We always make this observation about Ireland when we travel abroad

We are just back from my annual leave-a week in the Puglia region of Italy.

Puglia has some beautiful, historic and interesting towns such as Lecce, Bari, Monopoli, Astuni and it was an enjoyable week. It’s always great to travel and see how others live and organise their affairs.

But there is one thing that always strikes me when we are away: we are very lucky and well off in Ireland.

I don’t mean that Ireland is perfect, far from it.

But I have no time for the naysayers who describe Ireland as a kip and ‘no wonder there are so many young people emigrating’.

Travel on the road from Brindisi airport to Lecce and note the condition of that road which is supposed to be a dual carriageway. One of the lanes has deteriorated so badly that it has been closed.

The other lane, the functional one, is pockmarked with pot-holes and an appallingly rough surface.

The road outside my house in rural Kildare was resurfaced this year and is done regularly. And the road down to Broadford village is resurfaced and freshly marked on an annual basis.

We live in rural Kildare, not on the side of a dual carriageway from a regional airport to a city which attracts a massive number of tourists to the region every year.

We are not perfect in Ireland.

But we are miles ahead of many other so called richer nations. The only muppets who complain about Ireland being a kip, it seems to me, are those who do not travel outside to see how the other half lives.

We ate out in a restaurant on our last night-a Friday night in Brindisi-and there was only one other table occupied the whole evening. And that couple were Irish, too.

Out front, you had the owner, the chef, the head waiter and the junior waiter sitting at tables on their mobile phones. There are not too many restaurants in Ireland, never mind Dublin, where that scene was played out on Friday night.