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Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub


Counties clare & Limerick

North of County Kerry, the west coast of Ireland charms and fascinates with a varied and stunning landscape. From County Limerick’s lush, emerald-green farmland edging the Shannon River, you can head north to County Clare’s vast and breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and the lunar landscape of the extraordinary Burren National Park. However far you go, there’s something wonderful to catch your eye. County Clare is a wild and beguiling county, with landscapes full of high drama and majestic beauty. This is where Ireland begins to get wild.



By Plane    Several of the big airlines operate regular scheduled flights into Shannon Airport, off the Limerick-Ennis road (N18), County Clare (www.shannonairport.com;  061/712-000), 24km (15 miles) west of Limerick. Although not as busy as it used to be, due to many of its short-haul routes having moved to Cork, Shannon is still one of Ireland’s major points of arrival and departure for transatlantic flights.

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Ireland in Context

These are trying times for Ireland, as it reels from an ongoing economic crisis and struggles to find political equilibrium. But Ireland will bounce back; it has been through worse. The complex history of this small country has conditioned its people to be resilient, and there is something to be said for the Irish spirit, for the ability to find humor in the darkest of places. Every new crisis brings fresh jokes alongside the rage. Every new leader is a target for general hilarity. And while nobody in the country would tell you there is not work to be done, you get the distinct impression that the people—if not the politicians and the bankers who got them into this mess—are ready to do that work.

A Brief History

The First Settlers    With some degree of confidence, we can place the date of the first human habitation of the island somewhere after the end of the last ice age, around the late 8000s b.c. Ireland’s first colonizers, Mesolithic Homo sapiens, walked, waded, or floated across the narrow strait from what is now Britain in search of flint and, of course, food.

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Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub


Northern Ireland

The vibrant and beautiful six counties of Ireland still under British rule are all the more fascinating for their troubled history. At their epicenter is Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland—a curious combination of faded grandeur and forward-looking optimism. Belfast boomed in the 19th century as prosperity flowed from its vast textile and shipbuilding industries. The 20th century was not so kind to the city, which spent decades in decline, but it is now forging a new identity, complete with an artsy, edgy underbelly. Out from Belfast you’ll find medieval castles, beautiful coastlines, and some truly spectacular natural wonders—all within easy reach of the city.



By Plane    Belfast has two airports: Belfast International (www.belfastairport.com;  028/9448-4848) and George Best Belfast City Airport (www.belfastcityairport.com;  028/9093-9093). From the U.S., United Airlines (www.united.com;  1800/864-8331) runs one regular, direct flight between Belfast and New York City’s Newark International. Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com;  01/814-1111), British Airways (www.ba.com;  189/0626-747 in Ireland, or 084/4493-0787 in the U.K.), and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com;  084/3104-1000) operate regular scheduled flights from Britain to Belfast. In the summer, Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com;  1800/862-8621) and Thomas Cook (www.thomascookairlines.com;  0800/107-3409 from the U.K. only) fly a few direct flights between Belfast and Orlando, Florida. You can fly direct to Belfast from several European cities.

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Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

Om Diva shop.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Bargain-Hunting for Fashionistas

★★★ Om Diva, 27 Drury St. (p 83)

Best Streetwear for Well-heeled Teens

★ BT2, 28–29 Grafton St. (p 82)

Best for Street Food

★★ Temple Bar Food Market, Meeting House Square (p 88)

Best for Exclusive Accessories

★★★ Louise Kennedy, 56 Merrion Square (p 83)

Best for Handmade Engagement Rings

★★★ DESIGNyard, 48–49 Nassau St. (p 86)

Best for Full-On Foodies

★★★ Fallon & Byrne, 11–17 Exchequer St. (p 84)

Best for Knitted Homewares

★★ Avoca, 11–13 Suffolk St. (p 85)

Best for Serious Bibliophiles

★★★ Ulysses Rare Books, 10 Duke St. (p 80)

Best for Traditional Irish Penny Whistles

★★ Waltons, 69 South Great George’s St. (p 88)

Most Classy Department Store

★★★ Brown Thomas, 88–95 Grafton St. (p 81)

Best for Contemporary Irish Art

★★★ The Doorway Gallery, 24 S. Frederick St. (p 80)

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Jewers, Jack FrommerMedia ePub

Dublin Bus.

Before You Go

The Best Times to Go

May to September is the busiest time to visit, with myriad festivals throughout the summer, although it’s also the time when you’re least likely to snag an inexpensive hotel room. The months of May and September are often good choices, since your visit doesn’t clash with the school summer vacation period. Hotels are invariably cheaper from November to February. There’s no particular month to avoid, although be prepared for huge crowds in March for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, a public holiday. The Christmas season sees shopping areas packed in the build-up, with special holiday markets opening. It’s also a popular destination for New Year’s Eve, especially to hear the midnight bells peal from Christ Church Cathedral, and see the New Year’s Day parade. As Ireland’s capital and a base to explore the country, Dublin enjoys year-round tourism plus major sporting events, so mid- to high-range hotels should be booked well in advance.

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