If you want to learn with ease, get a handmade Cajun box. I cannot say which is best, as many people have different opinions, but in my humble opinion I like Acadian brand best. But that's just my opinion, other people may say different.
You should definately get some instructional videos, learning by yourself without any initial direction is like trying to cross the beltway blind and def. Once you have direction in how to make the right sounds, listening will eventually come easier. THE Cajun video to start with is both of Dirk Powell's. You must have patience to learn though.
Hohner HA 114 is better than Arriette, but the HA 114 has bass spoons you must learn to hover your middle and ring finger above the "spoon handles" and play with your pinky and index.
I would say the HA 114s are still pretty good quality, not as good as they used to be, though. The springs on my bass spoons broke over the course of 3 months (luckily I had a 1920's hohner with spoons I replaced them with, only thing is they're all rusty). Now it plays fine.
But if you're serious about learning and have the modivation to learn, go with a handmade. You can't go wrong with any of them, they're all excellent.
I had a similar question a couple of month ago and got great support here on the board, just follow the link - maybe that´s of some help. I bought a 114 C and - after modifying the bass spoons - it works fine for a beginners instruments.
Well, even a fine Jude Moreau, Martin, Larry Miller, or Savoy accordion probably won't cost as much as you laid out for your Uilleann pipes!
And if you can play those pipes, you are up to the challenge of the diatonic one-row, although you will have to learn to balance your dreams on a moving column of air....
OK...getting deep here.
If you get a nice Louisiana accordion, it will feel right and sound right and inspire your playing. You can buy an Ariette for $300 and wind up selling it for $150. Or you can spend $1,100 to $1,600 +/- on a Cajun accordion. If you sell the Cajun accordion, you'll get back all but around $300 of the price.
Where do you live? I'm still the best Cajun-style accordion player in Madison County, New York, as far as I know. But it wouldn't take much of a box-slinger to knock me off my pedestal!
A good set of uilleann pipes will spoil you in that you know instruments made good play good and those made poorly just don'y play. Good instruments do cost. As one guy said "If you buy quality you only cry once".
I'm in South Carolina and there's little Cajun and little Irish here too, but that's starting to change.
A big thanks to all that have replied to my question, I do appreciate your help.