Hi there - aside from the RS books, do you all have any favorite recommendations for travel guides to Ireland or other books that are interesting to read before a visit?
Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook has been my next favorite, after Rick’s. However, they don’t publish a new edition as frequently as does Rick Steves, so some of the details, especially regarding hours and prices of sights, lodging, etc. may not be as current.
DK Eyewitness Ireland would be my choice. It has lots of pictures and covers many places ignored by the other guides. The maps are sufficiently detailed for initial planning. If wanting a light hearted view of thier history, have a read of Horrible Histories Ireland by Terry Deary which takes a very humours (but accurate) look at the history of Ireland. Although intended for kids, the humour also appeals to adulkts oo - as well as all the gory bits left out in more serious tomes...
I use both Fodor’s & RS wherever I travel in Europe.
I've generally found that all guides cover the same material and that it's only the format that really changes. An exception is the "Backroads" series of guidebooks from DK publishing which is geared towards independent drivers looking for off the beaten path excursions, and which is the only other guide we take on our own trips.
I'd suggest spending time at your local library or a good bookstore to peruse the different choices and then select the one whose format most appeals to you.
Also, you can usually find used copies of the various guides at highly discounted prices on Amazon. Though you won't necessarily be getting the most up to date recommendations regarding accommodations and restaurants we've generally found that the information they contain is good enough for our purposes.
I second DK Eyewitness! Found a couple of fantastic stops in their Ireland book!
Well besides guide books. The AA offers books with driving maps, look for: Ordnance SurveyLeisure Guide Ireland. All other guide books get too tied up in restaurants, and housing. There is no sense to being bother with either of those until you know where you will touring. The beauty of this book is that you can tell which regions are geographically interesting and which are rather plain. Look at three of the maps. The most colorful one is the one yo should thing about seeing.
It is the last quarter of the book that has the driving maps (24) and six that include walking.
You too can have one for under $6 from eBay. The book has a light green frame and bluish photo covering most of the front.
On a more scholarly side, there is Peter Harbison's old book, National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. I see eBay can get you one for about $15.00. Doesn't matter which edition. The newer of the two is green, and the older is brown and grey.
Leon Uris wrote a book decades ago, Trinity. It is a good read. The famine is well described. It is hard to imagine starving to death while eating grass.
There is a new book out by Nail Williams, This is Happiness. Set in 1950 Irealnd as electricity is being brought in to the west. This might describe it, “One of the unwritten tenets of the local poetics was that a story must never arrive at a point, or risk conclusion,”. Once you understand that, well you get how he is writing. His earlier books were wonderful fluff. I hate to insult them, he was very kind to my mother when we visited. Very kind. My whole family read those earlier books and loved them all. "O Come Ye Back To Ireland" is about his family's first year back trying to live in Ireland.