Big cities aside, Ireland can offer great pieces of natural beauty. Somehow, it reminds me of Sardinia: wild nature, most landscapes are completely unspoilt, not everything is "planned", at least not the way it is in the UK.
I admit, I haven't travelled extensively in Ireland, but I did enjoy good walks along Dublin's nearest coasts, such as Howth, Dun Laoghaire or Malahide.
The latter is not just a seaside resort (also because saying "seaside resort" in Ireland is a bit extreme), but a proper little town, residential and nicely kept. Like many of Irish exclusive spots, also in Malahide there is a castle, and like many of Irish sites, when I went, it was closed.
Nevermind, I enjoyed soaking up the surroundings of green, sand, sea and ducks. I went by bus, but you can go by DART, cycle or hire a car at Dublin car rental, so that you'll have the possibility to move quickly from an area to another one. I've walked all day to manage to see all attractions and it was a big walk, indeed!
When I went, it was summer, but I wouldn't have ever been able to sunbathe. In fact, there was very little sun and some rain threat. However, the beaches were full of families, kids, dogs running, playing, shouting.
Ireland, like the UK, has a peculiarity: if it doesn't rain, streets, parks, beaches get instantly packed with people busy in all kinds of outdoor activities. And this happened when I went to Malahide: with a slightly different perception of "summer", Irish people were enjoying a break from the rain that had come down heavy throughout the winter.
The atmosphere in the town is vibrant: concerts are often organised, there is a state-of-the-art golf course and water sports are among the most adored outdoor activities.
It might not be the hottest holiday destination, but by all means a sound alternative to Dublin life, little traffic and a more chilled out pace.