From a group of about 25 guys now in our 60's who have been playing golf together for nearly 30 years, eight of us committed to a long-discussed visit to Ireland, and selected the last two weeks of September to go.
With golf as the structural theme, we wanted to allow plenty of time for sightseeing and meeting the locals and listening to music in pubs over Guinness and Old Bushmills. By email with course management starting in February, I pre-booked reservations at seaside links courses. I had seen two of them (but not played) on a previous trip, and we all had read articles and heard from other friends about many others.
Much helpful information was available on various websites accessible by searching for "golf Ireland", and contact information was easily available on the sites for each of the courses themselves.
After flying in to Dublin from five different western US cities, we picked up two "6 passenger" vans (each just adequate for four golfers and gear) and drove to Portrush on the north coast of Northern Ireland and played three very challenging courses.
In the days following, we drove west and south, mostly along the coast of the Republic of Ireland, playing golf about two out of every three days. We played Castlerock, Royal Portrush, Portstewart, Ballyliffen, Carne, Connemara, Lahinch, Kilkee and Ballybunion. Unbelievable!
In addition to the spectacular golfing and mile after mile of some of the most wild and beautiful coastline in the world, highlights of the trip included an afternoon seeking distant relatives in County Down; a somber Sunday viewing of the murals that remain in the adjacent Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in Belfast; a visit to the Bushmills distillery; day trips by boat to the Aran Islands and Great Blasket Island; impromptu visits to graveyards, castle and church ruins, and sites with stone age relics; and many, many wonderful pub hours spent in conversation with people and listening to a broad range of music, both professional and amateur.