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If you have about a week, here's a tried-and-true self drive itinerary that takes you to Ireland's important sites:
Day 1: Arrive in Shannon and pick up a rental car. First stop is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Continue to Ennis and check into The Old Ground Hotel (a nice, clean hotel with updated rooms). After lunch, drive to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.
Day 2: Make your way to Dingle via the Shannon ferry across the river. Stop in Tralee to visit the museum (watch out – it’s closed on Monday). As an alternative, visit the Blennerville Windmill then on to Minard Castle. The castle is located right on the water with spectacular views. Continue on to Dingle (the Emlagh House comes highly recommended). For nighttime fun, visit Danno’s pub and listen to some Brazilian and German music.
Day 3: Take the magnificient Dingle Peninsula drive. The scenery is spectacular and the history fascinating.
Day 4: On the way to Blarney stop at Inch Beach for its gorgeous shelling. Visit the Blarney Woolen Mills to do some much-needed shopping! Of course, a visit to Blarney is complete without a stop at Blarney Castle to kiss the infamous stone. One of the features of this castle is Close Gardens. From there drive to Cashel for overnight. Walk over to Hore Abbey for a look around. Then it's on to dinner at Hannigans and after dinner drinks and fun at Devon's.
Day 5: Take the tour at the Rock of Cashel, a must-see for history buffs. Next stop Cahir Castle, then on to Waterford (take the crystal factory tour). A hotel recommendation is Waterford Castle with its scenic nature walk and golf course.
Day 6: First stop is Kilkenney and a guided tour of the castle, which has been almost completely restored. Then, on to the exciting city of Dublin. Take the hop-on-hop-off tour bus for a quick city tour. At night, walk around the Temple Bar area for dinner and entertainment.