There’s Dublin and there’s the rest of Ireland – or so it can seem. The capital is characterful and bustling, with its colleges and Georgian shopping streets. But head south or west and a quieter Eire emerges: a fairytale land of dark-green fields, sandy beaches, moors, crags and many castles. Most scenic are Wicklow Hills, especially when rouged with heather, and the bonny Cork-Kerry coast, the ideal place for oyster festivals and sharing craic in village pubs. Running alongside is the newly-inaugurated, 1,553-mile Wild Atlantic Way drive.
Many Irish-goers are literature-lovers, anxious to trace the roots of work by Joyce, Yeats et al. Personally, as a footie fan who’d heard Irish fans thrillingly bellow out The Fields of Athenry at international games, I had another pilgrimage in mind. Athenry turned out to be an idyllic place with a small fort and, yes, low-lying fields. Still no sign of Trevelyan’s corn, mind.