a cobbler from Moneygall, County Offaly (1794 to 1861).
An invite from the county for the president elect to visit has already been condemned in the Irish press and a grubby money-making and opportunistic venture.
I rather hope it actually happens, although I guess other countries have better claims on his ancestry - after all, we are all connected to each other within six degrees of seperation !
Kiss the Blarney Stone?
Blarney is the ultimate touristy thing in Ireland. It's a must do for any first trip to Ireland, but if (ok, when) I make a second trip, I'll likely avoid it. It was very crowded, and, frankly, I was a little grossed out after kissing the Stone, because everyone else was kissing it too...but that's just me.
I spent the most time in Blarney at the various shops, and there are lots of them. It is the best tourist shopping that I saw in Ireland.
I'm glad I visited Blarney and it's definitely worth doing, but I spent a little too much time there. I wish I'd left a little earlier, and saw more things
Unique Suggestions: What I liked best about Blarney Castle was the views-you can see all over from the top of the castle, and will get great pictures. Plus, I could probably see my grandmother's birthplace somewhere off in the distance!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Sorry to say, but it was a bit disappointing! It wasn't as grand as we were expecting. I would suggest skipping it and heading over to the Guinness Storehouse!
Fun Alternatives: Guinness Storehouse! It's about a 5-minute walk down the streetRelated to:
- Castles and Palaces
Ireland is one big tourist trap in Spring/Summer. Go in the offseason.
Unique Suggestions: Best time to go to Ireland is October/November. Half of America goes to Ireland in the Spring/Summer. I've been to Ireland a half dozen times. Always in October/November. Once in February. No tourists anywhere for the most part. Not to mention everything is cheaper _ airfare, hotels, car rental. Dublin, Killarney, Blarney are all palatable in the offseason. You might give up something with the weather but as I always say a damp day in Ireland is better than a sunny day most places!Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
Day Tours Unplugged - unhappy experience
If you are thinking of taking a day tour to the Wicklow Mountains from Dublin be aware that your day may not go according to plan. I had prebooked a tour on the internet and received confirmation of the date and pick up time. I chose this particular company because of their good reviews and because the hotel we were staying in was a designated pick up point.
Sadly, I was not able to provide a review of any sort because THEY DID NOT PICK US UP!!!!
After waiting for over half an hour to be collected, and seeing a bus drive past and not stop, I rang Day Tours Unplugged to find out what the hold up was. There was no hold up.... they just drove past us...without stopping...even though our names and the correct collection hotel were on their list.
After a bit of a half hearted apology, an offer was made to take us the next day, but we were flying to London so this was not possible. They said they would refund our money...and so they should, but no other help or suggestions were given to solve our dilemma, and I found them to be most unhelpful considering the problem was their fault.
Hopefully this is not a common occurrence but we were most disappointed at not seeing the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. I expected more assistance from Day Tours Unplugged and could not recommend them to anyone. There are a number of other companies doing this same trip so check them out.
Unique Suggestions: We caught a taxi into O'Connell Street and the ladies in the tourist centre were most helpful and very apologetic. They organised a spot on a trip with Dublin Tours at very short notice and although we did not get to our preferred destination, we still managed to see some of the South Coast.
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