I'm in the early stages of planning my trip to Ireland. I'm starting and ending in Dublin and renting a car. I prefer not to book hotels in advance but I know this is peak time. Are there certain locations that I need to pre-book a hotel? I'm thinking of following 14 day RS tour.
My best advice is to not start and finish in Dublin. Start in Dublin and finish in either Shannon or Belfast. You don't need a car in Dublin so spend your first two or three nights there to get over the jet lag and see the city. Try to avoid one night stands as much as possible. If you are travelling in summer you may find you will have to book hotels in advance. I would start checking availability now, and if it's low then I would start booking. Since you will have a car you do have the option of staying in B&Bs that are a little out of town, this may make it a little easier to find something available. There is a forum on this web site that is strictly about travel in Ireland that may help you plan your trip, also: http://irelandyes.com/
Book ahead for Dingle. It's a very popular destination. Probably the same for Killarney. We didn't spend the night there, only when there as a day trip.
Already booked flights into/out of Dublin. Service to Shannon and Belfast are not great from the U.S. from my home airport. I will start inquiring with hotels and checking availability. The plan is to stay the first and last night in Dublin. I'm thinking 2 nights is plenty since I only have a total of 8 nights.
The Bru Na Boinne Visitor Center, Newgrange, etc. are located only about 40 minutes north of the airport. Depending upon your particular interests you could stay in or near the town of Drogheda, visit the historic sites the day before, and then drive to the airport from there.
Lots of Irish history in a very compact area.
Assuming you have a morning flight back to the US, a lot of folks stay in an airport hotel that last night and turn the rental car in then. One less thing to deal w in the am......