The Independent Republic of Southern Ireland, has almost 5 million people living in it, but vast areas unpopulated and unspoilt. This can’t be said of the throbbing metropolis Dublin, where the ancient mixes with the modern and tradition co-exists with the multiculturalism of modern European Ireland.
The famous Guinness Brewery is a great introduction to a day in Dublin – mind you it’s also a great way to spend a day in Dublin or to end a day in Dublin. The city also has a vibrant nightlife with many fine music bars and numerous sites of historic interest all within easy walking distance of the centre and the banks of the river Liffey.
A popular way to see Ireland is to simply drive around the island stopping at various places on the way. Our popular route usually includes heading south to the Viking/Norman city port of Waterford and along the Cork coast to Kerry where the town of Killarney provides a charming location amidst McGillicuddies reeks overlooking the nearby lakes and valleys. Not far away is the unspoilt Dingle Peninsula with its ancient standing stones and isolated bays. Crossing the mouth of the River Shannon into County Clare you can take in the Cliffs of Moher, Europes highest, the primitive landscape of the Burren and reach the Aran islands from the nearby fishing villages. The delightful West Ireland town of Galway is a must for visitors, especially those with an interest in Irish music, and of course you can also pick up an Irish friendship ' Claddagh' Ring from its original source.
The Counties of Mayo and Sligo contain some of the most spectacular scenery in the West of Ireland including the Croagh Patrick Mountain which St Patrick himself climbed – knowing as he surely did of the very convenient pub and toilets block at the nearby carpark. Also the Benbulben mountain overlooking the grave of the Irish poet W. B. Yeats is as fine a location as any.
Ireland's northern province, Ulster, remains divided between the six counties that remain under the British Crown as 'Northern Ireland' and the three counties that chose to stay with the free state. The border – which you hardly notice apart from the change in road markings – has been the source of conflict for much of the second half of the 20th century and the loyalties of the Ulster Communities today can be easily spotted by the flags flown and kerbsides painted in the various towns you visit.
The beautiful County of Donegal is in the Republic but just down the road is the town of (London)Derry (depending on your allegiance) where the city walls are intact and the murals from 'the troubles' now tell the tale of the movement towards a lasting peace settlement.
On the roof of the County Antrim you find the spectacular Giant's Causeway with its basalt rock formations and then heading down to the industrial capital of Belfast, birthplace of the Titanic and newly burgeoning shopping centre, you can take a drive around the County Down to the majestic Mountains of Mourne and back again across the border to the south.