I took the train to the small fishing village of Skerries on the coast, 35 miles north of Dublin. It was a delightful village and I enjoyed meeting friends and having a good meal and drinks in a fun local pub.
Before driving to Dublin I went to Kilkenny, Ireland’s loveliest inland city. Make sure to see the commanding Kilkenny Castle. The Kilkenny Design Centre has a great selection of Irish Handicrafts. There is also a good restaurant overlooking the castle.
I also spent a wonderful evening at Roundwood House in Mountrath which is an hour and fifteen minutes from Dublin. It is a Palladian Georgian Irish country house that is owned by Rosemary and Frank Kennan. It is over 300 years old so, it was a little worn but really wonderful. I had dinner in the dining room with the other guests and then we literally retired to the drawing room to talk politics over coffee. I really loved the experience.
If you want an over-the-top hotel experience check out Ballyfin in the center of Ireland in County Laois. It is an hour and 30 minutes from Dublin Airport. The curator for the European Decorative Arts Department of the Art Institute of Chicago told me that this is a wonderful eight year restoration of the most lavish Irish regency mansion that is full of amazing antiques and some of the original art.