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A country of myths, legends, passionate peoples, traditions and a long, troubled history, Ireland combines vibrant cities with stunning natural beauty, historic landmarks and dramatic coastlines. Known as the Emerald Isle for its rich, verdant farmlands and rolling hills, the entire island was part of Britain until partition in 1921, with Northern Ireland now the only region belonging in the United Kingdom.
Holidays exploring everything Ireland has to offer from the comfort of a rental motorhome are popular, with the bonus that, if the weather unexpectedly changes, a stop for tea and sandwiches doesn't involve getting wet through courtesy of the 'soft' Irish rain. The best time to tour is summer, although weather conditions can change without warning. Summer temperatures are mild and pleasant, averaging around 15 degrees celsius, and the rain falls as heavy showers, often several times a day.
The Irish are a laid-back race famed for friendliness and genuine welcomes, and most campsites don't charge for your stay. The sites don't often appear online, but a visit to the local council office sets you on the right road. If you arrive late and the office is closed, local shopkeepers are the people to approach. Facilities vary, but always include waste disposal and fresh water supplies. Several motorhome hire companies are found near Dublin and Belfast airports
Dublin, the East Coast and the Midlands-The East Coast and Midlands are the Irish heartland, home to the ancient city of Dublin. A vibrant capital centuries away from its Viking heritage, it;s bisected by the Liffey River with O'Connell Street its main thoroughfare. Dublin Castle and medieval St Patrick's Cathedral are major landmarks, and the Dublin Writers' Museum honours the Irish literary heritage through writers including George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and W B Yeats. Kildare county is famed for the Irish National Stud's splendid racehorses, and County Wicklow's cliffs, beaches, glens and lochs are rural Ireland at its loveliest.
Shannon Region--Encompassing Clare, Tipperary and Limerick counties, Shannon's glories are the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, soaring 120m above the wild Atlantic with breathtaking views across to the Aran Islands and Connemara. Puffins and other seabird species nest here, the shrill cries of hawks split the air and ancient castles dot the landscape. Limerick is the main town, and the Shannon River meanders through the region.
Southwest Ireland-This beautiful region holds two of the most popular Irish landmarks, Blarney Castle, with its legendary Blarney Stone, and the famous Ring of Kerry scenic drive from Killarney town around the Iveagh Peninsula. Waterfalls, ruined abbeys, manor houses and UNESCO-listed Skellig Michael Island with its 6th century monastery are all highlights here.
Western Ireland- Ireland's least populated region incorporates the country's cultural capital, Galway, County Mayo's holy mountain of Croagh Patrick and the glorious offshore Aran Islands, where Gaelic is the primary language. Heritage buildings and charming small streets lined with traditional pubs typify Galway, and a ferry trip to the Aran Islands is a journey back in time to fishing villages with their traditional lifestyles.
Northern Ireland- Ireland's least populated region incorporates the country's cultural capital, Galway, County Mayo's holy mountain of Croagh Patrick and the glorious offshore Aran Islands, where Gaelic is the primary language. Heritage buildings and charming small streets lined with traditional pubs typify Galway, and a ferry trip to the Aran Islands is a journey back in time to fishing villages with their traditional lifestyles.
Northern Ireland-World-famous for its spectacular Giant's Causeway, the wild North Coast and the outstanding natural beauty of County Down, the Republic's northern neighbour is well worth exploring. County Fermanagh is the North's Lake District, and the Mountains of Mourne figure large in Irish folk songs for their romantic beauty. Gritty Belfast's tragic political history is writ large on the muralled walls of houses in the infamous Falls Road and Shankill areas, and weekend St George's indoor market is a treasure trove of local produce, bric-a-brac, fashions and local crafts.
Driving and rules of the road closely resemble those across the water in England, although distances and speed limits are shown in kilometres. Motorways make for fast journeys, and the vast majority of roads are metalled and in good condition. Country roads can be very narrow, and motorists may meet farm animals and farming machines coming in the opposite direction.