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It's no wonder that a land known as The Emerald Isle would be filled to the brim with precious finds. From fine china and crystal perfection, to adornments shaped from history and sweaters knitted by hand with love, the treasures of Ireland are too plentiful to count. As you journey through this fabled land, witness artists at work creating the jewels that make the Emerald Isle sparkle.
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Legends and lore: Durty Nelly's Irish Pub
Ireland Travel InformationA visit to Bunratty would not be complete without a visit to Durty Nelly's Irish Pub. Nestled in the shadow of Bunratty castle, this famous watering hole was erected in the early 1600s and was said to be the drinking establishment of choice for the castle guards. But who was Durty Nelly?

Legend has it she was the beautiful keeper of the toll bridge over the Owengarney River and took many forms of "payment" for those seeking to cross the bridge, especially from the male persuasion. After crying herself to sleep one night upon discovering one of her visitors had stolen the few gold pieces she owned, an unusual recipe appeared to her in her sleep. She promptly set up a primitive distillery among the trees and made what came to be called Poteen.

Ireland Travel Information Nelly didn't know the power of her concoction until she fed it to a sickly wolfhound. When the near-death animal miraculously recovered, word soon spread that Nelly had discovered the gift of life. People came in droves seeking a cure for their lame horses, slow greyhounds and even their own pain. They found it at the little house by the bridge, which to this day remains a house for refreshment and comfort. Today, visitors still enjoy the warmth of Durty Nelly's with its little nooks and crannies, dimly lit lanterns and open fireplaces. Although Poteen is no longer a legal drink in Ireland, a pint of Guinness is always within reach.

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Irish Souvenirs Ireland Travel Information
Everyone wants to bring back something special from his or her journey to Ireland. Here are four items we wouldn't come home without:

Claddagh rings: Handed down from mother to daughter, the Claddagh ring has been the traditional Irish wedding ring since the 17th century.

Waterford crystal: Waterford and crystal are practically synonymous. A visit to Ireland wouldn't be complete without a visit to this factory and not bringing a special piece home would be a travesty. 

Belleek China: With each brushstroke applied by hand, no two pieces are alike.

Aran knitted sweaters: An Irish tradition, these wool sweaters are made with some of the lanolin still in the wool, giving it both water-resistant and insulating properties.

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What are the political differences between Ireland and Northern Ireland?
Ireland Travel InformationAlthough technically Ireland is divided into four provinces, politically, it is divided into two: The Republic of Ireland, simply referred to as Ireland, and Northern Ireland, which along with Great Britain forms the United Kingdom. When Ireland won its independence from Britain in 1921, it was decided the island would be divided into these two sections, the division being primarily based on religion. The 26 counties that make up the Republic of Ireland were predominantly Catholic. The six counties in the Ulster province that make up Northern Ireland were mainly Protestant, and would therefore remain under the rule of Britain. After the division, two conflicting groups emerged in Northern Ireland: Unionists, a Protestant majority who want to remain a part of the United Kingdom, and Nationalists, the Catholic minority who wish Ireland to be one united nation. The fighting between the two groups gave birth to the Irish Republican Army, a violent paramilitary Nationalist group, as well as another half-dozen paramilitary groups on both opposing sides. Since their inception, violence between the two has ensued.

Ireland Travel InformationIn 1998, the majority of Northern Ireland voted for change and The Belfast agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, put the political future of Northern Ireland back into its own hands. It has not been an easy transition, but the peace process continues to move forward. Although these have been turbulent times for the people of Northern Ireland, they have not affected the visitors to this part of the country nearly as much. The majority of Northern Irish people don't belong to any paramilitary group and are as welcoming and friendly as their neighbors to the south. In fact, the Ulster province is actually an idyllic, charming and serene place to visit.

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Currency & Travel
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