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Car Rental in Ireland + C.C.

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Hello!

My family of 6 are planning our first ever trip to anywhere outside of the States in May of 2017 to Ireland. (2 adults, 3 children and 1 infant at that time)

We are not sure yet on our plans as to where we will be flying into yet (Shannon or Dublin) as we haven't decided which area (Northern Ireland or west) we want to see first.

That being said, can we rent a vehicle in either place and then drop off at an alternate airport? Is there more cost involved? Does anyone know if there are issues with going into Northern Ireland and spending a week there with a vehicle from the Republic? Has anyone with a large group similar in size and ages to ours ever just taken a bus from Dublin to N.I. and spent the week there without a rental vehicle? Is a week to long? (We want to see several sites. Dunluce castle, the robe bridge, giants causeway, carrickfergus castle, Belfast, titanic memorial, tolleymoore forest, etc. ) We are planning on just getting a rental house for each week, one for NI and one for the Republic. However we haven't decided on where to pick a rental for NI yet so any suggestions would be welcome. :)

In the Republic we are planning on staying in Doolin for a week as our base there. We like that it's a small town, that it is so close to everything we plan on doing in that area, and that the pubs at night have such good music/trad sessions. We want to visit a few castles around that area, the cliffs, the Aran Islands, the Burren, a local beach or two, Ennis, and Galway and Conmerrea make great day trips away!

Has anyone ever just done cash in Ireland or is a major credit card advisable? We have been saving for this trip for a few years now and don't know when, if ever, we will be able to go back. I don't want to miss those two main areas. With a rental car, I have heard that some companies will put a hold of upwards of $3,000 us dollars on the card you use. If that's the case I don't even know if we could go because we don't even own a card that has a limit that high. Anyone know of good rental companies for vehicles?

Sorry for the long post but I thank you for your responses.

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