Looking for financial-savvy travel tips for traveling in Ireland? You are in the right place. Aspyre Wealth Partners® Chairman, Stewart S. Koesten recently enjoyed a trip to England and Ireland after completing the Cert(IM) designation through the Investment Migration Council (London). This is the second of two installments about European travel and the benefits of making plans in advance. You can read the first installment here. Carry on!
We love the Emerald Isles of Ireland
After a mist or a bit of rain, the sun hits the grasses on the slopes of the hills and in the valleys reflecting the most brilliant shades of green I’ve seen nowhere else yet. This was our fourth trip to Ireland. We were scheduled to be there for an entire month this time last year but had to cancel because of the Covid-19 virus. John, our VRBO host was none too happy about the cancelation, but he knew we could do nothing about it given that we couldn’t get into the country.
This year we had planned to go on a Baltic Sea Cruise for two weeks in early July and decided to rent the same house in Ireland for the last two weeks of July. Of course, the invasion of Ukraine changed the cruise plans (we didn’t relish the idea of being part of the Russian fleet). But, since we were still scheduled to arrive in Southampton, England (where we would have embarked) we thought, what the heck, let’s go to England anyway and keep the Ireland reservation.
I wrote about our England trip in my last article, so we’ll pick up where that left off! After two weeks in England, we flew out of England’s Gatwick airport to Ireland’s Dublin airport with no delays or problems (lucky us).
More on rental cars. This time Toyota
We also lucked out in Ireland as far as rental cars go. When we first looked at traditional rental car companies it was hard to find anything (even a small car) for under $250 a day. Multiply that by 14 days, two cars (family of seven traveling together) and you’re spending a lot of money on rental cars.
Happily, our VRBO host John made us aware that Toyota dealers throughout Ireland rent cars, too. So, we were able to rent a Toyota Corolla 5-seater with an automatic and air conditioning for around $128 a day including full insurance. It is Ireland so air conditioning isn’t really necessary, but we appreciated it on a couple warm afternoons. It was one of the simplest rental experiences we’ve ever had!
We picked up our first rental car in the south part of Dublin and headed south to the community of Wexford where we spent our first night. It was rainy that afternoon, and we didn’t arrive until late in the day, so we didn’t do too much looking around. There was a wedding in the hotel that day and by late afternoon I was looking forward to an Irish Whiskey (Irish add the “e”, Scotts do not) and a cigar. Fortunately, the wedding party had strung a large tarp across a patio for smokers. I turned out to be a person of interest having crashed the wedding party and being a yank, so I enjoyed my drink and cigar and met several interesting local people.
Irish people are so nice.
On to other parts of Ireland
The next day Joy and I drove around Wexford a little, but the weather wasn’t too cooperative, and we couldn’t really see much. So, we headed north to our VRBO house in Ballina (pronounced Bal – in – ah with emphasis on “ah”).
We had arranged for our children and grandchildren to join us there for the two weeks and, as we were driving up to the house, their cab from Shannon Airport was arriving, too. Great timing! We got settled in the house that afternoon and had dinner in town at a pub called “Goosers.” It was a bit expensive (well, everything is when you’re feeding 7 people) but the food was good Irish pub food; fish and chips, Irish stew (lamb) and seafood chowder. I let my teen age grandchildren sample some Guinness I had ordered. They weren’t impressed, but I was.
Our host VRBO home was a sprawling 4-bedroom home overlooking the Shannon River. It was in the town of Ballina on Lake Derg (Lough Derg in Gaelic) a short walk across the foot bridge to the town of Killaloe.
Aside from the beauty of this location and its proximity to the lake the location gave us access within 1:30 to 2:00 hours to anywhere in Ireland we wanted to visit by car. It’s hard to believe, but Ireland is about the size of Indiana – just under 36,000 square miles in area!
This central location enabled us to stay in one place and do day trips everywhere we wanted to go. It was so much more convenient than constantly moving about and we had the amenities of home including, a full kitchen, laundry facilities on the premises and a great porch where all of us could gather and from which I could enjoy my daily cigar!
That was so easy, let’s get another car
On our second day, we picked up a second rental car so we could caravan around the county together. This also gave our adult kids a way to escape on their own, which they did on occasion.
For the next 10 days we visited towns and cities like Dublin, Galway, Shannon, Kilkenny, Cork, Ennis, Limerick, Newcastle and Clifden, as well as other small villages along the route. We managed to see everything we had planned except for County Kerry and the towns of Kenmare, Killarney, and Dingle.
The day we were going to go to Killarney we heard about an Irish Fest being held in Scariff, just north of us. It was raining that day, so we chose the fest rather than driving to Killarney. That was a mistake. The “fest” turned out, on that day, to be a series of booths numbering maybe 20-25 of local crafts (crafts being a kind word). Had we gone on a different day we might have had a different experience.
By the time we got to Scariff, walked around a bit, had some lunch at a local pub and returned to Killaloe we didn’t have enough time to drive south to Killarney. Joy and I have been there on previous trips to Ireland, but the kids would have enjoyed it.
Our itineraries in most of the towns we visited were focused on the local wool shops, castles in the area, churches or cathedrals of interest and local eateries as well as any points of historical interest otherwise. We did take the time to see a wool manufacturing facility in near Scariff. It was a relatively small place with a couple of automated weavers and knitting machines. Even so they produce tens of thousands of pieces of work a month. One guy maintains the machines, one lady cuts and trims and one other lady manages the shop.
Driving on the other side of the road
Aside from driving on the right side of the road (in a right-hand driver’s seat and a left-handed shift) we encountered a mix of roads from 4-lane highways to small alleyways where only one car at a time could make their way through. Even so, it is very easy driving; just remember to look to the right at round-abouts and drive at comfortable speeds. Speed limits on the smallest of roads is still 80 kilometers per hour (around 55 mph).
Also, try to ignore your partner’s shrieking at you from fear.
A bit of time alone
Our kids and grandkids stayed between 7 and 10 days, leaving us 3 days before our own departure. We took advantage of the quiet to scout out some real estate with a local estate agent and then decided to go to Dublin to spend night there before our flight home. While there we visited Trinity College and a hat shop located just outside of Trinity where I purchased a couple of new Donegal tweed hats.
Trinity, founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1591 was very impressive. We would have liked to visit the library there, but tickets were sold out. We capped off our trip with a visit to Fleet Street (think The Temple Bar) and had a great late lunch and a couple ales before heading back to the hotel for our final evening.
Now we are home and planning our return to Ireland and Scotland next year for some golf and sampling some more scotches and Whiskey’s. If you get a chance to go to Ireland, take advantage of it. It is a beautiful country, lovely people, and lots to do for individuals, couples, or families.
Let me know if I can help build your trip into your financial plans.