TODAY 11 IS fashionable Ato go to Ireland for holidays. Aer Lingus were pioneers in showing how modern, comfortable and quick travel could make Ireland readily accessible. Car hire firms in Ireland provided the wherewithall to see the beauties of the scenery when you had landed.
Now British Railways have also moved into the arena and improved their Irish services, especially with the operation of their excellent new car ferry from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire.
In Ireland itself new hotels have grown like mushrooms and are able to provide for the increase in demand for beds. So far so good.
Holidays are still a joy, and one can only hope and pray that they will remain so; that the increasing prosperity will not spoil the Irish outlook on life and the visitor's share of it. It is in part up to us, the tourists and visitors.
To be frank, the weather in Ireland is no better than back at home in England. The language may have a softer lilt, but despite the efforts to step up the Gaelic, you will rarely if ever encounter anything but English being spoken.
The scenery is beautiful, but so is that of the Scottish Highlands or the Welsh mountains or the Lake District. English currency is valid everywhere on an equal footing with the Irish pounds shillings and pence. Guinness is supposed to be the same, though there are few connoisseurs of stout who would not rate the Irish to be the superior product.
The people, yes they are different, especially in their outlook on life. It has been said that the English live to work. and the Irish work to live—perhaps a glib summing up. but with some element of truth.
In Connemara you are told that God made time, and made plenty of it. When you go to Connemara or anywhere else in the Emerald Isle don't expect a carbon of your usual way of life, rather savour the delicacies of a new experience.
As you drive down the country a man will raise his cap in acknowlegment to you, even though you are a corn plete stranger. Acknowledge his salute, or he may lose the pleasant habit. In a restaurant no one will stare at you if you say Grace before you tackle your steak; it is commonplace. Don't curse the fellow on the bicycle slowly driving his cattle along the road; if on your holiday you could adopt his pace, you would be all the better for it.
The bar of your favourite local at home may be more stylish; it is easy to be critical.
But listen to the conversation and relish the uniqueness of the Irish story-teller.
Finally, one practical hint for the motorist. The "Reader's Digest Book of the Road" includes Ireland as well as the rest of 13ritain. It has a detailed map section which can be highly recommended. as well as a gazetteer of 24,000 place names with their appropriate map reference.