My family is traveling to Ireland in August, and while we have some of the trip planned, we have some gaps and I'd love advice on how to fill them to round out our experience.
We will first spend a week in Dublin with a group, and while there we will see Trinity College library, St. Patrick's Cathedral, tour the Guinness brewery, and will also visit Trim Castle, the Hill of Tara, and Powerscourt estate, garden & distillery. We have a free Saturday in Dublin - how should we spend it?
After our group time in Dublin, we are renting a car and driving to Portrush. We'll spend two nights there, and plan to visit the Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle. No one in my family except me is willing to go on the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, so we'll probably skip that (unless it's worthwhile just seeing it?). I thought we'd also skip the Old Bushmills Distillery, since we will have already seen the Guinness one, and we're neither beer nor whiskey fans. If you have other recommendations of what we shouldn't miss in the Antrim Coast area, or restaurants we should visit, I'd appreciate it. (Glenariff Forest Park? The Dark Hedges?) I'm not inclined to spend time in Belfast, since we will have spent so much time in a city already, but we may eat lunch there, so restaurant recommendations for that would be great.
We check out of our Portrush hotel on Wednesday morning and need to be back in Dublin on Friday night, so I'd love advice on where else we should go to fill those 2 1/2 days. By the end of the trip, I would like for us to have seen a good balance of castles, pretty landscape, cute villages and sheep! We could drive a more western route from Portrush to the Connemara area or to the Galway & County Clare areas, or we could drive down more through the center of the country to see the Rock of Cashel & Kilkenny. Those seem like reasonable distances from Portrush (as opposed to Dingle, Cobh and more southern & western destinations), but if it's reasonable to go farther, please let me know! It's hard for us to assess what destinations would involve too much driving - the distances sound short, but with narrow roads and tour buses to dodge, we don't want to overestimate what we can reasonably achieve and enjoy. If we get stopped by a flock of sheep in the road, we want to be delighted by it, not stressed out that they are delaying us!
Thank you so much for your help!