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The Old and The New Ireland – Ireland

The Old and The New Ireland

Ireland

Diving
Diving
Eight million visitors traveled to Ireland in 2005, lured by its ancient castles, gorgeous vistas, and to enjoy a pint in one of its famous pubs. But over the past decade, a modernized Ireland has emerged – a place where men get pampered in spas, where world-class hotels with top-notch golf courses are around every bend. The good news is that the old and the new Ireland are getting along just grand.

Getting Around
Two of the most popular ways to experience Ireland is by touring a bus or by renting a car. Both are good, depending on how you like to travel. For me, getting behind the wheel on the left-hand side of the road and driving the challenging, winding roads of Ireland speaks to my sense of adventure.

Dublin
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a thriving city of a million and a half people. Cabs are plentiful and fairly inexpensive, and the subway or Dart, is easy to navigate. Walking is the way to see Dublin. Must sees are St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College which houses the original Book of Kells, and the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, where in 1916, the Easter Uprising took place.

Hotels in Dublin
Lodgings of every size and price range dot the streets of Dublin – from the twenty-nine-room, family-owned and reasonably priced, River House Hotel, located in the hip Temple Bar section of town, to the very fashionable Merrion Hotel, which won the Conde Nast Traveler?” Reader’s Choice Award 2003. Located in the center of Dublin opposite the government buildings, and close to St. Steven’s Square, the Merrion Hotel is comprised of four faithfully restored Georgian townhouses that date back to the 1760’s. The hotel opened in 1997. It has a two Michelin star restaurant run by Patrick Guilbaud, a world class spa, high tea and gorgeous gardens. It’s a great place to stay. www.merrionhotel.com River House Hotel toll free USA 1-888-205-0283

Pubs of Ireland
The Irish like their pubs, and some of the best are in Dublin. The 160-year-old Temple Bar, located in the trendy Temple Bar neighborhood in the center of Dublin, has patrons flocking every night to hear great Irish music, and to enjoy a perfectly poured pint. The Abbey Tavern, eight miles outside of the city on the water’s edge, has some of the best music in all of Ireland, and a restaurant that serves seafood caught fresh every day. But every town in Ireland has a pub worth visiting – from the very famous Long Valley Pub located in Cork City, that has front doors taken from an old ocean liner and a bar that runs the length of the place, to Thackeray’s Brassiere located in Westport, County Mayo, in the Olde Railway Hotel. Built in 1780 by Lord Sligo for his traveling friends, more than a few famous people have stayed at this very Victorian hotel and had a drink in the original pub.

Castles

The Temple Bar
The Temple Bar
Castles are everywhere in Ireland – from complete ruins that the sheep and cows have taken over, to thousand-year-old castles turned into world-class hotels that offer guests the highest in creature comfort. The Blarney Castle, located five miles outside of Cork City, is probably the most famous castle in Ireland due to the Blarney Stone. Over 200,000 people a year visit the castle – many to kiss the Blarney stone, which supposedly brings good luck. The Kinnitty Castle, a gothic architectural masterpiece located in the Slieve Bloom Mountain in the center of Ireland, 80 miles from Dublin, offers luxury accommodations, fitness and conference facilities, and special package rates for weddings. Room rates begin at 65 Euros per person. www.kinnittycastle.com

Vistas Worth Seeing
Around any turn in Ireland but especially on the coastline, something is worth seeing. There are a number of vistas scattered around Ireland that can take one’s breath away. The Cliffs of Moher, located in County Claire, is a sight not to be missed – a ridge of majestic cliffs that drop hundreds of feet to the Irish Sea. Millions of people have visited this awe-inspiring sight, and the small, nearby historic seaside towns with their thatch roofs and Gaelic names. The historic town of Ennis is also nearby with its thriving music scene and the Woodstock Hotel, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It offers an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, spa, fine dining and luxury rooms starting at 200 Euros. The hotel is located 25 minutes from the Shannon Airport. Perfect for business travelers. www.woodstockhotel.com

The Connor Pass, a snake-like road that runs over the highest mountain range in Ireland is located on the Dingle Peninsula. On a clear day the view is spectacular, and the drive over the mountain is an experience worth doing just to challenge your driving skills and your nerves.

Waterworld, a small hotel located on the beach in Castlegregory near Connor Pass, is the number one scuba diving hotel in Ireland. Besides diving, it offers fun-packed activities for kids, including horseback riding, surfing, windsurfing and boogie-board lessons. www.waterworld.ie

Top Spas

Cliffs of Mohr
Cliffs of Mohr
Spas are becoming big business in Ireland. Two really stand out. The Inchydoney Lodge and Spa, located in County Cork, is a family-friendly seaside resort with the only certified thalassotherapy spa in Ireland. Thalassotherapy, found at some of the finest European spas, uses seawater and seaweed to energize and heal the body. The Inchydoney spa draws families, couples, and business groups looking to enjoy the waters. It’s a top-rated spa with excellent service and a well-trained friendly staff. Many of the local families from Cork go here for vacation. www.inchydoneyisland.com

In County Mayo, the Leenane-Louisburg coastal road outside of Westport is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Set back from this road is the Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa. www.delphiescape.com Voted the best spa in Ireland, the Delphi takes a holistic approach toward healing. Delphi is a uniquely Irish experience where people really can go to heal the body and mind, and still enjoy a pint while looking at the majesty of the nearby mountains.

Isle Inn tours, handles individual and group package tours, including pub tours, honeymoon and golf packages, plus castle tours and spas.

Murray’s Europcar has 18 locations scattered around Ireland.

Irish Tourist board

Traveler Article


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