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Sabbatical in Ireland - Dublin or countryside?

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My family and I are traveling to Ireland for my sabbatical trip from Feb - April 2013. We have three kids (ages 5, 9, 12) who will be going with us and attending school there. I may be traveling between Dublin and Limerick but will mainly be stationed in Dublin. We plan on buying a car while there so transportation won't be an issue.

Our goals are for our entire family to experience Irish culture and "live" there as a native (not a tourist). With three kids, is it better for us to experience Ireland making Dublin our home or an outlying smaller town? On the one hand, a "city" experience in Dublin would be neat for all of us. On the other hand, there might be nothing like a small Irish village...

Suggestions?

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