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.