Few destinations evoke such an immediate emotional reaction as the Emerald Isle (the poetic name for Ireland due to its green countryside), land of saints and scholars, cloaked in mist, myth, legend and cliché.

For a long time, Ireland was the poor sibling of Western Europe – now that is changing, and the country is starting to grow. The so-called “Celtic Tiger” economy – centered on the vibrant capital city Dublin – has seen tremendous growth in the technology sector and a simultaneous boom in tourism. It seems that much of the population is aware of the importance of tourism – and grateful for it.

As anyone who travels to Ireland will discover, one of the major clichés about the Irish is true almost without exception: the Irish are an incredibly friendly and open people. The memories that people take away with them are not only of the sights and sounds of this wonderful country, but of the warm welcome they received everywhere. The Irish love to talk and to listen, and you’ll no doubt be buttonholed at some point, particularly if you stop to sample the Guinness.

But besides the Guinness and the craic there’s an awful lot to do and to see in Ireland. Each area has its own attractions, with each county providing a thousand reasons to linger there. Consequently you have to be a bit brutal in your planning: make sure that if you want to see everything you came for that you do actually stick to your schedule.

The other option, of course, is to abandon your planning altogether, and come back another time for all the things you missed… an option taken by more than a few visitors enchanted by the Emerald Isle.

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