A quintessential Irish cottage, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare     Todd Parker


In a Nutshell

For such a prolific country in literature and the arts, Ireland ’s footprint greatly exceeds its shoe size. Geographically speaking, Ireland is quite small. At just over 84,400 square kilometers of which 14,139 sq. kilometers, its land mass is slightly smaller than New York State . From North to South, Ireland covers a distance of only 486 kilometers (375 miles), and from East to West its greatest width is a mere 275 kilometers (180 miles).

From a traveler’s perspective, Ireland ’s small size is highly deceiving. A 150 mile drive can take an entire day. Be forewarned: an overly ambitious itinerary is by far the most common mistake for first-timer travelers. Ireland is not a country you want to rush through. For each of Ireland ’s 32 counties contains remarkable variety.

From Donegal to Cork , mountainous regions ring the coastline, while the Interior is bucolic, with rolling hills, lush farmland, extensive bogs and moorland. For farming, the West of Ireland is relatively poor by compare. Stonewalls carve out and define patches of arable land, among the bogs in this virtually treeless landscape. Yet in places like Connemara , this barren, desolate beauty has strong scenic appeal.

The West Coast of Ireland is cut and indented by the awesome forces of the Atlantic . The Southwest is dramatic, serrated coastland, much like a glove, with five peninsulas jutting into the sea. Ireland ’s East Coast is calm and sheltered, with the Irish Sea far less exposed to large surf. The southeast is a land of forested river valleys, lovely stretches of coast with vast sandy beaches.

The less visited centre of Ireland , the Midlands , is a region defined by the great River Shannon and associated lakelands, dividing the island north-south.

Over the last decade Ireland ’s economy has flourished, creating several strong regional towns and cities. But Outside the cities and major routes, Ireland remains a place where one rarely encounters a traffic-jam, where the sky is unpolluted, the waters clean and the colours of the landscape a continually riveting visual experience. It is a perfect destination for sailing and fishing, hill and long-distance walking, cycling and relaxed touring.

Travel Guide- Ireland
Travel Guide: