To anyone who is wanting to travel to Ireland, I have a few pieces of advice for you. First things first; once you land, leave Dublin. It's not a bad city, and there's some cool history there, but in comparison to places like Belfast and Cork and the countryside.. It just doesn't compare. Second, drive around the north. I, unfortunately, didn't get to do that. I tried to rent a car in advance, and Avis' website says they can rent to those under twenty-five, but that was a lie. They did give me a refund though, so that was nice.. I spent the first few days in the south, and while I enjoyed it, my final day in the north was more scenic. In the north the hills roll on for miles a little more fluidly than they do in the south. The mountains are even prettier. It is colder though, so bring a coat. They consider 26C (78F) sweltering heat, so if you're from the south like me, just plan on being cold.
Third, pack a rain coat or an umbrella. Preferably both. Most of the time it's cloudy and drizzly.. And when it's not.. One minute you can see the blue sky there promising you a glorious day under the sun, and the next there's a tempest blowing through. The locals all said that's pretty much an all year round thing.
If you are going to drive through Ireland, be prepared for some changes. Like EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS. In my head, I knew they drove on the wrong side of the road and the steering wheel was on the wrong side and the Irish just generally do things involving transportation wrong, but it still messed with me. When I went to get on the bus at the airport, I immediately felt dyslexic. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly looked up from my phone and realized that we were turning into the wrong lane. Yeah, I shit a brick. About twice a day every day. Also, in the cities I think there's more one way streets than there are two-ways. And being a pedestrian trying to figure out which way to look was almost impossible. Thankfully, the Irish have gotten one thing right. On the ground at just about every crosswalk in Dublin it says "<- look left" or "look right ->." That was pretty awesome.
Do the tourist things. Ireland is gorgeous and if I could (and it was warmer), I would probably rent a car and explore it for a month. But since I didn't have that option, I used the paddy wagon tour company and rode their tour busses all over the place. The tour guides were pretty cool, and they stop at a lot of interesting places. Like the Blarney castle. Yeah, I kissed the stone. I'm really eloquent and have the gift of flattering speech now, could you tell? If I had planned better and wasn't so cheap, I probably would have done their nine day tour. But I am not a big planner and I'm a cheapskate.
One last weird thing that I've realized is pretty much the same all across Europe; in a multi story building, the ground floor is floor zero. And you might be on floor three, but have room fifty-one. I swear they do that just so they can watch Americans walk in circles sometimes.
Overall though I found the Irish people to be very friendly and welcoming. Weirdly enough, I heard a lot of other languages just walking around in downtown Dublin. I mean, virtually everyone speaks English, but other pedestrians talk in several languages. I heard Slavic languages, Arabic, Celtic, Spanish, some Asian languages and several others I couldn't identify. It was really interesting. Overall though, everyone seemed pretty friendly, and even though I stayed in the slums, it didn't feel that sketchy.
Oh yeah. If you're a cider person, have some Bulmers. It puts everything I've had in the states to shame. Of course there's also the Old Jameson Distillery and the Guinness brewery in Dublin. They were, of course, packed with Americans.