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All about Ireland

Where to go in Ireland

  • Cork
  • Dingle
  • Dublin
  • Galway

     

Hidden gems in Ireland

What to do in Ireland

  • Walking
  • Drinking
  • Getting wet

 

All About Ireland - Virtual Travel Guide

The Irish pub is where all dreams come true

Ireland's great paradox is its perpetually sunny people and consistently atrocious weather.

Hundreds of years of foreign domination, famine, internal strife and mass emigration have done nothing to sully this island's reputation as an attractive holiday destination.

Irish tourism authorities have done an excellent job of marketing the place as a land of shiny happy people with gorgeous lilting accents and a fondness for talking utter blarney. On the surface at least, the cliche rings true.


The Irish take "craic" (good times) very seriously and have a calender loaded with quirky festivals to prove it. Try your luck at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in County Clare or soak up the silliness at the annual Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co Kerry, which climaxes with the crowning of a bewildered caged goat.

The Emerald Isle's 32 counties offer up some stunning scenery ranging from peat bogs, mountains, lakes and rolling farmland dotted with archaeological sites to isolated islands, sweeping sandy beaches and windswept cliff tops. Unfortunately, the elements are rarely amicable enough to enjoy the outdoors without being lashed to a pulp. Still, when the smell of turf fires and a gazillion cozy pubs are tempting you indoors, fine weather is no prerequisite for a sensational Irish vacation.

A goat is crowned King Puck at Killorgin's Puck Fair

Much of Irish life revolves around the pub, and in some smaller towns they still function as corner stores and quasi community centres. The pub is where the craic goes down with a round of expertly-poured pints, and where groups of musicians bang bodhráns and bow fiddles in lively traditional music sessions.

Since the 1990s, the Republic of Ireland has transformed itself from an underpopulated, undernourished charity case to Europe's economic success story. Its population now exceeds four million, the boom having lured emigrants back home and attracted an influx of Eastern European, African and Middle Eastern migrants. The ugly flipside to Ireland's changing face is emerging pockets of xenophobia and a building frenzy that is tainting the countryside with nasty identikit housing estates



Survival guide

Anyone visiting Northern Ireland in the hope of getting caught up in political turbulence will find it limited to old rebel pub songs. The most dangerous encounter you're likely to have is with a Belfast Car Bomb - a cocktail with an explosive mix of Bailey's, Guinness and Irish Whiskey.

The best time to visit Ireland is between June and September when the sun is most likely to make an appearance. Thanks to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, Ireland never gets bitterly cold - just wet and windy.

Ireland is the seventh most dangerous place in the world to drive, what with the lethal combination of narrow winding roads, drunk drivers, wayward sheep, bored young men and rarely-enforced speed limits. Cycling is a lovely way to take in the bucolic countryside if you don't mind competing with speeding automobiles and erratic weather.

If you'd prefer to sit back and let someone else do the driving, the Republic's official bus line, Bus Eireann, operates an extensive and reliable service, while Air Coach offers cheaper links between major cities. Irish rail is a quicker and more pleasant way to get around, but is expensive and has limited coverage.

   

   

 

A double award-winning service...

Brittany Ferries has just been voted “Best Ferry Operator 2006” by a panel of travel experts at the recent TTG Awards. This was in recognition of high standards of customer service and choice throughout the organisation as well as recognising the group’s continuing investment in developing Western Channel services between the UK, France, Ireland and Spain.

This is the second recent accolade. Earlier this year Brittany Ferries Holidays was voted “Best Tour Operator to France 2006” by Maison de la France (the French Tourist Office).



TTG Award : Ferry Operator of the year 2006
   
 

Wide choice of mile-saving routes...

Managing Director, David Longden said: “We are continually striving to improve the service we offer our customers by providing a wide choice of mile-saving routes, convenient schedules and a high quality onboard service. What’s more our range of in-house holidays gives customers more reasons to holiday in France (or Northern Spain). These two awards recognise the broad scope of our service and all of us are delighted to have received this recognition.”

Sail Direct to Holiday France & Spain

Our Classic Cruise and High Speed services sail from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to Cherbourg, Caen, Roscoff, St Malo in France and Santander in northern Spain.

Conveniently timed regular departures take you much closer to all the best holiday regions of France and Spain, so saving you miles of unnecessary driving.

We also offer a superb range of self catering, hotel and special interest holidays throughout France and Spain. All of these, together with our ferry routes, can be mixed and matched to create a holiday that’s just right for you.

To simplify our pricing for 2007, all of our holidays are priced inclusive of ferry travel so the value for money we offer is immediately apparent.

Ireland has major international airports in Dublin, Shannon and Belfast and regional airports in Knock in Co Mayo and Waterford. The country's national airline is Aer Lingus.

Ferries link Ireland to many points in Britain as well as Roscoff in France.

Most road signs in the Republic are bilingual - in English and Irish - but in some rural Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas), they are only in Irish. Since gaining independence from Britain, the Irish have embraced their native tongue with remarkable zeal. Radio and television now has widespread Irish language broadcasting and many schools now offer all classes in Irish.

Accommodation in Ireland ranges from boutique hotels and country castles to self-catering holiday cottages, bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels. Travelling by traditional horse-drawn caravan is a unique way to see the country.


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