I have travelled from the north to the south, east and West of Ireland.
IMHO if you only have a short time there, Dont rent a car in Dublin. It will take you hours to navigate your way in and out of the city and thats no joke trust me. Get trains around the country, top train service and its not that expensive.
You will also benefit from the relaxing train journey instead of trying to find your way through the 1 way systems in every town and city.
No matter where you end up deciding on going, you will have a good time. Just try not to stay in the cities all the time. Real Ireland isnt in them anymore!!
Have a good time.
My boyfriend(he is Dutch, in case there is anybody, who does not know this already), says the following, about u.
Haha, I've heard people speak Irish every time we went west (Achill). I know Ireland better than he does.
And if he never learnt Irish, did he go to school at all?
I agree with Aaron www.freedublin.com is a great up to date local Dublin site. Another useful website for long term or short term Dublin visitors is www.doindublin.com
I've got lots of relatives in Ireland so I know bits of it quite well!
The Ring of Kerry = a must. Mountains on one side and the sea on the other. You can't help but look over to the west and think; "Next stop - America". Wexford and Waterford are nice towns, if you're going to get a ferry over to Ireland Wexford is a good place to start. Then driving down to Cork and Killarney and then up to Dingle. Trallee is worth a visit whilst you are there. From there Limerick is a must for and Irish visit! Then up to Donegal and (London)Derry, try to take a detour to the Giants Causeway!
Then to Belfast, followed by Dublin and back down to Wexford and get the ferry back to Fishguard!
Well, we did that in a week and it was fantastic!
But for a few days - Cahersiveen and Kerry generally is your best bet, in my opinion. Its has a great Celtic feel to it, some great pubs. We went to one in Portmagdog (which you will need a good map to find), there is a great community feel and you will just love it!
Dublin = hell to drive around. I remember attempting to navigate for my dad whilst there, and failing. It was horrible, a city of roundabouts with signposts giving you no useful information.
Carrick-a-Rede bridge is interesting. Its right by the Causeway so if you wanted to do the North you should go there. I wouldn't quite call it death defying, its not that high, but its good fun.
But overall if you want to see the real Ireland, Kerry and the MacGillycuddy Reeks is a must!
I'm Irish and would thoroughly recommend a driving holiday. Dublin is difficult, as other posters have said but once you're out of it and on smaller roads, it's a great place for driving. If you're going to be touring on tiddly roads, you might think about bringing/hiring a SatNav since signage can be variable.
I would endorse all of the suggestions for areas made by everyone, including the 'wee north' of Ireland. This site gives some useful advice about driving in ireland:
Have a great time!