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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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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
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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.
Halloween in Ireland originated in the ancient Celtic world as a pagan festival known as Samhain and has since become a day that is celebrated worldwide.
Halloween in Ireland is still a significant holiday especially due to the fact that the last Monday in October is designated as a public holiday. Below we look at some of the popular Halloween traditions in Ireland from both past and modern times.
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish Halloween custom where yeasted sweet bread is prepared with sultanas and raisins. Barmbrack contained various items that had been baked into the brack and these carried predictions for the future year. Finding a pea in your piece of barmbrack meant you would never marry, a stick predicted that you would have an unhappy marriage (a stick to beat your partner with!), a piece of cloth often referred to as a ‘rag’ meant you would be poor, a small coin for wealth and a ring meant you would be married before the next Halloween. Even today, no Halloween in Ireland is complete without having a few slices of Barmbrack!
Next on our list is Colcannon, a traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish that is often eaten at Haloween in Ireland. The dish gets its name from the Irish word cal ceannan, which when translated means white headed cabbage. The dish usually includes kale, green cabbage, bacon and floury mashed potatoes. Similar to the barmbrack, items were placed into the Colcannon which were used to give predictions for the coming year.
The Halloween bonfire which we have come accustomed to in modern day celebrations was in fact the centre of the Samhain festival. Legend goes that each village would have a bonfire where people would sacrifice crops and animals in return for protection for themselves for the coming winter. Before the main bonfire could be lit all fires around the village had to be quenched. Only after the main bonfire had been extinguished could the villager’s then re light their own fires.
Jack O Lantern
An ancient Samhain tradition that can still be seen during Halloween today is the Jack O Lantern. Folklore has it that hundreds of years ago an Irishman called Jack conned the Devil into buying him a drink for exchanging his soul. However when Jack finished the drink he proceeded to cover himself in crosses meaning the devil was unable to get his soul. When Jack died he was refused entry to heaven for his behaviour. He then encountered the devil who refused him entry to hell but grudgingly giving him an ember so he could see as his walked throughout the night. Every Halloween since, people carved out turnips and placed a candle in them to ward off the wandering Jack. It was from this that the Jack O’Lantern came into existence. Although in Ireland we no longer carve out turnips it is thought that this is where the practice of carving pumpkins originally came from.
One of the more modern Halloween traditions in Ireland is visiting haunted houses & castles over the Halloween period. Events are held around Ireland where people gather in supposedly haunted houses & castles in the hope of encountering some spirits! Some of the most famous spooky attractions around Ireland where these events take place include Loftus Hall, Charleville Castle and Charles Fort, Kinsale.
Read more about some of Ireland’s most spooky attractions here
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If you are interested in experiencing Halloween in Ireland contact us today for a competitive quotation. One of our experienced travel advisors will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.
Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Ireland, also known as ‘Mary of the Gael’. Her feast day, Saint Brigid’s Day, is the 1st of February, the start of the Spring season. Traditionally Saint Brigid crosses like this one are made from rushes on her feast day and hung in the house for the rest of the year to ward off evil and danger from fire.
Saint Brigid’s Day is believed to have come from the pagan festival ‘Imbolc’ which literally beans ‘in the belly’ and celebrates spring and the arrival of longer days. In pagan mythology, Brigid was the goddess of fertility.
In some parts of Ireland St Brigid’s Day is celebrated with the ‘’Brideog’’, a handmade doll traditionally fashioned out of straw and dressed in white. The Brigeog is taken from house to house and usually at each house the visitors play traditional Irish music and dance.
Saint Brigid is associated with County Kildare and is sometimes referred to as ‘Brigid of Kildare’. According to legend Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, served by a group of young women who tended an eternal flame. In the 6th century, a monastery was erected on the same site. The original monastery no longer exists but a new Cathedral was built on the site during the 13th century. This Cathedral still stands and the sisters of St. Brigid (nuns) reside there.
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