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Synopsis

Dublin is the Republic of Irelands capital and largest city, named from the Irish dubh linn meaning black pool. The name comes from the fact that the site of the city was formerly a black, slimy expanse of mud, through which the River Liffey flowed sluggishly to the sea. It now has a pleasant setting on the east coast of the Irish Sea, looking out over Dublin Bay, with a long sandy shoreline to its north. Granite mountains form the southern boundary of the county, and the city is bisected by the River Liffey. Its a cultural city with theaters, cinemas, galleries and museums, as well as many historic sites worth seeing. It also has an excellent range of shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs, plus all types of accommodation. Louth, the smallest county on the island, is on the east coast, on the border halfway between Dublin and Belfast. Its named after Lugh, the great god of the Celts, and its Cooley peninsula was the legendary home of the giant, Finn McCool, and the setting of Ulsters greatest saga, the Táin. Thats the epic folk tale of the hero Cúchullain, the Red Branch Knights of Ulster, wicked Queen Maeve of Connaught and the mighty Brown Bull of Cooley. Despite its size, Louth offers a great choice of activities - sailing and scuba diving, sea and river fishing, horseback riding, hill walking, rock climbing, golf, exploring historical sites, and great traditional hospitality in its many pubs, restaurants, inns, guesthouses and hotels. Among the many interesting places to visit is the site of the Battle of the Boyne, which changed Irish history and influences events even today. Known as the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow has wonderful scenery, with mountains, wooded valleys and lakes. It is fringed on the east by golden sandy beaches. Major routes to the east and west go through two of the highest passes in the country - Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap. Among its spectacular valleys are Glenmalure, Glencree, Glenmacnass, the Glen of Immal, and the most famous of all - Glendalough. The area is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts for the range of activities it offers - walking, cycling, shore, coarse and game angling, golf, riding, watersports. Its also the home of one of the countrys most famous early Christian sites, Glendalough, and there are a number of historic gardens and houses to visit. Because of its wonderful scenery, the county has been used as a location for many films over the years, including Excalibur, Braveheart, Far and Away and Michael Collins. The very successful Irish television series Ballykissangel was made in the pretty village of Avoca. The largest town is Bray, the county capital is Wicklow Town, and its other main towns include Arklow and Greystones. County Meath is one of the most fertile areas in the country, lying on a limestone plain watered by the rivers Boyne and Blackwater and their tributaries. A small part of the county is on the coast, with sandy beaches at Laytown and Bettystown. Its a great destination for anyone interested in fishing and is also a center for horse breeding and racing, with plenty of equestrian facilities for visitors. Despite being close to Dublin, it is a rural and quiet county, with lovely countryside for walking. Everywhere you go theres evidence of the areas importance, with a variety of monuments, castles, wooded demesnes, and historic gardens. Its known as the Royal County because it was here on the Hill of Tara that the High Kings lived in the 2nd century AD. All of the details you need to know are in this guide - the places to stay and eat, how to get around, what to see and do. Plus there are color maps and photos throughout.

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