I eighth or ninth Glendalough (30 miles south of Dublin) and Newgrange (30 miles north). Also the Hill of Tara, which is near Newgrange, is an interesting neolithic site.
Dublin city is pretty small, and I reckon it can be ‘done’ in about two or three days. Touristy things include:
The bus tour - this is handy as it’s jump-on jump-off so you can go to some of the highlights along the way. You also get a potted history from the driver, which will give you a background to the things you’ll see.
Kilmainham Jail - well worth a visit for historical interest.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells.
Dublin Castle - a bit dull, IMO, though the Viking castle embedded in the foundations is fascinating.
The Waxwork Museum - totally awful. Avoid like the plague unless you’re into kitsch.
The Botanical Gardens - interesting Victorian glasshouses on display.
Phoenix Park - absolutely huge, with herds of deer and some interesting buildings.
Christchurch Cathedral - I’ve never been so I can’t inform.
Dublinia - Interactive museum about Viking life in Dublin. A bit lame.
Howth - posh fishing village north of Dublin.
Temple Bar - party district, good for hanging out and drinking.
The National Museum.
The Guinness Brewery - rather pretentious and expensive, but you get a free pint in a panoramic bar on top of the building with some absolutely stunning views.
The Jameson Distillery - never been.
The pubs! Aim for the smaller places, not the glossy modern ones. Closing hours have been changed, and they now don’t kick out until about 12.30, though some places have extensions until about 3.
Despite what’s been said, eating out in Dublin is actually really good, and cosmopolitan. The West coast of Ireland has great food too, with traditional seafood dishes of exceptional quality. ‘Blood pudding’ is actually ‘black pudding’ and is only really an optional dish at breakfast. However I do agree that the midlands is a bit of a culinary oasis.
Driving in the city is indeed a nightmare, especially if you’re not used to driving on the left. Bad roads, terrible signage, aggressive drivers with a low skill level, and scant regard for speed limits, red lights, or lanes. However, outside the city it’s much easier.
If you do come, be sure to hook up with us for a pint or five!