Hi - will be landing in Dublin but am thinking of picking up car at airport and then driving to County Mayo, then to Galway, then to County Cork and Waterford then to Dublin for a few days and then Northern Ireland and if there is time left over go to Scotland. Have never been to Ireland, nor driven on the other side of the road and have 10 days. Am I crazy to do this? Does it make sense to start in Dublin (3 days) then drive South and up the coast to Northern Ireland and then back to Dublin?
That's a lot of driving. Driving in Ireland even if you are on the biggest highway, is not the same as in the States but it depends what kind of a driver you are. I found driving even on the large highways in Ireland to be stressful - not to mention the smaller roads with very small shoulders and narrow lanes. If you don't have somebody to switch off driving with it will be very tiring.
With just ten days this trip is unrealistic, unless you want to spend all your time viewing the scenery through the windscreen. Scrap Scotland and Northern Ireland and just concentrate on Ireland. Ireland is a place to SLOW DOWN and enjoy.
Driving distances may not look that far comapred with the States, but will take a lot longer to cover than you might expect. Once in the countryside, roads are slow and may be quite narrow. There may be slow moving traffic (campervans and caravans who can't reverse or the little old lady who always travels at 30km per hour regardless of all speed limits ) or animals. If you encounter a funeral (really massive in Ireland) or race day, any timing will go out of the window. If using google maps to plan, add an extra 25% to their times PLUS time for stops.
Don't drive the day after landing, especially if you have never driven on the other side of the road. That could be a recipe for disaster. Start with 2 nights in Dublin to get over jet lag and explore the city.
Pick up the car to County Mayo (2 nights) Galway (2 nights) Cork (2 nights) and Waterford (2 nights). Remember that 2 nights only effectively gives one and a bit days to explore a place. Depending on what time you need to be back in Dublin, you may need to cut out a night somewhere.
I'm assuming you have researched the different places and have good reasons for choosing them, rather going there because someone has said you should?
Please be realistic about the time you will have. Ireland is alot bigger than it looks and driving is slower than the posted speed limits (which is what Google maps uses to estimate times). You also do not want a car in Dublin. Since I assume you are departing from Boston, you could fly into Shannon and start from there, ultimately ending in Dublin to return the car, enjoy that city and return to the US from Dublin. If you do have time to go to Northern Ireland you could take a bus or train to Belfast. But if you have 10 days and spend 3 of them in Dublin you won't have time for N.I.
Thanks everyone for your replies. We have decided, since we are landing in Dublin, to stay there, maybe take a train to Galway , then return and visit Northern Ireland and back again to depart for home. Open to any suggestions of things to see/do/stay/eat for any of those locations. Definitely a learning experience!
From Dublin, a day trip to Newgrange (a neolithic chambered cairn older than the pyramids) is well worth doing. Mary Gibbons gets good reports.
Another day do a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains visiting the early Christian site of Glendalough and Powerscourt Gardens.
Do a day trip by train to Kilkenny . For ideas have a look at this website.