Is Ireland trying to become the worlds first Theme Country?
I guess it was partly the itinery -- Dublin, Knowth, Giant's Causeway, etc. -- but just in the way English pubs in the country became Country Pubs, Ireland seems to have slightly over done it on the horse brasses and ploughman's lunches to become, well, "Irish".
Not that it's a bad thing. There were many ways that Ireland reminds you it's not England. A complete lack of pork pies, for one and the fact that every pub had the same four or five beers. There's Guinness, of course, with the occasional Beamish to back it up, Harp, Carlsberg and Bulmers (or Magners) with an American beer, too, Bud or Coors mostly. In every damn bar that I went in, with the exception of Porter House in Dublin (well worth a visit, that place), it was exactly the same. Given that a decent pint of Guinness is its own reward I couldn't grumble too much, but some sort of CAMRA style action is sorely needed.
Speaking of sorely needed, only one place I went to the toilet at had a bog brush. Surely a nation where a thick black drink is their tipple of choice has to see that there is something wrong with this. Much flushing (possibly a bar I visited -- and the Dublin bars did seem to want to get together and form a poem The Flowing Tide, the Winding Stair etc.) is no substitute.