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It's said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney rings true. The Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country's history is almost tangible, and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity.
The weather may sometimes give you the impression that you're swimming through an airborne ocean, but the truly luminous greens and afternoons spent holed up in riotous pubs will more than console you for the webbed feet you'll need to grow.
IRELAND TOURS AND TRAVEL:
BELFAST Tours, Travel and Activities
Belfast is buzzing. Massive investment combined with the optimism engendered by the peace process have transformed Northern Ireland's capital into a boom town, and its old bombs and bullets reputation has given way to a new designer Belfast, typified by hip hotels such as TENsq and the Malmaison, elegant restaurants like Roscoff and Michael Deane, and the trendy boutiques that line Lisburn Rd.
There are, of course, still plenty of reminders of the Troubles, and the passions that have torn Northern Ireland apart over the decades still run deep.
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DUBLIN Tours, Travel and Activities
Delightful, decadent and totally down-to-earth, Dublin is the rarest of beasts: a capital that puts an equal premium on the joys and benefits of heritage and hedonism.
History and culture rise up from the foundations, but what'll put a smile on your face is the city's garrulous sociability and irrepressible humor.
Dublin's in a great mood these days, and there's plenty to be happy about.
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COBH Tours, Travel and Activities
One of the major transatlantic Irish ports, Cobh was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950.
On 11 April 1912 Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Local lore has it that a Titanic crew member John Coffey, a native of Queenstown, jumped ship although there is no record of him on the crew list. Seven lucky passengers also disembarked, although 113 boarded, many of whom drowned.
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CORK Tours, Travel and Activities
Cork city in general boasts some good quality architecture, capable of rivalling that of Dublin or Belfast. The main street, St. Patrick Street, was remodelled in the years up to 2004. As the main shopping street, it boasts striking buildings along its broad avenue (much of which is given to pedestrian use).
The adjacent Grand Parade is a tree-lined avenue, home to many offices and financial institutions. The old financial centre is the South Mall, with several banks whose interior derive from the 19th century, and are very deserving of a visit, particularly Allied Irish Banks which was once an exchange.
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DERRY Tours, Travel and Activities
Derry or Londonderry, often called the Maiden City, is a city in Northern Ireland. The old walled city of Londonderry lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, and the present city now covers both banks (Cityside to the west and Waterside to the east) and is connected by two bridges.
Derry is one of the longest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the 6th century when a monastery was founded there by St. Columba, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity.
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GALWAY Tours, Travel and Activities
Galway city is unique among Irish cities because of the strength of its Irish language, music, song and dancing traditions - it is often referred to as the 'Bilingual Capital of Ireland'.
The city is well known for its ‘Irishness', and mainly due to the fact that it has on its doorstep the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area). The language is visible on the city streets, with bilingual signage on display on shops and road signs, and can be heard by locals around the city.
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IRELAND ON A MUSICAL NOTE
Rock band U2 may be Ireland's biggest musical export, but when people talk about Irish music they are generally referring to an older, more intimate style of traditional or folk music.
For the visitor, the joy of Irish music lies in its sheer accessibility. The biggest names may play the same major venues as the rock stars, but almost every town and village seems to have a pub renowned for its music where you can show up and find a session in progress, or even join in if you feel so inclined.
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