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Feedback for a family trip to Ireland

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I owe my mom a memorable trip to Ireland, because she gave up her chance when I needed her to watch my little ones while I was away on business. She has been dreaming about the beauty of the Irish countryside. I have always thought I'd visit Ireland via roadtrips, but after my experience in England driving, I am uncomfortable about driving the narrow roads and likelihood of car damages (my credit card benefit won't even cover Ireland). So I'd like to get feedback from fellow Fodorians who have experience traveling around Ireland, particularly those who have done it with children. The traveling group will include an active senior (my mom) and 3 elementary school age kids.

1) What is the best way to see different parts of Ireland, especially outside the big cities? I don't like bus tour groups, but would consider cruise, train and small day trip group. Any recommendations/feedback on these options?

2) Are there places that have reasonable easy roads to drive, if I wanted to make day trips outside the city? Okay the hope lingers on... concern about the limits of where a train can take me.

3) What key places, towns and cities do you recommend for a family to visit and all enjoy?

Thanks for your input! I am experienced traveling in Europe, but have not traveled abroad with my 3 kids. I'm trying to learn how to take things down a few notches, until they can learn to keep up with my adventurous ways!

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