Blog: Ireland: land of milk and honey?

Catherine Sleep | 24 November 2004

After the Republic of Ireland was last week named best country to live in, I headed across at the weekend to see if it was true. Well okay, actually I was going anyway, and I’m a regular visitor to West Cork.

Ireland is indeed a wonderful country with great food and natural resources, but it isn’t cheap. I think a tactical bit of euro inflation has been going on. Since I was last there, the infamous smoking ban has been introduced in pubs, which was really lovely for me. As a non-smoker, I’ve always hated being engulfed by smoke in pubs, but at the same time felt I had no grounds to complain (because I’d chosen, after all, to go into a pub) and now that issue has fallen away. And yet, the sight of smokers puffing away on pavements, getting sodden through by the interminable Irish rain, did rouse a feeling of pity in me. But only a very faint one.

The ban is good news for a lot of publicans though. Some feared a loss of trade, but talking to Adrienne MacCarthy, owner of the iconic McCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere, Cork, (the pub made famous by the late, great Pete McCarthy’s eponymous book), it seemed the news was all good. She was delighted that she and her staff no longer had to spend all their working hours passive smoking, and said she’s seen no negative impact on business.

I reckon that smoking in UK pubs will now follow Ireland’s lead pretty swiftly. Like hunting, despite all the bickering, it will go out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Anyway, as a mere tourist passing through, I could hardly pass comment on whether Ireland is the best place in the world to live, but West Cork is a very special place with unspoilt landscapes, fantastic seafood and hospitable locals. If it were just a bit cheaper, and they could sort out the weather, it’d be perfect.

Ireland named best place to live


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