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Planning a First Trip to Ireland - Need Guidance

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This trip has been on the back burner for 12 years. We have made many visits to European countries and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves; however, Italy is a repeat destination that has a place in our hearts.

For the past 25 years I have been researching our family's genealogy, but come up empty-handed for the Irish ancestors beyond the United States records. Both my husband and myself have Irish surnames and both paternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland.

Now, the time has come to no longer wait for answers about our heritage, but to visit this wonderful country. I have been unable to find out EXACTLY where any or all of our grandfathers and grandmothers were born. Where to start? We are independent travelers (have never taken a tour), and enjoy immersing ourselves into the culture of the country.

Should we fly into one city and out of another?
Should we base ourselves in one city and make day trips from there?
Must we rent a car or is public transportation readiy available to take us around the southern part of Ireland.?

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