Fáilte go hÉirinn! Ireland, the “land of saints and scholars”, is a country full of history, politics, and craic - not to mention more great writers than you’d think could fairly fit within its not-enormous land mass. Briefly and unhappily a part of the United Kingdom, much of the island of Ireland broke away in 1922 to become an independent nation, while Northern Ireland chose to remain with the UK. Since then, the republic has capitalised on its Celtic culture and fabled hospitality to become a favourite destination for travellers, full of music and dancing, medieval ruins and modern film settings (think “Game of Thrones”, “Harry Potter” and the latest “Star Wars” series), as well as famously courteous locals and, of course, Guinness.
Ramble round the capital Dublin, treading softly in the footsteps of writers like WB Yeats, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Seamus Heaney, and slipping into Trinity College to marvel at the sumptuous medieval manuscript the Book of Kells. Kiss the Blarney Stone in Cork for eloquence, or sup on oysters in Galway for romance - then thrust on to Limerick’s Norman castles and Waterford’s Viking tower and longships. Pretty Kilkenny, the smallest city in Ireland, is full of prime dance floors for practicing your céili moves, while Killarney on the Ring of Kerry is a stepping stone to the faerie scenery of waterfalls, loughs, hills, and mountains that makeup Ireland’s interior. Whichever direction you head in, Ireland can always provide a poem, a pie, and a pint: Irish emigrants may have brought soda bread, stew, and stout to the four corners of the world, but somehow it all tastes best back home in the Emerald Isle. And most importantly, you can guarantee an Irish welcome, of the warmest, wittiest and most genuine kind in the world.