Ireland was the last 12 days of our 3 week trip and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. However, even though I researched and read many times don't rush your trip, I didn't realize what that really meant. I think for many of us U.S. first time Ireland travelers our concept or idea of a vacation is a little different, so when planning your trip you think 6 hours of drive time with a few stops along the way can't be too bad. For many of us driving over an hour to go to work or shopping is done without thought. We take a family driving trip where we drive 12 hours in one day barely stopping just to make better time. This mind set is not for Ireland.
Our most relaxed time was when we based ourselves in one town for a few days and toured the area instead of changing locations nightly unpacking and repacking. If you found a town you wanted to stay in longer or an old Abbey you wanted to walk around a little longer you couldn't because you had a destination to make and drive time is way different in Ireland. If I could do one thing over it would accept that you can't see it all and choose an area and spend my entire time there taking it all in.
Some of our favorite memories are the ones not planned. Getting lost and finding an old church, stopping and talking to a local asking him for directions and him giving us a lesson of the area, and getting stuck behind sheep or bikers who's shorts were stressed a little to thin :)
I also think we get too stuck on the word touristy. After all, we are tourist and no matter what, you will be around other tourist. Sure some areas will have more tourist than others, but who cares. Step back, people watch and take it all in. Learn a new way to vacation.
Don't get me wrong. Our trip was wonderful and magical. I just wanted to remind people that when people suggest to you to slow down there really is a reason why you should. Don't sweat the small stuff....driving was fine :)