Every year around October, Ireland becomes a place where Halloween is celebrated. With Halloween season transitioning you into darker nights and this being a mysterious time of year, it is a great time to hear stories of Ireland’s ghostly past. Halloween in Ireland is a big occasion for adults, families and kids with lots of traditions and festivals happening. As every year passes, the marking of the tradition gets bigger with more events occurring throughout the country.
If you are spending Halloween in Ireland this year, a festival called Púca Halloween Festival has been launched in the counties of Meath and Louth, and is worth putting on your bucket list. This festival is taking place on Ireland’s Ancient East trail in the historic Boyne Valley. This is where the festival Púca comes alive; the special meaning of Púca in Irish history and folklore is that it has the ability to change the fortune of anyone who comes into contact with it. With the unpredictable energy that the festival brings, it promises not to disappoint and will enchant you as you learn about the tradition of Halloween and immerse yourself in the Halloween story of Ireland.
Courtesy: Puca Festival
In this special blog, you will learn all about the Púca Festival.
Halloween in Ireland is all about traditions, storytelling and festivals and there is a deep respect for these rituals. During this time of the year, rules can be broken and Púca brings itself to the streets at night time and transforms the place into its playground for everyone to enjoy. The festival will provide some jaw-dropping light installations and exceptional performers. In addition to this, there will be some excellent interactive touchpoints and some amazing bespoke projections of Ireland’s Ancient East. To compliment all of this, there will be a music festival across the event venues in County Meath and County Louth. There will be music by established and up and coming artists, the likes of Lisa O Neill, David Keenan and Jerry Fish.
Some events are free but still require a ticket and for others, there is a fee required. To find out all about the event and a full programme of events at Púca Festival follow the link. All venues are less than one hour drive from Dublin City.
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County Donegal, located in the North West of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most rural counties with a rugged coastline littered with beautiful cliffs, national parks and castles making it a county with an authentic charm like no other. For those who are looking for a brief escape from it all, it is difficult to find a more suitable place to relax and rewind. Donegal topped National Geographic’s Cool List for 2017. Here are our top 5 recommended things to do in Donegal.
Slieve League Cliffs
Situated on the South West coast of Donegal, the majestic Slieve League Cliffs are one of the highest oceanic cliffs in Europe with the top of the cliffs reaching a towering 600 metres. As you walk towards the top of the cliffs there are magnificent views across Donegal Bay towards the mountain base in Sligo and Mayo with Glencolmcille being visible to the North West.
Glencolmcille Folk Village
Glencolmcille Folk Village offers you the opportunity to catch a glimpse as to how daily life has varied in Donegal throughout the past few centuries. Thatched cottages, each a replica from a particular century filled with furniture and artefacts of that period, a fully reconstructed schoolhouse and a pub/shop give you a real perspective as to how people survived in the remoteness and hardship of life in Donegal.
One of the most popular things to do in Donegal is to explore the Inishowen Peninsula. Situated on the Northern tip of County Donegal, it is the largest peninsula on the island of Ireland. This scenic drive is the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way and has a scenic driving route of its own, the ‘Inishowen 100’. One of the highlights of the route is Malin Head which is the most Northerly point of Ireland is also where scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi was shot in 2016.
Glenveagh National Park & Glenveigh Castle
Glenveagh national park is the second largest national park in Ireland with over 16,000 hectares of land for you to explore. Recommended sights and activities within the park include the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle while six walking trails within the park varying in length from 1km to 8 km with all trails providing different views and levels of difficulty for walkers.
Grianán of Aileach
The Grianán of Aileach is a hillfort on top of the Greenan Mountain on the Inishowen Peninsula. The ringfort dates back to the 6th century and was the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach and one of the royal sites in Gaelic Ireland. From the top of the hillfort, there is a breathtaking view across Lough Foyle & Lough Swilly as well as the entire Inishowen Peninsula.
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It could be argued that there are few places in Ireland that rival the beauty and charm of Killarney. The town is located with the awesome MacGillycuddy Reeks, as its backdrop overlooking the town.
What makes Killarney special is that it has all the amenities that a big city has from a great selection of bars, restaurants combined with a festival atmosphere. In addition, the mountains and countryside are all close by so it is easy to get out and explore your surroundings. In this blog post, we have put together a selection of our favourite things to do in Killarney.
Our Favourite Things To Do in Killarney!
Red Deer and Sea Eagle Watching in Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park sits right alongside Killarney town. The park is ideal for walking, cycling or running and you can also get a jaunting car (pony and trap) around it. In the park, you will have a chance to catch a glimpse of the Wild Red Deers, the last remaining of the indigenous herd in existence in Ireland.
While in the park, keep a lookout for the white-tailed sea eagles that were reintroduced into the park in 2007 after they became extinct during the Victorian age. These birds are a great sight to behold if you are lucky to catch a rare sight of them.
Visit the Gap of Dunloe and Black Valley
A visit to Killarney and Kerry is not complete without a visit to the Black Valley and Gap of Dunloe. These are two of the most popular attractions that are located close to Killarney. There are many ways to see the scenic landscape from a trap and pony, car, walking or cycling. Enjoy the quiet serene roads and experience the incredible views of the Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy Reeks, Purple Mountain, Ladies View and Muckross Park. We recommend that you grab a bite to eat at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and then experience the Gap of Dunloe, Black Valley and discover some special memories.
Muckross House and Gardens
Located in the heart of Killarney National Park is Muckross House and Gardens. This 19th century Victorian Mansion offers breathtaking views over the surrounding lakes. Close to the house, walk around a traditional farm which will give you a picture of what a working farm was like back in Ireland in the early 1900s. You can also see Muckross Abbey ruin which was constructed in the 15th century close to the picturesque Lough Leane. Walk or cycle the park surrounding the house and take some amazing pictures.
Ross Castle is located within a short distance from the town centre. The castle was built by the O’Donoghue Mor clan (family) during the 15th-century. The structure overlooks Lough Leane and during the Middle Age period in Europe, the castle was a stronghold of the Irish Chieftain clan. Ross Castle is open to the public during the summer months and is a very popular attraction and should be on everyone list of things to do in Killarney.
Explore Torc Waterfall and Torc Mountain
The waterfall is located just over 2.5km from the Killarney National Park entrance and only a 5-minute walk from the N71 Killarney and Kenmare Road. Torc Waterfall measures 20 metres high and 110 metres in length and the waterfall originates at the Owengarriff River where it drains from the Devil’s Punchbowl lake at Mangerton Mountain. The waterfall is one of Killarney’s most well-known attractions, it can get very congested during the summer months so be patient.
If you are feeling energetic and enjoy hiking, it is worth hiking Torc Mountain. Continue walking past Torc Waterfall and it will lead you on the trail to the mountain. It takes around two hours roundtrip and it is worth it with some breathtaking views out over Killarney town and the surrounding areas.
Climb Carrauntoohil – Ireland’s Highest Mountain
Carrauntoohil is situated among the Macgillycuddy Reeks and covers an area of 100 square kilometres. It is Ireland’s highest mountain at a height of 1,039m. Like any mountain, one needs to be prepared before embarking on the mountain. Read about the usual mountain safety procedures before attempting any climb – have enough clothing, food and water and phone fully charged. The weather is changeable and can be dangerous, so if you don’t have a lot of experience mountaineering, you may be better off booking an experienced hiking guide. It is a challenging climb but well worth it, where at the summit you can see out over Killarney, Cork and Limerick on a clear day.
Tour the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring, Molls Gap and Ladies View
The world-famous Ring of Kerry or Iveagh Penninsula as it is also known by is a must-do when in Kerry and planning your top things to do in Killarney. Killarney is the gateway to starting the drive. This amazing driving route allows you will travel 180 to 200km of the most unspoilt and beautiful landscape around, stopping at quaint town and villages as you go. Pass through Killorglin, home of Puck Fair, Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville, Derrynane, Sneem and Kenmare and back into Killarney through Molls Gap and Ladies View. Take your time on the journey and give yourself a full day to enjoy it so you will not rush through it.
If you have time you should detour off the Ring of Kerry in Caherciveen and take in the unmissable Skellig Ring scenic drive. The beauty of this is that there are no big bus coaches allowed on it, so it is less congested. You will get a chance to visit Skellig Chocolate Factory, producers of premium chocolate and the factory offers great views of Skellig Michael where the latest instalment of Star War films was filmed.
Killarney Pub and Craft Brewing
Part of the unique charm and attraction of the town is the selection of bars that have a great selection of good quality food and Irish music. A recent addition to the pub scene in Killarney is the Killarney Brewing Company and they have created craft brewery that is reminiscent of the age-old craft beer production that goes all the way back as far as the 1800s. All the craft beers are additive and preservative free and include a range of lagers, ales and stouts. It is located on the Muckross Road, less than 10 minutes from the centre of the town.
Boat Trip of the Lakes of Killarney
One of the best ways to experience the true beauty of Killarney National Park is from the water. On each of the three lakes that are located in the national park, you will be able to experience what the park has to offer from the vantage point of being on the water and get a grasp of its full size. There will be a chance to see Innisfallen Island, Library Point, Governors Rock, Old Copper Mines, Innisfallen Abbey and White Tailed Sea Eagles which can be seen regularly over the lake.
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The best way to learn about Killarney, its sights and attractions are to visit yourself. We offer a range of ways to experience Killarney as it is one of our most visited destination on our tours. All our Self Drive, Chauffeur or Rail take in Killarney and County Kerry. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these attractions today –
Cork has the second biggest city in Ireland and Cork County is the largest county in Ireland. It is also home to some beautiful scenery and some fantastic tourist attractions so we decided to pick out 10 of the top things to do in Cork below!
Looking for places to visit in Cork? Check out our list for our top 10 recommended things to do in the famous Rebel County!
Blarney Castle & Blarney Stone
Where else could we start a list of the top things to do in Cork but with Blarney Castle and the Blarney stone? The famous stone of eloquence is situated at the top of the magnificent Blarney Castle and folklore has it that anyone who kisses it acquires the gift of eloquence or as we say in Ireland, the gift of the gab! Surrounding the castle are beautiful gardens for you to take a stroll through at your own leisure.
Cobh Heritage Centre
Another must visit during your time in Cork is the Cobh Heritage Centre which is located about 25km southwest of Cork City, in the town of Cobh. Here you are given the opportunity to learn about life in Ireland during the 18th& 19th centuries where mass emigration, the famine and criminal transportation are the main themes. The centre also hosts an exhibition on the history of the Titanic; Cobh was the last port of call before it made its final faithful voyage across the Atlantic.
Known as Ireland’s Alcatraz, Spike Island is also located near Cobh, just off the coast. Originally founded as a military installation it later became a prison which was in operation until the 1980s. In 2015 the island was re-opened as a tourist attraction & it was recently crowned as Europe’s leading tourist attraction. Tours of the island take in the fort, prison cells and the gun emplacements. An after-dark tour is also available for those who would be interested in a more edgy but fun experience.
Of course one of the best things to do in Cork is to sample the local cuisine and the best place to start is at The English Market in Cork City Centre. Surrounded by beautiful 19th-century architecture the market is famous for supplying local specialities such as drisheen (a type of blood pudding), spiced beef and buttered eggs. Even Queen Elizabeth II decided to pay a visit to the market in 2011 to see what all of the fuss was about!
Shandon Bells, St Anne’s Church
On the north side of Cork city, across the cities famous River Lee, St Anne’s Church constructed in 1722 and is famous for its Shandon Bells tower. The 18th-century bells are still in use presently and are widely regarded as one of the top things to do in Cork. St Anne’s Tower is a distinctive sight overlooking Cork’s skyline. There will be an opportunity for visitors to ring the bells from the first floor and enjoy unrivalled views out over Cork city and beyond.
Blackrock Castle Observatory
Blackrock Castle Observatory is certainly worth a visit when in Cork city. The castle is located in the beautiful scenic suburb of Blackrock on the banks of the River Lee. This structure is said to be the oldest still in use in the city and will give you an excellent appreciation of the maritime history in Cork. It is very interactive and features a planetarium, a cinema and a host of interactive exhibits. The village is also a great place on a Sunday between 10am -2pm for the Sunday Market which offers a great range of foods to experience on your way to the castle observatory.
Garnish Island is situated in Bantry Bay just off the West Cork coast. The island is renowned for its beautiful gardens, Martello Tower and exotic plants, most of which are rare to Ireland. A short scenic ferry cruise, departing from the village of Glengarriff, takes you out to the island. One thing to keep an eye out during the journey are the seals who frequently visit the rocks on the southern shore of the island.
Jameson Distillery Midleton
For any whiskey fans then the Jameson distillery in the town of Midleton in East Cork should definitely be on your bucket list. A guided tour of the distillery begins with a short film to give you a brief background to Jameson’s history before a guide takes you through the distilling process from the start from finish. At the end of the tour, each participant receives a free glass of whiskey (those who are 18 and over!).
Cork City Gaol
Rounding off our list of top things to do in Cork we come to Cork City Gaol. Located within walking distance from the city centre, the museum gives you the opportunity to see what life was like inside one of Ireland’s most famous jails during the 19th & 20th centuries. Exhibitions including lifelike figures, sound effects and furnished cells make it an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
This is a beautiful gothic style cathedral located about 10 minutes walk from the heart of Cork city. Designed by architect William Burges in 1862. It is certainly worth a visit while in Cork and is one of the top things to do. It is constructed with Cork limestone and the interior walls are made of Cork marble. You will come across beautifully stained glass and intricately carved icons in the walls.
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The best way to learn about Cork and its sights and attractions is to visit yourself. We offer a range of ways to see Cork from Self Drive, Chauffeur or Rail. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Dublin is full of attractions that will enhance your travel experience in Ireland with exciting things to do in Dublin. The city is small in comparison to other major cities, but it still has plenty of choices and offers days of sightseeing. This blog post is a continuation from our previous blog 10 of The Most Popular Things to do in Dublin. Dublin has a long eventful history from Viking invasions, civil wars and rebellions just to name a few! Dublin is close to beautiful beaches and mountains, and are all within thirty minutes or less from the city centre. This makes the city special by giving yourself a big city feeling as well as getting lost in nature and the outdoors if you wish.
10 More Things to Do in Dublin
Epic The Irish Emigration Museum
Dublin has many great attractions but a visit to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum should be on everyone’s to-do list. The museum will take you on a journey through Ireland as a country of emigration. Learn about the reasons why 10 million people left Ireland and the impact that it had on the world. You will understand Irish culture through this very interactive museum. After a visit to EPIC, you will be fully informed of the influences Irish history on international society.
The Brazen Head – Dublin’s Oldest Bar
Part of the great charm of Dublin is its variety of bars and what each offers. They give you a unique insight into the Irish drinking culture of past and present. The Brazen Head is Dublin’s oldest pub and it is full of charm and character. Through the history of the bar, if the walls could talk, there would be many a good story to be told!! This 12th-century pub has entertained customers including Daniel O’ Connell, Michael Collins and James Joyce to name a few. It is the perfect place to enjoy some fresh ales on tap and some delicious Irish dining.
Enjoy a Food Tour
Ireland has a proud tradition of producing high-quality food and Dublin has a great sample of international eateries to suit all tastes. Like anyone on vacation, eating is part of daily life and it is important to find good, nutritious and locally sourced produce. A great way to learn about the Dublin food scene is to take the Delicious Dublin Walking Tour that is done by Ketty Elisabeth of the French Foodie in Dublin blog. Another good option worth considering is Fab Food Trails. The guides on this tour are well-known food critics and will be able to inform you about Dublin’s artisan food scene.
Walk on the Great South Wall
While on vacation sometimes, it is about exploring away from the well-known locations and finding some off the beaten track places — The Great South Wall fits into this category. This amenity is quite close to the city centre so there is no need for a car or anything and it is great to walk all the way out to Poolbeg Lighthouse. There is some walking through industrial warehouses but it’s worth it as it offers amazing views of Dublin Bay, Sandymount Strand and Dublin Mountains. Dublin Bay’s Great South Wall dates back to 1716 and is part of Dublin’s heritage and definitely one of the things to do in Dublin.
Little Museum of Dublin
Another museum that is worth a visit in Dublin is The Little Museum which tells the history of the Irish capital over 100 years. In 2011 this museum was launched with historic objects donated by the Irish people and currently, it has over 5,000 artefacts in the collection. For this, it is nicknamed the “people’s museum”. This museum is highly regarded and it is one of the top museums in TripAdvisor’s ratings and Irish Times newspaper voted it as “Dublin’s best museum experience”. You will have the chance to see the cultural and social history of Dublin in the 20th Century.
Teeling Whiskey Distillery
Ireland is well known for its fine quality whiskeys. The Teeling Whiskey is the newest addition to Dublin in over 125 years. It is located in the heart of Dublin City and the distillery is a fully functional pot still refinery producing over 500,000 litres of spirits each year. The distillery is extremely innovative and are able to craft distinctive whiskeys with their intelligent fermentation and techniques. What makes this distillery special is that you will be able to see how a real distillery works. This is a great opportunity to discover everything you want to know about whiskey and distilling in Ireland.
Croke Park Stadium Tour & GAA Museum
Croke Park is Ireland’s biggest stadia with a capacity of over 82,000 and is home to Ireland’s National sports of Gaelic Football and Hurling. You can take a stadium, museum tour and learn about the varied history that the Gaelic Athletic Association and how it played an important role in Ireland’s history. During the summer months, the stadium is a hive of activities and if in Ireland during the weekend of a game, it is worth a visit and to hear the Irish people explode into colour as they support their counties. This stadium and museum tour is highly interactive and gives a great experience of learning about the national sports in Ireland and its influences in Irish society.
National Botanic Gardens & John Kavanagh “The Gravediggers”
Located in the suburb of Glasnevin approximately less than half an hour from Dublin City Centre. If gardens are of interest to you and want to take time out from the hustle and bustle of the city — The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are an ideal oasis of calm and beauty. Entry to the gardens is also free. You can wander through the extensive collection of plant species and cultivars from all over the world. Very close to the botanic gardens is John Kavanagh “The Gravediggers” which is built into the walls of Glasnevin Cemetery one of the most famous cemeteries in Ireland. It gets its nickname from gravediggers who used to come in for a few drinks after digging. This bar is one of the oldest bars in Dublin and very popular as a location in the film industry and commercials.
Phoenix’s Park & Dublin Zoo
Phoenix Park can take great pride in being the largest enclosed park of any capital city in Europe. The park was originally formed as a royal hunting park in the 1660s and it opened to the public is 1747. On a visit to Phoenix Park, you will come across some fallow deer that can still be seen today. The actual size of the park in 1,750 acres. Inside the park, you will find some beautiful stately homes, such as Áras an Uachtaráin — home of the President of Ireland and the America Ambassador has a residence there. It is one of the great things to do on a visit to Dublin, with the park only a half a mile from Dublin City Center. It is also home to Dublin Zoo, which offers a great experience while on a visit to the park. It is great for walking, cycling, exploring nature and for recreational running.
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Having the chance to experience a St Patrick’s Day in Ireland is something special to cherish. St Patrick’s Day takes place on the 17th of March and revolves around festivals to promote everything Irish. It marks a traditional turning point in the weather calendar with the days getting longer and can be seen as the end of Winter and the arrival of Spring. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world from Dublin to Australia and beyond. The legend of St Patrick was that he got rid of all the snakes out of Ireland!!
The festival in Dublin is the biggest in the country and well worth visiting – it is full of colour. There are also lots of other towns and cities around Ireland with great festivals to visit if you can’t make Dublin.
If you are looking to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland below is a list of –
10 of the Best St Patrick Day Festival in Ireland
1 – Dublin
Dublin’s Festival is the most well known in Ireland and is broadcast live on TV. The festival each year carries a theme and it expresses Ireland through the creative arts of people and puts on an outstanding spectacle for everyone. You will see street parades, ceilis and a great atmosphere in the pubs with everyone dressed in a sea of green. Many of the famous Dublin landmarks will turn green for the day.
2 – Cork
Cork is Ireland’s second largest city and is a great place to enjoy St Patrick’s Day in Ireland and it puts on a jammed packed festival every year. It has a number of events throughout the city with plenty of street entertainment. One of the most iconic buildings in Cork turns green – Cork City Hall. If you want a great place to view the parade & head to the South Mall area of the city where all the parade performers will be exhibiting their talents.
3 – Limerick
Limerick St Patrick’s Festival gives a great opportunity to celebrate Ireland’s National Holiday over a number of days. Some special features of the parade are Ireland’s only band championship with over 1,300 musicians taking part, with an epic fireworks display, a 40-foot panoramic wheel that gives excellent views out over the city and a museum of the moon.
4 – Killarney
Killarney is located in the picturesque county of Kerry and is one of the most visited towns in Ireland. The town offers a backdrop to Killarney National Park and the place is full of activity around St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Killarney as a town has a long tradition of celebrating with an annual parade through the streets being a focal point and is an event that takes place over a few days. The festival has kid zones, street ceilis, themed lake cruises, treasure hunts and lots more for everyone.
Source: Irish Examiner
5 – Galway
2019 will be the 177th anniversary of the Galway St Patrick’s Day Festival and it promises to be a festival of all things Ireland. A great place to see the parade is the famous Eyre Square where the parade finishes with the iconic fountain in the heart of the square going green for the occasion. The parade will feature a range of community, cultural, sporting and international groups. Galway’s festival is about Diversity and is a platform to showcase local artists, community groups, the diverse range of talents in the city through the parade events.
6 – Kilkenny
Kilkenny city is full of culture, heritage and the arts – these are the platforms that they will celebrate St Patricks Day in 2019. Kilkenny showcases an annual parade with lots of community events involving, schools, businesses, community groups who participate together to bring a memorable festival to visitors in Kilkenny with its renowned hospitality. The theme of the festival in 2019 is “ Bring back the Bees” with the bees being an important part of Ireland’s food ecosystem, to protect their biodiversity.
If you are up and around Belfast around St Patrick’s weekend, it is a great city to enjoy the spectacle with friends and family with something for everyone. There will be a vibrant carnival parade and colour with the city centre being full of colour and music. See some eye-catching floats, performers and costumes.
9- Derry – Londonderry
Derry – Londonderry offers a Spring Carnival that includes a St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival Parade. The festival will be the celebration of children and young people. The themes will explore the depictions of youth in myth and legend in the traditions of Celtic life and the many diverse cultures across the world. There will be a chance to see mystical creatures make their way through the city representing young people from fables, fairy tales to faraway lands. This is a great festival for all friends and family to enjoy and be entertained.
10 – Waterford
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and is well renowned for its Viking Heritage and Culture and it packs a punch too for St Patricks Day. The festival will celebrate Colour, Culture and Community. The Waterford Parade will aim to showcase the cultural influences over the years that has helped to build stronger communities. The festival will be a mix of sport, food, business, national hobbies and the arts.
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Clare is a county on the heart of the west coast of Ireland located along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. With a varied terrain ranging from rolling countryside to the Atlantic coastline. County Clare is an excellent place to discover culture in Ireland. The county is blessed with places to visit – from the UNESCO Burren, Cliffs of Moher Geopark, award-winning Loop Head and some historic towns like Bunratty, Killaloe and Ennis.
Read about the 10 Places to Visit in County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s most visited attractions and when you will visit you will see why! The cliffs rise to a height of 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean and even reach 214 metres at the highest point near O Brien’s Tower, an observation tower built by local landlord Cornellius O’ Brien. The views are stunning and on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and even as far as Connemara!
On the opposite side of County Clare in the East, you will find Lough Derg. There are two Lough Derg’s in Ireland, the other one is in Donegal. Lough Derg in Clare is the second-biggest lake in the Republic of Ireland and the third-biggest on the island of Ireland. It shares is shores with northwest Galway and eastern Tipperary. On the Clare side, some nice places to visit along the lakeshore include Killaloe, a picturesque town with nice bars and restaurants and a 13th-century cathedral, Scariff and Mountshannon where you can take a boat trip across to Holy Island in the centre of the lough.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is the most complete Castle in Ireland, it is completely furnished on the inside giving the visitor a real sense of what the castle would have looked like for residents in the 15th century. Bunratty Folk Park which surrounds the castle is a reconstructed village where buildings like the rural farmhouse, the village shop and post office and several different types of traditional cottages have been recreated. The folk park gives a fantastic insight into what life was like for different segments of Irish society in the early 19th century. If you are staying in Clare region, think about visiting Bunratty at night to take part in one of their famous medieval banquets. Advance booking is required for this and we can book this for you as part of any tour visiting Clare.
This attraction is especially good if you have children with plenty of parkland to run around in and a collection of unusual animals such as wild boar! On-site the primary feature is a reconstructed Crannog; an artificial island on which people built houses, kept animals, and lived in relative security from rival clans, a ring fort. The attraction also has a souterrain which is an underground tunnel used for storage or to hide from would-be attackers, a fulacht fia which was used for cooking in the Bronze Age and Craggaunowen Castle, a typical example of a fortified tower house built in 1954.
The Burren – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Burren refers to the regions of Clare and south Galway which share a unique karst landscape known for its rare species of flora and fauna. The main towns in the Burren region are Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corfin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna. The Burren National park is located in Corofin, here you will find five marked walking trails that take you through many different fascinating and beautiful habitats, such as limestone grasslands, hazel/ash woodlands and limestone pavements. If you plan to visit the national park, a good place to start is the Clare Heritage Centre in Corofin. In the village of Balllyvaughan consider visiting Ailwee Caves, a cave system consisting of over a kilometre of passages leading into the heart of a mountain.
This is perhaps the most photographed attraction in Clare after the Cliffs of Moher. It is situated 8 km south of Ballyvaughan, about 10 km north-west of Kilnaboy. The structure dates from the Neolithic period, and excavations which uncovered the remains of sixteen adults and six children have shed light on burial customs of Clare’s early farming communities
The Loop Head Peninsula
The Loop Head Peninsula at the very tip of southwest Clare is a scenic coastal drive which takes in the coastal villages of Kilrush, Carrigaholt, Kilbaha, Loop Head, Kilkee and Kilrush – the entire journey is a distance of around 81 km. Top sights to take in include Loop Head’s main town Kilkee which was frequented by the likes of Charlotte Bronte and Alfred Tennyson and Carrigaholt which has outstanding sea views. One of the most beautiful natural features on the peninsula are the Bridges of Ross on the western side of Ross Bay harbour, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean. At the very tip of the peninsula, you will find Loop Head and its famous lighthouse.
Clare is a very popular surfing destination and it is known throughout the world as a surf destination. Fanore, in particular, is famous for surfing and water sports. Fanore is a small little village and it has accommodation options along the beach to stay and enjoy the waves and ocean. It does not matter your surf ability – with surf schools available it caters for everyone and don’t be afraid to try and catch a wave on The Wild Atlantic Way!
Aillwee & Doolin Caves
County Clare is blessed with its unique landscape in the Burren area and it has some of the most famous caves in the country. Take a tour at the Aillwee Cave and explore the winding passages, chasm, rock formations and waterfalls. Doolin Cave is famous for its Great Stalactite and you will get the chance to go underground by 200 feet and be transported back 350 million years.
Scattery Island can be reached by boat from Kilrush pier during the summer season with guided tours available free of charge. It is a monastic island and named after the mythical monster on the island. It was St Senan who founded the monastic settlement on the island in the 6th century. Over the years the islands have been attacked by the Vikings and others but in spite of this the round tower, cathedral and oratory can still be seen. The last island dwellers left in 1978 for the mainland; who were river pilots and gifted currach handlers. The ruins of the village remain with streets and several churches remaining. On the island also is a Holy Well which has healing properties.
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Ireland is known throughout the world for its quality of beers and spirits. Food and drink go hand in hand and Ireland has some excellent food choices that will not disappoint. Below is a list of some of the best food in Ireland to try on your next visit to Ireland.
Discover some of the best food in Ireland
Irish stew is fittingly one of the best foods in Ireland and most popular. The ingredients that are put in a stew can vary depending on where you eat it but traditionally it will include lamb meat, potatoes and onions flavoured with barley. The stew is traditionally cooked in a pot over a number of hours at low temperature to give it the best taste. In order for the stew to not become too watery, other ingredients can be added such as herbs and spices; the stew can be thickened by using a lamb stock. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!!
There are lots of shellfish options in Ireland and it is very popular in Irish cuisine. On the west coast of Ireland, you need to sample the oysters, which comes into season in September. Galway Oyster Festival is “Ireland’s longest running and greatest gourmet extravaganza” – The Rough Guide publication. It is held between September 20th – 24th. If in Ireland around this time – it is worth going to. Other shellfish options to sample are clams in Connemara to Molly Malone’s famed cockles and mussels, and prawns from Dublin Bay. There is a prawn festival on in Howth Co Dublin.
Black and White Pudding
This type of food can be found in a traditional Irish breakfast or as a stand-alone commonly found on menus as a starter. The most famous flavours of black and white pudding come from Clonakilty or in Kerry you will find the Sneem black pudding which is extremely popular. Pudding is not unique to Ireland but the recipe here is quite special.
Ireland is renowned throughout the world for its quality of seafood offering. Smoked salmon is a must try while here. Oak smoked salmon from the Burren region on the West Coast of Ireland, the beechwood smoked salmon from the Connemara Smokehouse or in Killarney or Cork try the award-winning smoked salmon from Quinlan’s fish restaurants.
Bacon and Cabbage
On the menu of an Irish pub or restaurant that serves traditional Irish food will be boiled bacon and cabbage. This is a firm favourite among Irish homes and is served with boiled potatoes and can come with different sauces such as parsley. The flavours of the food are incredible and will leave you extremely satisfied.
This is something that you should not depart Ireland without sampling. Like tapas are to Spanish food culture, soda bread is part of ours. Every person who makes the bread has their own recipe and adds their own unique flavour to it. The main ingredients of the soda bread are bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk form the raising agent, which is mixed in with flour. It is sliced and butter used as a topping and can be served with soup or used in sandwiches.
Barmbrack is another type of bread and it is normally had during lunch or an evening snack. It is a type of bread that is distinctive to Ireland. This bread is typically very popular around Halloween time. It is a mix of half bread and half raisins and served with butter and jam, tea or coffee – there is nothing quite like it.
Traditional Irish Fry
The traditional full Irish fry is similar to the English fry but we have our own twist on this breakfast classic. Normally, this is had at breakfast and it will set you up for the day. In Northern Ireland, you will find the Ulster Fry which is very popular and is something that you needs to taste while visiting the island of Ireland. Usual ingredients for a fry are bacon, sausages, mushrooms, black and white pudding, fried eggs, hash browns, tomatoes and beans.
In essence, colcannon is mashed potatoes mixed with chopped cooked kale, green onions, milk or cream and lots of butter. During St Patrick’s day, it is a particular favourite in Irish homes. This is served by making an impression in the middle of the mash and adding some butter.
What is special about Irish food is that many counties have some foods particular to them. The Waterford Blaa is bread but it is particular to Co Waterford. It can only be termed a Blaa if it comes from Waterford. Visit Waterford in order to try a Blaa – Waterford city is the oldest in Ireland and it is also known for its Viking culture. The Blaa goes well with butter or bacon (known as rashers in Ireland). This promises to live up to expectations.
Get in Touch- All these foods can be found on our tours of Ireland and will be on most restaurants, café or pubs menus. If you require any further information about our 2019 tours, please get in touch and one of our Irish based travel experts will be here to assist you in creating your dream holiday to Ireland.
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!
Get in Touch- The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
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!