Dublin to Dingle: A Celtic Odyssey, Ireland

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14740A, International


  • Explore Dublin’s old historic district
  • Hike the beautiful Wicklow Mountains and Dingle Peninsula
  • Visit and learn about the history of the Rock of Cashel


  • A dedicated Irish historian
  • All lodging and on-trip transportation
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Admissions and tips


DatesAug 18–29, 2014
StaffRonald Franklin

This trip has already run. Here are a few others you may enjoy:

To search our full lineup by destination, date, activity, or price, please visit our Advanced Search page. Or give us a call at 415-977-5522 to find the trip that's right for you.

Trip Overview

The Trip

Ireland is an ancient country, with a history of human involvement that stretches back some 10,000 years. We will discover the roots of Irish civilization and experience Ireland's wild areas and its rich cultural heritage: the folklore, music, and tradition. Ireland has been cited as "the most beautiful place on earth" by National Geographic and was voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor. The people of Ireland are as charming as their land is beautiful. Down in the country, the pace is easygoing; and when you stop at a village crossroad or pub and meet with the local people, you'll be rewarded with colorful descriptions and lengthy stories.

We will walk through the scenic and rustic counties of Dingle and Kerry in the southwest, among the steep, rugged, and mist-enshrouded Wicklow Mountains in the east, through rich pastoral farmlands and high bogs. To best sample these areas, we have planned a mixture of day hiking and sightseeing. This will allow us to experience Ireland's natural beauty and, along the way, to visit spectacular castles, abbeys, and other sites of historic interest that dot the countryside. We'll travel by minibus, accompanied by a native Irish hiking historian, who will assist in leading our walks and in understanding modern Ireland through its complex past.


Except for accommodations, our daily schedule is fairly flexible. The activities listed below give a sampling of what is possible. Our itinerary is followed as closely as possible, but the final decision on most days will be based on the group's abilities and of course the weather.

Day 1: We will meet in Dublin in the morning and begin our day by exploring the coastline of the Irish Sea north of Dublin. This fairly easy 8.2-mile cliff walk along a well-defined path will prepare us for more strenuous days ahead. Total elevation gain: 1,880 feet.

Day 2: After a hearty Irish breakfast, we’ll take a fascinating walking tour of historic Old Dublin and then set off in the afternoon for our new accommodations in the Wicklow Mountains.

Days 3-4: For the next two days, we will explore the rugged beauty of Wicklow National Park, with its many moors, lakes, and waterfalls. We’ll also visit Glendalough National Park and its ancient monastic city.

Day 5: We'll bus west to County Kerry, stopping at the stunning medieval Rock of Cashel, which rises from the plains of Tipperary. Then we'll travel to our accommodations, near Killarney, on the Iveragh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry).

Days 6-7: Now we’ll take time to experience the Ring of Kerry and the three Lakes of Killarney National Park. When there’s sunshine, the light can be a photographer’s dream. Weather permitting, we’ll take the ferry over to Great Skellig Island, where an abandoned monastery sits high above the sea.

Day 8: Today we will hike through areas along Muckross Lake and complete our walk with a tour of Muckross House. From here, we leave our lush green home and move on to the Dingle Peninsula.

Days 9-11: We’ll walk along the Dingle Peninsula, which boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland. With seascapes and cliffs on one side and rugged mountains behind, we’ll stroll through intriguing, high bog land surrounded by lush countryside.

Day 12: We'll drive to the Shannon airport, near Limerick, where we will bid one another farewell in time to make our international flight connections.

Please do not book your airline reservations until you speak with the leader.



Getting There

Our trip begins in Dublin and ends at the Shannon Airport near Limerick. The cost of transportation to Ireland is the responsibility of each participant. There are many International flights into Dublin and Shannon each day. There are also trains and buses that run between Limerick and Dublin that may reduce your airfares by flying into and out from the same city. Ireland does not require visas for short visits. Please consult with the leader for further information.

Accommodations and Food

We will stay in bed and breakfasts and small country inns, enjoying full Irish breakfasts and dining in good restaurants and small village pubs. Since we're hiking most days, lunch will be along the trail. We stop at small shops, where you can purchase pre-made sandwiches or whatever tasty snacks you may find. Some evenings, we’ll visit pubs to hear live, traditional Irish music. Our accommodations are in shared twin or double rooms; single supplements may not always be available. Please contact the leader for further information.

Trip Difficulty

This trip is designed for experienced walkers. The Irish and British word "walking" describes what we refer to as "hiking." You must be active and enjoy outdoor activities; all of our sightseeing will be on foot. The hikes will vary in difficulty, covering distances up to 10 miles with elevation gains of up to 2,300 feet. You will be walking with a day pack over sometimes rough, rocky, and boggy terrain. Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle because it is green, so there’s a good chance that it will rain sometime while we are there and it can make any walk more challenging. Our pace will be relaxed, but you should be accustomed to walking a little more than two miles per hour on level ground and be able to walk uphill -- at a slower pace -- without undue fatigue. You will need to negotiate rocky trails, rock-hop over small streams, and climb stepladder stiles over stonewalls without difficulty. Our walking is not difficult, but for safety’s sake -- both yours and the group’s -- you must be able to keep up with everyone. Your enjoyment will depend on your preparation and general fitness level. Walking is the only exercise that will totally prepare your legs and feet for this trip.

Equipment and Clothing

The only equipment that is required is what you would normally take on a day hike. Waterproof hiking boots that are well broken in are a must, along with a good waterproof jacket and pants. You will also need a day pack large enough to carry your water, waterproofs, a light jacket, and lunch. A detailed packing list will be sent to you after you have been approved for the trip.


There are many, many guidebooks on Ireland. Eyewitness Travel Guides makes one of the best. Lonely Planet is also another good choice. You do not need to purchase trail maps before your arrival. There are many specialized maps available for the area where we’ll be traveling; if you are interested, it is easier to purchase these in Ireland.

A general road map will help you get oriented and track our progress during the trip. A visit to the travel section of your local bookstore, meanwhile, should provide some interesting browsing and give you more information about the country.

Recommended reading:

  • Delaney, Frank, Ireland.
  • Rutherfurd, Edward, Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga.
  • McCourt, Frank, Angela's Ashes.
  • Cahill, Thomas, How The Irish Saved Civilization.


Unlike the United States, Ireland has been heavily populated for thousands of years. Most of its land is used for man in one way or another. There are few protected areas, and most of the land is in private hands. We will see how humankind, over time, has learned to live in balance with these finite resources. We will also learn about the modern-day dangers to this balance.



A Sierra Club member since 1991, Ron Franklin lives, hikes, and mountain bikes in Tucson, AZ. Previously, he's lived in Mountain Green, UT; Monterey, CA, and Washington, DC, for 2 years each; preceded by 16 years in Hawaii. His principal enjoyments are hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and ‘peak bagging’ – most notably the two volcano mountains on the Big Island, Mt. Rainier in Washington state and Mt. Whitney in CA -- both above 14,400'; even more challenging were summitting Africa's 19,340' Mt Kilimanjaro in 2007 and the Thorong La Pass (almost 18,000’) in the Annapurna Mountains of Nepal in 2013. His current adventure is to paddle (and portage) the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, some 740 miles over four summers in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; he completed the second leg this past summer. Ron looks forward to sharing all these interests and the marvelous wonders of Ireland.

Assistant Leader:

Barry Morenz has lived in Tucson for over 30 years and loves to travel in the nearby mountains and canyons, as well as throughout the American West. He has led Sierra Club trips for many years, and travels regularly to the United Kingdom and Central and South America where he enjoys the varied cultures, archaeology and natural history of the regions. A lifelong student, Barry enjoys learning about the areas he visits, and experiencing with others the wild and historically significant places of the world. The camaraderie of sharing adventure travel with other Sierra Club trip members is especially rewarding, as it provides a way to educate people about the need to protect these fragile corners of our planet and leave an environmentally sound legacy for generations to come.

Contact the Staff

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Try Another Trip

By Date