Tour of Ireland
Paul Brians & Paula Elliot
June 3-14, 2003
Ireland has a lot to offer the traveler besides its famously green countryside and popular traditional music. It is rich in prehistoric and Medieval ruins, fine Georgian architecture, and art. For those interested in literature, it is also the homeland of a great many of the English language's finest writers: Swift, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats, O'Casey, Beckett, Behan, and--most famous of all--James Joyce. The Irish are intensely proud of their writers, and literary memorials are scattered all over the country, and frequently visited.
Unlike Northern Ireland, about which we hear so often in the news, the nation of Eire, which makes up most of the island, gained its independence formally in 1921 and completely separated from the United Kingdom in 1949. Although memories of the long struggle for independence are everywhere, Ireland is also a very modern nation. In the 1990s it experienced a high-tech boom which created widespread prosperity. In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, some of that prosperity has dwindled, and the Irish are struggling with a declining economy; but the country is still presents a bright, modern face to the world. It is a participating member of the European Monetary Union, so we had our first chance to use Euros on this trip. Although the bills are generic across the Union, coins have a reverse side illustrating some aspect of their country of origin--in the case of Ireland, a Celtic harp.
All photos copyright Paul Brians.