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Ireland

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Hint: As the oldest of its kind, this place has served several different functions.

If you guessed the Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, you're right!

Located in the Connemara region, the Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The Abbey was built in 1871 by Mitchell Henry and his wife, and since that time has been used as a guesthouse, an international boarding school, a day school for local girls, and a residence for Benedictine nuns. The Gothic Church was built in honor of Henry's wife who died while on holiday in Egypt. Today, visitors can tour the grounds, which include a section of the abbey (the other sections are retained for the nuns), the Victorian walled gardens, the gothic church, and the final resting place of the Henrys. 

The nearest major airport is in Shannon.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Nico Smit)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 8, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Bahamas, California, Christine Sarkis, destination, hotel, Ireland, Myrtle Beach, Quebec City, vacation package.

Even if you don't find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you may still be able to afford an Ireland vacation this summer. And while travel to and from Ireland (and elsewhere in Europe) this summer may be complicated by Iceland's ash-cloud, if you're willing to brave a bit of schedule uncertainty, the favorable exchange rate should help you stretch your travel budget while you're there. In fact, the British Post Office just released a report naming Dublin a top affordable eurozone destination for arts and culture.

Airfare prices are starting to rise, but if you act fast, you may still be able to get an unseasonably cheap deal. And we've seen some standout vacation packages for Ireland this summer as well. For instance, Aer Lingus currently has round-trip air and a seven-day car rental for rates starting from $519 from New York. And Scepter Tours has a luxury package with round-trip airfare, car rental, and six nights' accommodations—including one night at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt—starting at $799 from New York or $969 from San Francisco for stays June through September. DiscoverIreland.com rounds up package offers, hotel discounts, and more, so it's a good place to start looking for the best deals.

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If you're over 66, you can ride the train for free with a Golden Trekker pass. You must apply at least 48 hours before your arrival. And anyone visiting the Shannon region can take advantage of 25 percent discounts on attractions and activities.

Have you seen good deals to these or any other destinations for travel this summer? Share them with other readers below!

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