Monday, June 14, 2010

Review - Discover Ireland by Fionn Davenport, Catherine Le Nevez , Etain O'Carroll, Ryan Ver Berkmoes , Neil Wilson

I got this book through the Amazon Vine program.  I was excited to get it because we have been planning a trip to Ireland.  Overall this looks like a useful book.

This book starts out with 25 top sites in Ireland and a couple itineraries.  Then it goes through different sections of the country.  All in all it is a very complete guidebook and gives a good general overview of Ireland.  I enjoyed the "Best Of" sections, the highlights written by local people who live in Ireland, and the suggested itineraries.  I thought the book was missing a large fold-out map of the country; I also thought that the way things were organized by city was a bit confusing...I would have preferred them to be organized by highlight/site to see.  But, it works okay this way too.

Each country section starts out with the top sites in that area and give short itineraries to see those specific areas.  Following that there are a couple pages on "the best of" in the region (best walks, best eats, etc.)  Then it goes through the area by county and city.    For each city you are given the standard guidebook info on places to sleep, eat, and transportation.  There are maps of the featured cities in each region and maps of each region.  The parts of the country covered are:
Eastern Ireland
Kilkenny and the Southeast
Southwest Ireland
Galway and the West
Northwest Ireland
Northern Ireland

One thing that is different from other guide books in this book is that the first one or two highlights for each region are actually done by an expert in that area from Ireland.  For example in Northern Ireland the first highlight is "The Coastal Causeway Route".  There is a two page spread on this highlight and it is done by Jason Powell of Causeway Coasts and Glens Tourism.  The the next highlight "The Bogside, Derry" is another two page spread written by Tom Kelly, Kevin Hasson, and William Kelly who are all Bogside Artists.  It is kind of neat to hear about these highlights from a local person's perspective.

After we go through all the sections of the country there are two more main sections to the book.  The first is Ireland in Focus which features very brief sections on: family travel, food and drink, history, Irish symbols, literature, national psyche, sports, the Irish people, the pub, and traditional music.   The second section is the Directory and Transport section: this feature is exactly what it sounds like...more detailed info on transportation and on getting around the country in general.

Overall a great general guidebook to Ireland.  It is missing a large map and the organization by city can get a bit cumbersome if you are more interested in just seeing specific attractions.  The best of sections and highlight sections are what really shine in this book.  The pictures are very nice too.  If you are interested in a really specific section of Ireland you should probably get a guide book specializing in that section; this is a great book for a full country overview.

Discover Ireland (Full Color Country Guides)

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