Ireland page 4-6
Kerry in the extreme south-west of Ireland, has two contrasting types of terrain-the mountainous southern part with its three large hilly peninsulas of Beara, Iveragh and Dingle, and the smaller area of undulating plain in the north that stretches as far as the Shannon estuary.
Along the coast, sandy bays alternate with cliffs and rocky headlands; inland too are regions of outstanding scenic beauty - including Killarney's perfect blend of mountain and island-studded lake, wooded shore and glen. But scenery is by no means Kerry's only attraction; there are many coastal resorts, excellent angling waters, climbing that includes Ireland's highest mountain, good golf courses and wealth of ancient monuments.
Known as "The Kingdom", breathtaking scenery has attracted people to this county since Victorian times. A sense of independence defines the personality of the people and this is particularly evident in the popularity of the Irish Traditional games.
From the Blasket islands and the Dingle peninsula all the way to Tralee and the lakes of Killarney the people of Kerry are great supporters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The GAA was founded in 1884 to promote indigenous Irish sports and the country's most popular sport despite heavy competition from soccer is Gaelic Football. However, the more intriguing GAA game is hurling-a fast field sport played with sticks. Both football and hurling are played at parish and county level on a wholly amateur basis. The season ends with the All-Ireland Finals held in Dublin which draw large passionate crowds.
The inland county of Kildare is famous as a sporting, racing and hunting region. Bordering Dublin to the west, it is situated on the edge of the central plain. The county's main features are big open grasslands, lush green pastures and large tracts of ancient bogland-all interspersed with trees and gentle rolling hills. This charming countryside can be seen when travelling from Dublin to Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford. Ireland has a strong racing culture and thanks to a non-elitist image, the sport is enjoyed by all. Much of the thoroughbred industry centers around the Curragh, a grassy plain in County Kildare that stretches unfenced for over 5000 acres. This is home to many training yards and studs and every morning horses can be seen going through their paces on the gallops. Most of the major flatraces including the Irish Derby take place at the Curragh Racecourse just east of Kildare town. This charming countryside can be seen when travelling from Dublin to Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford
The central part of County Kilkenny is undulating limestone plain, bordered in some areas by gently sloping hills. In the north are the attractive uplands of the Castlecomer district and the Slieveardagh hills and Booley hills extend across the County Tipperary boarder on the west. There are many pleasant landscapes, especially in the Rivers Nore and Barrow valleys, and the historic county town has numerous points of interest.
Kilkenny is also excellent sporting country, with good opportunities for hunting, angling, shooting and golf. Kilkenny City, was home to one of Ireland's most influential Norman families, the Butlers of Ormonde, who founded the town on an existing Irish settlement, at the confluence of the rivers the Barrow, the Nore and the Suir.
The city of Kilkenny boasts Ireland's most preserved Medieveal town centre, and the Castle and Cathedral which dominate the town are gems of Irish architecture. The county has numerous ancient sites including Iron Age fortifications, inscribed stones and crosses, castles, and abbeys. It became a part of Leinster province in 1210.
Kilkenny also has the distinction of having its own indigenous marble (jet black) and its own adopted animal, the Kilkenny Black Cat! The team colors of Kilkenny, the vertical Black & Amber stripes strike awe and fear in opposing players on the Hurling field, their county past-time
Laois is an inland county to the southwest of County Kildare. It forms part of the central plain, though the Slieve Bloom Mountains (Highest point Arderin, 1,734 feet) are a prominent feature in the north-west of the county.
There is much interest and beauty in the quiet by-ways of this area, away from the main roads that lead from Dublin to Limerick and Cork. Sporting attractions include fishing, hunting, shooting and golf. Laois (pronounced LEASH) is another of Ireland's 12 land-locked counties.
The center of Ireland is dominated by a flat plain, the lowest point of which is the Bog of Allen, and comprises most of the counties of Offaly and Laois. Bord-na-mona, or in English, "The Turf Board", have for the past 50 years harvested the bog, stripping the wet turf in thin layers, drying it and using the turf for the production of Briquettes, a modern day version of 'sods of turf', Ireland's prime source of fuel for fireplace/cooking/electricity generation, etc.
The heritage of the County includes one of the finest celtic fortificatoins in Ireland - the Rock of Dunamase and numerous fine houses of architectural merit.
Visit the towns and villages associated with the Quakers and Huguenots or the waterfalls and valleys of the Slieve Bloom. There are several gardens of note, angling, golf and equestrian facilities for every level, and for the outdoor walker both long and short walks on which one can escape the stresses and rigour of everyday life. The good humour and hospitality offered by the people of Laois through the numerous places to stay, places to eat and pubs in which to enjoy the Irish traditional music and fun will ensure you will have a wonderful visit to the county.
Portlaoise and Portarlington are the two main towns, which though far from the sea, were actual ports for the barges that plied the Canals linking Dublin and the rest of Ireland, before the railways were built.Laois
Much of County Limerick is low and undulating-particularly in the east, where it forms part of the rich plain known as the Golden Vale. There are, however, considerable elevations towards the west, south and north-east fringes of the county, and in the south-east the Galtee mountains reach into County Limerick from neighbouring County Tipperary.
Limerick city, standing where the River Shannon becomes tidal, is an historic place with many interesting features; it is also an important port and industrial centre. The county is a place of quiet beauty and rural charm, offering good sport to the angler and golfer and some of the finest hunting country in Ireland.
Many 12th century churches can be found throughout Limerick and The Hunt Museum houses a fine collection of Irish and European religious art. Recently moved the Hunt Museum in the Old Customs House is one of the finest collections of antiquities in Europe. The Augustinian Friory has a true medieval feel, while the 13th-century Trinitarian Abbey is the only house of the order in Ireland. Both are still in use, the former by the Church of Ireland, the latter by the Catholic church
Adare Village a few miles from Limerick City is billed as the prettiest village in Ireland. Restored in the 1820's by the Earl of Dunraven the long narrow village street is a picture of neat stonework and thatch roofs.
The county spreads out around the mouth of the Shannon, Ireland's longest river, and it's main focus Limerick City built on the river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Ireland's third largest city, Limerick, is home to a grid of gracious