I will be going with a few friends to Ireland in May 2015. After arriving in Dublin I have nothing planned. Any suggestions on what I should do? This will be my first trip out of the country and without my family so I am completely lost. I do enjoy doing "tourist" stuff but also would like to try something off the normal track. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
If you like Jameson whiskey or Guinness beer they both have "factories" you can visit there (I know they don't make the guinness in that location anymore, and I don't think they make Jameson there either. I liked the Jameson tour more, but they were both worth doing if you're out there anyway. The nice part of Dublin is called "Temple Bar", it's where a lot of the good bars and places to eat are, and it's full of college kids as well. There is good shopping in that area/nearby (sorry, it's been a few years) if that's your kind of thing.
If you are going to be there and have time to kill, I would highly, highly suggest going to Galway. It's about a 3 hour bus ride brom Dublin (not as bad as it sounds) but it has that feel you think of when you think of Ireland. From there you can book a trip to go see the Cliffs of Moher, which I'd highly reccomend. I've been told going to see the Blarney Stone is a total watse of time/money, but I haven't seen it for myself.
Some other tips:
1.) If, like most of us Americans, you are of Irish descent, it sounds very odd to foreigners to say "oh yeah, I'm Irish" or "I'm a quarter Irish", it's kind of something only we do.
2.) I'm pretty sure you don't have to tip out there in bars/resturuants. You might want to double check this as I was there in 2011, but it's definitely not a 15-20% thing like here.
3.) Most of the signage is in Gaelic first, English second, even though most people you meet only speak English.
4.) Ireland is usually pretty cold, I was there in August and I had to wear a hoodie most of the time. I would pack layers.
Your local library may have travel books on Ireland.
Frommers or Fodors or Lonely Planet usually have all kinds of information on Ireland. Do some homework before you go. These websites usually have sample itineraries. Before you get there, you should have an idea of what you want to do and see and how to get to those places.
Ireland is a fun and friendly place. Staying at the youth hostels is a good way to go if you're trying to save money. I also enjoyed Galway. Another option is to take the bus down south to Cork, Waterford, etc. These are pretty areas. And you could go kiss the Blarney Stone.
Although May is a little early, search online for festivals in Ireland in May. This could give you something fun and a little different.
How long will you be there?
I went to Ireland a few years ago and since it was my first (and only) trip there, I took day excursions. A must see is the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast -- and it can be done on a one-day excursion. They are absolutely stunning. My other favorite was a trip to Glendalough monastery south of Dublin. There's beautiful scenery on the way and it is a nearly perfectly preserved medieval monastic settlement.
You might enjoy a short train ride or bus ride from Dublin to Galway city. There are plenty of shops, it is on the water and Eyre Square, in the center of town, is lively and fun.