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Dublin is the Republic’s sassy, confident capital whose modern vibrancy is matched by its rich traditions. Here you can visit the Guinness storehouse, party till all hours, shop till you drop and take in the richly rewarding exhibits of the National Gallery and National Museum.
County Down on Ireland’s southern coast, Cork is surrounded by a shoreline that is all secluded estuaries, rolling hills and historic harbours. In the city itself you are never too far from a flowing river or the vibrant cultural scene and energetic nightlife.
There is an uncommonly rich variety of landscapes to please the eye in Ireland. The Atlantic brings with it warm winds that nurture a truly bewildering diversity of terrains. In just a matter of miles you can move from the lush side of a lake to a more primeval bogland.
In the east of the island, for instance, the rocky Wicklow Hills are perfect for walkers but they suddenly transform into the horse-grazing plain of the Curragh, which is perfect for racehorses.
Meanwhile, over on the west, in Connemara you can take a stroll that takes you from beach, mountain, fenland and on to the banks of a lough: and, if you set off after breakfast, you can still be back at your hotel for lunch!
Just off the coast there is plenty to explore for those who want to get away from it all. Dotted off the west coast are islands that are rugged and truly remote. The Arans may be the most famous example, with their windswept swathes of limestone and fascinating prehistoric sites, but the austere beauty of the Blasket Islands, lying just off Kerry’s coast, is even further from the madding crowds.
The Irish landscape truly comes to life when you look at it through the lens of the layers and layers of myth that has been laid over it throughout history. In this way piles of stones suddenly become the resting place of lovers escaping ferocious warriors.
The Irish love of poetry and story can also be felt on a literary tour of Dublin, taking in the places where Joyce, Beckett, Wilde and Brendan Behan once frequented.
Every stage of history makes its presence felt in Ireland. The awe-inspiring prehistoric tombs, stone circles and hill forts of Ireland can bring the distant past palpably close. The unbelievably intricate illustrated medieval manuscript that is the Book of Kells still looks as colourful as the day it was painstakingly crafted. There are fine churches, impressive castles, Martello towers and high crosses that punctuate the Irish countryside. You can visit stately homes in the country or take in the neoclassical institutions in the cities.
Ireland offers romantic legends, varied landscapes, beautiful beaches, a fascinating history and a warm welcome.
To top it all off there is the promise of best pint of Guinness you’ve ever had: but you’ll have to be patient whilst you wait for it to settle!