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Planning a 3 week trip for 2017

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Hello, my husband and I are both teachers and first time travelers to Europe. We are planning to celebrate our 20 year anniversary in Europe next summer; our current goal is to be there for three weeks. We are open to all types of experiences: we hope to visit museums, enjoy the architecture, and spend time outdoors at markets and hiking. I realize summer is the busy "tourist" season, but as teachers, we are unable to visit any other time. We are hoping to visit Ireland (4ish nights), Paris (4ish nights), and spend the rest of the trip in Italy. While I feel comfortable purchasing airfare there and back and booking AirB&B's, I'm a nervous about travel between countries. Is there a preferred order to visit these countries? Should we fly or use the train? How far in advance should I book travel between countries? When should I start purchasing tickets for museums? While I am completing hours of research, I would appreciate any advice for new travelers. Thank you!

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