Country guide Ireland

With landscapes that appear as though they could only exist within paintings, scenic coastal roads, pints of Guinness and a rugged countryside - the sheer magnetism of Ireland is remarkable. It therefore comes as little surprise that many decide to relocate here.

Sights and Attractions

Ireland is famous for creating the unsinkable Titanic, leprechauns and of course, the celebrations of St Patrick's Day – but that's not all the emerald isle has to offer. Visitors and locals can explore monuments older than the pyramids of Giza such as the Newgrange passage tombs and come across spectacular scenery at every turn of the winding roads.

The beauty of Ireland is that you can either retreat to the peaceful countryside or live in a vibrant metropolis such as Dublin or Belfast. Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is jam-packed with history and culture. Sit amongst fellow locals and enjoy a pint of Guinness or two or venture to Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison that will especially intrigue ghost-seekers with its spooky surroundings.

'Experience Gaelic Games' offer sport enthusiasts the chance to try traditional sports like hurling and GAA football. This is a great way to actively experience and get in tune with Irish sporting culture. If, however, you prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, areas like Killarney National Park are the perfect sanctuary. The area can be explored through hiking, horse-riding, and even by boat.

Restaurants and Cafes

Ireland's culinary palette does not differ too greatly to England's, with hearty beef stews, bangers and mash, lamb roasts and indulgent cakes forming its traditional cuisine. To thoroughly enjoy Irish food and hospitality, it hardly needs to be mentioned that there are a number of jovial pubs across the country offering quality meals and drinks. In Dublin, The Stags Head and The Lord Edward are particularly well known. For seafood enthusiasts, there is the Moran's Cottage in Kilcolgan, and McDermott's Pub in Doolin will appeal to anyone looking to sample traditional Irish music – and maybe even some river dancing!

Aside from the cuisine, Ireland is also renowned for its pints of Guinness and strong ales. In fact, the pub culture found in the nation is second to none and is not just a pastime, but a way of life.

Shopping

Similar to other parts of the world, the major cities and towns in Ireland are home to popular high street stores, artisan boutiques and shopping malls -ready to satisfy all tastes and wallet-sizes.

One shopping destination which is well worth a visit is the English Market in Cork – recognized as one of the oldest covered markets in the world. It will particularly interest those with a love of food as there is a wide range of meat, fish, cheese and local delicacies on offer. For the adventurous there are plenty of more unusual items like battleboard (a dried salted fish), tripe, and spiced beef to be snapped up.

Travel

To get into Ireland, there are two options: by air or by sea. If you intend on travelling by car, you have the option of taking a ferry from Pembroke in Wales into Rosslare Harbour, in South-West Ireland. If, however, you wish to go to Dublin, taking the ferry from Holyhead in Wales may be your best option. If you don't plan on taking your car, you can find passenger ferries transporting visitors to the emerald isle from Liverpool and Newport. If you suffer from seasickness or prefer the ease of flying, flights will take you to Cork, Dublin and Belfast.

Driving may be one of the most effective ways of travelling around the country. However, the lack of motorways can become a hindrance, and make for a rather uncomfortable and rather bumpy journey. However, the enchanting, breath-taking views will more than make up for it. Trains are another convenient and comfortable method of travelling between cities. The high-speed train runs several times a day between Dublin and Belfast, taking just over 2 hours. Buses are another reliable option as are cycling and going on foot.

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