Hello! I am excitedly planning a spur of the moment trip to Ireland and hoping for a calm, slow trip by bus and train with most of the time spent on walking and looking, eating, meeting people and listening to "trad sessions", rather than on transportation, but also wanting to see as much of Ireland's beauty and spirit as possible. I've been researching books and the internet and especially Rick Steves' (extremely helpful!) site, but still feel uncertain about the best route, so would much appreciate your advice!
Here are two possible plans (we're flying in and out of Dublin, arriving late at night April 2 and leaving April 8 in the afternoon): a) stay near Dublin - first day in Dublin, the rest in Wicklow Mnts, Glendalough, Cork, possibly Kilkenny or Killarney (though I would rather stay away from places geared so much to tourists), then back to Dublin - perhaps the last night would be spent closer to Dublin (though not in it - we'll already be paying for two very expensive nights in the beginning!), but I'm not sure where (about 2 hours out of Dublin would be fine, as our flights are at 2 and 4pm). Option b: first day in Dublin, second day travel southwest through Cashel and stay in Cork (or maybe even Kenmare - would that be too far for one day's travel?), then up to Dingle for 2 days, then on the last day to Loop Head and maybe Achill Island and again stay somewhere about 2 hours out of Dublin (again, I'm not sure where). So either Southeast or Southwest, that's the main question. We're hoping mostly for stunning nature, local music, local people, a sense of heritage and age - towns, castles, neolithic sites (though I know I haven't planned any in specifically).
I know that some of the hints to polishing off the details can be found just on this site, but there's so much that I haven't been able to put all together - please correct my lapses! Also any suggestions for good and cheap accommodations would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much.