Friday, December 4, 2009

Irish deserve “some kind of compensation”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter admits that the Football Association of Ireland deserves some measure of compensation arising from last month’s controversial World Cup exit.

Blatter was speaking in South Africa ahead of Friday evening’s finals draw, in which Ireland’s conquerors France are one of eight unseeded sides in the European pot.

And while he indicated that any award would not be financial, the Fifa chief conceded that the FAI deserves some recompense.

He said: “If you started to compensate teams not qualified you will have others coming to us but you are right when you see this kind of matter where the whole world has seen foul play, then maybe there could be some kind of compensation for Ireland.

“We will look at that. Yesterday, Ireland withdrew their demands [to be accommodated at next summer’s finals as an extra participant] and they asked to meet with us and we will do that next week.”


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Irish deserve “some kind of compensation”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter admits that the Football Association of Ireland deserves some measure of compensation arising from last month’s controversial World Cup exit.

Blatter was speaking in South Africa ahead of Friday evening’s finals draw, in which Ireland’s conquerors France are one of eight unseeded sides in the European pot.

And while he indicated that any award would not be financial, the Fifa chief conceded that the FAI deserves some recompense.

He said: “If you started to compensate teams not qualified you will have others coming to us but you are right when you see this kind of matter where the whole world has seen foul play, then maybe there could be some kind of compensation for Ireland.

“We will look at that. Yesterday, Ireland withdrew their demands [to be accommodated at next summer’s finals as an extra participant] and they asked to meet with us and we will do that next week.”


Shaun Woodward 'confident' on Northern Ireland policing handover

Shaun Woodward, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said he remained ''confident'' that a deal would be reached on the handover of policing and justice powers to the Stormont executive.

Woodward, the Northern Ireland Secretary Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister, has warned that the province is facing a ''full-blown crisis'' unless there is an agreement in place by Christmas.

Sinn Fein has accused the Democratic Unionists (DUP), led by First Minister Peter Robinson, of stalling on a deal which would see control over law and order powers pass from Westminster to Northern Ireland politicians - including republicans.

The DUP, in turn, has accused Sinn Fein of ''sabre-rattling'' and warned against the setting of ''arbitrary deadlines''.

Mr Woodward insisted that ''real progress'' was being made towards an agreement.

''I think that in the coming weeks it will be possible to achieve these last parts of the package that will allow devolution to go through for policing and justice,'' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

''I am confident that the political leaders in Northern Ireland will manage to find an agreement.''


Ireland likely to give gay couples more rights

Submitted by NewsSystem on Fri, 12/04/2009 - 04:00 SFGate Features: Gay & Lesbian
Ireland's lawmakers opened debate Thursday on a bill to grant marriage-style rights to gay couples, a social milestone in a country long observant of Roman Catholic opposition to homosexuality. Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the bill would give gay...


Fears of fresh bomb attack on Northern Ireland's Policing Board HQ

Dissident republicans who tried to blow up Northern Ireland's Policing Board HQ in Belfast are likely to target the building again, a senior officer warned yesterday.

Intelligence suggests that another attack on the Policing Board in Belfast is a "strong possibility", Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Drew Harris revealed.

While the main threat is to the building, Mr Harris told members and staff of the independent body that they were at "moderate" risk.

Last month terrorists drove a car carrying 200kg (440lb) of home-made explosive through an entry barrier and abandoned it outside the towerblock in the Clarendon dock area. However, the device failed to detonate and no one was injured.

Security was tight at the building today as senior officers briefed members at the first meeting since the bomb plot.

As guards manned newly-erected steel barriers outside, Mr Harris indicated that the terrorists would try to strike again.

"Obviously following the events of Saturday evening 21st of November when a vehicle borne improvised explosive device was left at this building - it was a device consisting of 200kg of home made explosives that failed to fully detonate," he said.

"Subsequent to that, staff or members of the Policing Board are assessed to be at moderate threat but this building itself is defined as being at substantial threat, which is an attack is a strong possibility.

"That's the current situation at this time."

The Policing Board was set up as part of peace process reforms designed to make the police more accountable.

The failed attack at its HQ was blamed on republican extremists who continue to target the agencies of law and order in a bid to destabilise the political process.

The board is made up of independent and political members who scrutinise the PSNI's performance.

In the wake of Mr Harris's report, Democratic Unionist member Ian Paisley Jnr praised the board staff for the work they continued to do in the face of the threat.

"Could I pay tribute to our staff? Our staff don't deserve to be targeted, our staff do an excellent job for the public," he said.

"And for them to be subject to an attempt to destroy their place of work and indeed destroy them I think is completely reprehensible and needs to receive the firmest possible condemnation."

The North Antrim representative also commended the independent board members for their fortitude.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said it was ironic that terrorists would attack what was a symbol of police reform.

"It is very ironic indeed that the building that is precisely here to house very important accountability mechanisms was targeted," said the South Belfast Assembly member.

"And I do want to make sure that the members of staff here who do provide invaluable work and support in this regard are recognised for the very professional standards for the work they do uphold."

The attempted bombing happened within hours of a murder bid on a trainee police officer in the Co Fermanagh border village of Garrison. An undercover police unit thwarted that attack and two people have since been arrested and charged.

At yesterday's meeting, Mr Harris was accompanied by members of the PSNI's senior command team, including Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

Mr Baggott told the board that his officers would not let the violent renegades prevent them from providing a professional service to the public.

"We have a difficult time in dealing with the security situation. We have never said that it's not severe but I know that I have the most incredibly professional colleagues working on that - Garrison showed that in a very clear way," he said.

"We are determined that we won't allow a minority of people to undermine our accountability to you (the board)."

The chief added: "I know we are motivated by a desire to serve everybody and we won't let a number of people who are going in a completely opposite direction stop us from doing that."


Simply Red stars in row over Ireland hunting rights

Simply Red lead singer Mick Hucknall and a bandmate are suing the owner of a neighbouring County Donegal estate in a row over fishing and shooting rights.

Mr Hucknall and saxophonist Chris De Margary bought Glenmore Lodge near Ballybofey in 2005.

They claim a neighbour, John Wilde, has been interfering with the sporting rights on their estate, a court heard.

Mr Wilde claims the previous owners of Glenmore transferred the rights to his father.

Lawyers for the two musicians say they bought the exclusive fishing and hunting rights to about 19,000 acres of land for £1.3m.

They have developed a tourism business on the land, the Glenmore Rivers Sporting Estate.


Continental game-sports parties can fly there directly by helicopter or chartered jet, bringing their own guns and fishing rods.

Although the musicians do not own the land on which they have claim to own the fishing and shooting rights, they said this was transferred to them when they bought the lodge.

However, John Wilde, who owns Cloghan Lodge on the far side of the River Finn, insists he owns the exclusive rights to hunting on the land.

Mr Hucknall and Mr De Margary sought an injunction to prevent Mr Wilde interfering with their rights until a full hearing of the case.

The judge said that could take years to sort out.

He adjourned the case for a period to give both sides time to sort out their differences, but they failed to come to an agreement.

The musicians' barrister said they would be happy not to interfere with Mr Wilde's estate if they got a similar undertaking from him.

He said Mr Wilde had huge areas to use on his estate but Judge O'Hagan said he would make no orders because if he did it would "stir up trouble".

He adjourned the case until later this month to allow Mr Wilde to reply to the claim.


Northern Ireland UK Touts 10Mbps Minimum Broadband Speed by 2011

The Northern Ireland Executive appears to have bested the UK government's Universal Service Commitment (USC) to bring a minimum broadband connection speed of 2Mbps to everybody in the country by 2012. Instead N.I has gone one step further and promised a minimum of 2Mbps for rural areas and 10Mbps for urban areas by May 2011.

BT is investing close to £30m in the project, with a further £18m coming from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI), under the European Regional Development Fund's (ERDF) European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Rural Development Programme.

Under the project, BT will deploy Fibre-to-the-Cabinet ( FTTC ) technology to a majority of businesses with other fixed line solutions being used where appropriate. Businesses can thus expect maximum speeds of up to 40Mbps, with the lowest performance being more like 10 to 15Mbps downstream. Upstream speeds of 2 to 15Mbps are possible.

Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, said:

"Following a competitive tender exercise, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has entered into a contract with BT for further development of Northern Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure, specifically the provision of Next Generation Broadband Services.

“This is hugely significant. At a time of economic slowdown when private sector companies are scaling down their investments, this multi-million pound injection in our infrastructure has the potential to indirectly create up to 1,000 additional jobs per annum."
The contract with BT will deliver faster speeds through the accelerated deployment of fibre optic cable. There will be upgrades to equipment across 166 exchanges (plus 1,176 new access points) and the introduction of new technology to increase broadband speeds to businesses.

However, upon closer inspection, we note that the project is only designed to deliver on the key Programme for Government objective to ensure 85% of businesses in Northern Ireland will have access to next generation broadband speeds by 2011. That is not 100% and the remaining businesses are likely to get just 2Mbps.

The Minister explained:

"All of the technologies to be used will be fixed line with fibre being the predominant solution. There are few, if any, parts of the British Isles which will have anywhere near the amount of fibre that is going to be deployed in Northern Ireland, particularly in our rural areas.

Telecoms is one of the jewels in our crown and this investment in faster broadband, which builds upon our earlier investments and the provision of 100% access to first generation broadband, provides further opportunity for companies based here to improve their productivity."
The news is certainly very welcome because Northern Ireland is known to have some of the slowest broadband speeds in the UK and it is in desperate need of an upgrade, which this appears to deliver. Still, the Executive’s statement reads more like a network enhancement announcement than a specific pledge to deliver 2Mbps to every single rural area and 10Mbps for every single business in Northern Ireland.


N Ireland 'doing well' to recover lost jobs by 2015

Northern Ireland's economy will take several years to rise back to the levels before the downturn, an Ulster Bank economist has said.

In the bank's quarterly economic review, Richard Ramsey predicted NI would emerge from recession next year.

However, he warned that growth would be limited by inevitable cuts in public spending as well as factors such as the performance of the Republic's economy.

He said NI would be doing well to get back to peak employment levels by 2015.

Mr Ramsey predicted unemployment would peak at about 8.5% during mid-2010 and would remain relatively high for years to come.

Eventually some parts of our local retail sector will be left exposed when the current influx of RoI shoppers subsides

Richard Ramsey
Ulster Bank chief economist
The economy may be "moving out of intensive care" but the period ahead would be one of higher unemployment and rising taxes, he said.

He said the scale of impending public expenditure cuts were of major concern.

"There are short-term spending pressures, including funding the water charge subsidy, a civil service back-pay claim and a shortfall in capital receipts, running into several hundred million pounds," he said.

"And in the slightly longer-term, Northern Ireland will experience the biggest public sector expenditure cut on record.

"A reduction in expenditure of £730m, which some are predicting, would be the equivalent of shutting down the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development for three years."

'Economic fundamentals'

Mr Ramsey said the issue of public sector pay must be addressed to "ensure that public sector wages better reflect true economic fundamentals".

He said it was "extremely important" that Northern Ireland firms take advantage of the current weakness of sterling against the euro, as he believed this would be short-lived.

"Eventually some parts of our local retail sector will be left exposed when the current influx of RoI shoppers subsides," he said.

The strength of retail was one cause for optimism, he said, along with some areas of manufacturing.

He said food, drink and tobacco were performing particularly well, driven by the exchange rate.

Other positives were that unemployment would not hit levels experienced in the early 1980s recession as well as the return to growth in new house starts, mortgage approvals and new car sales.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Top Things To Do In Ireland

Ireland is a fantastic holiday destination, with incredible changes in landscape in a relatively small area, and trendy cities within driving distance of remote rural communities. Here are five of the best things to do when you visit:

1. Go to Dublin

No visit to Ireland is complete without spending some time in Dublin – even if it’s only a day, although you need longer to do it justice. From the beautiful architecture of its university, to the General Post Office, which was the main post of the Irish Volunteers in the 1916 uprising, you can find something in the city to inspire awe. Alternatively, explore its parks, pubs, night life and fine dining to whet your appetite for the rest of this remarkable country.

2. Buy some Waterford Crystal

The crystal produced in Waterford is famous the world over, and visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to take a look around the factory and buy a souvenir in the gift shop. Walk through the factory, watching the glass being formed and engraved by specialist craftspeople, getting a bird’s eye view of the whole process. Find out how the apprentices learn the engraver’s craft and indulge yourself in a beautiful piece of crystal – the perfect reminder of your time in Ireland.

3. Play golf

Ireland is a well-known and loved haunt for golfing enthusiasts, with championship links courses and a range of inland courses for all tastes and abilities. Golf is one of the main reasons that many people choose to visit Ireland and a true golf fan should try and sample a couple of the best courses during their stay.

4. Find some ancient history

Ireland has plenty to offer those who are interested in all things historical. Its position as one of the most important Christian countries means that there is a wealth of material for the keen historian, including the unusual round towers that seem to have been a common part of Ireland’s monastic buildings between the 9th and 12th centuries. If you’re in County Kerry, don’t miss the Gallarus Oratory, which dates from as early as the 6th century and is a master class in building with stone.

5. Go to the beach

Ireland is blessed with a variety of beautiful beaches, from wide stretches of sand to tiny hidden bays. Take the kids and some buckets and spades, or a book and a bottle of wine and settle down for a beach day to remember.

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Reasons To Visit Ireland

Ireland holds many wonders in its relatively small land. To those who visit for the first time, it is awash with new experiences and surprises. To those who are returning, it is welcoming, immediately memorable and long-anticipated. Whether you are a new visitor or an old hand, here are some of the best reasons to visit Ireland.

1. Variety

Ireland has a tremendous variety of just about everything, and all of it is reasonably accessible, although you may have to hike a while to find the remotest of scenery. If you’re looking for nightlife, then visit Dublin – now well-established as a cultural and entertainment hotspot, or try other towns such as Cork or Galway, which also know how to entertain visitors. Just a short drive down the coast from Dublin though, and you can be in the middle of a remote and beautiful landscape where the only nightlife is in the wild – and mostly unseen. This variety extends to the food, the activities, the landscape and the coastline, which is why Ireland is best visited several times.

2. Pace

Outside the major economic areas, the pace of life in Ireland slows considerably. There’s no reason to rush and normal expectations of opening hours, service and time aren’t always mirrored in rural Irish communities. This slowing of the pace of life is one of the most attractive things about visiting Ireland and whilst it might take a couple of days to adjust, you’ll be amazed at how much more relaxed you feel on your return home – and how unnecessarily fast the world seems around you!

3. Culture

Ireland has a rich culture, elements of which have been successfully exported around the world with those Irish men and women that have emigrated to other countries. Only in Ireland, however, do you get a true flavour of the musical, literary and spoken culture that still has a dominant place in the country.

4. Welcome

Tourism is a major part of the Irish economy and its people are natural hosts. Whilst you can travel independently, arrange your own accommodation and keep to yourself if you choose, you’ll find a warm welcome wherever you go, and children are particularly loved, making Ireland an ideal holiday destination for families.

5. Activities

There’s no shortage of things to do (or not to do) in Ireland. From championship golf to deep sea fishing; bird watching to windsurfing; playing on the beach to visiting historical monuments, there’s something for all tastes and all ages. Thrill seeker or beach comber, Ireland has what you’re looking for.

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Ireland Could Be Your Best Vacation Ever

Ireland is a country that captures the imagination and floods the senses. Its lush green landscapes, sparkling seas, hidden coves, dramatic mountains and welcoming people are just some of the reasons why you’ll return to Ireland again and again.

For such a small country, Ireland has a lot to offer the visitor. Whatever you’re interested in, Ireland can provide it and you’ll never be disappointed. Whether you’re staying in the vibrant capital city of Dublin or in a rural idyll on the west coast, you’ll find more to do than you have time for – and time definitely moves more slowly when you take a holiday here.

The food

Irish restaurants offer some of the most wonderful food. Its island position gives it access to a wide range of seafood and its fertile land is ideal for livestock and produce farmers. Local chefs create fabulous dishes with this local produce, and you can create your own gastronomic delight with freshly caught mussels and perfect Irish cheese.

The landscape

Whether you enjoy coastal walks or mountain trails, Ireland has something to offer. Its west coast faces the Atlantic, with nothing between you an North America except thousands of miles of ocean, and spectacular cliffs stand alongside sheltered beaches and wider stretches of sand. There is said to be more shades of green in Ireland than anywhere else, and from some of the country’s most famous vantage points, you can count them all as you spy across hills and valleys.

The people

The Irish are welcoming people for whom tourism is an important economy. Centuries of emigration mean that many tourists come to Ireland to research their family history or to visit places their ancestors called home and today’s inhabitants are happy to help wherever they can. Notoriously child-friendly, Ireland is an ideal resort for families with children of any age, and local hospitality in restaurants, pubs and guest houses is one of the things that stays with you long after you return home.

If you’ve yet to visit Ireland, then it’s time you took a look at what’s on offer. Be warned though: one visit is never enough!

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Make The Most Of Your Irish Vacation

So, you’ve decided to go to Ireland for your next vacation – how are you going to make sure you get the most from your trip?

Ireland has so much to offer that it’s easy to waste your vacation deciding what to do. A far better idea is to plan what you want to do before you get there so that you can really enjoy what Ireland has to offer. Here are three great ways to make sure that you do:

1. Check out the restaurants

The internet is a great source of information and there’s nowhere better to check out Ireland’s best restaurants. Whatever you do, or wherever you stay, you’re bound to be within driving distance of a great place to eat, and you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to give them a try. From trendy Dublin eateries to the fabulous fish restaurants in Kinsale, you’ll find something to make your taste buds tingle.

2. Think about what you want to do

Want to have two or three rounds of golf when you’re visiting? Looking for a taste of the traditional music and storytelling? Can’t wait to see rare birds or go Dolphin watching? Whatever you want to do with your holiday, it’s worth spending a little time researching what’s available. For example there are lots of golf courses in Ireland, and you may want to play a couple of nearby links courses, or just find a driving range. Alternatively, you could book a deep sea fishing trip or a day’s pony trekking before you even arrive, ensuring that you have a couple of activities planned. Be warned: the wonderfully slow pace of rural Irish life may mean that if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll be too relaxed to do anything!

3. Ask the locals

If you’ve decided to wait until you get there, the best source of local information, like any holiday destination, is the people who live there. Whether it’s the hotel owner, waitress, gift shop manager or someone you meet in the street or on the train, this is a great way to find a secluded beach, a spectacular cliff-top walk or the best local produce.

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Book The Irish Riviera Now

The “Irish Riviera” is the name given to the sunny south coast of Ireland, where small towns nestle next door to each other along a beautiful coastline with sandy beaches, welcoming people and fantastic food. Within easy reach of visitors arriving by air or sea, it’s the perfect holiday destination for those who want to experience a true taste of Ireland.

If you’ve never been to the Irish Riviera, but the idea of sea, scenery and seafood appeals to you, then here are 3 great reasons why you should book now:

1. The towns

The Irish Riviera is a collection of towns of various sizes, serving a range of local and tourist communities. From Waterford in the north, where the famous crystal is designed and produced, to the popular town of Kinsale in the south, which host a large arts community and some of the best restaurants in Ireland, you can find a coastal or inland town that makes you feel welcome. Set in an area of considerable historical and cultural interest, the towns of the Irish Riviera alone make it a great holiday destination.

2. The attractions

The main attraction of the Irish Riviera is clear: its coastline. With beautiful beaches, sheltered coves and working fishing ports, this part of the Irish coast has something to offer anyone who loves the sea. Youghal, the town at the centre of the Irish Riviera region, has two blue-flag beaches, and other areas offer sheltered bathing, rock-pool fun and excellent wildlife watching. It’s not just the beaches that bring people to this part of Ireland, though. Music, literature and crafts are an important attraction, with festivals and on-going entertainments keeping visitors occupied all year round. There’s plenty of sport available too, including golf, water sports and the famous Irish horse racing calendar.

3. The accommodation

Whatever type of holiday accommodation you prefer, you can find it on the Irish Riviera. From hotels for those who like to be pampered, to friendly bed and breakfast rooms for those on the move, accommodation is of a high standard and a reasonable cost. Try a self catering cottage just yards from the beach for a perfectly independent, yet truly memorable holiday experience.

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Driving In Ireland - Your Essential Guide

Most visitors to Ireland either bring their own car by ferry from Britain, or they fly and hire a car.

If you are hiring a car, you need to know that an automatic will cost half as much again as the identical manual gear box model.

Petrol is currently about 1.20 euro a litre, that’s about 80 pence sterling and about $1.50 a litre in USD. That’s about $6 a US gallon. Diesel is a small bit cheaper. Most hire cars will give you 40 miles to the gallon or more.

Visitors are often surprised by how big Ireland is. It will take you seven hours to drive from one end to the other. The Island of Ireland is actually two countries, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of Britain. From Dublin to Belfast will take you a good two hours motorway driving. Dublin to Cork will take you between four and six hours depending on the time of day.

The only motorways in Ireland are around Dublin. The motorway speed limit is 120 Km/Hr (75mph) The speed limit on National roads, N7, N8, N25, etc is 100Km/Hr (62mph). On Local roads the limit is 80 Km/Hr (50mph). National roads go through all sorts of towns and villages where you will find shoppers double parked, so your average speed off the motorways is 40mph over any distance at all.

Speed limits are enforced by the Gardai (pronounced gardEE). The Guards do not stand silhouetted against the skyline wearing bright orange jackets, as they do in Britain. In Ireland they hide behind lamp posts, crouch behind walls and hide in the bushes. You will not see them before they catch you on camera. Believe me – I drive 30,000 miles a year in Ireland, I know.

If you are driving a UK registered car, including Northern Ireland, the Guards will not usually stop you. If you have hired a car in Ireland they will stop you, but will probably let you go once they see you are a visitor, driving on a US or UK licence. At the moment only Irish drivers can be given penalty points, though other nationalities can be fined.

Driving in Ireland is extremely hazardous, especially between 11pm and 6am. Drink driving is common, seat belts are rarely worn and drivers are aggressive and totally discourteous. Never expect another driver to give wayif he has the right of way. Drive defensively. Expect the absolutely ridiculous to happen.

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Belfast City Guide, Including Belfast Hotels

Nestled in a valley and bordered to the east by the Irish Sea, the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, is a vibrant and lively Celtic city that lives up to its nickname of “The Hibernian Rio.” Situated on the River Lagan, the pedestrian-friendly city enjoys a focal point in Donegal Square where the architecturally stunning City Hall dominates the skyline, and elsewhere Victorian and Edwardian architecture can be enjoyed by visitors on foot.

Places of interest:

Belfast’s glorious seafaring history and place at the forefront of the industrial revolution is evident in the greatest shipyard in Great Britain, where the Titanic was built. The city’s name is derived from the Irish “beal feirste” which means “at the mouth of the sandpit” and nightlife, arts, festivals, dining and shopping are all in abundance in the city. The sea front in particular is now pedestrianised and visitors can enjoy the best of Irish culture in street musicians and theatre against the backdrop of the Irish Sea.

Standing 120 metres above sea level, Belfast Castle offers breathtaking and panoramic views of the city, bay and surrounding areas. Belfast Castle was the ancestral home of the Chichester, later Donegall, family who were descendants of Arthur Chichester who planted the land that was to become the city in the 1600s. The history of the castle, and city, are celebrated in the Cave Hill Visitor Centre in the castle grounds.

Ulster Museum, set over 8000 square metres of grounds, is likely to take up a full day, so extensive and fascinating are its archaeology, ethnography, art, history and natural sciences exhibits. The collections portray and celebrate the history, culture, artistic, scientific and industrial achievements: in short, the story of the Irish people from their ancient roots up until modern day. The museum houses both permanent and temporary collections, and regular, creatively planned tours are offered to distil some of the wonders of the museum into palatable chunks.

For stunning hiberno-romanesque architecture, the Belfast Cathedral is worth a visit, and the exciting, interactive and interpretive St. Patrick Centre tells the story of Ireland’s patron saint, in his own words.

The Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park and City of Belfast International Rose Garden, in the southern outskirts of Belfast features an International Rose Exhibition, as well as gardens, walks, a children’s playground and live music concerts.

The Linen Hall Library was established in 1788 and boasts a collection of over 20,000 volumes of Irish literature and an enviable Robert Burns collection.

Things to do:

Belfast will never leave tourists wondering how to entertain themselves! Plenty of things to do and see exist in Belfast.

The world class Belfast Zoo features plenty of don’t-miss attractions, including the monkey park, reptile house and children’s playground.

Walking Tours of Belfast include The Old Town, Titanic Trail and the City Centre Walk.

The oldest covered market in Ireland, St George’s Market offers a range of fish and speciality foods that are unrivalled in Europe.

The world’s largest dry dock, Haarland and Wolfe, is where the Titanic was built and its famous cranes, Samson and Goliath, can be seen from all over the city.

At the The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum a fascinating insight into the history and the daily lives of Ulster people can be found.

The Home Front Heritage Centre features collections that portray the Belfast experience of the Second World War, and is also home to the museum of the Royal Ulster Rifles.

W5 is a world renowned innovative and interactive centre of science and technology exploration, with activities, exhibits and demonstrations to expand and intrigue minds of all ages.

Food & Drink:

If it is excellent food the tourist seeks, they won’t have to look far in Belfast.

Traditional pub fare in a historical atmosphere is to be found at Belfast’s most famous pub, the Crown Liquor Saloon in the heart of the historical district.

Altos was rated number one by Yahoo travel for stylish and contemporary cuisine, serving cutting-edge Mediterranean food and featuring an extensive wine list and speciality coffee choices.

The Gypsy Queen Vegetarian Restaurant is on of Europe’s premier vegetarian dining destinations. All dishes are GMO approved, and organic wherever possible.

For the cuisine enthusiast, Deane’s Restaurant is a high end, luxurious dining experience, featuring dishes created by one of Ireland’s top chefs.

Live music pubs are a staple of Belfast nightlife, including the Duke of York, Morrisons and at the docks, Pat’s Bar Princes.

Belfast Hotels & Accommodation:

As befitting a major European destination, a full range of accommodation options are available in Belfast. Visitors can chose from cosy, family run bed and breakfast establishments, a variety of self catering options and luxury five star hotels to suit every taste, set of requirements and budget.

Ravenhill Guest House
The Crescent Townhouse
Europa Hotel
The Malone Lodge Hotel
Tara Lodge
The Park Avenue Hotel
The Stormont Hotel
The Chimney Corner Hotel
Culloden Hotel
Days Hotel
Jurys Inn Belfast
Ramada Belfast
Parkview Lodge
Ten Square


Nightlife is one of Belfast’s main attractions, with revellers enjoying everything from world class dance clubs to traditional pubs. The Potthouse, opened in November 2004 was built on the site of Belfast’s first pottery factory and comprises The Potthouse Bar & Grill, Sugar Nighclub, which plays Top 40, House and classic Disco, and the Soap Bar guestroom. The Fly and The Grill Room and Bar are also notable Belfast nightspots. The Movie House Cinema on the Golden Mile offers the latest cinema releases, as well as arthouse and independent films, and Ireland’s only 3D and 2D large format cinema, the SheridanIMAX is located on Queen’s Quay. Fantastic shopping is available in the city centre Donegall Place and the Waterfront Concert Hall hosts concerts and music tours from all over the world.

Belfast enjoys an enviable position at the forefront of Hibernian culture, scenery and history. With an ideal and unique combination of Celtic culture and British industrial influence, Belfast is an ideal seaside destination for family friendly events, educational and historical attractions and a nightlife that is second to none throughout Europe. In common with much of the British Isles, Belfast experiences a temperate and often wet climate, but is protected by the surrounding mountains of Divis Mountain, Black Mountain and Cave Hill.

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Irish Folklore and Beliefs

The people of Ireland have an illustrious cultural history, full of stories of faeries and and the great Saint Patrick who freed Emerald Isle from snakes. The folklore and traditions which encompasses Irelands's religious as well as ancient pagan past are a beautiful way to know about its rich cultural heritage.

People often relate the symbol of shamrock with Ireland. It is believed that Saint Patrick used this commonly found plant to espouse on the theory of the Christian trinity of father, son and the holy ghost. Shamrock plant is made of three leaves and is believed to have supernatural power of healing and protection. This is why it is commonly found engraved on graves.

The color green is commonly associated with Ireland, including its famous nickname of the Emerald Isle. Green is thought to be the color of life and spring, so the people use it to display their national pride. Additionally, the wet weather of Ireland allows it to possess lush green plants, thus the Emerald Isle.

Perhaps the most famous legend that stems from Ireland is that of the leprechaun. These tiny enchanted people are often associated with rainbows and pots of gold, as they guard the treasures from people who are so lucky to find the end of the rainbow. Usually, leprechauns are troublemakers and rogues, who mean no harm but only perform pranks to delight children and adults alike. Next time you see a rainbow, try to catch the leprechaun!

The Blarney stone in the famous Blarney Castle has a legend attached to it. It is said to have bestowed the gift of eloquence to Lord of Blarney when the reagent of England's’sQueen Elizabeth I tried to influence him to English rule. The poor Lord did not know what to say to the ruler. A wise woman told him to kiss the Blarney stone and he succeeded in making his plea before the Queen.

Ancient Irish celebrated the holiday known as Samhain on the 31st of October—All Hallow’s Eve. On this date, a great feast was thrown, along with a ceremonial extinguishing and lighting of bonfires. Since the Celts believed in spirits, every man, woman, and child dressed in a disguise to fool evil spirits on their way home.

Finn McCool is best known as the friendly giant of Ireland that protected the fair isle against attack. It is believe Finn fought against an evil giant from Scotland by extracting a large clod of earth and throwing it at the big Scot. The hole left soon filled with water and left Ireland’s largest body of water, Lough Neagh.

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland has the most popular legend attached to his name. Saint Patrick worked with the Roman Catholic Church to convert pagans to Christianity in the fifth century. He was always on the run since he had upset the Droids and was often imprisoned. He is said to have rid Ireland of snakes, as he set a curse upon the serpents, making them drown in the sea.

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Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɪrlənd/ , locally [ˈaɾlənd]; Irish: Éire, pronounced [ˈeːɾʲə] ; Ulster Scots: Airlann, Latin: Hibernia) is the second largest of the two main islands of the British Isles, the third-largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland, separated by the Irish Sea, is the island of Great Britain. Politically, the sovereign state of Ireland (described as the Republic of Ireland) covers five-sixths of the island, with Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) covering the remainder in the north-east.

The first settlements in Ireland date from 8000 BC. By 200 BC Celtic migration and influence had come to dominate the island. Relatively small scale settlements of both the Vikings and Normans in the Middle Ages gave way to complete English domination by the 1600s. Protestant English rule resulted in the marginalisation of the Catholic majority, although in the north-east, Protestants were in the majority due to the Plantation of Ulster. Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. A famine in the mid-1800s caused large-scale death and emigration. The Irish War of Independence ended in 1921 with the British Government proposing a truce and during which the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, creating the Irish Free State. This was a Dominion within the British Empire, with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown. Northern Ireland, consisting of six of the 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, immediately exercised its option under the treaty to retain its existing status within the United Kingdom. The Free State left the Commonwealth to become a republic in 1949. In 1973 both parts of Ireland joined the European Community. Conflict in Northern Ireland led to much unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s, which subsided following a peace deal in 1998.

The population of the island is slightly over 6 million (2006), with 4.5 million in the Republic and an estimated almost 1.75 million in Northern Ireland. This is a significant increase from a modern historic low in the 1960s, but still much lower than the peak population of over 8 million in the early 19th century, prior to the Great Famine.

The name Ireland derives from the name of the Celtic goddess Ériu (in modern Irish, Éire) with the addition of the Germanic word land. Most other western European names for Ireland, such as Spanish Irlanda, derive from the same sourc

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