Locating Somewhere to Stay
These days, I like to have my accommodation booked before I embark on any trip away. That may be the case but there have been times when I arrived somewhere and made for the local tourist information centre to do the needful. Only once have I ever knocked on the door of a guesthouse without a booking and that was in a deserted Fort William of a Saturday one January; all was well with this.
My parents have been known to go for trips away for home in Éire without having all of their accommodation sorted out beforehand. Just turning up and asking at a B&B or guesthouse usually did the trick and, if they were full, they always phoned around to find somewhere else, a sort of unofficial booking service if you will. I even believe that it might have been the obliging nature of the accommodation providers that motivated this altruism but I suppose they were doing favours for their own fellow providers as well, favours that could be returned. I have never known this sort of thing to happen in the U.K. but the current economic malaise might change that, possibly removing one of the unique aspects of visiting Éire.
Even with the possibility of someone helping you out, it's always best to be organised in advance. That's especially the case if you're coming from further away and, if going the independent traveller approach, you probably would be laying out guidebooks and picking things from there. It's easy to feel bewildered while doing that so that's when tourism agencies and others get consulted. On the web, any site that allows you to plan in more detail only can help but here are a few dedicated to the purpose of sorting a roof over your head while in Éire.
Now that frugality is the essence of the age, budget accommodation options return to the fore and that makes the official site of the Irish youth hostel association an eminently useful port of call.
An extensive resource covering Northern Ireland in addition to the Republic.
A useful resource for thrifty backpackers that allows you to book ahead as well as decide where to go.
I rather suspect that a quick through the tariffs charged by this collection of country house accommodation providers might convince you that this is not the budget end of the market. To be fair, the places where you would be staying would not be the usual bungalows and farmers' dwellings but something having far more character. Another hunch that I have is that you would base yourself in one of these, avail of services on offer and spread out to explore an area as part of a longer break.
Sticking with the pricier end of the market, here's a place where you can find a hotel to your liking. By their own admission, Dublin hotels are a large part of what they do but the rest of the island isn't being neglected either. That's just as well since I'd be encouraging you to see more of the place than the capital. With current trading conditions, I suspect that your custom would be appreciated.