If one thing the recession doesn't seem to have brought much of to Ireland, paradoxically, it's lower prices.

That unfortunate reality was re-iterated again by the latest figures from Ireland's statistics agency the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which show that Ireland remains the fifth most expensive country in Europe, despite being in the throes of an economic bailout crisis, unemployment, etc.

Irish prices remain a sturdy 18% above the European average, the statistics found. Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden are now the only countries in the Eurozone with a higher cost of living.

Despite the fact we're paying almost a fifth more than our European neighbors for our bread, butter, and Guinness, it's a slight improvement on last year's figures, when Ireland was bettered in the expense-rankings only by Denmark, but shows that Irish competitiveness still has miles to go before it can lay any claim to being a decent value European tourist destination.

Many Irish remark that the country's decision to adopt the Euro currency as its official legal tender in 1999 was a watershed moment in Irish people's realizations of just how expensive things were 'at home'.

While it was easy to become befuzzled with the mathematics of working out variable exchange rates between the Italian Lira, Portuguese Escudo, and Spanish Peso (now all, of course, superseded by the Euro), it's now plainly obvious from anyone making a swift transition between European countries that prices 'back home' remain, in many cases, woefully high above those in other European countries.

And although recent figures from the CSO show that tourism is finally being to make a slow recovery, Ireland has a long way to go before it can return to the heady days of a yearly influx of American, British, and European tourists, all driving jobs and spin-off jobs in the main tourist areas.

Without value, however, and given the constant factor of a near global recession, many will continue to have reason to think whether the extra cost of a holiday on the Emerald Isle is 'worth it', and that recovery is likely to continue to be a gradual one.

It would be nice to think that one consequence of the recession was that everything had become dirt cheap but unfortunately that' doesn't seem to be the case.

Fortunately, Irish Central was there to find the one exception to this rule: according to Hotels.com we have the sixth cheapest hotels in the world!

So even if everything outside of the lobby is going to cost you, at least the hotel itself will be reasonably cheap.