Kids enjoying HB ice-cream in Ireland Photo by: HB Ice Cream Facebook

The best and worst of Ireland in the summer of the Gathering 2013


Kids enjoying HB ice-cream in Ireland Photo by: HB Ice Cream Facebook

I just returned from Ireland and its heatwave and have several observations to make - as usual some of them complimentary, some not.

1. Air conditioning is non-existent. Despite the fact that I stayed in several top class hotels the lack of cold air made for a very hot time. It is simply ridiculous not to have air conditioning available in top properties.

2. Lack of a top sheet in hotels. The duvet is too hot by far in warm weather but it is either that or sleep without any cover.

3. Hotels in Nama (the agency that sells off bankrupt real estate) are showing wear and tear. Some of the finest hotels a few years ago are now showing their age and there seems little prospect of upgrading them given the fact that they are all essentially stuck in bankruptcy.

4. More Americans around. It's simple, improved access equals more tourists and lots more Americans given that American and United are now flying in as well as Aer Lingus, Delta. Great job by Tourism Ireland in opening new American routes.

5. Light fixtures are very frustrating, no one master switch on most hotel bedrooms leaves you fumbling around looking for that elusive switch.

6. The Irish staff are back. That is great news for us American travelers. The foreign nationals who staffed bars and hotels never had the instant rapport and ability to have the craic which is understandable.

7. Prices are finally far more reasonable. Sanity has set in for now with good meals available in nice restaurants for $25 dollars or so.

8. The great bookstores of former years are closing down as Amazon etc takes over. So sad, especially in Dublin, where trawling through bookstores was a wonderful afternoon passtime.

9. Irish ice cream is beyond delicious and food in general seems much fresher than in America

10. Wine is much better value than the tiny thimble of liquor that they serve which would not whet anyone’s whistle. For the same price you will get a decent glass of wine.

11. Road signposting has improved dramatically, at last. Exceptionally well signposted these days especially off major highways and by passes.

12. The Gathering really caught on - among Irish people. It forced towns and villages to think for themselves and rediscover their history.

13.  Weather as mad and unpredictable as ever after the hot spell -- and as always the key element of any conversation.

Overall a grade A for Ireland this year.


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