Many people travel Ireland to explore what we call their ‘Irish side’ – that mysterious feeling of connection so many of us seem to feel when contemplating the Emerald Isle.
Maybe for you it is the sheer natural beauty of the Irish landscape. For another it might be the mystique of the Irish pub and the rollicking, fun-loving, music-filled images that come to mind when we imagine the Irish drinking scene.
For others the urge to travel Ireland may lie in the dramatic history of this storied Island, dating back thousands of years to some of the earliest civilizations, and filled with folklore, mythology, and important historical events.
For our family, with our Irish ancestry, it was all of the above. When we first had the opportunity to do some Ireland travel we were so taken with her charms that we decided to find ways to express this passion in our day to day life.
As a result, later trips to Ireland were all the richer – because we were always
on the lookout for unique ‘expressions’ of Irish culture to enjoy in
the moment, and to share with family and friends back home.
Discover your Irish Side with
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Traveling by air is the easiest way to get to Ireland. The country has four airports and the one you land on will depend on the country that you are coming from.
Dublin Airport is the country’s biggest and an ideal starting point for your exploration. The three other opportunities are Shannon Airport, Cork Airport and Kerry Airport.
Beginning travel Ireland adventure is also possible by sea, by rail and by bus. Trains connect Dublin to many other cities. People who arrive by sea at Rosslare will also benefit from the availability of train transportation.
Just like in any other country, accommodation opportunities abound. You can easily find something that corresponds to your preferences and budget in the Irish city that you plan to stay in.
Accommodation options range from camping and caravans to ancient castles. There, you will be capable of experiencing the treatment that royalty received. Whichever option you choose, researching and booking in advance is a must for a satisfactory Ireland travel experience. Some hotels will also offer transportation services from the airport, which is something that many travelers decide to benefit from.
The things that you can do in Ireland depend on your personality and preferences. You can pick among adventure holidays, cycling through the country, golfing, culinary tours, spa and wellness programs, arts, cultural festivals, shopping, clubbing and witnessing major sports events.
Before traveling to the country, find out what would be happening during your stay. Large Irish cities have an active cultural, historic and artistic life and you will certainly get to witness at least one intriguing event.
Finally, Irish cuisine deserves a try and it will be an essential part of your experience. As you may have heard, the humble potato is one of the most important ingredients. You will be surprised and astonished by the freshness of all produce. Make sure that you try the traditional Irish stew, the corned beef with cabbage, champ (a very popular potato dish) and the soda bread.
Beer is an integral part of the Irish culinary tradition. According to historic evidence, over 200 breweries were functioning in Ireland by the beginning of the 19th century. At least 10 of the local beers are worth a try but you can certainly explore many other varieties to discover your favorite.
Ireland’s culture and historic
heritage will help you familiarize yourself with local customs and
understand the Irish traditions even better. Certain historic and
cultural landmarks are a must-see for every Ireland Travel adventurer.
Some of the most important landmarks to consider during your visit include:
As you travel the Emerald Isle, be on the lookout for ways to express your love of Irish culture and heritage. Keep your eyes open for:
Celtic Designs and Symbols
When visiting Newgrange in County Meath, we became interested in the recurring artistic designs that appear all over this ancient historical monument.
For example, we learned the ancient meaning and importance of the spiral design and all its variations. And we became fascinated in the way these symbols and many others found their way into Irish art, jewelry and other aspects of the culture.
Today we enjoy pointing out these symbols and explaining their meanings to family and friends.
Information on how to include a Newgrange tour in your Ireland travel plans can be found at http://www.newgrange.com/tours.htm.
During a hop-on hop-off city bus tour in Dublin, we learned of Dubliners’ fondness for irreverent nicknames attached to statues and places of interest in the city. And we laughed until our sides hurt.
You have to appreciate a bit of off-color humor to enjoy some of these nicknames. If you do, it’s a very enjoyable experience to visit an Irish pub and ask about local attractions, and the local nicknames attached to them.
For us, this experience triggered a general interest in Irish sayings, and we have begun to use Irish toasts, blessings, and proverbs at our social gatherings.
For Ireland travel advice that includes information on Dublin statues and the nicknames associated with them visit our Irish Sayings page.
My goodness… the food and drink. Like most good tourists our Ireland tavel advice included making plans to visit local pubs and a tour of the Guinness Brewery. We developed a new appreciation for the many uses of the potato, whether at breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.
We also learned to appreciate the iconic Guinness Stout!
Since our first visit to Ireland, we must have sampled – or made – over 50 versions of Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Stew. Simple and hearty, these foods invoke feelings of a traditional hard-working lifestyle.
We have now sampled these dishes in 12 different countries and our home in the United States. But for some reason these meals - and the Guinness Draught that often accompanies them - always taste better in Ireland.
For information on including a Guinness Brewery tour in your travel Ireland plans, visit the Guinness Storehouse website.
Irish Works of Art
The Ireland travel advice we have received from others has led us to gifts and souveniers of many kinds to share with our family and friends back home. Some of our favorite pieces are in the form of Irish crystal.
While there are a number of crystal makers on the Emerald Isle, arguably the most famous is the House of Waterford Crystal.
Our visit to Waterford gave us insights into the brilliant Irish crystal-making tradition. Many Waterford pieces, from tableware to vases to candlesticks and other home décor, now decorate our home.
For information about the House of Waterford retail store and factory tours, visit the House of Waterford website.
We love the good folks at TourIreland.com. They live and work in Ireland, know the country and treat their clients well. If you would like to leave the planning to the experts, and be sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle, get in touch with them here!
Obviously we have just scratched the surface of the many available Irish expressions.
In addition to the travel Ireland advice above, consider how you might express your Irish side through jewelry, photography and music. The options are limited only by your imagination.
As you begin your Ireland travel adventure, keep your eyes open for other creative Irish expressions. Sharing these expressions with family and friends can greatly enrich your experience of Ireland, before, during and after your trip.
In the meantime, safe travels!
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