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Ladie's View, Killarney
Ladie's View, Killarney

Wrapped throughout the year in the warm embrace of the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean, Ireland's south west coastline has a Mediterranean flavour.

High hedges of luxuriant fuschia blaze from May until the edge of winter. Palms abound. They refer to Cork as the city of "steps and steeples" after its many fine bridges and churches, particularly St. Finn Barre's Cathedral with its Christ in Glory ceiling and its ring of angels.

A special landmark is St. Anne's, Shandon, with its great gilded salmon weather vane and peal of bells which residents and visitors alike may play. Within Cork's generous harbour is Cobh (pronounced Cove), last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic and now dedicated to the streams of Irish emigrants of the 19th and 20th century fleeing from harsh times at home, The Heritage Centre.

A few miles north is Blarney, Blarney Woollen Mills and Blarney Castle, beloved of Americans who strain to kiss a stone in its castle wall to gain the gift of eloquence, an attribute not lacking in the courtly Sir Walter Raleigh who brought the potato and tobacco to Ireland. He was once Mayor of the nearby town of Youghal ( pronounced Yawl ). Further north is Mallow, where gracious Longueville House makes wine from its own grapes. There is imported wine aplenty in historic Kinsale, off which the Lusitania sank in 1915. Kinsale has more good restaurants per hectare than any other part of Ireland and is the centre of yacht chartering in one of Europe's almost virginal but classic cruising grounds.

County Kerry, next door, is known as The Kingdom and claims Killarney as the jewel in its mountains and championship golf courses. The Dingle peninsula is the haunt of seekers of craft works, good pubs and Fungi, the friendly dolphin who prefers the company of women, while Tralee is probably the only town in Ireland that has a song about it that every child of Erin can sing. They say St. Brendan left Dingle in the eighth century in a leather boat to reach America long before Columbus.

Cork City, Capital of the south and Ireland second largest city, is excellently situated for exploring the Cork coast and river valleys and indeed the whole of south and south-west Ireland. The city spreads itself out from the valley floor and crept up the hills lying above the River Lee to the north and south. The river flows in two main channels, crossed by numerous bridges. Cork is a place of commercial importance, largely due to the excellence of its harbour, the city quays can accommodate the largess vessels. It is an export centre for the agricultural produce in the south, and many industries in the city include brewing, distilling, hosiery, flour milling, bacon curing and footwear factories. It' s a friendly city and an excellent shopping centre.

County Cork and Kerry, a playground for Angler, the region's rivers and lakes and mountain streams provide superb game and coarse angling. As one of Europe's choice sea-angling areas it draws fisherman from all over the world. First class uncrowded roads through dramatic mountain passes or along quit Lakeland country, there's a wealth of historic reminders to be seen, like prehistoric stone circles, ring forts, monks' 'beehive' cells and Norman Castles. You can move forward to more recent times by visiting an historic mansion surrounding by gracious gardens.

Here you can see exactly how lords and ladies lived about two hundred years ago. If you dream is to go swimming or to simply enjoy a lazy sun bath on an uncrowded beach, then you need wait no longer. The south-west has miles of quit sandy beaches with interesting little coves - all washed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and if you're a golfer you may heard from the courses at Ballybunion, Waterville, Killarney and Cork. You'll be welcome to play, where the scenery and friendliness of your Irish host prove why Ireland is often described as a 'golfer's paradise'.

Time for Entertainment and Festivities, after a satisfying day in the countryside? You can relax and be entertained in a number of ways. Entertaining is an art that comes easily to the Irish. If you're a traditional music enthusiast, interested in folk theatre, ballads or contemporary theatre you'll be rich rewarded. Like wise if simple impromptu session in a friendly pub take your fancy you'll be in the right place!

The south-west coast is an important sailing area, offering excellent conditions for races and events. The world's oldest yacht club is in Crosshave. There's flora and fauna of incredible beauty, offering you plenty of scope if you're interested in biology or underwater photography.

The National Parks and Forest Trails from Gougane Barra, Doneraile and Farran in Cork and Killarney National Park in Kerry should not be missed if you enjoy nature at its best, the Kerry Way is o long-distance walking path between Killarney and Glenbeigh via the Cummenduff Glen and is a must for the walking enthusiast. The small island's, Cape Clear, Sherkin and Bere Island, off the coast of West Cork are well worth a visit.

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