September 21st, 1938
FROM THE ARCHIVES:This editorial summed up the state of the country’s holiday facilities, which it thought more varied than those of the continent, at the end of the 1938 summer season. – JOE JOYCE
NOW THAT the holiday season is virtually over, the people of this country will be taking stock of the results of the tourist traffic. Unfortunately, the weather this year has been unusually bad. Ireland is notorious for a damp climate but seldom during recent years has there been a more disappointing summer, and there can be no doubt that the tourist traffic has suffered in consequence. [...] In these days of universal stress and strain Ireland is appealing more and more to British and continental tourists as a holiday resort. There is a sameness about European tourist centres that palls after a time.
The intelligent visitor tires of the café and the casino, of the eternal “dancing” and the gipsy music, of the art galleries, the museums, and the other inevitable ingredients of the continental tour; whereas in Ireland, although he may suffer certain discomforts, he at least can be sure of that rest which is, or ought to be, an essential of the real holiday. From the point of view of creature comforts, Ireland used to be extremely backward. Our country hotels were appalling. Their prices were outrageously high; their standard of service and cleanliness was outrageously low. All that has been changed. Partly as a result of the efforts of the Irish Tourist Association, and partly because the demands of visitors have become more exigent, our Irish hotels have been improved out of all recognition. Some of them, admittedly, still are pretty bad. Their cuisine is primitive; their plumbing is faulty, and the guest who expects anything but the most rudimentary service is sure to be disappointed. Happily, hotels of this type have become the exception, rather than the rule. In most parts of Ireland nowadays reasonably good accommodation can be obtained at terms which cannot be described as excessive. The food is good, if unpretentious; rooms are clean, and hotel proprietors at last have begun to recognise the importance of running water. [...] For those who like the open air, and are not afraid of an occasional wetting, no country in Europe can beat Ireland for a real holiday. [...] Unfortunately, every tourist is not satisfied with the open-air life. To this type of tourist, Ireland has little to offer. It must be admitted that most of our resorts are definitely dull, particularly after dusk. Although we have reasonably cheap electric power, few of our tourist centres have learned the importance of light as an adjunct to a pleasant holiday. We do not suggest Bray ought to be turned into an Irish Ostend or Kilkee ought to challenge the proletarian popularity of Douglass.
Discerning tourists always will come to Ireland to escape from the tawdriness of the artificial resort. If there were a sufficiently large number of them, there would be no need to worry; but the truth is that the average tourist is not discerning.