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Irish Tourist Sites Closed Over Livestock Concerns

March 11, 2001|CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ireland last week postponed St. Patrick's Day parades in the cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, suspended horse and greyhound races, closed its national parks and the Dublin Zoo and suspended play at more than a dozen golf courses in an effort to dodge the foot-and-mouth disease that has brought a farm crisis in England.

In announcing those temporary moves and others last week, officials were quick to note that Ireland has recorded no cases of the disease, which afflicts livestock and can be spread via people's clothing. More than 60 cases have been reported in Britain, including one in Northern Ireland, prompting officials in Dublin to warn of "a serious threat to the economic life" of largely agricultural Ireland.

The government's moves, the Irish Times newspaper reported, were intended to discourage visitors from Britain and gatherings of people from rural areas.

At Brendan Tours, a Van Nuys-based operator of trips to Ireland, vice president Diane Hatwell said the measures had prompted only "minor changes" in Brendan's tour group itineraries; one group had to drive by the Cliffs of Moher instead of walking atop them, for example. But some travelers-golfers, for instance-could find their plans scrubbed.

Many heritage sites have been closed, as have some castles and public buildings. As of March 6, the Irish Tourist Board said, most of the country's golf courses had apparently closed to play. More information is available from the Irish Tourist Board at (800) 223-6470, Internet http://www.Ireland.travel.ie or the Irish Times newspaper, http://www.Ireland.com.

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