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.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about the Aran Islands is to visit yourself. Contact us today to book your trip!
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.
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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.
Get in Touch-
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 –
Waterford is located in Ireland’s Sunny South East, and is one of Ireland’s oldest cities. Founded by Vikings in 914 A.D., a part of its ancient walled core still remains. The city is most famous for one of its exports, Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city’s glass making industry.
Before you set off sightseeing in Waterford you might want to sample a Blaa, a large, soft, and fluffy bread roll that is exclusive to Waterford!
Waterford Viking Triangle is the city’s Cultural and Heritage quarter and many of its visitor attractions are here. The quarter is characterised by narrow streets, atmospheric public spaces and a collection of cultural & historic attractions.
On your travels you may wish to pay a visit to;
This landmark building is the only monument named after a Viking. Situated at the apex of the Viking Triangle, the tower was originally part of the cities defences. The building was once used as a mint, a prison and military store; it now displays an exhibition on Viking Waterford.
The Bishops Palace
The Bishop’s Palace is located in Cathedral Square and gives the visitor an insight into the Georgian and Victorian periods in Waterford. The first two floors are laid out as a historic house with displays of 18th century glass, silver, furniture and paintings. The oldest piece of Waterford Glass in the world is a highlight.
The Medieval Museum
The Medieval Museum is located between Cathedral Square and the Bishop’s Palace in the heart of the Viking Triangle. The Museums main architectural features include two medieval chambers, a 13th century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. One of the museum’s most precious artefact is the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Henry VIII, a cap of maintenance.
The Theatre Royal is locally referred to as “the people’s theatre” and has been the traditional venue in Waterford for the arts throughout generations. The theatre is the home of several amateur societies and has hosted the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera since its foundation in 1958.
House of Waterford Crystal
The origins of crystal production in Waterford date back as early as 1783 when George and William Penrose began producing extremely fine flint glass that became world-renowned. Waterford Crystal continues this tradition and its facility in the city offers visitors the opportunity to take guided tours of the glass making process from start to finish. The on-site crystal store showcases the world’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Waterford in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Our final blog post in our Aran Islands series explains how to get to the Aran Islands by ferry, flight or as part of a bus or rail tour.
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 1: Ferry –
You can get to the Aran Islands by passenger ferry from Rossaveel which is about an hour west of Galway City or from Doolin in County Clare. You cannot bring a car across on the ferry.
Weather permitting; the ferries from Rossaveel go year round whereas the ferries from Doolin usually go from around March to October. The ferries can be cancelled if the weather is too bad as the crossing would be too dangerous. The ferries from Rossaveel have less cancelled sailings per year than there are from the Doolin port.
How long does the ferry to the Aran Islands Take?
Rossaveel to Inishmore – About 45 Minutes
Rossaveel to Inishmaan – About 55 Minutes
Rossaveel to Inisheer – About 65 Minutes
Doolin to Inisheer – About 30 Minutes
Doolin to Inishmaan – About 40 Minutes
Doolin to Inishmore – About 90 Minutes
The ferry crossing to the Aran Islands can get very rough, if you suffer from travel sickness, then you should think about your journey before setting off. Think about visiting the island closest to port (Inishmore from Rossaveel and Inisheer from Doolin) and pick up some motion sickness pills before you go. I find sitting outside, looking out to the horizon helps me!
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 2: Bus Tour/Ferry –
There are a number of companies offering bus transfers with ferry tickets from Galway city. You take the bus as far as Rossaveel and then take the ferry. If you don’t want to drive, this option is included in our Independent Rail Tours.
How to Get to the Aran Islands Option 3: Fly–
You can fly to the Aran Islands in a small passenger plane from Connemara airport. The flight takes about 10 minutes and there is a maximum of 8 people allowed in the plane, depending on the weight of the passengers, there could be fewer than 8. Connemara Airport is located in Inveran which is about 40 minutes west of Galway City. You do need to book your flight in advance with Aer Arann Islands.
Get in touch with us today and take the hassle out of booking your trip to Ireland and the Aran islands!
Inishmore (Irish Spelling Inis Mór) is the biggest and most populated of the famous Aran Islandsoff the coast of Galway in Ireland. The entire island is about 30km squared. As with all of the islands the spoken language is Irish although locals can usually speak both English and Irish. The locals are dedicated to preserving traditional Irish culture and traditional Irish music is very much alive in Kilronan, the islands main village.
When you arrive on the island there are usually mini buses lined up, waiting to take prospective clients on tours around the island which feature all the major sites. There is a small fee for these tours. You can also usually take a tour of the island by horse and trap which is more expensive than the bus tour. There are also several bike hire companies, should you wish to see the island that way!
Some of the main tourist attractions on the island include –
Dún AonghasaFort & Visitor Centre: A superb example of an Iron or Bronze Age Promontory Fort, standing dramatically at the edge of a 100 metre high cliff! The on-site visitor centre will tell you more about how and why it was built.
The Worm Hole: A natural rectangular shaped pool at the bottom of the cliffs south of Dún Aonghasa.
Dun Duchathair (The Black Fort): This fort is situated on the cliffs near Cill Éinne. It is a lot quieter than Dún Aonghasa in terms of visitor numbers. The fort is not easy to access, wear good walking boots and prepare for a bit of a trek if you wish to visit!
Kilmurvey Beach: There is a beautiful sandy beach on the island just off the road between Kilronan and Dun Aengus.
For more general information on the Aran Islands see our Aran Islands blog post here, or for information on getting to the islands clickhere.
Want to book a tour that includes Inishmore?
The best way to learn about Inishmore is to spend time there! Contact us today for a quotation including this location in your Ireland tour!
Inisheer (Inis Oírr) is the smallest and most easterly of the famous Aran Islandsoff the coast of Galway in Ireland. The entire island is about 8km squared and has a population of around 300. Like the other Aran Islands the spoken language is Irish although locals can typically speak both English and Irish.
When you arrive on the island there are usually coaches lined up, waiting to take potential customers on tours around the island which feature the major visitor attractions. There is a small fee for these tours, payable directly to the driver. You can also usually take a tour of the island by horse and trap which is more expensive than the bus tour. You can also hire a bike to get around on the island if you prefer.
The main village is called Baile an Lurgáin and you can walk to it from the pier. In the village you will find the local shop, pubs, B&Bs and restaurants.
Some of the main tourist attractions on the island include –
The Wreck of The MV Plassey: The MV Plassey ran into Finnish Rock on Inisheer in 1960 and the entire crew were rescued by a group of local men. The wreck was made famous when it featured in the opening credits of Father Ted.
O’Brien’s Castle: This castle ruin is located on one of the highest points of the island overlooking the beach and pier. This castle is thought to have been built in 14th century.
An TráBeach: As you approach Inisheer by boat you can’t miss seeing the white sandy beach known simply as ‘An Trá’ which in English means ‘The Beach’! On a fine day, the water is a beautiful shade of blue.
Áras Éanna Arts Centre: Inisheer has a dedicated arts and culture centre which displays traditional Irish and modern arts. The centre has a programme of events and exhibitions from artists resident on the islands which changes frequently.
For more general information on the Aran Islands see our Aran Islands blog post here, or for information on getting to the islands clickhere.
Want to book a tour that includes Inisheer?
Learn more about Inisheer by spending time there. Contact us today for a quotation including Inisheer today –