Hi Everyone! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Ireland from May 16 (morning arrival) to May 27 (morning departure). Other than booking roundtrip tickets to Dublin, we haven't done much concrete planning! We definitely want to spend a few days in Dublin, see the Causeway Coast, NW Ireland, and the West Coast.
At first, I wanted to avoid renting a car. I'm not as worried about the condition of the roads (I've driven around Turkey in a rental car--and I assume they'd be similar), but driving on the "other side." I know foreigners get in a lot of accidents driving around Ireland. It seems feasible enough to go without a car by placing yourself in cities (Dublin, Belfast, Galway) and hiring day tours--but it seems that those tours cover only the main sites and would involve a lot of time on a bus. From a lot of travel experience, I'll take a tour if I need to, but I'd rather do-it-on-my-own.
However, my boyfriend really wants to see County Donegal, as he has ancestors from that part of Ireland. I can't find any tours of that area (I found one company, but they only operate June-September). Bus service to Glenveagh National Park and the other sites seems really patchy--I'd hate to plan to go somewhere that a bus stops by only twice a day--seems like you have a real risk of getting stuck. I noticed the same thing for some of the areas around the Causeway Coast--things are pretty close together (e.g. the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is only 7 miles away from Giant's Causeway, but that's too far to walk roundtrip, even if it would only be a 10 min drive).
So, by a long and rambling introduction--would you recommend public transport (and just crossing the things we can't get to easily off the list) or renting a car? Should I be as afraid of renting a car as I am?
Also, what do you know about the Fleadh Nua? We'll be there during that time of year and were wondering if it was worth it to go to Ennis for a day?
Also--sorry to make this so long--if we rented a car, here's about what our schedule would be (goal is to limit driving to about 100 miles a day/160 km max). I'd rather only see the northern half of the island than kill myself trying to cram in everything (plus, if I go back, I can do a southern loop then).
May 16: Pick up rental car in Dublin and drive north to Belfast (possible stops - Bru na Boinne, Mourne Mountains/Newcastle, Downpatrick). Afternoon in Belfast, overnight there.
May 17: Drive along the Antrim Coast/Glens to Giant's Causeway. Visit Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant's Causeway. Overnight in Giant's Causeway.
May 18: Bushmills Distillery, Dunluce Castle, drive to Derry & afternon there. Overnight in Derry or Letterkenny.
May 19: Drive around Donegal--Gleanveagh National Park/Castle, Ardara, etc. Overnight in Donegal Town or Ballyshannon.
May 20: Drive south through Sligo. Overnight in Cong.
May 21: Drive through Connemara. Overnight in Galway.
May 22: Day in Galway.
May 23: Drive through Kinvara to Doolin. Aran Islands/Cliffs of Moher.
May 24: Morning hike in the Burren. Drive cross country to Dublin. Turn in rental car at airport.
May 25-26: Dublin!
Am I missing anything? Too long somewhere/too much to cover? Would we be able to do a similar itinerary on public transport or just not possible? Thanks for your help!