I was given the opportunity to speak at a user group meeting in Dublin this upcoming June, and I decided I didn't want to be completely ignorant about the country. While it won't be a touring vacation, I'd still like to know a bit more about where I'll be visiting. To that end, I received a review copy of Ireland for Dummies by Liz Albertson. It's a fun and easy read, and at least I won't be a *completely* stupid American tourist now.
Part 1 - Introducing Ireland: Discovering the Best of Ireland; Digging Deeper into Ireland; Deciding When and Where to Go; Following an Itinerary - Four Great Options
Part 2 - Planning Your Trip to Ireland: Managing Your Money; Getting to Ireland; Getting around Ireland; Booking Your Accommodations; Catering to Special Travel Needs and Interests; Taking Care of the Remaining Details
Part 3 - Dublin and the East Coast: Dublin; Easy Trips North of Dublin - Counties Meath and Louth; Easy Trips South of Dublin - Counties Wicklow and Kildare; The Southeast - Counties Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary, and Kilkenny
Part 4 - Counties Cork and Kerry: County Cork; County Kerry
Part 5 - The West and the Northwest: Counties Limerick and Clare; County Galway - Galway City, The Aran Islands, and Connemara; Counties Mayo and Sligo; County Donegal
Part 6 - Northern Ireland: Counties Derry, Fermanagh, and Tyrone; Belfast and County Antrim; Counties Down and Armagh
Part 7 - The Part of Tens: Top Ten Traditional Irish Dishes and Drinks; The Top Ten Items to Buy in Ireland
Appendix: Quick Concierge
For what I was looking for, this book was perfect. I'm not moving over there, nor was I looking for an in-depth discussion and critical analysis of Irish history and culture. I needed something that would give me an overall understanding of the country and the different areas. For instance, not having spent much time going beyond the nightly news, I didn't understand the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. At least now I have a basic feel for the forces at play. I was also fascinated by the colorful history of the island over the centuries. It's amazing to think there are buildings and institutions there that are approaching a thousand years of existence. Makes the history of the United States look rather insignificant. If I were going to be headed off on my own for a week or so, the travel and sightseeing information here would be incredibly useful. Not only is there good information about what to see (and what possibly to avoid), the author also gives suggested amounts of time you might want to allocate towards a site. If you're thinking you might like to spend half a day somewhere and she suggests an hour, you might want to give your plans a second thought. I also liked a feature of this book that I haven't seen in others... They include a page of Dummies Post-It flags that you can use to tag important (to you) pages for further reference as you're traveling. A simple thing, but it makes the book even more valuable to take along and use on your trip.
My wife would like to visit Ireland and England one day, but not on the whirlwind schedule that this speaking trip will entail. When we *do* head back over there (and I'm sure we will), this book will be an essential part of our planning...