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Pessimistic, boastful but loves a drink: what Lonely Planet says about Ireland

The tenth edition of the famed travel guide has some familiar themes…

Image: JessyeAnne via Flickr

THE NEWLY-UPDATED guidebook for Ireland from the esteemed and anti-freebie Lonely Planet has landed and there are some familiar themes.

The 10th edition of the travel guidebook refers to the country’s economic woes but notes that the two decades (was it really that long of a boom?) since 1990 have transformed our nation “immeasurably”.

“The two decades since 1990 have transformed the country immeasurably, with prosperity, modernity and multiculturalism helping shift traditional attitudes and social mores,” the book notes.

It notes too that we are more than used to this austerity and in some ways that is to our credit: “The Irish – fatalistic and pessimistic to the core – will shrug their shoulders and just get on with their lives.”

Drink and the pub does of course get a mention and Lonely Planet notes that there is “no sign of letting up” when it comes to “the country’s most popular social pastime”.

The pub heads the authors’ list of the 21 top things to see and do in Ireland.

Lagging behind are visiting Dublin and Connemara, taking in traditional music (which you can probably listen to in the pub), hiking Glendalough, and taking in Dingle and Galway City, Brú na Bóinne and the Rock of Cashel.

All that said there are some new themes which emerge mainly the new found confidence among a class of Irish people who are mainly under-30:

[They] have no problem relaying their achievements and successes, in contrast to the older generation who were brought up in the belief that telling anyone they were doing well was unseemly and boastful.

Coordinating author Fionn Davenport, a regular voice on Newstalk, says of the new edition: ”[It] shows just how much the nation has going for it in terms of fantastic scenery and buzzing towns and villages.

“The reputation of the warm and friendly people also draws in visitors from across the world.”

What Lonely Planet says about some of Ireland’s cities:

Armagh City

Despite having a number of attractive Georgian buildings, the town has a bit of a dreary, rundown feel to it, with gap sites, wasteland and boarded-up windows spoiling the streetscape, but it’s still worth a visit for the fascinating Armagh Public Library and nearby Navan Fort.

Athlone

One of Ireland’s most vibrant towns.

Belfast

The city has pulled off a remarkable transformation from bombs-and-bullets pariah to a hip hotels–and-hedonism party town.

County Cork

Everything good about Ireland can be found in County Cork, the book says

Cork city

The city is chock full of great restaurants fed by arguably the best foodie scene in the country.

Derry

Northern Ireland’s second city comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors. Derry may not be the prettiest of cities, and it certainly lags behind Belfast in terms of investment and redevelopment, but it has a great riverside setting, several fascinating historical sights and a determined air of can-do optimism that has made it the powerhouse of the North’s cultural revival.

Dublin

It has always known how to have fun and does it with deadly seriousness. As you’ll soon find out. There are world-class museums, superb restaurants and the best collection of entertainment in the country.

Galway city

A swirl of enticing old pubs that hum with trad music sessions throughout the year. More importantly, it has an overlaying vibe of fun and frolic that’s addictive.

Kilkee

The area’s wide beach has the kind of white, powdery sand that’s made the Caribbean, well, the Caribbean.

Kilkenny

The city is the Ireland of many visitors’ imaginations.

Larne

Lacking in the charm department.

Letterkenny

Ruined by the excesses of the Celtic Tiger era, Letterkenny is a market town run amok. Mindless development has resulted in numerous faceless retail parks lining the roads, traffic problems and a complete lack of soul. However, as Donegal’s largest town, it’s buzzing with students and young professionals, and there’s a good choice of restaurants and accommodation.

Limerick

The city has an intriguing castle, a lively art museum and contemporary cafe culture to go with its uncompromised pubs, as well as locals who go out of their way to welcome you.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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