Guide raises a glass to Irish pubs
One of the world's best-selling travel guides has ranked going to a pub as the greatest experience a tourist can have in Ireland.
The latest edition of the Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook said the love of a good drink remains the country's most popular social pastime, with no sign of letting up.
In its top 10 things to do while in Ireland, taking in a pub eclipses Dublin, Connemara, traditional music, Glendalough, Dingle, Galway, hiking, Bru na Boinne and the Rock of Cashel. The book also trumpets the new-found confidence of younger people in Ireland.
"For the first time, the Irish, particularly the under-30s, have no problem relaying their achievements and successes, in contrast to the older generation who were brought up in the belief that telling anyone they were doing well was unseemly and boastful," it states.
The guide's coordinating author is Irish-born and Dublin-based Fionn Davenport. It states Ireland's economic crisis has not dampened the spirits of the resilient population, who are described as adaptable to whatever comes their way.
"The Irish - fatalistic and pessimistic to the core - will shrug their shoulders and just get on with their lives," it says.
Dublin is described as a city that knows how to have fun, with world-class museums, superb restaurants and the best collection of entertainment in the country.
The authors also say that Northern Ireland's Belfast has pulled off a remarkable transformation from bombs-and-bullets pariah to a hip hotels-and-hedonism party town.
Everything good about Ireland can be found in Co Cork while Derry comes as a pleasant surprise to many with its great riverside setting, fascinating historical sights and determined can-do optimism that has made it the powerhouse of the North's cultural revival.
Larne in Co Antrim is described as a little lacking in the charm department while Kilkee in Co Clare is compared to the Caribbean with the white, powdery sands of its beach.