Ireland - Tourism, travel, and recreation

Among Ireland's numerous ancient and prehistoric sights are a restored Bronze Age lake dwelling (crannog) near Quin in County Clare, burial mounds at Newgrange and Knowth along the Boyne, and the palace at the Hill of Tara, the seat of government up to the Middle Ages. Numerous castles may be visited, including Blarney Castle in County Cork, where visitors kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Some, such as Bunratty Castle and Knappogue Castle, County Clare, and Dungaire Castle, County Galway, offer medieval-style banquets, and some rent rooms to tourists.

Among Dublin's tourist attractions are the Trinity College Library, with its 8th-century illuminated Book of Kells; Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed park in Western Europe and home of the Dublin Zoo; and literary landmarks associated with such writers as William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Oscar Wilde. Dublin has long been noted for its theaters, foremost among them the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's national theater, which was founded in 1904 by Yeats and Lady Gregory. Dublin was the EC's Cultural Capital of Europe for 1991, during which time the National Gallery, Civic Museum, and Municipal Gallery were all refurbished and several new museums opened, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Traditional musical events are held frequently, one of the best known being the All-Ireland Fleadh at Ennis in County Clare. Numerous parades, concerts, and other festivities occur on and around St. Patrick's Day holiday of 17 March. Ireland has numerous golf courses, some of worldwide reputation. Fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hunting, horse racing, and greyhound racing are other popular sports. The traditional sports of Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie (the women's version of hurling) were revived in the 19th century and have become increasingly popular. The All-Ireland Hurling Final and the All-Ireland Football Final are held in September.

Income from tourism and travel has contributed significantly to the net invisible earnings in Ireland's balance of payments. A total of 6,749,000 tourists entered Ireland in 2000. Tourist receipts totaled $3.3 billion that year. There were 60,000 hotel with a 65% occupancy rate.

The daily cost of staying in Ireland, according to 2001 US government estimates, was between $122 and $312 per day.

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May 11, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
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