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This is no 'Oirish' theme park bubbling over with blarney -- 'Time Out' sees beyond Celtic utopia myth

VISITORS to Ireland expecting a "Celtic utopia" will be disappointed with what they find, according to the first 'Time Out Guide' to the country.

The 300-page book, which will be published next month, covers the whole island -- and is produced by the same company behind the city listings magazines.

And its depiction of Dublin is in direct contrast to some tourist guides which offer up images of a mythical "fair city".

It says Dublin is "the city that everyone raves about".

"Tourist brochures conjure visions of a Celtic utopia where historic, cobbled streets always lead to a pint of Guinness and a traditional sing-song."

But instead, it warns potential travellers: "Don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling a little disappointed by what you find. The fact of the matter is that nowhere, not even the mythical 'fair city' of Ireland, can live up to that much hype.

"Dublin is no theme park to 'Oirishness', nor is it some quaint provincial backwater where every second person is bubbling over with blarney and bonhomie."

However, after letting tourists know that, in fact, Dublin is a modern, working European capital, the 'Time Out Guide' is broadly positive.

"It is a city that deserves to be taken seriously. And, for those who do, it is a richly rewarding, fascinating place."

The guide also differs from the norm as it is relatively kind to Temple Bar -- and avoids mentioning stag and hen parties. "It's always at the frontline of new developments, be they architectural, cultural, touristic or simply part of the tireless evolution of new music venues, hotels, drinking dens and clubs," the guide says.

But the veiled reference to "drinking dens" is accompanied by a similar warning about eating in the area.

"Temple Bar has its fair share of good places for a quick snack, cafe fare and no-nonsense, good-value cooking, as well as upscale dining," it says.

"But beware: this is an area that has a huge tourist footfall (and correspondingly few locals), and some establishments have been known to cut corners on quality and service, safe in the knowledge that you're unlikely to be returning."

The book claims to be the definitive guide to Ireland, "highlighting its contemporary appeal as well as its traditional charms".

Favourite old pubs and music bars jostle for space with tranquil lakes, stately mansions and ruined castles.

The main writer of the 'Time Out Guide' was Julianne Mooney, who was the programme director of this year's Dublin Books Festival and has worked in event management.


Because the 'Time Out' brand is very strong in the UK, it is expected that this guide to Ireland will boost the number of British tourists and will rival the 'Lonely Planet' and other publications as the main guide for visitors to the country.

It is aimed at the over-25s rather than the youth market, although it does have full information on hostels.

The publishers say that they expect it to be equally useful for Irish people who are going on holiday at home and visiting unfamiliar parts of the country.

The 'Time Out Guide to Ireland' will be published on August 4.

Irish Independent