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9 Days In Ireland-Flying in and out of Shannon

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A couple in our mid 30's, no kids, with rental car, looking for some advice on destinations. I have tickets (award tickets so dates were limited) flying into/out Shannon during the second/third weeks of September. I have been reading the numerous posts on this site and have decided to narrow down my choices by segments that I would like to be sure I at least cover-scenic drive, local's pub visits and off the beaten path. Hopefully this will allow us to concentrate on at least one area to meet each segment.

The only accommodations we have booked to this point is our second to last night during the trip at Ashford Castle which is to the North of Galway allowing us to drop down to Limerick for our last night which will hopefully provide for an easy drive to the airport. Any comments on whether Ashford is worth it are also appreciated.

Day one after landing at the airport at 1230p, I am thinking of driving to Blarney for the night.

Day two would be a visit to the castle then a drive to Kenmare (having trouble picking Kenmare or Killarney) to set up a 2 day base to explore and drive around the Ring of Beara which would serve to cover our scenic drive.

From here I am really open to advice. At this point all I know is that I will be headed north, slowly making my way to the Ashford Castle (unless I change my mind about staying there). I want to stay at least one night at a city with a good local pub scene and I want to be sure to experience some of the countryside that is off the normal path. I definitely do not have any problems with getting away from the most frequent tourist destinations. I also do not like to press my schedule. Allowing time to explore is great.

I read a lot in this forum about Dingle, Inishmore, Doolin Ennis and others which definitely can be overwhelming trying to pick my route in such short time.

Any suggestions/comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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