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Letter:For the love of the Irish

I read "West Cork: is it the new Dordogne?" (18 August) with considerable interest. I am not a distinguished person with the money to buy a dream cottage on an Elysian coastline, but I have chosen to live in Southern Ireland because it is a more human and pleasant place than present-day England. Even a small flat near the centre of Cork with no garden, which I rent for Irpounds 325 a month, makes a happy resting place.

Ireland is a good place for octogenarians. Its health service is better than Britain's. On account of my small income (a little under pounds 10,000 year), my doctor charges me nothing, nor will the hospital if I have to go there.Dental services are also free, including dentures. Most astonishing of all, pensioners can travel free by bus or train. If I want to go to Dublin I just show my pass.

Finally, something unquantifiable: the friendliness of everyone you meet. I have at least a dozen close friends, acquired in the course of two years. Shop assistants are always friendly and courteous, and for some unfathomable reason will sometimes offer you part of your money back.

Why is Ireland so much nicer? Can it possibly have something to do with its being a religious country? As a nation Ireland has reason to dislike the English but I have never experienced such dislike, though my accent tells everyone that I come from the land of their oppressors.

C E J Fryer

Cork, Republic of Ireland