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    The Celtic Ranch — off-the-beaten-path in Ireland

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    Pack Your Bags and Head to Ireland

    Now might be the best time ever for making plans to pack your bags and head to Ireland. September ends the high travel season and autumn in Ireland has a multitude of special charms besides just the cheaper rates and sparser crowds. The Emerald Isle has always been a dreamy location for travelers. Whether researching ancestry at the National Library of Ireland, enjoying important sites of European history like Brú na Bóinne, or crawling through the pubs of Dublin, Ireland embraces its visitors with a hearty pint and a slap on the back. Tourism to Ireland increased to more than 1.2 million visitors last year, a jump of 100,000 from the year before. Just this summer the nation was ranked #11 in a poll conducted by the Reputation Institute. The survey measured the public's perception based on effective government, appealing environment, and advanced economy. People seem to love the Ireland of lore, but very much respect the Ireland of today as well. What to do when you get there? You can hit the main tourist attractions (kiss the Blarney Stone and have a pint at the Guinness Storehouse, anyone?), but you'll enjoy a more authentic Ireland if you pack your boots and seek out some villages and their people off the typical tourist path. There are plenty of attractions where you will wait in line and drop a pretty Euro just to get in, but there are also dozens of free attractions all over the island if you know where to look. Independent.ie offers a great list of places to go--from the well-worn favorites to the quieter, quainter stops that may give you memories that few other tourists in Ireland take home. Go see the dolphin in Dingle. Grab your jacket and seek high adventure in Donegal. Saddle up to ride a Connemara pony. Try to figure out the mystery of the standing stones in County Tipperary. Kayak down the Blackwater for a completely unique view of the countryside. Visit Huntington Castle's dungeon where the Temple of Isis celebrates the female aspect of divinity. What are you waiting for? Write your own list, pack your bag, and enjoy your own taste of Ireland.

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