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Struggling with Ireland itinerary - help finding off the beaten path gems!

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My boyfriend and I are planning a week in Ireland - starting in Dublin where we land on a Friday evening - making our way slowly up to Downpatrick in Northern Ireland where we will stay with his family for a few days. After much deliberation we have decided not to go below the Dublin-Galway line. As sad as it makes me to miss the many many sights the southern half has to offer, we don't want to spend our entire week driving and would like to explore areas like Sligo and Donegal, which sound a bit more rugged and slightly less touristy. We have decided to spend 2 nights in each area, to minimize the need for moving hotels every night.

Our rough itinerary is:

Day 1: County Wicklow for hiking and seeing Glendalough
Days 2-3: Near or on Aran Islands
Days 4-5: County Sligo for historic sites
Days 6-7: Donegal and Northern Ireland

Would very much appreciate information about:

- any places we should stop on the way (e.g. thinking Clocmanoise on the way West on Day 2)
- any beautiful drives we should take along the way, as opposed to just blindly following Google Maps (which by default selects the fastest, not the prettiest, route!)
- what villages to stay in for each of the areas we're targeting, and any really remarkable B&Bs
- any out of this world restaurants or pubs we'll pass by on this rough path!

Many many thanks :)

mp413

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