The emerald isle. Rainbows, pots o' gold, friendly people, pubs, scenic beauty, the color green, the best whiskey in the world- all of these things (except the pots o' gold) are to be had in just a short visit to Ireland.
We first travelled to Ireland in 2000, when the Punt was still the currency and smoking was still allowed in the pubs. What we found were people so friendly and welcoming (even in the big cities like Dublin) that by our 2nd day we had already decided that we would return. It seemed everyone wanted to know where we were from and if we were there to study family history. We are from Detroit and even if we weren't there for genealogy, we had several lively discussions about our hometown and where we could look up my ancestors if we wished. My mother's maiden name was O'Boyle, so that was usually a fine ice breaker...
On that trip we followed a clockwise tour of the island taking in as many of the old ruins and castles (and pubs) that we could. Self drive and bed and breakfasts are a great way to see Ireland. A bus tour just ain't the same. We traveled clockwise from Dublin to the south then the western coast on into Northern Ireland (where from the Giant's Causeway we could see Scotland) then back down the east coast. Since the island is only about the size of Michigan's mitten, 7-10 days is just right for a visit.
We returned in 2005 to the Euro and a smoking ban in the pubs. I don't smoke, but I always considered a pint and a smoke as Irish as the Blarney Stone. This time we rented a cottage on the west coast (our favorite area the first time) and did day trips to the places we missed the first time (Waterford Crystal) and few we wanted to see again (Cliffs of Moher).
Visit Ireland, visit often, it WILL NOT disappoint.