Saturday 25 February 2017

Despite all our faults this is still a great place to visit

Fergus Black

THE Emerald Isle is not so green when it comes to protecting the environment, a new tourism guide book claims.

We also have low self-esteem, a "peculiar relationship" with alcohol and regularly top the list of the world's biggest binge drinkers, the 'Lonely Planet' guide claims.

Yet for all the problems, the Irish warmth and welcome is "the real deal", the country has breathtaking scenery and has become a "marvel of dynamic entrepreneurialism".

The guide's latest 764-page edition on Ireland includes highlights such as Dublin pubs, Inishmor in Galway, the Derry to Antrim coastal walk, West Belfast and traditional music.

But despite the country's green efforts and reputation, it claims Ireland's "40 shades of green" don't include the all-important eco-green.

'Lonely Planet' quotes the European Environment Agency, which rates Ireland's carbon footprint per person at more than double the global average.

It claims that everyone has a car, which results in longer traffic lines and a stressed-out infrastructure.

Ireland is also a long way from meeting its Kyoto Protocol requirements for reduced emissions, it says.

But 'Lonely Planet', never slow to court controversy with its views, seems to put forward its own 40 shades of opinion.

However, it does say that Ireland did not rate among the world's biggest environment polluting offenders.

On the national psyche, 'Lonely Planet' says the Irish are justifiably renowned for their easy-going, affable nature. But self-deprecation is a much-admired art form while another trait was begrudgery.

"Beneath all of the garrulous sociability and self-deprecating twaddle lurks a dark secret, which is that, at heart, the Irish are low on self-esteem. They're therefore very suspicious of praise and tend not to believe anything nice that's said about them. The Irish wallow in false modesty like a sport."

The book says there's no denying that the Celtic Tiger has also transformed Irish society in ways no one could foresee. The arrival of tens of thousands of immigrants from all over the world had challenged the mores of racial tolerance and integration .

Ireland guidebook author Fionn Davenport said that for all its imperfections, Ireland was still a "bloody great place".

"For all the criticisms, the guide to Ireland speaks in eulogistic tones about the country," he said.

Mr Davenport pointed out that the new edition was updated last summer and was "time sensitive" as a result.

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