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It's said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney rings true. The Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, due as much to the country's almost tangible history as its claim to being the home of the fairies and the 'little people'. Sure, the weather may not always be clement, but the dampness ensures there are fifty shades of green to compensate - just one of the reasons Ireland is called the Emerald Isle.

Although the 'Troubles' are far from over in the North, the recent referendum clearly signalled a willingness for peace and a genuine solution may be in sight. Meanwhile, the South has been busy shedding its quaintness tag to emerged as the darling of EU economies and a favourite among high-tech companies. If the country isn't quite the paradise that its misty-eyed emigrés tend to portray, it's nonetheless home to one of the most gregarious and welcoming people in Europe.

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