Ireland is often portrayed as a charming, laboratory time capsule of pre-industrial Europe; its people a beguiling race of quaint and gullible country folk, imbued with a delightful lack of logic and a good line in disingenuous blarney. Once, maybe, it was possible to believe in that image but not any more. Ireland has leapfrogged the 20th century to become a high-tech, on-line, plugged-in kind of place with a complex culture and a lack of industrial baggage that continues to attract people looking for something different. 

Ireland's tiny cities and larger towns have little of the high-rise anonymity so characteristic of other European centres. They are, instead, cosy, gossipy places where new technology sits comfortably besides farmers markets and shopping centres. 

The beaches are inviting -when the sun shines - and there are characterful pubs, arts and crafts, music, dancing and craic for all tastes. 

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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