I don't drive so I know nothing about renting a car however obviously driving will bring you direct to your destination while a train often won't. Trains are quite expensive in Ireland particularly in comparison to nationwide buses. Certain parts of the country are not serviced by rail, the west of the country is serviced by east-west lines however there's no railway running north-south in western Ireland. Nor is there a line running north of Sligo in the Republic of Ireland so if you want to go further north of Sligo up to Donegal, you'd have to take a train to Sligo and a bus from there.
The two most scenic not to be missed lines are the Dublin-Wexford line well atleast as far as Greystones/Wicklow town. Much of it runs by the coast with stunning scenery. The other line is the one from Cork to Cobh situated on Cork harbour, the last port of call for the Titanic and where the survivors of the Lusitania were brought to the Commodore hotel. So if you're into maritime history, this town is for you and it has a great Heritage Centre.
On the way the train passes between islands through the sea on a raised line. often it feels like you're travelling at an angle & are going to end up in the drink. One of the islands you pass through & has a railway stop is Fota Island which has a large wildlife park and arboretum (where unusual trees are).
The Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transit System) also services to Greystones in the south to Malahide/Howth to the north.
I would not agree that all drivers in Ireland "are crazy". I find that a gross exaggeration and an inaccurate portrayal. There are always some bad eggs but we're far from the worst in Europe.
Irish Rail is known as Iarnrod Eireann, http://www.irishrail.ie/home/
Map of Ireland's railway network http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ireland_rail_network_sb.svg
Bus Eireann is our national bus service: http://www.buseireann.ie almost 8 years ago
Definitely drive! You'll have access to the quainter villages that are incredibly beautiful. Here's a blog on our trip with some helpful advice...
Bon voyage! almost 8 years agoAnswered by Janet E. Dore via Travellr.com