Tag Archives: Travel

See Ireland in a Week


A “See Ireland in a week” Strategy

Fly into Dublin
Spend two nights in Dublin
Spend most of the time south of River Liffey.
See Trinity College, Temple Bar area at night, Grafton Street area before dinner
See Book of Kells while in Trinity College
Get to Grand Canal Square off Pearse Street, and have lunch or dinner on the Grand Canal. Rent a bike and use the bike path that goes to Baggot Street and beyond on the canal.
Leave plenty of time for St Stephen’s Green (two hours?)
Eat dinner at The Winding Stair – on the River Liffey.
Spend lots of time on the west coast (one day?)
Spend 2-3 hours in Galway (Ireland top 15 city)
Get north of Galway (if possible) to explore County Galway and County Mayo, especially the village of Westport (Ireland top 15)
Get south of Galway to explore County Clare, driving on the coast road wherever possible (beware: will be slow but well worth it).
Stop for the night and dinner at Ballyvaughn or Doolin. Ballyvaughn is mid-way and has a few good restaurants.
Stop at the Cliffs of Moher, the village of Doolin (Ireland Top 15 and 5 miles from Cliffs)
End the day at Ennis? (Ireland Top 15 and 25 miles from Cliffs).
Spend a day visiting southwest (two days?)
Get to Killarney, and possibly stay there (note: 55 miles from Cork on road from Dingle
In Killarney, visit Killarney National park
From Killarney, visit Dingle and Dingle Peninsula
From Killarney, visit Ring of Kerry.
Spend lots of time in and around Cork. (1-2 days?)
Visit West Cork small towns on coast
Day trip to Glangarriff and Rosscarbery (Ireland top 15)
Day trip to Rosscarbery (Ireland top 15)
Visit Kinsale (harbor town in West Cork)
Visit East Cork small towns on Coast
Day trip to Cobh (Ireland top 15)
Day trip to Shanagarry and Ballycotton (superb attractions like a cooking school with restaurant and a pottery studio and a major cliff walk).
Day trip to Youghtal
Visit (or Stay?) at Castlemartyr Resort (five stars!)

On return to Dublin, perhaps stay in or have lunch in
Lismore (Ireland top 15, 35 miles from Cork)
Kilkenny (Ireland top 15 – 96 miles from Cork and 84 miles from Dublin airport)

Here’s a sensible itinerary:

Arrive Dublin Mon July 23
Arrive Galway Wed Jul 25 ( 130 mile drive)
Arrive Ennis Thu Jul 27 (44 mile drive)
(after cliffs and lunch in Doolin, next to Cliffs)
(south of Galway in County Clare)
Arrive Killarney Fri Jul 28 (95 mile drive)
Arrive Cork Sat Jul 29 (80 mile drive)
(after driving Ring of Kerry and also trip to Dingle)

Arrive Kilkenny Fri Aug 3
Arrive Dublin Sat Aug 4

Ireland Tips – Dublin

There are two sections of Dublin: south and north of the River Liffey.

The big street that crosses the river and is the center of town is “O’Connell Street”.

South, there is a big shopping area called Grafton Street, which connects to O’Connell. Around Grafton are little cute streets with restaurants, shops etc.

Nassau Street is a great street – a continuation of Grafton. A good meeting point is Grafton and Nassau.

At the top of of Grafton Street, is St Stephens Green, which is one of the best parks in the world. There are flowers, and trails, and ponds, and ruins. Great place.

Trinity College, with is beautiful and a great walking stop, is between Pearse and Nassau, on the Southside.

If you walk or cab down Pearse, you will get to a wonderful area centered on Grand Canal Square. There are great views there, down the harbor, restaurants, shops, supermarkets, etc.

Importantly, a wonderful bike path runs along the canal to the south. Its a bit difficult to find, since it is hidden at the canal locks. In fact, to get to it, you need to bike down a tiny street to the west of the canal near the Trinity College annex. This will take you to Baggot Street and beyond.

Coming back to the river and the centre, if you head west from O’Connelll street, on the southside, you will hit the Temple Bar area. Its a fun place at night, if you can put up with some drunks and some noise, all harmless. Temple Bar is a must see, but is way too touristy for my taste.
Ireland Tips – Outside of Dublin


Assuming a clock with North at 12, Dublin is at 3, Kilkenny 4, Cork 6, Killarney (and Kilarney National Park 7 (close to center of clock), Limerick 8 (close to Kilkenny?), Galway 9, Sligo 11.

You can cross Ireland from Dublin to Galway in a little over two hours.

Galway to Ennis is about an hour, but taking the coast road (a must) along the coast of County Clare will easily take half a day.

Ennis to Killarney is about two hours, and Killarney to Cork is about two hours.

So these are short distances, especially when you are on a big road (where speed limits are 100-120 Km/hour. Small roads are intimidating because of busses and traffic jams. But they are by far the most interesting.

Top Regions

(Killarney, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, over to Cork on the East)
West Coast
(County Galway to North, Clare in Middle with Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle, County Kerry to South, Barley Harbour, Carrick-on-Shannon)
(Kilkenny in the North, over to Cork to the west, and including Castelmartyr, Yougal, Cobh, Waterford)
East Coast/Midlands.

Top Counties


County Clare in the Republic of Ireland is steeped in history, and it offers beautiful seascapes, landscapes, lakes, cliffs, caves, and music. Highlights include The Burren (an ancient, perfectly preserved landscape), the Cliffs of Moher (700 foot high cliffs facing the wild Atlantic), and Bunratty Castle and Folk Park (an impressive castle dating from the early Middle Ages).

County Cork is the largest county in Ireland and Cork City is the second-largest city in the Republic. A unique and lively second capital, the distinctive people are as much an attraction as the place itself. JCR: Note village of Cob is here east of the Cork Harbor and the village of Kinsale is here west of the harbor.


Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and is divided by the River Liffey. The Royal Canal and the Grand Canal provide connections between the port area and the northern and southern branches of the River Shannon.


Galway City is known as the City of Tribes after 14 merchant families who controlled and managed the city in medieval times and is situated along the River Corrib at the mouth of Galway Bay. Note that the Wild Atlantic Way starts here and goes North to Sligo.


The locals know County Kerry as The Kingdom, a reference to the contrasts you’ll see in its astounding scenery, which suggest Ireland in miniature. The climate in Kerry is more unique than other places in Ireland, thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and it’s actually possible to swim here year round.
Note Dingle, Killarney and Killarney National Park are near/


Kilkenny is a county looked on enviously by other counties and not only because of the county’s incredible track record in the ancient Irish game of hurling. Kilkenny is a county filled with enchantment and delight. From the spectacular scenery of the Nore and Barrow river valleys to the cultured beauty of Kilkenny City, the county provides the perfect setting for whatever holiday you desire.

COUNTY WICKLOW JCR: Maybe, probably not

County Wicklow is often referred to as the Garden of Ireland, due to its breathtaking scenery and located just south of Dublin it makes for a wonderful day trip or overnight stay away from the ‘big smoke.’ Note the town of Bray is right on the coast. Note also Wicklow Mountains National Park

COUNTY MEATH JCR: Probably not

Just northwest of Dublin, County Meath has traditionally been known as the Royal County, being the seat of the ancient Kings of Ireland at Tara. In the Boyne Valley of County Meath are some of Ireland’s most important archaeological monuments, including the Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Fourknocks, Loughcrew, and Tara.


The heart of the Midlands, County Offaly offers bogs, meadowlands, and undiscovered pastures. Clonmacnoise, located at Shannonbridge on the banks of the River Shannon, is one of the most famous monastic sites.

COUNTY DONEGAL – – – JCR: too far north …..???
Far to the north ….. With its sandy beaches, unspoiled boglands and friendly communities, County Donegal is a leading destination for many travelers. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park, the only official national park anywhere in the Province of Ulster. The park is a huge nature reserve with spectacular scenery of mountains, raised boglands, lakes, and woodlands. At its heart is Glenveagh Castle, a beautiful late Victorian “folly” that was originally built as a summer residence.

Top 15 Towns

Westport, County Mayo, Photo: Courtesy of luca fabbian – fotolia.com JCR: North of Galway. Cute. Could be northernmost leg of trip, returning through county Galway?
Cities in Ireland: Cobh, County Cork, Photo: Courtesy of M.V. Photography – fotolia.com JCR: this is an important day trip to the coast from where we are staying?
Glengarriff, County Cork, JCR: this west of Cork on the coast.
Rosscarbery, County Cork, JCR: this west of Cork on the coast.
Ireland Cities: Doolin, County Clare, Right next to the Cliffs of Moher. Tiny.
Ennis, County Clare, JCR: Between Limerick and Galway off A18. This is the first major stop to the south of Cliffs of Moher. Nice town, full of history. Old Ground Hotel and Restaurant here.
Dublin, Major Stop
Galway, County Galway Major Stop
Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, JCR: Between Cork and DublinLunch stop? 96 miles from Cork and 84 miles from Dublin airport.
Killarney, County Kerry, JCR: Wonderful place. Major stop.
Lismore, County Waterford, JCR: this is an important day trip from where we are staying? 35 miles back toward Dublin in Waterford County.
Beal an Mhuirthead, County Mayo, JCR: North of Galway. On coast and too far out of the way?????
Blackrock, County Louth, JCR too far north? North of Dublin
Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, Photo: Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim JCR too far north? On the road to Sligo

Trip Advisor Top 15 Sites

Cliffs of Moher Liscannor

Kilmainham Gaol Dublin

St. Stephen’s Green Dublin

Trinity College Dublin Dublin

The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition Dublin

Guinness Storehouse Dublin

Temple Bar Dublin

Killarney Falconry Killarney

Eagles Flying Ballymote

Slea Head Drive Dingle Peninsula

Mayfield Birds of Prey Kilmsacthomas

Kilkee Cliff Walk Kills

More Info

Blueberry Hill Farm Sneem

Ballykeefe Distillery Cuffesgrange

Slieve League Carrick

Wild Atlantic Way This is a massive coastline. Deserves lots of time and stops…..especially in County Clare, but really all the way to Cork. Begins in Sligo to the north? Runs through Galway?

Joyce Country Sheepdogs Shanafaraghaun

Scattery Island Childish

Terra Nova Fairy Garden Limerick

Arigna Mining Experience Roscommon

Killarney National Park Killarney

The Art House Dunfanaghy

Bike Park Ireland Roscrea

Carrowholly Stables & Trekking Centre Westport

Experience Gaelic Games Dublin

Michael Davitt Museum Oxford

The Irish Workhouse Centre Protean

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum Dublin

Richmond Barracks Dublin

Atlantic Drive on Achill Island Westport

Tips Received


Trinity College, including the Old Library and the Book of Kells
Dublin Castle
Christ Church Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)
Kevin & Howlin Ltd. – Handwoven tweed shop (amazing woolens, best shop by far with super high quality – 31 Nassau Street, Dublin)

Kilkenny – don’t miss the castle and Murphy’s ice cream

County Clare:
Cliffs of Mother
The Burren (The Burren perfumery)
Drumcreehy House – B&B owned and operated by my third cousin – located in charming town of Ballyvaughan www.drumcreehyhouse.com (awesome experience, not just because they are relatives!)

Connemara Peninsula:
Kylemore Abbey
Roundstone – quaint town

Bunratty Castle
The Rock of Cashel
History of Ireland


CREDIT: http://www.livinginireland.ie/en/culture_society/a_brief_history_of_ireland/
Early Irish History
Humans settled Ireland at a relatively late stage in European terms – about 10,000 years ago. Around 4000 BC, farmers arrived in Ireland. Around 300BC, Iron Age warriors known as the Celts came to Ireland from mainland Europe – with their language. Irish (or Gaeilge) stems from Celtic language.

Early Christian and Viking Ireland
Saint Patrick and other missionaries brought Christianity in the early to mid-5th century, replacing the indigenous pagan religion by the year 600 AD.

At the end of the 8th century, Vikings, from Scandinavia began to invade and then gradually settle into and mix with Irish society. The Vikings founded, Dublin, Ireland’s capital city in 988. Following the defeat of the Vikings by Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, at Clontarf in 1014, Viking influence faded.

The Norman Era
Normans arrived in the twelfth century with their walled towns, castles and churches. They also increased agriculture and commerce in Ireland.

Henry VIII, “Plantations” – 1534
King Henry VIII declared himself head of the Church in England in 1534. He also ensured that the Irish Parliament declared him King of Ireland in 1541. Enforcing his will, to change England and Ireland from Catholic to Protestant (he named himself the head of the Anglican church), the King adopted a “plantation” policy. Under this policy, Protestants would get massive land grants, displacing Catholic land-holders. Thousands of English and Scottish Protestant settlers arrived during his reign. Catholics lost their land.

From this period on, sectarian conflict became a common theme in Irish history. It is a history of England depriving catholics of their land, and then their rights.

Bloody 17th Century and “Penal Laws”
The 17th century was a bloody one in Ireland. England imposed the “Penal laws” on Ireland. These laws took away rights from Catholics. They took away the right, for example, to rent or own land above a certain value. They outlawed Catholic clergy,. They forbid Catholic higher education, entry into the professions. During the 18th century, Penal laws eased but by then resentment and hate dominated the country.

Defeated During Rebellion – 1798
In 1782, Henry Grattan (a Protestant) successfully agitated for a more favourable trading relationship with England and for greater legislative independence for the Parliament of Ireland. Inspired by the French Revolution, in 1791 an organisation called the United Irishmen was formed with the ideal of bringing Irish people of all religions together to reform and reduce Britain’s power in Ireland. Its leader was a young Dublin Protestant called Theobald Wolfe Tone. The United Irishmen were the inspiration for the armed rebellion of 1798. Despite attempts at help from the French the rebellion failed and in 1801 the Act of Union was passed uniting Ireland politically with Britain.

Catholic Emancipation and Daniel O’Connell – 1829
In 1829 one of Ireland’s greatest leaders Daniel O’Connell, known as ‘the great liberator’ was central in getting the Act of Catholic Emancipation passed in the parliament in London. He succeeded in getting the total ban on voting by Catholics lifted and they could now also become Members of the Parliament in London.
After this success O’Connell aimed to cancel the Act of Union and re-establish an Irish parliament. However, this was a much bigger task and O’Connell’s approach of non-violence was not supported by all. Such political issues were overshadowed however by the worst disaster and tragedy in Irish history – the great famine.

The Great Famine – 1845
A potato blight destroyed the crops of 1845, 1846, and 1847, disaster followed. During this decade, Ireland’s population plummeted from 8 to 4 million. Two million died. Others left – seeking refuge in America. were the staple food of a growing population at the time. The response of the British government also contributed to the disaster. While millions of people were starving, Ireland was forced to export abundant harvests of wheat and dairy products.

The famine brought death. But, with lasting consequences, it also brought resentment and more hate.

Irish Home Rule Party and Charles Stewart Parnell – 1877
“Home Rule” became the cry of all who wanted self-government in Ireland. Until 1877, there was no effective challenge to Britain’s rule over Ireland. Then, at the age of 31, Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91) became leader of the Irish Home Rule Party, which became the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1882.

Parnell failed to achieve Home Rule. For his efforts, though, he was widely recognised as ‘the uncrowned king of Ireland’. His efforts gave the idea of Home Rule legitimacy.

Irish Unionists in Northern Ireland
In Ulster in the north of Ireland the majority of people were Protestants. They favoured the union with Britain – fearing that they would suffer retribution and a loss of rights as a minority in a Catholic controlled country. The Unionist Party was lead by Sir Edward Carson. Carson threatened an armed struggle for a separate Northern Ireland if independence was granted to Ireland.

Home Rule Adopted – 1912 – but not enacted because of WWI
A Home Rule Bill was passed in 1912 but crucially it was not brought into law. The Home Rule Act was suspended at the outbreak of World War One in 1914. Many Irish nationalists believed that Home Rule would be granted after the war if they supported the British war effort. John Redmond the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraged people to join the British forces and many did join. However, a minority of nationalists did not trust the British government leading to one of the most pivotal events in Irish history, the Easter Rising.

Easter Rising – Irish rebels defeated – 1916
On April 24 (Easter Monday) 1916, two groups of armed rebels, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army seized key locations in Dublin. The Irish Volunteers were led by Padraig Pearse and the Irish Citizen Army was led by James Connolly. Outside the GPO (General Post Office) in Dublin city centre, Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic which declared an Irish Republic independent of Britain. Battles ensued with casualties on both sides and among the civilian population. The Easter Rising finished on April 30th with the surrender of the rebels. The majority of the public was actually opposed to the Rising. However, public opinion turned when the British administration responded by executing many of the leaders and participants in the Rising. All seven signatories to the proclamation were executed including Pearse and Connolly.

Declaration of Independence – 1919
Two of the key figures who were involved in the rising who avoided execution were Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins. In the December 1918 elections the Sinn Féin party led by Éamon de Valera won a majority of the Ireland based seats of the House of Commons. On the 21 January 1919 the Sinn Féin members of the House of Commons gathered in Dublin to form an Irish Republic parliament called Dáil Éireann, unilaterally declaring power over the entire island.

War of Independence – 1919-1921
What followed is known as the ‘war of independence’ when the Irish Republican Army – the army of the newly declared Irish Republic – waged a guerilla war against British forces from 1919 to 1921. One of the key leaders of this war was Michael Collins. In December 1921 a treaty was signed by the Irish and British authorities. While a clear level of independence was finally granted to Ireland the contents of the treaty were to split Irish public and political opinion. One of the sources of division was that Ireland was to be divided into Northern Ireland (6 counties) and the Irish Free State (26 counties) which was established in 1922.

Government of Ireland Act – 1920
The Government of Ireland Act of 1920 created the Irish Free State. At the same time, the Parliament of Northern Ireland was created. The Parliament consisted of a majority of Protestants and while there was relative stability for decades.

Civil War – 1922-1923
A Civil War followed from 1922 to 1923 between pro and anti treaty forces, with Collins (pro-treaty) and de Valera (anti-treaty) on opposing sides. The consequences of the Civil war can be seen to this day where the two largest political parties in Ireland have their roots in the opposing sides of the civil war – Fine Gael (pro-treaty) and Fianna Fáil (anti-treaty). A period of relative political stability followed the Civil war.

Northern Ireland Catholics Rebel – 1968
Stability in Northern Ireland ended in the late 1960s due to systematic discrimination against Catholics. 1968 saw the beginning of Catholic civil rights marches in Northern Ireland. These protests led to violent reactions from some Protestant loyalists and from the police force. What followed was a period known as ‘the Troubles’ when nationalist/republican and loyalist/unionist groups clashed.

In 1969 British troops were sent to maintain order and to protect the Catholic minority. However, the army soon came to be seen as a tool of the Protestant majority by the minority Catholic community.

Bloody Sunday – 1972 and “The Troubles”

This was reinforced by events such as Bloody Sunday in 1972 when British forces opened fire on a Catholic civil rights march in Derry killing 13 people. An escalation of paramilitary violence followed with many atrocities committed by both sides. The period of ‘the Troubles’ are generally agreed to have finished with the Belfast (or Good Friday) Agreement of April 10th 1998.
Between 1969 and 1998 it is estimated that well over 3,000 people were killed by paramilitary groups on opposing sides of the conflict.
Since 1998 considerable stability and peace has come to Northern Ireland. In 2007 former bitterly opposing parties the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin began to co-operate in government together in Northern Ireland.

Republic of Ireland – 20th Century to present day
The 1937 Constitution re-established the state as the Republic of Ireland.
In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union).
In the 1980s the Irish economy was in recession and large numbers of people emigrated for employment reasons. Many young people emigrated to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia.
Economic reforms in the 1980s along with membership of the European Community (now European Union) created one of the world’s highest economic growth rates. Ireland in the 1990s, so long considered a country of emigration, became a country of immigration. This period in Irish history was called the Celtic Tiger.


I’m struck by how many locals are here. Like Boston, if you grew up in Pittsburgh, it seems like you never leave. Lots of natives.

The importance of the city seems so obvious, now that I know what I know.

For starters, it’s location is strategic. It’s literally sits at the point of land where two great rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, come together to join the Ohio River. These are massive bodies of water.

Before rail and interstate highways, how does the growing economy move its steel, industrial products and consumer products?

The rivers!

And it now makes perfect sense to me… That, where the Three Rivers join, the leadership of this area decided that this point should be commemorated as a major park.

Point Park is just that. It’s a monument to this area, where everyone can come and see why the area exists in the first place. And as a monument inside of a monument, a massive fountain stands at the point of Point Park.

As I look to the Ohio River, to my left is the train tracks. I see a massive freight train passing, with hundreds of cars. I see an incline up to Mount Washington, which overlooks the city. The inclines are a vestige of a past when it was difficult to access the hill tops. They are everywhere.

Also to my left is the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the exit from the city to the east across the M river.

Heinz Park, the stadium, over looks Point Park to the right.

So this is where it all begins. Point Park.

The city seems to grow out of Point Park, in a gradual incline from there, with the Allegheny to the left and the M to the right.

The M River is made for walking and biking.

Three Rivers heritage Trail is the bike/walking path that goes from downtown all the way up west side of the M river

Great Appalachian Trail goes up the east side of M River.

Lots of hills. Lots of green (Schenley, Point, Highland and Frick Park are extra special).

They talk here about the “Pittsburgh Renaissance”.

They mean by that the transition of Pittsburgh from being at the center of the industrial economy, with all of its disgusting grit, to being at the center of the knowledge economy, with the University of Pittsburg, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne university leading the way.

Fifth Ave., Forbes Avenue, and Center Street, Penn, and Liberty all connect downtown to these outer neighborhoods.

The neighborhoods are Squirrel Hill, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, Bloomfield, Oakland, Shadyside, and Southside. Like Atlanta, they each have their own pride and style.

Oakland is the Univ. of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon and Schenley Park. Fifth Ave runs through it. The University of Pittsburgh is center stage. It’s a huge urban campus, with all of the hallmarks of classical architecture great libraries, chapels etc. But everyone knows that Carnegie-Mellon is the powerhouse – where you find the rocket fuel of the knowledge economy. It is every bit as much to Pittsburgh as MIT is to Boston.

Shadyside is a great little find. A real neighborhood, centered on Walnut Street (at Ivy). Only a mile walk to Oakland, East Liberty, and Squirrel Hill. Girasole is here – Italian upscale.

Bloomfield is “little Italy”. Not a very good little Italy, but maybe they will keep trying.

Squirrel Hill is awesome. Highly diverse. Walkable. On top of a hill. Close to everything. Great houses. A great find: Everyone Noodle, the home of soup dumplings in Pittsburgh. Place is always full. Big Jewish Community here too. Frick Park is here.

Strip District is warehouses, converted. 21st street and Penn is the center. My favorite: Wholey’s Seafood Market. It’s massive and very cool retail. Like Stew Leonard’s , only better.

Southside is bars, lots of them. The main drag is East Carson. It’s a wide, flat street that looks more like Texas than Pittsburgh. One place in particular, Hofbrahaus, is a raucous German beer hall, with steins, sausages, oom-pah-pah live music. In a section of Southside called Southside Works. At night, ask Uber to take you to the Bartram House Bakery at 2612 East Carson. Easy walk from Birmingham or Hot Metal Bridge.

Lawrenceville is restaurants, lots of them. It’s 48th – 40th. Past the Strip District near Penn. it’s a hike, but a good walk takes you from 48th to 21st.

Everyone here believes that Pittsburgh, a finalist, it’s going to land the second headquarters of Amazon.

Their attitude toward Amazon is a little bit like their attitude toward all sports, but particularly the Steelers: can do.