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Surprise trip to Ireland

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A trip to Ireland has been a lifelong dream and my husband surprised me with a week stay in Dublin in May 2013. Dreaming of going and having to actually plan a trip out of nowhere are 2 totally different things and I'm a bit overwhelmed. I've purchased 3 guidebooks and have begun searching the internet.
I'm looking for suggests of things to NOT miss while I'm there. Also, I would love some ideas on day trips that could be easily arranged out of Dublin. I really want that authentic "Irish" experience - the green hills, a visit to a scenic castle.
Here's where it really gets interesting... I will be traveling alone... Any recommendations/tips for a solo, American, female traveler?

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