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Ireland - Thoughts? Kerry, Waterford, Belfast?

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My wife has to go to Cork for work and I'm going to head over and meet her in Ireland for a week or so. To that end, we have some days to fill. First, the fixed part of our schedule:

- My wife arrives in Dublin (from India) around 2:30 on Friday 21 August; I will arrange my flights (coming from Switzerland) to arrive before her
- We need to be in Cork by Monday the 24th - we can show up as late as 10:30 or so in Cork
- My wife will free up after work on the 26th.
- I have a flight out of Cork on Sunday the 30th, early in the morning so we will spend the night in Cork on the 29th; my wife will stay in Cork for work the first couple of days in September.
- We are currently thinking we will rent a car in Dublin and return it to Cork on the 30th.

So, we have some decisions to make for a couple of weekends bookending the time in Cork, and was hoping for some thoughts.

We were definitely thinking heading up to the Ring of Kerry area for the second weekend, but I was hoping for some thoughts:
- Should we head up after work on the 26th from Cork or just go up Thursday morning? We were leaning toward just heading up Thursday morning since we aren't certain exactly when my wife will finish work. Either way, it should give us pretty much 3 full days as it is
- Should we stay in one place (likely Killarney) or stay somewhere out on the peninsula like Portmagee for one night and maybe Killarney the other?
- Best route from Cork to the area? Should we just go with the most direct route from the GPS or is there a more scenic route worth taking?
- Any other thoughts or recommendations for the area?

That leaves open the first weekend. Dublin is out - we've been there and want to do something else this time.
- We have always wanted to go to Belfast and that was one thought. It should be an easy drive from Dublin, but it means at least 4 hours drive to get from Belfast to Cork on Sunday. Any thoughts?
- Otherwise, we were thinking somewhere "on the way" to Cork. Kilkenny, Waterford, or Wexford maybe? Any thoughts on any of these areas being preferable to the other or to Belfast?

Thanks for all your help.

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