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Guidance on Renting Affordable Cottages in Ireland & Scotland

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I've just discovered the forums here, and thus this is my first post.

I've had the pleasure of visiting England and Scotland twice, and both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland once. To my dismay, I have never made it to the Scottish Highlands or the Western Counties of Ireland. I'm trying to find a way to be able to afford a couple of weeks in a cottage in the Western Counties of Ireland to use as a home base to explore, and then fly to Scotland and spend a couple of weeks in a cottage in the Highlands as a home base to explore.

I don't need (we, if my husband can take off work to with me) anything particularly fancy; just comfortable, safe, and within a short distance of some type of public transportation, so I can use the trains to go about; I don't want to rent a car if it can be avoided. Time of the year can be flexible, and even though I know the weather is not as good during the winter months, that can work for me/us, too.

Can anyone give me direction on how I can find trustworthy and avoidable cottage rentals in both areas?

Thank you in advance!

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