Trip Coach: May 6, 2008
Anto Howard, co-author of "Fodor's Ireland 2009," answered your questions about Ireland.
Anto Howard: Hi everyone. This is Anto Howard here. I'm co-author of Fodor's Ireland 2009. Looking forward to hearing your questions about Ireland and trying to answer them. Let's get going.
Pasadena, Calif.: I have a questions about B&B accommodations while I'm traveling in Ireland. My family and I will be arriving in Dublin on June 13 from LAX and leaving on June 23. My parents are 63 and 65; my sister and I are 37 and 39. We will be making a hotel reservation for arrival in Dublin and also for the night before we leave for home. In between those dates we will be traveling via train and/or bus to Waterford, Cork, Castlebar, and the areas surrounding Castlebar. We have not made any other plans for hotel or B&B reservations as we want to be somewhat flexible with our schedule. Do you think this is a wise thing to do or should we make reservations? We have family who have done this same thing in the past, but they were traveling at a different time of the year. I'm not sure how busy the month of June is with regard to tourists and I don't want us to end up scrambling for a place to stay since we'll need 2 rooms. Please let me know what you think! Thanks.
Anto Howard: June is busy in Ireland, if not quite high season. B&Bs are something we do very well—although a slew of new, cheap hotels have put them under pressure in the last few years and quite a few have closed down. It is usually possible to find a good B&B when you arrive in a major town or city (like Waterford, Cork or Castlebar), so long as you avoid big festival or holiday weekends in that locale. Perhaps the best move is to use the internet or phone to book a few nights ahead as you travel. This maintains your flexibility but also ensures you've a warm bed waiting when you arrive in a new place—especially since you need two rooms. Pick out the B&Bs you like in your destinations (plus a back up or two) before you leave the U.S. Then give them a call or book online as you are traveling. If by any chance you are caught out, contact the tourist board and they'll find you something at short notice. Weekends can be busier and you might want to book these in advance of traveling.
A couple of extra tips: Check out our Country Houses. They are the most unique places around the country and are often only a little bit more expensive than an ordinary B&B. If you are going for a B&B try for one with only a few rooms, then tend to have the best, personal touch.
Brunswick, Ga.: How "handicap (wheelchair) friendly" is Ireland? Looking to visit Ireland in the Spring 2009 with one member of my party needing the use of a wheelchair when having to walk long distances. From my research I came away with the feeling that wheelchair accessibility is not as wide spread as I have found in the U.S.A. —Jeff
Anto Howard: Having worked on a travel book for people with disabilities in the USA I can definitely say Ireland lags well behind The States when it comes to accessibility issues. Things are improving and European Union law requires that all new public buildings (hotels, restaurants etc.) are wheelchair accessible. But, of course, a lot of the more interesting buildings in Ireland (i.e. all the Georgian mansions in Dublin) pre-date such legislation and are generally not accessible. Of course the cities tend to be better than the countryside for accessibility. So you'll have to do your research and probably choose a newer type hotel. The best people to get advice from are the NGO Irish Wheelchair Association.
San Leandro, Calif.: With all the limits on luggage, what should visitors in mid-July bring to wear? I have heard many different stories on the weather, so I am having a difficult time figuring out what to bring for 16 days.
Anto Howard: It is true that in Ireland you can have four seasons on a single day, so prepare for any weather. July is generally a warm month, with average highs of 65 F (OK, not that warm if you're from California). Average lows are around 48 F. But you can probably be sure that you'll get a little rain some time during your 16 days. So bring a light rain jacket (and a umbrella), one sweater (or a jumper as we call it) and some long pants just for the evening if you need it. Otherwise go with your summer clothes.
Annandale, N.J.: My husband, my daughter and I are leaving for Ireland in two weeks. We've rented a car for the two weeks. What does gasoline cost in Ireland these days?