I think the easiest way to organize this is to separate each day of our trip as a reply to my main post. First, I want to thank those of you who answered my many questions, especially with my somewhat complicated itinerary.
I need to preface my trip report with an explanation as to why we had kind of a crazy tour instead of a more natural circular path to and from our starting point, which was Dublin. Our trip was planned around the Navy-Notre Dame game which took place on a Saturday. Due to our kids’ school schedule and the pricing of airfare, we could not get reasonably priced tickets allowing us to fly in and out of Dublin, with either the game at the beginning or end of our trip. So, essentially, we drove back and forth to Dublin in the middle of our trip. Our trip consisted of this - one night Kilkenny, one night Kinsale, two nights Dublin, two nights Dingle, one night Killarney and one night Swords (near Dublin airport). The trip was a belated 15th anniversary trip for my husband and me. Much to our four kids' dismay, we were leaving them behind. They started school the day before our trip so we couldn't take them along with us. Well, we could have but we didn't want to! Not this time anyway. We arrived in Dublin at the end of August and stayed through the first week of September 2012.
CAR RENTAL – We arrived at the Dublin airport mid-morning. Our car rental was incredibly smooth. I had booked our car with Hertz using EasyTour Ireland, which I’d heard about on TA. My husband had previously booked with Avis, but it was cheaper going through EasyTour. The car we booked was not ready yet, so they offered us a larger car with diesel gas, saying the diesel would be less expensive. I didnt really want a larger car as I figured it would just be harder to maneuver on the small roadways, but my husband was driving and he didn't seem concerned. We also rented a GPS and while it was helpful many times to have, the touch screen was incredibly sensitive. It kept entering the wrong letters, forcing me to punch in one letter numerous times, which meant it took forever to enter one address, causing lots of cursing on my end! We are anticipating a refund for the GPS – Hertz gave us a customer service email address and indicated they are quite good about refunding the rental fee. Anyway, when it worked, it certainly was useful, especially when we were driving in towns and villages. Later, in Dublin, it did not work well getting us out of the city center. Based on advice here, I bought the spiral bound OSI Road Atlas once we got to Kilkenny – it was incredibly useful and definitely a must have for those doing a lot of driving. Having that along with the GPS was a huge plus (I love looking at maps anyway so was glad to have it to be aware of our surroundings as we drove).
Now on to our adventure!