The terrifying - but funny - world of the disgruntled TripAdvisor reviewer
Ireland's grumpiest visitors
They're our top attractions, but to some caustic critics, the Cliffs of Moher are 'just cliffs with vicious parking fees' and the Book of Kells is 'old and dirty'. Joe O'Shea unearths the funniest TripAdvisor reviews...
The Rock of Cashel is "just a rock and some ruins", Blarney Castle is "basically hell on earth" and Cork's famed English Market is "full of smelly fish shops".
Don't even think about going to the Cliffs Of Moher, all you will see is "fog and non-existent puffins" while Kilmainham Gaol "was probably more fun for the inmates".
The Book of Kells? Pah! It's just a "really old, dirty book, written by monks or something" and the Giant's Causeway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is "over-hyped, the third nicest pile of rocks we saw all weekend".
Ireland's visitor numbers continue to climb, with the industry expecting 2015 to top last year's figures of 7.6 million (and those were up more than a million from 2012).
The tourism sector was worth €590m to our economy in the first quarter of this year alone, a 10pc increase on the same period for 2014.
But while most visitors to our shores appear to be happy (complaints about poor public transport and price-gouging aside) there is a small corner of the internet which harbours raging disappointment and bitter enmity towards our fair isle.
The Giant's Causeway - 'just a pile of rocks'
This is, of course, located in the comment sections on the most popular tourist websites. And in particular, the often bizarre and unintentionally hilarious 'Terrible' comments on the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor.
To be fair, the 'Terrible' ratings for attractions, hotels and restaurants (the good ones at least) tend to be a tiny fraction of the overall comments, which start at Excellent and work their way down.
And fans of the Terrible reviews - and there are those of us who get an almost perverse pleasure out of reading them - realise they are often written by the kind of tourists who pack white gloves and climb on top of hotel room wardrobes to check for dust.
When it comes to Ireland's best-loved attractions, there is a sense that the 'Terrible!' people wouldn't be happy if they visited the Cliffs of Moher to find groves of verdant palm trees and Michael Flatley Riverdancing across golden sands, bearing trays of free oysters and stout.
Many of the Terrible Squad seem absolutely amazed to find that it rains in Ireland, or that our famous ruined castles are, in fact, in ruins.
However, the negative comments do have recurring themes. Outrageous car park fees (the Rock of Cashel, Cliffs of Moher and Giant's Causeway), confusing opening hours and ticket booking systems (Kilmainham Gaol) and endless queues and overcrowding are recurring bugbears.
Read more: Cliffs of Moher set to top list for tourists
Some of the Terrible comments are laugh-out-loud funny, including the English visitor to Croke Park who was outraged to find that the museum was "just about the GAA". God alone knows what he was expecting, an interactive display celebrating the Bolshoi Ballet?
In the spirit of getting to know our most picky visitors that little bit better, here are some of the choicest Terrible comments for our best-loved attractions, as seen on TripAdvisor:
The Rock Of Cashel
"The 'rock' is OK, it's a ruin - but the pay-for-parking lot is a scam. We got a parking ticket!" - from "Dr Go" Virginia, USA
"My wife and I were excited to visit this after reading all the tour books. Once we got there we were disappointed to see scaffolding everywhere for restoration work. We later found out that restoration work has been going on for almost a decade. Really?? A decade??"
- mmmMilano, Florida USA
"If you've spent any time in Ireland, you've seen enough churches, castles and ruins that you can definitely afford to skip this one. It's definitely not worth the trip!" - JimAround02, Connecticut USA
"Basically Hell On Earth"
- ImJustATourist2, Northern Ireland
Read more: TripAdvisor reveals its Top 10 Irish beaches
The Ring of Kerry
"A lot of hot air about nothing! The 179km long tour offers nothing. The Staigue fort is in ruins and can been seen in two minutes. The only good thing was: Ladies View at Killarney National Park was great, because it's a beautiful view and when we were there, there was a bagpipe player" - WorldTraveller, Lucerne, Switzerland
"Vastly overrated! I found this portion of our trip to be boring, expensive, and scary. The scenery is really sad compared to the other two peninsulas, go to Dingle instead..." - Fred W
"We attended not realising this was a fully functioning cemetery and were very distressed to discover that a private funeral was taking place. This is taking tourism too far!" - Ms RichTea73, UK
"Don't understand why this is even on TripAdvisor - it's just a cemetery. All you can do - walk around the gravestones, thinking about life and death..." - Yuriustinov, Moscow, Russia
Trinity College Library
"Extremely boring. You stand hours in line to see the famous 'Book of Kells' which are old and illustrated books written by monks. Expensive and tedious. Not worth it in my opinion!" - Eder, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Guinness Storehouse
"Don't Waste Your money - go to a local pub instead!" - Frank, NY
Read more: TripAdvisor reveals its Top 10 Irish hotels
The Giant's Causeway
"First of all I couldn't believe that I had to pay £20 to get in! When I realised how small the whole thing was I was furious. The staff was very rude, they were all looking at us like walking dollars and the whole experience was VERY DISAPPOINTING... If you've seen the pictures you're good. No need to visit..."
- Reeva, Flordia USA
"The third nicest pile of rocks we saw that weekend - If you like looking at rocks, taking selfies with rocks and stepping from one rock to another (some vary in height so you'll have to lift your legs higher/lower at certain points) then you'll enjoy visiting the Giants Causeway" - Frank2, Australia
"Incredibly overcrowded - I can't believe that this beautiful place nature has shaped within so many years is open to the public everywhere - to be clear: this is a Unesco world heritage site but people are allowed to climb everywhere on the stones, to walk across wherever they feel, climb the hills and what's best, leave their garbage where they feel!" - MnLady, Frankfurt, Germany
"The stones themselves are a huge let-down and nothing special. They don't even stretch very far and if they weren't hyped up you would probably not realise what all the fuss is about"
- Dieter, Germany
The Cliffs of Moher
"Non-Existent Puffins & Fog - We paid our fee and saw absolutely nothing!! It was foggy that day but the attendant should have told us that we would see nothing at all!
- Helen L, Cayman Islands
"I knew beforehand (was tipped off by a local) to get the passengers out of the car at the zebra crossing before entering the car park - so I only paid €6 for me. That's the best tip I can give - get the passengers out before going into the car park!!!! Disgusted!!"
- Rourked, Dublin
"To me, they were just cliffs with vicious parking fees" - Sam, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Read more: Cliffs of Moher set to top list for tourists
"Would have been more fun as an inmate" - Jack B
"Our tour guide had a very heavy accent" - Kenny C, USA
The English Market
"Bummer - The market in Cork is about 70pc butchers' counters and smelly fish market, 10pc schlock that no one would want in any country, 10pc cheese and bread counters, and a couple of shops that are worth browsing in for ten minutes tops" - ConnieB, San Diego
"Stinky…" - GeetaG25, Bombay, India
"How can I cook the great meat and fish that was there if I am just visiting from Canada and residing in a hotel?" - LisaYow, Ontario, Canada
Read more:Hotel guests 'fined' for leaving bad review on TripAdvisor TripAdvisor’s most prolific reviewer: “I review everything... even those I’ve popped into for a pee.”