Thursday, November 5, 2015

"National Geographic Traveller: Ireland": Book Review

 As the blurb informs, some of the value of this guidebook comes from the lovely illustrations. While Glendalough may be expected, the inclusion of Dublin's eerie Kilmainham Gaol and of the Ulster-American Folk Park near Omagh surprised me, and the flora of the Burren graces its double-page spread. For the content, this reminds me of the Lonely Planet's Discover series. That is, cutting down to the essentials for a smart traveler interested in both the usual sights and local recommendations.

There is a reflective if realistic tone to the writing, and this honesty is commendable. It does not traffic in stereotypes about Ireland. It strives to give a depiction of the island nation's progress.

It does, however, stress the cultural elements. There are a few accommodation, shopping, and restaurant suggestions around the whole island appended, but this coverage is much less than other guides, and pitched at a higher budget than, say Rough Guide. The text while informative is quite brief for the sights suggested, and this is more of a sampler than a compendium as to what Ireland offers. As a National Geographic edition might be expected to deliver, this emphasizes more the sights than practicalities.

There are a few "off the beaten path" recommendations in larger colored type in the copy, but as a whole, I wish that the font was a bit smaller and the content more in-depth. It looks nice on the page and may be designed with a mobile app or e-book in mind, on the other hand. Like the magazine, attention to graphics and photography is a feature many may appreciate, if at the reduction of some details.

I would therefore recommend this to plan, but taking it along might not be as essential, if space is premium, compared to a thicker but also more detailed guidebook. It's rather pricy compared to the competition. So, while as a lifetime lover of the magazine I admire this foray into advice, it may serve the shelf after one has consulted it for itineraries, more than the suitcase on the go.

(Amazon US 12-22-14)

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