The Emerald Isle

covered by blanket bog, one of the finest examples of which lies in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Laois and Offaly; green and purple hills and valleys; and, at the island’s center, a fertile lowland region of wetlands and lakes watered by many lovely rivers and streams. Very little is left of the great broadleaf forests which once covered much of the land, and the long-distance views are likely to be filled with lush, rolling pasture, the result of plentiful rainfall, divided into a checkerboard of hedge-lined fields where livestock graze. The Emerald Isle OPPOSITE ABOVE: Ireland’s wild Atlantic rocky coastline is rich in birdlife including the enigmatic puffin. OPPOSITE: The magical Glenbarrow Waterfall in the Slieve Bloom Mountains is situated close to the geographical center of Ireland, and links the counties of Laois and Offaly. ABOVE: The rugged Comeragh Mountains, County Waterford, are of standstone. They extend from the river Suir valley to the north of Stradbally. OVERLEAF: The coastline of Great Saltee Island, County Wexford. 241