The Emerald Isle

increasing in popularity in recent years, both with the Irish themselves and with other Europeans. Visitors are more than eager to sample a country which combines beauty with an unhurried way of life, and where the influence of the Gulf Stream allows fragile wild flowers and the Mediterranean strawberry tree (arbutus) to flourish. The southwest’s long coastline, stretching from Youghal, an ancient fortified harbor and now a popular seaside resort on the Blackwater estuary, to Tarbert on the Limerick border, where the Shannon River reaches the sea, is heavily indented, creating hundreds of extra miles of bays, inlets, estuaries, and harbors. While this coast has a rich maritime history and a strong tradition of fishing, still to be seen operating out of harbors from Dingle in County Kerry to Ballycotton in Cork, it is also a paradise for bird-watchers, for yachtsmen, and for the many who like to walk on remote, unpopulated sandy beaches, where the only sounds The Emerald Isle OPPOSITE: A street in Killarney, County Kerry. ABOVE: Ross Castle is a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park, County Kerry. 191

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