We are two couples traveling to Ireland mid-September to October for 15 days. We are golfers but did not want to sign up for the typical golf package tours, where you play day after day and pay ahead for golf, and are subject to play whether it is rain or shine. And it is not a priority to golf at all the famous courses in Ireland...we want to seek out some of the local courses where the local Irish people golf. Ideally, we'd like to golf about 5-7 days during our trip. We arrive in Dublin and a week later have rented a house in Waterville, on the southwestern coast. For the week prior to our rental we plan to spend a few days in Dublin, then travel west to Galway, and make our way down to Waterville in a weeks time. My primary concern now is renting a vehicle large enough for 4 people carrying clubs and luggage. We do a lot of golf travel in the US and typically rent a mini van. EVERYTHING I've read says that would be a "hair raising" adventure on Ireland's small and narrow roads...especially in the western parts of Ireland. What do you suggest we do?? The idea of renting two smaller vehicles doesn't appeal to us as it would take away from the whole idea of traveling together. Would taking a train to Galway make sense?? Once at our hotel or B&B we could rent a vehicle to travel around that part of Ireland, particularly to Connemara where there is a fabulous course (we'd be only transporting golf clubs and not luggage). From Galway, how would you recommend us getting down to Waterville? I see the train makes about 3 stops. Would you go to Dingle for a few days then over to Waterville?? Should this be by train, private driver, bus??? I'm open to any ideas. Having a mini van would be the most convenient, but it sounds like it's a stressful way to travel.
The 7-9 passenger minivans I see offered by Hertz as an example (VW Caddy Maxi Life, VW Caravelle to name two) aren't that much bigger than the crossover we ended up with last year (despite reserving a mid size car). Closer to a Grand Caravan than a Ram Van, if that helps. Take it easy on the twisty roads and it shouldn't be too difficult. You'll need that size of a car for four adults' luggage, not to mention the golf clubs.
The Dingle loop has large buses making counter-clockwise loops. If you go clockwise you'll encounter them one at a time without getting stuck behind one.
What about renting clubs? My husband played at three local courses last September (Skibbereen, Dingle and Westport) and rented clubs each time. The quality was mixed--from so so in Skibbereen to better than what he has at home in Westport--but quite affordable and renting eliminates the problem of transporting your own (what you've heard about navigating the roads in western Ireland is quite correct--the smaller the car the better off you'll be). BTW the course in Dingle was his favorite--he still talks about it. Westport was also lovely with wonderful views of Croagh Patrick.