Magic of the Emerald Isle
An extraordinary experience for Stephanie Voyager on her first visit to Ireland
I had heard how beautiful the countryside is in Ireland, but I never for a minute imagined it to be so lovely. This could possibly be due to the amount of rain it receives, but whatever the reason, it is lush and very green, and certainly deserves the name the Emerald Isle.
The scenery changed depending on my location, but one thing that struck me the most, was the lack of traffic. After a few days driving, thankfully on the same side as in the UK, even one car in front, if dawdling, was considered a nuisance.
Although distances on the map don't seem far because the roads are narrow and windy, driving at any speed is virtually impossible. Anyway, once you are enveloped by the atmosphere of the place, you are unlikely to want to hurry.
My first stop was the picturesque village of Adare. The Dunraven Arms is one of the oldest hotels in Ireland, and is wonderfully positioned opposite a row of thatched cottages. History abounds in the area, with the entrance to Adare Manor, a Gothic-style mansion built in the 19th century, close by.
I wandered up to the Manor, which is now a hotel, through their golf course which has the ruins of Desmond Castle, reputed to have been built by the Normans, and a 15th century Franciscan Friary, as a backdrop.
The hotel has an excellent restaurant so I did not have to go far to dine. The landscape is beautiful wherever you look, with countryside that undulates at every turn, with fields of grazing cows and sheep.
As I already expected a certain amount of quirkiness in the country, leprechauns and all that, I was not surprised to follow road signs that took me back to where I started.
Road signs that fall down seem to be put back with no concern as to whether they are pointing in the right direction. If you are planning a driving holiday, it is essential to have a good map with you.
As I left leaving Adare, I saw a crowd of people and stopped to see what was happening. It was an outdoor ceili recital given by a group of teenagers.
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