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Is driving in Ireland really such a nightmare?

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Ireland is on the short list of where we'd like to go end of September, early October. We'll likely do open jaw, either Shannon/Dublin or vice versa.

I'm trying to get a real picture of what the driving is really like. A few posts have described it as a "nightmare", so my idea of a calm drive through the countryside, with many interesting stops to see the sights, is seriously at odds with another picture of crowded tour buses clogging the roads and towns, stop and go traffic, and my blood pressure headed up to HERE! It's meant to be a somewhat low-key trip - we get more than enough heavy traffic during our rush hours (all day now), so I don't need or want a stressed out driver - no fun for him or me!

I'm just at the beginning stages of planning, so right now, I'm only familiar with the ring of kerry, cliffs of moher, dingle, galway, and of course a couple of nights in Dublin. I realize there's still lots to flesh out.

My husband can drive shift, and he's driven in Scotland and the UK before, albiet many years ago, and I know we'll want to get the smallest car we can. I've read lots of good things about Dan Dooley for rentals. The whole car insurance issue is another huge headache (for another day).....

I'm wondering what a realistic expectation is. Also Shannon/Dublin or the other way around, taking into account which way might be busiest for the buses? best for the sights?

I don't wish to worry unnecessarily, but I'm not looking for an unpleasant surprise either.

Thanks for any words of wisdom that come my way.

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