This will be my fourth time in Ireland, almost ten years exactly since I first visited for three weeks as an exchange scout at age 15. During my l last visit over in 2007 I decided to focus on a single area – Limerick, primarily because I had several friends living in the area and I felt as though I hadn't spent enough time there during my trip over one year earlier.
This time around the plan was to get a rental car and travel across the country with my friend Patti. We were going to go from Shannon to Galway, to Dublin, to Killarney, to Dingle, and then finish in Limerick. We had a very loose itinerary, but I made sure I knew all the places worth stopping at in between. Then plan worked out perfectly, with the exception of one major snag in the very beginning.
The flight over was great. We flew with Delta from JFK to Shannon overnight. It was about 5 1/2 hours and we were served both dinner and breakfast. Wine and beer was complimentary, the food wasn't half bad, and we had dozens of movies to chose from at our pleasure from our seats. Arriving at Shannon was easy and stress-free as it usually is. The problem came about when we went to go pick up our car.
I had placed a reservation for the car through Expedia.com with a company called Payless Car Rental. My reservation with Expedia stated that my total would be €314.40 for the week, which equated to approximately $450.00. I had called to confirm that total with Payless 24 hours before departure to be safe. I let them know I was concerned that because I had payed in full in advance that there would be additional fees when I arrived, but I was assured over the phone that there wouldn't be.
As it turned out, Payless Car Rental is an American company that books car rentals through an Irish company called Dooley Car Rentals. When we finally realized this (there was no sign for Payless), I was informed that there would be an additional €124 for airport fees, taxes, etc. I disputed the extra charges and brought up my conversation with Payless 24 hours earlier, but they wouldn't budge. Since the car was a necessity for a week I went ahead and agreed to the additional charges. So they ran my card, then gave me a second receipt for my payment of €1,500.00 – an insurance deductible that was being put on hold until I returned the car. My car rental had gone from €314.40 to over €2,000.00 without any warning.
The moral of this story: Do not rent cars from Dooley Car Rental, do not rent cars from Payless Car Rental, and don't place reservations for car rentals with Expedia.com because you will be cheated.
We canceled the reservation with Dooley, got the money back, and then picked up a car from Budget Car Rental, which still ended up costing $600 more than I had planned. But we didn't let it bring us down. We got in the car and a few minutes later the stress was behind us – to be resolved later when I got back to America.
From the airport we took the N18 northwest to Ennis, we we stopped in a pub & restaurant called Brogan's, and then drove towards the cliffs of Moher. We had the weather you'd expect going to Ireland – cool, rainy and windy. It was refreshing after the flight though. The wind at the cliffs was strong as always. The rain was refreshing, at least initially. It messed up a ton of photos though.. there's water blotches on more than half of them from the day.
From the cliffs we drove towards R480, which brought us through the heart of the Burren past Leamanagh Castle, Carran Church, Caherconnell Stone Fort, and Poulnabrone Portal Tomb.
Galway was extremely overcrowded – presumably because the Galway Races had ended a few hours earlier and many people had off from work the following day due to a bank holiday. We went out and had dinner at Riordan's Food House before making our way out to a few different pubs – meeting quite a few interesting drunken fools along the way.