It's said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney rings true. The Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country's history is almost tangible, and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity.
The weather may sometimes give you the impression that you're swimming through an airborne ocean, but the truly luminous greens, luxuriant wildflowers, and afternoons spent holed up in riotous pubs will more than console you for the webbed feet you'll need to grow.
The 'troubles' are far from over in the North, but the peace process, while battered, appears to be progressing. Meanwhile, the South has been on an economic rollercoaster ride; if the Celtic Tiger's fur is looking a little shabby these days, the legacy of those heady days lingers in the southern cities' newfound gloss. The country may not be quite the paradise that its misty-eyed emigrés tend to portray, but it's nonetheless home to one of the most gregarious and welcoming people in Europe.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track