Christmas in Ireland really is a joyous occasion, a time when family members come to celebrate together, a time for tearful airport reunions, boozie parties, festive food, family gatherings and a time for making lasting memories. We’ve put together a selection of our favourite Irish Christmas Traditions purely for your festive enjoyment!
It’s a relatively new tradition but for the past number of years, Ireland has had some great Christmas markets in the lead up to the Christmas period. Galway Continental Christmas Market is probably the longest running market and here you will find more than fifty traders from Ireland and further afield in Europe. The market is outdoors in the centre of Galway City, complete with Christmassy carousels, mulled wine and festive entertainment! It usually runs from the last week of November until the third week of December. In Northern Ireland, the Belfast Continental Christmas Market is also proving to be very popular with numbers and support growing tremendously every year. This market runs from about the 17th of November until the 22nd of December.
Two of Ireland’s biggest Christmas Festivals are Waterford Winterval & the Dublin Docklands Festival. Popular attractions in Waterford include a festive horse drawn carriage, a vintage Ferris wheel, a Christmas train ride through the city and the Exploration Dome which showcases 360 degree movies on snow creation, astronomy and more! The festival usually runs from the 21st of November to the 23rd of December. With Christmas Choirs, Brass Bands, Christmas Market Stalls and a Family Christmas Treasure hunt, the Dublin Docklands Christmas Festival has been running successfully for a number of years. It runs from December 12th to 23rd and many of its attractions are free.
The Annual Christmas Swim!
In coastal towns across the country a freezing cold Atlantic Ocean swim is becoming an annual custom. This is usually done to collect money for local charities or clubs and it is certainly an experience given that the temperature in Ireland around December can drop below freezing point
Hot Port/Hot Whiskey & Enough Food to Feed a Small Army!
If there is one thing an Irish mammy knows how to do, it’s to keep her family well fed at Christmas time! In many households around Ireland Hot Port & Hot Irish Whiskey is the Christmas Drink of choice. Of course, we have the big Turkey dinner on Christmas day and at home in Cork where I hail from we have Spiced Beef on Christmas Eve.
The Wren Boys
Hunting the Wren (pronounced ‘Ran’ in some places) is one of my personal favourite Irish Christmas Traditions. People have been doing this for hundreds of years in many places throughout Ireland. To hunt the wren, local musicians and dancers dress up and paint their faces, and travel from door to door singing, dancing and playing Irish music. ‘Wren Boys’ go around on Saint Stephen’s Day, the 26th December and money will be collected, usually for local clubs or charities. The original Wren Boys would have hunted and killed a wren in advance to take on parade with them but that’s not done anymore. Local legend tells us that the reason the wren is hunted is because of its involvement in the betrayal of St. Stephen. Another version of this tradition says it’s to celebrate the Wren as the King of all birds. Legend says the Wren is the king because once all the birds in Ireland had a race to see who could fly the highest. The eagle was winning but the clever wren jumped up on his shoulder and flew the final length beating all the other birds, including the eagle!
The Annual Roses Vs Quality Street Debate
In an Irish household at Christmas you will find either one or the other of these types of sweets. A point of constant debate is which one is better. Personally I go for the quality street every time!
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What are The Aran Islands and why are they interesting?
The Aran Islands; Inishmore (Irish Spelling Inis Mór), Inisheer(Inis Oírr) and Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) are located off the coast of Galway. The islands lie about 13km (8 miles) from the coast of Galway. This distance to the mainland has made the islands far more traditional than the rest of Ireland. Many traditional farming and crafts can still be seen on the island and the people speak Irish as their first language here.
The landscape on the Aran Islands may be like nothing you have seen before. It is karst and rocky and you will find land made fields surrounded by stone walls.
Clothes – The Aran Islands are famous of course for the traditional Aran Sweater but some other clothes are also unique to the island; the men for example wore a woven belt called a Crios and leather shoes called Pampooties! You can find out more about traditional Aran dress in the Stitches in Time exhibition at the Aras Eanna centre on Inisheer.
Land Making – The land on the Aran Islands is karst and rocky so the locals have to create land, they do this by mixing sand and seaweed and placing on top of rocks to create fertile soil.
Currach Boats – you may see these lying on the beaches on Aran Islands, they are a traditional Irish boat with a wooden frame over which animal skin would have been stretched over, although modern Currachs are now covered with canvas. These Currachs were a lifeline for Aran natives in times before motor powered boats and ferry crossings.
Day Trip or Stay Overnight?
Many of our clients take day trips to the Aran Islands. We recommend getting the morning ferry or flight and taking the evening ferry home. Make sure you leave in plenty of time and arrive at your departure point about 30 minutes early. The ferries usually leave on time and the journey to ports can sometimes take longer than expected. Calculate the time it will take you to get from your location to the port and add an hour to it!
There is ample accommodation on all of the islands, should you wish to stay overnight. There is a hotel on Inishmore as well as several good B&Bs, Inisheer has a small hotel/guesthouse and several good B&Bs and Inishmaan has several good quality B&Bs.
Get in Touch with us about booking your Ireland package including the Aran Islands and we can secure you the best available accommodation.
Aran Islands & Disabilities –
Although some of the ferries may have wheelchair access, access to the ferry is often by floating pontoon which may not be suitable for wheelchair users, depending on tides. The best thing to do is to check with the ferry company a few days in advance.
The islands themselves are not totally disabled friendly, the tour companies on the ground do not have wheelchair adapted buses and the ground can be quite uneven in places and so is not ideal for maneuvering wheelchairs around.
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The best way to learn about the Aran Islands is to visit yourself. Contact us today to book your trip!
Ireland is famous for Halloween and some ghostly places to visit since its origins date back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. The origins of Samhain are from Celtic pagan roots and is a festival in Gaelic and its meaning is the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Winter. This festival is traditionally celebrated from October 31st to November 1st. In this month’s blog are some recommended places to visit in Ireland at Halloween to that will not disappoint.
6 Places to Visit in Ireland at Halloween
Derry Halloween Festival
Around the globe places vie as to where is the best place to celebrate Holloween. Think of Transylvania, home of Dracula or Salem Massachusetts for its heritage of witches. Derry can be regarded as one of the best destinations when it comes to celebrating Halloween, the city is truly one of the most memorable places to visit during Halloween season. The city of Derry packs a punch when it comes to Halloween and in 2015 USA Today named Derry as the “best Halloween destination in the world”. Derry as a city is full of creativity and puts on a spectacular show with creative costumes. This history of great costumes comes from the people of the city with its heritage of shirt factories. The festival usually runs annually from the 26th of October to the 3rd of November and there is something for everyone and with a mix of music and harvest markets for foodies.
Westport House Halloween Festival
Westport House located on the West of Ireland in Co. Mayo which promises to scare you during Halloween season. This festival is normally happening on the 27th to the 31st of October annually. It is a perfect treat for individuals or all the family and has something for everyone to enjoy. During the festival for Halloween, the Estate House is transformed into a spooky old mansion and visit the dark dungeons where Pirate Queen Grace O’ Malley locked up her prisoners. There is lots more to this Halloween festival and worth a visit.
Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival
This festival happens all around Meath County in the historic Boyne Valley from 6th of October up until 4th of November annually. It is one of Ireland’s biggest Halloween festivals and a short drive from Dublin city centre. The festival goes from Haunted Hills to Eerie Graveyards, Tour of Shadow to friendly witches to spells and terrifying Terror Houses. You can visit during the day and be spooked at night. The Spirit of Meath Festival makes for an electrifying display of Halloween horrors.
Bram Stoker Festival
This festival offers 4 days of adventure usually between 26th – 29th of October and has something for everyone with its gothic programme of events in Dublin city. There are some free and some ticketed events for families and adults. This a great way to experience Halloween in Dublin’s capital city. Bram Stroker was the creator of Dracula’s and worked in Dublin Castle as a clerk. This Halloween festival celebrates the thrill of Halloween and the mysterious after dark and looks into the legacy of Ireland’s most valued authors.
The Crumlin Road Gaol – Belfast
This is a great place to enjoy the Halloween fever on the island of Ireland. The Crumlin Road Gaol offers the ultimate Halloween ghostly experience from its history from when it opened in 1846 and closed in 1996. For over 150 years it was a fully operational prison and has lots of eerie stories that you will learn about. A great way to enjoy this is to take a tour and learn about all aspects of the Gaol from the tunnels linking the courthouse on one side of Crumlin Road to the hospital, graveyard to the hanging cell and Governor’s office. This prison has had over 25,000 prisoners, with 17 men executed and has witnessed deaths, marriages, births and have and has been the scene of escapes, hunger strikes and riots.
Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin
Halloween and prisons become very popular as places to visit as they are famously haunted buildings and Kilmainham Gaol is not different. Ghostly tales surround the prison and it has been said that lights have mysteriously been turning on and off in the prison chapel. The prison is a symbol of Ireland’s past from militant and nationalism from the rebellion in 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922 -23. The leaders in these rebellion movements were detained in Kilmainham and sometimes executed. Opened in 1796 as the County Gaol for Dublin and it closed its door in 1924. This is truly a great place to visit in Ireland as a Halloween attraction or any time of the year and experience some of Ireland history and listen to the ghosts of the past.
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The best way to learn about Halloween in Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 Most Popular Things to do in Dublin to help you decide what to take in when you Visit!
Dublin is our capital city and one of the most multicultural cities in the world today and a must visit for anyone visiting Ireland. Most international traffic arrives through Dublin airport so most people will enjoy at least a few days in the city and explore all the attractions that it has to offer. Founded by the Vikings in 998AD, the city has a varied and interesting past and quite a few stories to tell. If it is your first trip to Dublin, you might want to tick a few of these famous visitor spots off your list:
Visit Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the biggest unoccupied prisons in Europe, it is now a museum and access is by guided tour. When it opened in 1796, the prison was one of the most modern of its time. Since then it has housed many political prisoners including those associated with the 1916 Easter Rising. Tours can get very busy and if you plan to visit, do call ahead or book tickets online.
See Glasnevin Cemetery
The Glasnevin Cemetery opened in 1832 and contains monuments and graves of some of Ireland’s most prominent national figures including Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Maude Gonne, Luke Kelly of the Dubliners and many more. Onsite, in the world’s first cemetery museum visitors can learn about the history and the lives of more than 1.5 million people that are buried in the cemetery.
Visit the Museums & Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle was built in 1204 and was until 1922 the seat of the United Kingdom government administration in Ireland. Today it houses The Chapel Royal, The Chester Beatty Library which displays artistic treasures from around the world, The Revenue Museum which offers an interesting history of tax collection in Ireland and the State Apartments; the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, Presidential inaugurations and prestigious functions. The grounds of the site are free to explore, admission to the State Apartments is by guided tour only and tickets can be purchased in the Upper Castle Yard in advance.
Walk Around Trinity College & See the Book of Kells Exhibition
Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, it is Ireland’s oldest university and has had many famous students including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift. Visitors to the College can enjoy guided tours of the magnificent Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibition. You cannot pre-book tickets and the line can get very long for entry, do arrive early if you plan to visit
Have a pint at the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is one of Dublin’s busiest attractions and one of the most popular things to do in Dublin. The museum is set out over seven floors which surround a glass atrium in the shape of a pint of Guinness. The exhibition covers the process of making Guinness, right through to the marketing, sales and distribution of the finished product. The seventh floor houses the Gravity Bar with fantastic views of Dublin City.
Enjoy The (Free Entry) National Museums of Ireland
Three out of our four national museums are located in Dublin; The Museum of Archaeology and the Natural History Museums are located quite close to each other off Kildare Street and the Decorative Arts and History Museum is located at the Old Collins Barracks on Benburn Street. All of these museums are free entry and well worth a visit!
Visit Christchurch Cathedral & Dublinia
Christchurch Cathedral is the elder of Dublin’s two cathedrals, the other being St. Patricks. The cathedral famously contains the tomb of Strongbow, a medieval Norman-Welsh warlord who came to Ireland at the invitation of King Diarmuid MacMorrough. The cathedral also contains the largest Crypt in Ireland and amongst the things, you will find there are secular carvings and the mummified corpses of a Cat & a Rat, commonly nicknamed Tom & Jerry! The adjacent Dublinia Exhibition is especially great for kids but enjoyable by most anybody, it covers the period of Dublin’s history from the arrival of the Anglo-Normans to the closure of the monasteries in the 1540s.
See The GPO & New GPO Museum
The General Post Office (GPO) is the headquarters of the Irish Post Office and one of O’Connell Streets most prominent buildings. During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO famously served as the headquarters for the rebellion leaders. The GPO Witness History Museum documents the building’s history and brings the events of the Easter Rising to life.
Do Some Shopping on Grafton Street
Characterised by energetic buskers and talented streets artists, Grafton Street and the surrounding streets contains some of the best shopping to be had in Dublin. There are also lots of nice cafes and bars in this area. Nearby at Meeting House Square, there are often theatre and film screenings and on Saturdays, there is an excellent organic food market.
Check out the Night Life at Temple Bar
Temple Bar is one of the best places to be in Dublin by night! Home to some of Dublin’s best traditional music bars and restaurants as well as some great art galleries, popular watering holes include The Palace Bar, The Temple Bar Pub, Oliver St. John Gogarty’s and The Auld Dubliner.
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The best way to learn about all the things to do in Dublin is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Ireland is known as one of the most romantic places in the world. When you think of old-school romance Ireland is a place that pops to the front of your mind. There are places all over Ireland, full of excitement, magic, mystic and the adventures that romance brings. In this month’s blog, you will have the opportunity to learn about some of the 6 most romantic places in Ireland to visit.
“What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow” – Irish writer James Stephens (1882 – 1950)
Whatever your length of holiday, Ireland provides charm and romance in all regions of Ireland. At Irish Tourism, we have excellent packages available for romantic Castle and Manors tours. With an influx of honeymooners every year to Ireland we can tailor a package to suit your needs and wants that you are looking for on a romantic Honeymoon break that can include a castle stay.
6 Most Romantic Places in Ireland to Visit
Causeway Coast Co Antrim
This area on the island of Ireland is widely regarded as one of the most scenic and romantic places in Ireland to visit. Lonely Planet has named it in their 2018 ranking as one of the best regions in the world to visit. On this Causeway Coast, you get to experience the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Giants Causeway to the Carrick – a – Rede Rope Bridge offering breathtaking views of the coastline. Dunluce Castle is an iconic medieval ruin castle on the Causeway coast. Built in the 1550’s MacQuillan family. This caste is full of charm and comes with lots of history and stories.
Connemara, County Galway
Connemara is situated just one hour west of Galway city, is one of the beautiful and romantic places in Ireland to visit. As you drive back into the heart of the Connemara region you can’t help but not be engulfed in the romance of the area with its rugged landscape and is easy to see why it is one of the most romantic places in Ireland. To signify its romance stature it was the film location of The Quiet Man, a romantic comedy. Connemara has everything you need to enjoy some special time with a loved one from a cosy thatched pub, pretty secluded beaches, mountain, forest walks and adventure.
Ring of Kerry
Kerry located on the Southwest Coast of Ireland and it is famous for its 180km Ring of Kerry drive with is a stunning array of photo opportunities throughout the drive. Panoramic pictures of bays, inlets, lakes and the highest mountain range in Ireland in the Macgillyicuddy Reeks with the highest mountain being Carrauntoohil. The most recent famous attraction off the Ring of Kerry road on the southern part is the Skellig Ring where you can see Skellig Michael where the recent Start War films have been filmed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Detour off from the town of Caherciveen and return to the Ring of Kerry road from Ballinskellig area and continue towards the village of Waterville made famous as the holiday vacation place of Charlie Chaplin. Kerry is widely regarded as one of the most romantic places in Kerry to visit.
Lough Eske, County Donegal
If you are looking to experience romance in Ireland, Donegal is an excellent choice to pick. National Geographic has recognised this and in 2017 put it on the top of the Cool List for 2017. Lough Eske is a small lake located northeast of Donegal town. You have the beautiful Lough Eske Castle if you want to treat yourself and your partner to a nice romantic setting. Also, there is Harveys Point Hotel nestled in the heart of the Blue Stack Mountains and also on the waters of Lough Eske, rated as the Top 4* Hotel in Ireland by TripAdvisor. It is the perfect place to visit when in Ireland on a romantic break.
Powerscourt, County Wicklow
Powerscourt is surrounded by the Wicklow Mountains and is a truly magical place to experience and explore. Powerscourt Estate less than one hour south of Dublin City; the estate is full of romance and grandeur with splendid gardens filled with spectacular flowerbeds, lakes, walking path for romantic strolls and endless green spaces. A short drive away is Ireland’s highest waterfall which is the perfect place for a romantic walk, take photos and also a beautiful place for a picnic with a loved one.
Gougane Barra, County Cork
Gougane Barra National Park is set in 1,000 acres in the unspoilt landscape it is an ideal location for romance in Ireland. Gougane Barra National Park is located just over an hour west of Cork City. This is a special place and it is not so crowded so you are guaranteed some quiet romantic time. It has some beautiful walks that take you down by the picturesque lake. You will find a small church that was once a Christian monastery founded by St Finbar, the patron saint of Cork. If you want some extra adventure you can enjoy cycling, fishing or boat trips that are very romantic.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Ireland, its charm and romance that it offers from the place is to visit and experience them yourself and your loved one. Contact us today for a free quotation from our dedicated travel advisors who will be able to help you create your ideal romantic trip to Ireland and answer any questions you may have. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
In this month’s blog, you have the opportunity to learn about some of the 15 Best Towns To Visit In Ireland. Ireland as a country is dotted with endless beautiful towns and villages.
Ireland’s towns and villages are full of character, charm, culture and heritage that defines them as unique in their own right. Some of these towns sweep along the raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way to the hidden gems in Ireland’s Hidden Heart Land and Ireland’s Ancient East. The selected Best Towns To Visit in Ireland below has their own beauty that is full of creativity and uniqueness for you to experience.
This is the 15 Best Towns to Visit in Ireland
Doolin is a small village in Clare located on the west coast about five kilometres from the towering Cliffs of Moher which lie southwest of the village. Doolin is an extremely popular place with travellers with its Irish bars which are famous for playing traditional Irish “Ceili” music nightly. It is also a village where you can access the famous Aran Islands from which are not too far offshore. Doolin is in the heart of the Burren and its home to an excellent gourmet trail of different food businesses. Doolin is one of the best towns to visit in Ireland especially in the summer months where it is thriving as a tourist destination with excellent accommodation options along with craft shops and activities.
Enniskerry is located in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains and only a short drive from Dublin. It is a fantastic base to explore Glendalough, Powerscourt Gardens, Sally Gap and Lough Tay (Guinness Lake). Enniskerry itself has some terrific cafes and tea rooms. The clock tower at the centre of the village frames the town, it is a great place to relax and unwind in a beautiful day and people watch. There is an excellent array of restaurants offering great choice and you can have the chance to try someplace new every evening.
Kinsale can be known as Ireland’s Gourmet Capital. You will find exceptional seafood restaurants with fresh fish caught nearby. Great array of international food and if traditional Irish food is something you look for, Kinsale has excellent Irish food in abundance. You will find excellent bars with traditional Irish music throughout the summer months. Kinsale is also famous for its arts and crafts and will find a diverse collection to choose from. While there it is worth a drive out to the Old Head of Kinsale which offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Ardmore is situated on one of Ireland’s oldest Christian site and is ideally situated on the coastline of Ireland’s Ancient East trail. The village is extremely picturesque and has won many Tidy Town awards. Ardmore boasts a wide range of accommodation options with excellent food in the restaurants and fun pubs to visit. Ardmore boasts five beautiful beaches to choose from. The town also has a lovely cliff walk to enjoy panoramic views of Ardmore Bay and boast one of the finest Round Towers in Ireland built on the 12th century. For water enthusiasts, a great way to see the coastline is by sea kayaking. If long walking is of interest it has the St Declan’s Way ancient pilgrimage walk from Ardmore to the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary and the total distance is just over 90km.
Dingle is based in the western peninsula of Kerry. Dingle is famous for old-style Irish bars and is a mecca for seafood. It has also a thriving arts scene there with the Other Voices music festival being held there every December. Dingle has managed to retain its charm over the years in spite of its popularity. In recent years it has become famous for being a film destination with Star Wars being filmed in the area. Worth renting a bike or driving back west of Dingle and head for Slea Head, you will not be disappointed in the breath-taking scenery. If you are an Ice – cream fan, Murphy’s homemade ice cream with a selection of different flavours is well worth stopping at.
Kinvara is a scenic town on the southern shores of Galway Bay and gateway to the Burren. Kinvara is translated as “The Head of the Sea”, was once a thriving port village and lots of trade went through it for the necessities of life such as food and turf fuel in the 19th Century. Kinvara can be one of the best places that you can visit in Galway with its close proximity to Galway city, it is buzzing in the weekends with an excellent array of pubs and restaurants. Kinvara is also home to Dunguaire Castle and is one of the most popular places to visit in Galway.
Kenmare is located on the picturesque famous Ring of Kerry. As a town it has got something for everyone from its excellent choice of restaurants, bars and cafés with superb accommodation options. Kenmare is beautiful in summer when the town park gardens are in full bloom with its stunning rhododendrons collection. The town itself is beautifully situated as a great starting point for a drive along the Beara Peninsula. With golf courses, horse riding, trekking and unspoilt scenery, it is one of Europe most natural unspoilt places to visit.
This town may be small and it is situated remotely in the tranquil setting of Donegal in the north-west of Ireland. Gwedore is a Gaeltacht town with its first language spoken being Gaelic and is one of the largest places in Ireland that speak Gaelic and as a result of this, it is the heartbeat of Irish culture. Surrounded by rolling hills and mountains and long stretches of sandy beaches this is a very peaceful place and a great place to clear your head from daily life. An excellent site in Gwedore is Glenveagh National Park and Castle.
Adare in Limerick is regarded as Ireland’s prettiest villages. The main street in Adare is dotted with an array of beautiful stone buildings, medieval monasteries ruins and beautiful village park which is a great place to take a peaceful walk. The pretty thatched cottages on the main street are part of the charm of Adare and why is it a great place to visit. The town is full of historical landmarks such as Desmond Castle that dates back to the 12th century and Adare Manor which is today a luxury hotel and golf resort which re has opened in the last number of months after a two-year upgrade. With a great array of accommodation options, boutiques, craft shops and bars the village has lots to offer.
Lismore is located in the Sunny South East in the county of Waterford. Lismore is a stunning town situated in the lush countryside on the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains and is one of Waterford’s most historical towns. You can spend time here exploring Lismore castle and the gardens the town’s main tourist attractions which are over 800 years old. The castle which was built in medieval times and build on a steep hill above the town, providing excellent views over the town. Time can also be spent exploring the woodlands around the River Blackwater.
Dalkey located on the south side of Dublin city and it is home to the likes of Bono, Van Morrison, Enya and many others in the music and arts industry. In the past Vikings had a port in Dalkey which was first constructed in the 8th century. Dalkey and its neighbouring Killiney are considered one of the most affluent neighbourhood in Ireland to reside in. Today Dalkey is full of castles from its past and with a pleasant array of restaurants and bars to choose from. Close by is Killiney Hill which is an excellent place to go visit and get breathtaking views out over Dublin Bay. A peaceful village enclave not too far from the hustle and bustle of Dublin City Centre.
This coastal town along the east coast of Ireland is on Ireland’s Ancient East no more than one hour north of Dublin. The town gets its name from the Old Norse which can be translated to “narrow sea inlet of the hag”. This town is surrounding by rolling hills and has roots to the Viking past with the towns’ street showing evidence of the medieval age. Carlingford offers adventure or a complete quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It has great live music in the bars and activities groups of friends or family. Also, it is known for its quality of fishing that can be fished from the place with oysters and crabs are often caught off the nearby harbour.
Clifden is located in Connemara and is one of the best towns to visit in Ireland if you are heading back west of Galway city exploring the national park. Not too far from Clifden is Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, one of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions. Clifden may be small in stature but it packs a punch with its collection of restaurants and bars. It also has lots of arts and craft shops for you to stop at. Highly recommended is the “Sky Road” offering unparallel views over Clifden Bay.
Kilronan, Aran Islands
Kilronan is the main village on Inis Mor on the largest island of the three Aran Islands and is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. This was a fishing port for the Aran fisherman and presently the main function of the port is that of a ferry terminal and a place for festivals. As one of the most unique and diverse places to visit in Ireland, this should be on everyone’s itinerary to Ireland and one of the best places to visit. Kilronan has an excellent range of restaurants, serving seafood and traditional Irish bars and music.
Birr is most famous for its castle and also it is one of the most scenic places to visit in Ireland with the heritage that it has on offer. The town itself was developed around Birr Castle estate of the Parsons family. Birr is known as one of the best Georgian towns in Ireland with its wide streets and makes for a charming place to visit. Along with Birr Castle and its grandeur, it is well worth taking a walk around the estate grounds where you can be captivated with the formal gardens and the Great Telescope.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Ireland and its towns and villages is to visit, immerse yourself in the history and heritage of the places. Contact us today for a quotation from our dedicated travel advisors who will be able to help you create your ideal trip to Ireland and answer any questions you may have. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
This month’s blog gives you the opportunity to learn about some of the Top 10 Things to Do on Ireland’s Ancient East. Ireland’s Ancient East starts on the south of Ireland by Cork’s Spike Island and takes in Cahir & Kilkenny Castle, Rock of Cashel to the Boyne Valley, Newgrange and Glendalough on the East Coast through to the northern region of Ireland to counties of Cavan and Monaghan and much much more in between. The aim is to have a memorable experience while on the trail & you will gain inspiration from the places that will map your journey. Discover the legends and stories and let you discover your own Ireland’s Ancient East!
Source: Discover Ireland
Dublin is an excellent base to plan your immersive journey on Ireland’s Ancient East. Dublin is a city that is full of history with tales and stories. With an abundance of history here, take a guided tour of Trinity College and see one of Ireland’s great cultural treasure in the Book of Kells. Along with its many more popular renowned attractions Guinness Storehouse, James Joyce Museum, Christchurch Cathedral, Kilmainham Gaol & Glasnevin Cemetry, the options are endless for you.
Top 10 Things to Do on Ireland’s Ancient East
Glendalough, Co Wicklow Glendalough is one of the top things to do on Ireland’s Ancient East and is one of the most important monastic sites in ancient Ireland. St. Kevin founded the Christian monastic settlement in the 6th century; from there developed into what could be termed a “Monastic City”. What you will see presently are buildings that survive from the 10th to the 12th century. In spite of various attacks from the Vikings, Glendalough thrived as a great foundation for learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. Also close by to the monastic settlements you can visit the visitor centre and listen to the audiovisuals and see the model monastic city on display.
Newgrange, Co Meath When you think and imagine ancient Ireland, Newgrange is one of the things that springs to mind immediately. This is one of the main attractions that can be found on Ireland’s Ancient East trail and within one hour of Dublin City Centre. The attractions also include Knowth & Dowth but to get to these you will need to go to the visitor centre via a short bus journey. Newgrange is the only attraction that is accessible to the public with a chamber. Newgrange is really popular during winter solstice but to get tickets for the event is challenging but worth going to watch for the memorable experience.
Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly Clonmacnoise is located near Shannonbridge in County Offaly and is a top attraction on Ireland’s Ancient East trail. Wander through the ruins and it will give you images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s Golden Age of learning. Founded by St Ciaran in the 6th century, it became a special place for learning and religion. Clonmacnoise is full of heritage and tales to capture your imagination. You will find ruins of round towers, graves, churches and celtic crosses. The Clonmacnoise graveyard is still in use and religious studies are regularly held on site in a modern chapel and was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979. Visiting will give you a true feeling of the history of Ireland.
Kilkenny Castle, Co Kilkenny A great place to visit on Ireland’s Ancient East trail is the historic medieval city of Kilkenny. In the heart of the city is Kilkenny Castle and its gardens. As you enter the castle, it can feel like you are stepping back in time to the 12th Century, which has been remodeled and restored to its 1830 state. Kilkenny is strategically situated on the River Noire and dominates the “High Town” of Kilkenny City. With its beautifully maintained gardens and surrounds, Kilkenny Castle makes for the perfect attraction and to get romanised and transported to medieval times. Also, the castle is the start of the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny City which takes you on a journey through the heart of the city to St Canice’s Cathedral to the famous Smithwick’s Brewery.
Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary This is a stunning group of buildings of the medieval style set upon looking over the town of Cashel Co Tipperary in the area known as the Golden Vale. The Rock of Cashel consists of a 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th-century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. This attraction is one for everyone to put on their to-do list when traveling Ireland Ancient East. The attraction comes with audiovisual shows and exhibitions.
Spike Island, Co Cork Spike Islands is a Winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2017 at the World Travel Awards! Spike Island is located off the town of Cobh County Cork. It has a varied history over the past 1300 years from being a 6th-century Monastery, a Fortress and during Victorian times, the largest convict depot in the world. With the rich history, there is something for everyone and learn about Ireland’s ancient past. Habitants on the island have included monks and monasteries, rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts and sinners and saints. Why not take the scenic ferry ride from Kennedy Pier in Cobh and enjoy the guided tour of the island and enjoy the surroundings while enjoying the views from the café.
Carrickmacross Workhouse Carrickmacross Workhouse is located in the northern location of Ireland’s Ancient East in the heart of the historical barony of Farney in County Monaghan. This Workhouse has been meticulously restored and tells a lot about Ireland’s history and heritage during that time. The reason for building these workhouses was for the poor of Carrickmacross town and the nearby parishes of Donaghmoyne, Inniskeen, Killanny, Magheracloone, Magheross and part of Bawn in 1841. During this time in Ireland population was close to 9 million with 3 million living in a state of destitute due principally to the evictions by British landlord. Carrickmacross Workhouse was one of a total of 130 built between 1841 & 1843 to house poor in society. In order to enter the Workhouse, you had to surrender any land where living conditions were poor and rules were strict and families were separated and forbidden from seeing each other without prior permission. The food was poor, and the hard physical work had to be undertaken. For people admissions to the workhouse became a last resort in life and became known as a “Poor Man’s Jail”. Definitely worth a visit if you want to immerse yourself in Irish History.
Cavan Burren Park, Co Cavan One of the “Hidden Gems” of Ireland’s Ancient East and a top thing to put on your itinerary if you are in the area. The Cavan Burren Park is located in County Cavan. This park opened in 2014 but has been here for centuries before that, this is a perfect attraction if you are interested in the outdoors and with a good pair of outdoor footwear you can explore the glacial boulders, rock art, and explore the ancient times of Cavan Burren Park. It is certainly worth the journey and it is away from the traditional tourist trail so you will not be caught in the midst of huge crowds. What will attracts you here is mainly the natural landscape with sights such as the Giants Cave constructed over 4,000 years ago.
Waterford’s Viking Triangle Waterford’s Viking Trail is located on the “Sunny South East” of Ireland. Waterford is Ireland’s oldest cities and only city in Ireland that Oliver Cromwell did not conquer. The cities Viking Settlement date back to 914. Visit Reginald’s Tower where you will get a chance to see the full set Viking weapons that have survived in Ireland. To learn more about the Viking Trail, visit the Medieval Museum and immerse yourself in the Viking era in Ireland.
Waterford’s Greenway The Waterford Greenway opened in March 2017 and is an excellent attraction to the Waterford region and to Ireland’s Ancient East and definitely one of the top things to do while exploring the “Sunny South East”. It is 46km of off-road cycling and walking trail along the old railway line. This route will give you the chance to experience the natural landscape of Ireland while your journey takes you across three viaducts from the river to sea.
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The best way to learn about Ireland’s Ancient East and explore the surrounding places that are on the trail is to visit by yourself. Contact us today for a quotation from our dedicated travel advisors including some or all of these locations – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer on Ireland’s Ancient East Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
This month’s blog gives you the opportunity to learn about some of the “Best Day Trips From Dublin” city centre. All of the day trips are accessible through public transport or your own self-drive vehicle and all journey times are within one hour of the city. These attractions offers a chance to explore the fantastic scenery, views over Dublin Bay and the Wicklow mountains. Grab some traditional Irish food and drinks while enjoying the local ambiance and famous Irish hospitality.
We can customise your trip to suit your needs and wants & create your own unique experience in Dublin and Ireland that will make it your dream holiday while here. If you book a trip with Irish Tourism your itinerary will contain directions and details to all the attractions and give you all the information for booking DART rail & bus travel.
Best Day Trips From Dublin
Howth Village & Lighthouse
Howth is located approximately 16km from Dublin City Centre located on the northern boundary of Dublin Bay and is widely regarded as one of the best day trips from Dublin. Howth is a traditional small fishing village with many things to do and see. The village is easily accessed by public transport. Either take the 31A bus from Talbot St in the city center or enjoy the coastal views and relax on the light rail DART service from the city center to Howth Dart Station. Howth is a foodie dream with its range of restaurants. It is famous for its seafood. If you have been dreaming of Fish & Chips in Ireland, Howth is the perfect place to try them at “Beshoff” restaurant, it is a Dublin institution for Fish & Chips. If you are looking for a nice walk or hike, Howth Head is the place to put on your itinerary. There is a walk for every level of walker. There are four route options, explore the “Bog of Frogs” loop for scenic views of cliffs, Lambay Island and Baily Lighthouse.
Bray Head Cliff Walk to Greystones
The easiest way to do this beautiful walk is to catch the DART rail to Bray Co Wicklow from Dublin city centre. If you are interested in rail travel this is certainly worth a visit and one of the best day trips from Dublin. You will see some of the best views along the east coast of Ireland as the rail journey takes you along Killiney Bay home to musicians Bono and Enya. On route, you can hop off at Killiney if you want to break up your journey and venture up to Killiney Hill on the south side of the city. This gives you spectacular views of Dublin Bay and Killiney village is a beautiful village to stroll around and explore. This cliff walk is widely regarded as one of the highlights of walking in Wicklow, this linear walk is well maintained and can be done by all levels of walking fitness. Just follow the Red arrows, it is 7km long and give yourself 2.5 – 3 hours to complete the walk. You can start the walk from Bray or Greystones and can catch the DART rail line back into Dublin city center once finished.
Wicklow Mountains National Park & Glendalough
Wicklow is known as the “Garden of Ireland” for its temperate environment for growing its diverse range of fauna such as rare orchids to the wild and majestic Peregrine Falcon. The National Park contains an area of 20,000 hectares and is famous for the Sally Gap which is a winding road perfect for long distance and cycling enthusiasts. Wicklow Mountains National Park runs a variety of activities for all ages either individual or a groups. It is situated just south of Dublin and is one of the best day trips from Dublin if you are into the outdoors and a fan of nature. The Wicklow Mountains are full of wide open vistas full of streams feeding into spectacular lakes. The park offers many walks and trails for all walking levels and is full of recreational amenities. One of the most visited parts of the Park is the picturesque valley of Glendalough, where the ancient monastic settlement of St Kevin is located.
Malahide Castle & Gardens
Malahide Castle & Gardens is situated in one of Ireland’s most beautiful and well-known award-winning towns. Malahide is easily accessible by public transport and is one of the best places from Dublin city centre to visit. The best mode of transport would be the DART rail system or alternatively, you can catch the bus. Malahide has lots to offer, it is a heritage village, has a marina, cafes, world-class restaurants, famous pubs and beautiful sandy beaches along with the jewel of the crown a national attraction in Malahide Castle. This premier attraction is set on 260 acres of lush gardens. This 12th-century castle had been home to the Talbot family for over 800 years. Over the last number of years, the attraction has undergone a huge refurbishment and reopened in 2012 with a state of the art visitor center and garden upgrade.
Clontarf is a seaside village about 3km from Dublin city centre. It is easily accessed by public transport with the Dublin Bus Route (104, 130, 32X, 53) or it is one stop on the DART rail line. Alternatively, you can rent a bike in the city and explore Clontarf by bike, catch the sea breeze and take in the views. Clontarf has a great array of pubs, restaurants, and cafes. Some of the highlights of Clontarf are visiting St Anne’s Gardens and its award-winning Rose Garden. Walk or bike the famous Promenade and explore the natural bird habitat of Bull Island and have a picnic, take a swim or windsurf on Dollymount strand offering panoramic views of Dublin Bay & City. If golf is something that you enjoy, Clontarf offers a great links test at the famous Royal Dublin Golf Club, Ireland’s oldest golf club. Clontarf is also famous as the place Brain Boru was victorious over Leinster & Norse Dublin on Good Friday 1014 AD.
Trim is situated 55km from Dublin city in the neighboring County of Meath in the heart of the historical rich Boyne Valley. Trim Castle offers the perfect day trip from Dublin, don’t worry about needing a car if you do not have one, you can take the Bus Eireann’s 111 bus route which provides regular service. The castle took over 30 years to construct by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter as the home of the Lordship of Meath. It is Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle situated on the south bank of the River Boyne. In the year 2000 after an extensive period of excavation and restoration, it opened to the public. Also, it was the backdrop to some scenes of Mel Gibson’s famous Braveheart film. Trim is a designated heritage town, is regarded as one of Ireland’s most beautiful towns and it offers something for everyone and is the perfect tonic for relaxation and calmness.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Dublin and explore the surrounding places is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation from our dedicated travel advisors including some or all of these locations today – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer in Dublin alongside our Ireland Ancient East Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
Mayo is a hidden gem of a county on the Wild Atlantic Way situated on the Western Seaboard of Ireland. It has lots to offer to all visitors with its stunning landscapes and diverse range of scenery it has many points of interests. It is steeped in history and culture. This below is some recommendations of the “Top 10 Things To Do in Mayo” and why it is a place to put on your itinerary to visit this coming 2018 in Ireland.
Mayo offers a range of outdoor activities ranging from exploring the Greenways by cycling or walking. Also excellent opportunities for, angling, mountain climbing, and water sports such as surfing or paddle boarding. One of the hidden gems of Mayo is Achill Island with its breath-taking landscapes, its people, and natural fauna – This Island will not disappoint you with lots things to do and explore.
Source: Dream Culture by Kevin MacLeod
10 Top Things To Do in Mayo
The Great Western Greenway
This is the perfect way to explore the area, be it walking or cycling part of the Wild Atlantic Way with 42km of Greenway along the old Westport to Achill railway line. What better way to escape the urban life and travel the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in Ireland. Perfect place to start this trip is from Westport and it takes you to villages of Newport, Mulranny and finishes up in Achill Island.
Atlantic Drive on Achill Island
This is a first-rate way to see the natural beauty of Achill Island. It is a special mystical drive that takes in the rugged scenery of the island with beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs with excellent opportunities to stop off and take some panoramic pictures. The island is blessed with many nice traditional pubs, restaurants serving beautiful nutritious traditional Irish food. Achill Island is perfect for a day trip or overnight stay.
Westport name comes from Cathair na Mart meaning “stone fort of the beeves”. It is situated on the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. The current town center as it stands today was designed in Georgian architecture style in the 1780s by James Wyatt. The town layout was urban design incorporating medieval principles. Westport is famous for its collection of traditional Irish bars, selection of quality restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts. Combined with a vibrant friendly local population it makes for the perfect place to stay.
Westport House and Garden
Westport House is one of Ireland’s most loved heritage attractions. It is possible for visitors to view one of the finest places built in the 16th Century in Ireland with 30 rooms available to tour. This house dates back to Grace O Malley the Pirate Queen of Connacht who ruled the land and sea around the estate. The original foundations of Westport House were built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke, Grace O Malley’s great – great – granddaughter.
Croagh Patrick is locally known as the “The Reeks” situated 10 km from the town of Westport. If hiking or hill walking is your interest this is a mountain that will not disappoint. The mountain is regarded as Ireland’s Holy Mountain. The mountain offers spectacular views of Clew Bay, Achill Island, and surrounding areas. It is best advised to climb during the summer months between (April – September). The mountain rises 762m above sea level and generally takes approximately 4-5 hour round trip.
National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock
Knock Shrine in Gaelic Cnoc Mhuire “Hill of Mary” is a very important holy place in the village of Knock. It is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage and National Shrine where it has been observed that there was an apparition of Saint Joseph, Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and Jesus Christ in 1879. During the time that this happened Ireland had been coming to the end of the great famine and the 1870s saw the beginning of land reform which changed Irish rural life with the events of Knock happening at the beginning of the Land War.
This is one of the earliest church to be founded after Saint Patrick came down from Croagh Patrick established in 1216 and it is only the church in the Irish state founded by an Irish king that is still in use. This abbey has quiet the history, the abbey was burned by the Normans, seized by James I and suppressed by Henry VIII. To add to this historic abbey, the roof was burned by Oliver Cromwell soldiers in 1653 and not fully restored until 1966 but even so, there was no roof, the mass was continued to be said. It is some feat to have the abbey celebrating mass continuously for the past 800 years which is the only church in Ireland to do so.
National Museum of Country Life – Castlebar
This is an award-winning Museum of Country Life and is home to the National Folklife Collection. This museum is spread out over four floors showcasing rural Ireland in the hundred years between the Great Famine and the end of the 1950s. One learns about traditional clothing of the Aran Islands, folklore objects and a selection of photographs depicting the living environment of the people working on the land and sea. Also, visitors get to learn about the resources people used in that time and the skills that were required to live in rural Ireland.
Fishing on the River Moy
River Moy is one of the most productive river systems in Ireland. It is approximately 100km long which drains the catchment of over two thousand square kilometers. Within this river fishing system is some excellent lough such as Conn and Cullin with also streams and lakes. The Moy river is famous for being one of Ireland’s premier Salmon rivers and the great thing about it is that it offers a great range of quality angling to suit all tastes and budgets. The Moy estuary is also excellent for sea trout that can exceed four pounds and can be caught on fly and bait. The fishing season is from February 1st – September 30th and it is important to check with ghillies and owners to confirm the local rule. If you are interested in sampling Ireland’s world-renowned fishing, the River Moy offers you all this and more.
Surfing in Blue Flag Beaches
If water sports are something that gives you the idea of your dream holiday, Mayo has this in abundance and more. Mayo gives ample opportunity to enjoy the renowned Irish waves and a chance to surf them. There are waves for all levels of surfers from beginners up to experienced. Beatra beach an arm of land extending into Clew Bay not far from Westport is an excellent place to surf and many surf schools in operation in these places too. If going off the beaten track and away from the masses then Bellmullet or Achill Island is the place to be. Enjoy the windswept beaches and try and bag a big wave in Keel Strand in Achill Island. There are lots of other options too such as paddle boarding or windsurfing to enjoy. Bring or rent a wetsuit, as Irish waters are quite cold!! Definitely one of the memorable things to do while in Mayo
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Mayo in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer in Mayo alongside our Wild Atlantic Way Self Drive or Chauffeured tours. We can customise your trip to suits your needs and wants & create your own unique experience in Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way that will make it your dream holiday to Ireland.
Our Top 6 Recommended Christmas Markets to Visit in Ireland this Year
What else could we write about at this time of year but Christmas? One of the more recent traditions during the festive period here in Ireland is a visit to a Christmas market! So if you would like the opportunity to buy unique & authentic Irish gifts and taste some of Ireland’s best artisan food then look no further than one of the six markets that we have listed below.
Galway Continental Christmas Market
The Galway Continental Market is one of Ireland’s most popular and longest running Christmas Markets. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and spans all the ways from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch. The market stalls are a mixture of both local & European products (hence the name). The German Bier Keller is one of the favourite tents to visit for many of the market goers and if you’re not afraid of heights you can try out the 32 metre high big wheel too.
Belfast Christmas Market
Regarded as one the best markets in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Christmas Market is configured of 90 wooden chalets representing 30 countries from all over the world. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and is situated at the picturesque city hall. On offer are a variety of Christmas decorations, handmade jewellery and a food court which supplies both local and continental food. The mulled wine is highly recommended.
Dublin Christmas Flea Market
As you can probably imagine, the capital city has no shortage of top quality Christmas markets so picking out just one is quite difficult but we have decided on the Christmas Flea Market. Located at the Point Square right next to the 3Arena, the market usually takes place on the second weekend in December. No two stalls are the same with craftspeople, artists, collectors and designers showcasing there talent. So if you are looking to buy a more quirky and unique gift for someone then the Christmas flea market is definitely worth a visit.
Milk Market (Limerick)
Located in Limerick’s historic Old Quarter, the Milk Market is run every weekend during the year however it takes on a Christmas theme as the festive period approaches. A renowned hot spot for food buffs, the Milk Market is well known for its locally produced quality food with a wide range of products available for you to sample. The themed stalls, choirs and Santa’s grotto will get you in the Christmas spirit in no time.
With over 60 market stalls bringing festive charms to Ireland’s oldest city, Winterval is one the premier Christmas markets in the south east of Ireland. Winterval usually runs from the end of November right up to Christmas and is spread across three different locations in Waterford City Centre. Make sure to check out the vintage ferris wheel, the storytelling in Reginald’s Tower and the Winterval Express train which takes you on a tour of all the festivals attractions.
Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration
For some merry entertainment in Ireland’s second city, look no further than Glow! Conveniently located in Bishop Lucey Park just off grand parade in Cork City Centre, the market runs every weekend in December, right up to Christmas! Glow lights up Cork with fantastic Christmas food markets, choral performances and a 30 metre high ferris wheel provides amazing views of the city. Just across the street from the park is the famous food market, The English Market, where you can try the famous spiced beef or some buttered eggs.
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The best way to learn about Christmas in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –