First forum post and looking for a reality check and suggestions on our trip plans. The wife and I will land in Shannon on a Saturday and take an AM ferry to Scotland the following Saturday. We will travel from Shannon by rental car to Ennis, do the Cliffs of Moher cruise, stay in Doolin. Next day, explore the Burren, lunch in Miltown Malbay, cruise down to Loop Head, ferry to Tarbert, drive to Dingle, stay two nights. Then to Rock of Cashel/Kilkenny, stay the night. Explore Kilkenny next AM, perhaps Glendalough, then to Dublin - thinking of taking Rick's advice and staying outside the city. Drive north next afternoon to see Trim, continue to Northern Ireland. Not sure where to stay as I haven't yet figured the best ferry dock area to drop off the rental car - Ballycastle, Larne or Belfast. What say, experienced travelers? Given the plan (btw, we like to walk a lot), (hopefully) fewer crowds/tours and our desire to balance seeing a fair bit w/o sacrificing just being there and soaking it in, doable? Also: any suggestions along this route for a castle hotel? Thanks so much!
As a reality checker, you, unlike most first posters, have a rational plan. Most seem to ask about seeing Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales in 9 days or less. I agree that Kilkenny is really only worth half a day on a short trip. See the castle and maybe the church but it goes downhill after that. It is a nice walkabout type of town. Glendalough can easily eat up half a day. The typical trip only gives it a bump and run. There are some great walks there. I'm not familiar with any castle hotels on the route but I have never searched them out. As my unsolicited advice, it is probably cheaper to fly from Dublin (or other airport) to Scotland on one of the discount airlines than to take a ferry. It's also probably cheaper.
There's a list at the bottom of the page: http://www.celticcastles.com/castle-search/list/ireland/ Watch out, a lot of them tend to be newer hotels built close to or up against a ruin - - or else more of a palatial home rather than a defensive fortification. They aren't inexpensive either, at least the ones we've looked at.