Subject: Re: Re: Ireland trip
My biggest piece of advice for Ireland, especially if you seek non-touristy sites, BE OPEN. Try not to go to Ireland with pre-conceptions - or at least acknowledge that you have them.

Ireland is full of Americans seeking the rolling green hills long and thatched roofed cottages popularized by Hollywood. You will find these in adbundance, but don't over look modern Ireland.

Today's Ireland is a boom town. It has the fastest growing economy in Europe. It is the second largest produce of computer software in the world (1st is US). There is a population explosion - once a nation where young adults had to flee in order to find work, it is now a nation where everyone is staying and immigrants are breaking down the gates. Ireland is experiencing racism for the first time with a huge influx of Middle Eastern and Indian immigrants. At the same time, you can also find many new, wonderful ethnic restaurants in the cities. Newest tourist sites in Dublin include computer software businesses and Millionaire Row where new houses costing million punts popped up practically overnight. Ireland is experiencing an explosion of young millionaires much the same way the US is, due to succesful start-up computer companies.

Dublin in the east and Galway in the west are both great cities, not to be missed! They have vibrant theatre cultures and night life. You can find great pubs, yes with live music. Keep in mind the traditional Irish music scene did not start appearing in pubs until Riverdance became popular in America. Americans seemed to expect muscicians in pubs and so the Irish have kindly obliged. So, if you go in search of this authentic experience please keep in mind the tradition started around 1995. That being said, don't miss out! You can find incredible music in pubs. Also, be open to bands playing more than just fiddles. You may find yourself witnessing the next U2 or Cranberries. A great movie that will give you a taste of the real Ireland is the Commitments. The Dublin music scene is pretty accurately portrayed.

Also, investigate a trip to Belfast (if you like cities) or Derry (if you prefer a small town) in Northern Ireland. Avoid Marching Season (July) and be smart as you would in any big city and Northern Ireland is perfectly safe to tourists.

Erina in Reston, Virginia