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Aran Islands vs. Kenmare area in October

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We are experienced travelers going to Ireland for the first time. The trip will be this October for my husband's 40th birthday. We arrive in Dublin, and 8 days later leave out of Shannon. We plan on doing 2 days in Dublin.....then it's ??
I would like to head West to see Connemara, Doolin, Cliffs of Moher, spend a night on the Aran Islands, back to Ennis/Shannon airport.
However, I am aware that the South (Cork, Kenmare, Killarney) is high on the "must do in Ireland" lists.
Looking at the map it looks like a tight squeeze to do them all.
Question 1- Is it too cold/wet in October to really enjoy a visit/stay in the Aran Islands...so skip it???
Question 2- If we opt for the South (given we take out the Aran Islands)...Is a trip from Dublin straight to Cork too crazy? It looks fine on the map, but I am aware things can look like a straight shot..but can be a slow drive through towns, etc.
Question 3- We plan on renting a car. However, would it be better/FASTER to take a train from Dublin to Cork...then rent a car in Cork, and proceed the rest of our way by car? We would eventually drop off the car at Shannon airport.
No matter which plan we choose...it looks like we will stay in Ennis or thereabouts before our flight out of Shannon.
Thank you so much in advance for any advice given!!!

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