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If you're looking for budget Europe when the euro is at an all-time high against the U.S. dollar, consider Ireland.

For starters, Aer Lingus (1-800-474-7424; has lowered economy-class fares by up to 30 percent. Dallas travelers may consider a low-fare flight to the airline's gateways, which include Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

It gets better. Fares don't require a Saturday night stay, itinerary changes are $30 per segment and you can change the name on a ticket for $60. (Sanity comes to air travel!)

Once you get a bargain airfare, find budget lodging at Other good sources include and

Sightseers with a taste for historic sites should consider the Heritage Card, at about $24. It provides access to 65 sites across Ireland and is valid for a year. Contact:

Get around Dublin on the new light-rail line, which covers many major sites. Contact:

For savings, consider fixed-price meals. Many pubs also serve satisfying fare, and no-smoking laws let you enjoy the food.

If you prefer a vacation package, there's a wealth of choices. Listed prices are per person, double occupancy, and don't include air taxes or fees.

CIE Tours (1-800-243-8687; specializes in Ireland. Its four-night Taste of Ireland is an escorted tour priced from $796 including round-trip travel from New York, Boston or Baltimore; four lodging nights; most meals; and escorted sightseeing by motorcoach.

You spend one night in Dublin, two nights in Killarney and one night in Shannon. This package price is valid through Dec. 9 and from Feb. 10 through April 28.

Another specialist, Sceptre Tours (1-800-221-0924; also has escorted tour options, as does Brian Moore Tours (1-800-982-2299; All three companies (CIE, Sceptre and Brian Moore) also offer non-escorted options (much less expensive).

Brian Moore Tours, for example, has an Ireland's Friendly B&B package starting at $549 and including airfare from New York or Boston, five B&B vouchers, one night at a hotel near Shannon airport and an economy car rental with unlimited mileage. Travel through Dec. 16 or Jan. 1 through March 24. (1-800-896-4600; has a six-night Independent Castle package from $699 that includes airfare, accommodations, breakfast and a rental car. Depart from New York, Boston or Baltimore. Spend your first night at a Dublin or Shannon hotel, followed by four nights at your choice of B&Bs and closing with a stay in a five-star manor or castle.

If you go to Ireland during 2005, Cork is the place to be. Chosen a European Cultural Capital for the year, Cork City is responding with art, parties and other celebrations. Contact:

For information, the Ireland Tourism Web site is

Tom Parsons, Knight Ridder Newspapers

Contact Parsons at

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