Let's see...best suggestions...if you are going to travel around on your own, remember to drive on the left! We saw a tourist who forgot that rule--luckily, the on-coming truck was going slowly and managed to stop before the two vehicles crashed.
Thanks Kate, I would appreciate your help, if this don't bore you.
As I have so much time to think about this travel, I'll return to ask you something more.
And sorry about my english...
Greats from Brazil......
I went over from Canada  and I started by getting a map. I pinned it to the wall at home and made notes about the places and things that I wanted to see. I looked at the distance between places and figured that it would not take too long to drive. Wrong. Canadian roadways are a lot different and faster. Don't be in any hurry to get somewhere.
Check to see what kind of festivals are booked while you are there. You can plan to be there at the same time.
Every morning when I went to pull out onto the road, I would wait for another car to pass by so I would be sure about what side of the road to pull out onto. A few times I yelled at people for driving on the wrong side of the road, only to realize it was ME on the wrong side. Finally lost out when a dump truck strayed onto my half of the road and killed the rental. Glad I paid the extra for the full insurance.
Our rental kept track of average speed we had driven during the day and I don't think we averaged above 40 mph ever (2003). And "my half of the road" is a limited concept--most of the country lanes are narrow and lined with stone walls. Which is another reason for driving slowly... and there are hills in the Burren with corners so tight you'll think you could hit your own car going around them!
Absolutely get out of the car and into the streets, the pubs, the local stores. Ask for advice from the locals (two of my better stories came from conversations I had with 'just folks'!)
We took the train from Galway to Dublin for a day trip--it was not the fastest way to travel, but better than driving would have been. You won't be able to travel everywhere, but it might work for you--and you can probably check the prices and routes on-line.
We wanted to see a lot of the historical sites (like Cashal) so we bought Heritage passes -- Pay one price, get admission to many sites. We got our money's worth in the 10 days we were there, so some of those deals are very worthwhile.
I've only been to Ireland twice, but both times most of the traveling I did was by bus or train (or foot!) If I had been there longer the second time I would have rented a car, but the narrow roads Cathy Jo mentioned are quite intimidating as it seems the average speed for the locals seems to be really extra fast. How there aren't 15milion dead sheep on the road I don't know.
The bus system is great and if you tell the driver where you are going and are nice they quite often will drop you off closer then where the bus stop is! I have seen them stop on the road and pick up people who were no where near bus stops also.
The Trains were an adventure...use the loo before you get on (trust me on this one). I road the train from a few diferent locations, but the longest I took was Dublin to Westport...only 4 hours as it's strait across the country. It was crazy, but fun. Lots of people to talk to, some guy sat down with us and shared his beer with us...he brought a whole 6 pack!
One more thing....the cost is actually not that bad. Bus passes are fairly cheep and the train is reasonable. You can get passes at the airport after you get your luggage (at least in the Dublin Airport...I'm sure the others are fairly simmilar as far as set up goes.
I am so happy I stumbled upon this group! My best friend and I are travelling to Ireland in September and are planning our adventures! We are taking the Heritage tour, its a great value and my Irish friends assure me it is the best way to see and learn about Ireland on your first visit. The next half, we are renting a car and planning our route.
I am sure this will be very exciting (haha) due to all the differences. I would love to rent a manual transmission just to see if I can manage shifting with my left hand...lol.
But...from what I have heard, I think I should stick with the easiest thing I can find!
Any advice would be appreciated. Or if you just wanna chat, that would ge great too!