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Ireland the Best*

Travel Guide to the Old Sod

I went to Ireland the first time 30 years ago–goodness, has it been that long?– and I haven’t been back for a long while. So I was delighted to see this book show up at one of my favorite book review sites. I found myself wondering how much Ireland had changed, as I hadn’t seen it since before the European Union. I was certainly surprised as I looked at some of the entries of this guidebook. The Ireland I remember was much more rustic, and well, Irish. I was surprised at the number of ethnicities listed for the restaurants in Dublin as well as some of the swanky hotels and restaurants. I spent a fair time in Dublin, as I took a summer course at Trinity College, and was right in the heart of that city; that doesn’t sound like the Dublin I remember. This book has gotten me intrigued about the new Ireland, and I find myself wishing I was able to go back and see what it is like now.

But about the book. I must say I am disappointed that the ARC copy I received had no photos of any kind. I don’t know if this is true of the published book or not. Introductory material seems to suggest that there is at least a map that goes with this book, but as I received a digital copy, I’m not sure.

The book has an easy organization. There is an introductory section about the must-visit places all over Ireland as well as annual festivals. The first several sections are all about what’s going on in the big cities like Dublin, Belfast, Galway, and Cork. The next sections look at the country by dividing it into geographical areas. Next, historical places and outdoor activities are looked out all over Ireland. The book rounds out with a look at the islands. I thought that the actual descriptions of each item were a little confusing. There appears to be a lot of shorthand used in them. I found myself searching for the places that I knew of 30 years ago, but I didn’t see them. I hope they are still in business as I have many fond memories; perhaps they didn’t make the cut. I was certainly surprised at the range of businesses, attractions, and types of lodging. It’s been a while, but I don’t remember that level of variety. I remember staying in may 10-pounds-a-night B&Bs!

While the book definitely had some drawbacks, it probably served its purpose in making me want to plan another trip to the Emerald Isle.