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Letter: Ireland - not all it is craic-d up to be.

Byline: Clement James

Dear Editor, - You can't open a travel supplement these days without seeing some wistful piece of blarney about the Emerald Isle (Post Travel, November 3rd).

My Irish friends here in Birmingham never shut up about the place. Inevitably they serve up the same old description of quiet country roads, rolling green fields dotted with sweet, white-washed crofts and lively little pubs full of wonderful music, friendly locals and the ubiquitous "Craic".

Is someone paying journalists to lie, or am I being very unlucky? We have just returned from our third family visit to Ireland, lured by the legend, only to be bitterly disappointed yet again.

My first trip to Ireland involved renting a cottage on the Galway coast. It sounded idyllic. The reality was grim.

The car journey was a nightmare - Dublin motorists are the rudest and most impatient in Europe, the traffic is heaving and the drive across the Irish Midlands was interminable and dull.

The roads wouldn't shame a Third World country.

Galway city was full of drunken young louts. The service in bars and shops was frequently ill-mannered and surly.

The scenery (when the rain lifted briefly) was disfigured by hundreds of identical, Spanish-style bungalows. The bars were cold, unfriendly places with awful food. And there was no Craic anywhere.

Friends said try County Mayo - it's not so commercialised. Dead right it's not. It was like going back to the fifties.

The roads were even worse, except for the three lane motorway built for the last Pope to drive from Knock Airport (a shed in a big field) to the site of a visitation by the Virgin Mary a few miles up the road. And the service in bars and shopes was still humourless and indifferent. No Craic - not even some diddly-eye music.

Last week we went to Cork, this year's European Capital of Culture. The bars were still cold and unfriendly, but this time they were even emptier because of the smoking ban. Gallons of lashing rain, but still no Craic.

From now on I'm sticking to Wales - it's closer, prettier, drier and the natives' welcome is positively gushing by comparison

Clement James Sutton Coldfield
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2005
Words:362
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