Thought we were going to have 19 days but it's actually going to be 14.5. Sigh. Traveling in and out of Dublin. Two Must Sees are Newgrange and Giants Causeway and would like to do a black cab tour of Belfast. Looking for advice on whether to do a couple days North and back to Dublin at the first (or last) of the trip then go through the South and West to Galway and back across to Dublin or try to circle the entire island by blitzing it from Portrush to Westport. Also to cut a couple days give me your opinion of what to skip in the South. Not kissing the Blarney Stone :P so if we go from Kilkenny to Cashel to Kenmare will I be sad I missed Wexford and Kinsale? I know I'm supposed to assume I will return but the bucket list is way too long for that. Hope this lengthy question makes sense. I do have the RS Ireland guide book but your real world experiences are appreciated. Thanks
On our second trip to Ireland last August we traveled from Dublin to the Newgrange area (stayed at Cabra Castle Hotel which was lovely). Knowing that our time was limited, we booked a private tour with Michael Fox at Boyne Valley Tours. He spent 8+ hours with us showing us many of the sights of the Boyne Valley. We saw Newgrange, Mellifont Abbey, Monasterboice, Battle of the Boyne Museum, the Hill of Tara, Bective Abbey, and Trim Castle. Never would have been able to do this on our own so we felt it was money well spent.
We went from there to the Antrim coast. Stayed at a perfect self-catering cottage for 2 (Ruby Stove Cottage) just a mile from the Giant's Causeway. We feel that the Giant's Causeway is a must. Also loved Dunluce Castle and the drive along the Causeway Coastal Route. We did not go to Belfast but instead spent a day in Londonderry. We stumbled on the walking tour of the old town which leaves from the entrance to the old town near the Foyleside Mall (parking available under the mall). The tour only leaves a few times a day but is worth checking out.
As for the southern part of the Republic of Ireland, we spent 2 1/2 weeks there a few years ago and loved it all. Our favorite places were Kinsale (walking tour recommended by Rick Steves and eating at Fishy Fishy are a must), Cashel, Adare, and Dingle. Don't know how you would do it in a few days or even a week. We only spent 3 days in Dublin and loved it but felt that was enough to get a taste of the city. The hop-on-hop-off bus makes it an easy city to see in a short time.
Ireland is a beautiful country. The people are so kind and welcoming, and we always recommend it as a destination.
I would skip Kilkenny in favor of Kinsale, myself.
I would vote for Kinsale as well. Also drive out to the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Course if you have time. In 1996, we drove out to the Old Head to see where people told us the Lusitania was sunk within 10-12 miles of shore on May 7, 1915. Developers were building a golf course out on this point. We crawled through the gate & walked the dirt road down to the lighthouse. We returned in 2011 & I played the Old Head Course in winds 40-60 mph. In terrible weather conditions, this is still one of the most beautiful places on earth, especially if you get to walk a golf course taking in the view.
I would also recommend a drive from Castlegregory to Dingle through the mountains while on the Dingle Peninsula. This ranks as "the most exciting drive ever" for me. It even beats the drive around the north side of Maui which is off limits for most car rentals. Great fun! Have a wonderful trip.