Ireland has a long history of scholars and storytellers, stretching from the monasteries that preserved the classics after the fall of Rome, through the wits and poets like Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Seamus Heaney.

Only five generations ago, the Great Famine flattened Ireland's economy and drove millions to emigrate. Now Ireland has made such a go of software and telecommunications development that the country has one of the fastest growth rates in Europe. With it comes a lively, vibrant theater, music, and arts scene in Dublin and Belfast, while the country remains unspoiled and green.