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Driving trip in Ireland September

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My wife and I are traveling to Ireland in mid-September. We are flying into Shannon. We will be there for two weeks. My tentative plan is to spend the first two days near Shannon - either Ennis or Limerick. We will Probably try for the Dublin area after that and will spend a few days there. Then we will head for Cork and again spend a few days. Some questions I have for experienced Ireland travelers:

Should I just rent a car at Shannon or is it possible to take public transport to Ennis or Limerick and then rent a car as we prepare to leave for the rest of the trip? (I'm a little concerned about driving after being up so long and our usual plan when traveling to Europe is to just stay awake as long as possible that first day to get back on schedule - walk around town, general exploring).

I would prefer to stay somewhere on the outskirts of Dublin and take public transport in for sightseeing, museums, etc., to avoid urban driving. (Safer for the locals and me) Is this possible?

Each place we stay would serve as a temporary base while we explore the town and surrounding countryside so I would appreciate any suggestions on how long to stay in each place and places we shouldn't miss. We enjoy museums, historical sites, country walks, urban exploring. My wife and I both have some Irish ancestry so this visit is, in part, to explore this roots.

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