Ireland is famous for Halloween and some ghostly places to visit since its origins date back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. The origins of Samhain are from Celtic pagan roots and is a festival in Gaelic and its meaning is the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Winter. This festival is traditionally celebrated from October 31st to November 1st. In this month’s blog are some recommended places to visit in Ireland at Halloween to that will not disappoint.
6 Places to Visit in Ireland at Halloween
Derry Halloween Festival
Around the globe places vie as to where is the best place to celebrate Holloween. Think of Transylvania, home of Dracula or Salem Massachusetts for its heritage of witches. Derry can be regarded as one of the best destinations when it comes to celebrating Halloween, the city is truly one of the most memorable places to visit during Halloween season. The city of Derry packs a punch when it comes to Halloween and in 2015 USA Today named Derry as the “best Halloween destination in the world”. Derry as a city is full of creativity and puts on a spectacular show with creative costumes. This history of great costumes comes from the people of the city with its heritage of shirt factories. The festival usually runs annually from the 26th of October to the 3rd of November and there is something for everyone and with a mix of music and harvest markets for foodies.
Westport House Halloween Festival
Westport House located on the West of Ireland in Co. Mayo which promises to scare you during Halloween season. This festival is normally happening on the 27th to the 31st of October annually. It is a perfect treat for individuals or all the family and has something for everyone to enjoy. During the festival for Halloween, the Estate House is transformed into a spooky old mansion and visit the dark dungeons where Pirate Queen Grace O’ Malley locked up her prisoners. There is lots more to this Halloween festival and worth a visit.
Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival
This festival happens all around Meath County in the historic Boyne Valley from 6th of October up until 4th of November annually. It is one of Ireland’s biggest Halloween festivals and a short drive from Dublin city centre. The festival goes from Haunted Hills to Eerie Graveyards, Tour of Shadow to friendly witches to spells and terrifying Terror Houses. You can visit during the day and be spooked at night. The Spirit of Meath Festival makes for an electrifying display of Halloween horrors.
Bram Stoker Festival
This festival offers 4 days of adventure usually between 26th – 29th of October and has something for everyone with its gothic programme of events in Dublin city. There are some free and some ticketed events for families and adults. This a great way to experience Halloween in Dublin’s capital city. Bram Stroker was the creator of Dracula’s and worked in Dublin Castle as a clerk. This Halloween festival celebrates the thrill of Halloween and the mysterious after dark and looks into the legacy of Ireland’s most valued authors.
The Crumlin Road Gaol – Belfast
This is a great place to enjoy the Halloween fever on the island of Ireland. The Crumlin Road Gaol offers the ultimate Halloween ghostly experience from its history from when it opened in 1846 and closed in 1996. For over 150 years it was a fully operational prison and has lots of eerie stories that you will learn about. A great way to enjoy this is to take a tour and learn about all aspects of the Gaol from the tunnels linking the courthouse on one side of Crumlin Road to the hospital, graveyard to the hanging cell and Governor’s office. This prison has had over 25,000 prisoners, with 17 men executed and has witnessed deaths, marriages, births and have and has been the scene of escapes, hunger strikes and riots.
Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin
Halloween and prisons become very popular as places to visit as they are famously haunted buildings and Kilmainham Gaol is not different. Ghostly tales surround the prison and it has been said that lights have mysteriously been turning on and off in the prison chapel. The prison is a symbol of Ireland’s past from militant and nationalism from the rebellion in 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922 -23. The leaders in these rebellion movements were detained in Kilmainham and sometimes executed. Opened in 1796 as the County Gaol for Dublin and it closed its door in 1924. This is truly a great place to visit in Ireland as a Halloween attraction or any time of the year and experience some of Ireland history and listen to the ghosts of the past.
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The best way to learn about Halloween in Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
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.
Our Top 6 Recommended Christmas Markets to Visit in Ireland this Year
What else could we write about at this time of year but Christmas? One of the more recent traditions during the festive period here in Ireland is a visit to a Christmas market! So if you would like the opportunity to buy unique & authentic Irish gifts and taste some of Ireland’s best artisan food then look no further than one of the six markets that we have listed below.
Galway Continental Christmas Market
The Galway Continental Market is one of Ireland’s most popular and longest running Christmas Markets. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and spans all the ways from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch. The market stalls are a mixture of both local & European products (hence the name). The German Bier Keller is one of the favourite tents to visit for many of the market goers and if you’re not afraid of heights you can try out the 32 metre high big wheel too.
Belfast Christmas Market
Regarded as one the best markets in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Christmas Market is configured of 90 wooden chalets representing 30 countries from all over the world. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and is situated at the picturesque city hall. On offer are a variety of Christmas decorations, handmade jewellery and a food court which supplies both local and continental food. The mulled wine is highly recommended.
Dublin Christmas Flea Market
As you can probably imagine, the capital city has no shortage of top quality Christmas markets so picking out just one is quite difficult but we have decided on the Christmas Flea Market. Located at the Point Square right next to the 3Arena, the market usually takes place on the second weekend in December. No two stalls are the same with craftspeople, artists, collectors and designers showcasing there talent. So if you are looking to buy a more quirky and unique gift for someone then the Christmas flea market is definitely worth a visit.
Milk Market (Limerick)
Located in Limerick’s historic Old Quarter, the Milk Market is run every weekend during the year however it takes on a Christmas theme as the festive period approaches. A renowned hot spot for food buffs, the Milk Market is well known for its locally produced quality food with a wide range of products available for you to sample. The themed stalls, choirs and Santa’s grotto will get you in the Christmas spirit in no time.
With over 60 market stalls bringing festive charms to Ireland’s oldest city, Winterval is one the premier Christmas markets in the south east of Ireland. Winterval usually runs from the end of November right up to Christmas and is spread across three different locations in Waterford City Centre. Make sure to check out the vintage ferris wheel, the storytelling in Reginald’s Tower and the Winterval Express train which takes you on a tour of all the festivals attractions.
Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration
For some merry entertainment in Ireland’s second city, look no further than Glow! Conveniently located in Bishop Lucey Park just off grand parade in Cork City Centre, the market runs every weekend in December, right up to Christmas! Glow lights up Cork with fantastic Christmas food markets, choral performances and a 30 metre high ferris wheel provides amazing views of the city. Just across the street from the park is the famous food market, The English Market, where you can try the famous spiced beef or some buttered eggs.
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This month’s blog focuses on what Ireland has to offer to the golfing world! Boasting some of the best links courses that can be found, Ireland is a must visit for any golf fan. While we have included seven of the best golf courses in Ireland on our list, there are dozens of other excellent courses located right throughout Ireland for you to play during your trip.
Here at Irish Tourism we offer a wide variety of golf tours suitable for players for all abilities that are customised to what you want to fit in during your time in Ireland.
Now for the list!
Ballybunion (Old Course)
Considered by many to be one of the finest courses around, every single facet of your game is challenged throughout these 18 demanding holes. Founded in 1893, the course has attracted legendary players throughout the years including Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and former U.S president Bill Clinton. In 2005 Golf Digest ranked Ballybunion as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States further increasing Ballybunion’s fame.
This prestigious club, situated on the north coast of County Antrim is home two links courses, Dunluce (championship course) and The Valley Links. The Dunluce course hosted the Irish Open in 2012 and is due to host the Open Championship in 2019. Two famous faces to keep an eye out for are major winners Darren Clarke who resides in Portrush & Graeme McDowell who is a member.
Located just half an hour’s drive from Dublin City Centre and fifteen minutes from Dublin Airport, it is the perfect place to start/end your trip to Ireland. Surrounded on three sides by water and with no two successive holes playing in the same direction Portmarnock will require you to use all of the tricks that you have in your locker!
Set right on the Atlantic Coastline, this is the perfect place to tee up if you are staying in Doolin or in the Western region. The course is often referred to as the “St Andrews of Ireland” as it was originally designed by Old Tom Morris. In the 1920’s the course was redesigned by Alister MacKenzie who later would co-design Augusta National. The sublime work of these prestigious course designers has defined Lahinch as one of the best golf courses in Ireland.
The European Club
Situated just an hours drive south of Dublin in County Wicklow, the European club is one of the most famed courses on Ireland’s east coast. Perhaps one of the more unconventional links in Ireland, certain features give an added charm to the course such as the two extra par 3’s to having the longest green in the world (127 yards from back to front).
Old Head of Kinsale
Located on the south coast of Ireland in County Cork, the old Head of Kinsale is a spectacular course that is at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean. Cliffs over 300 metres high run off the edge of fairways providing you with breath taking views however it also means that wayward shots must be kept to a minimum!
Last but certainly not least we come to Ballyliffin. Located at the Northern tip of Donegal, the course is due to host the Irish Open in 2018. Ballyliffin has been described as one of the best kept secrets in Irish golf. Recent work completed by Nick Faldo has received much acclaim and has served to further enhance the reputation of the links.
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If you are interested in playing some of the best golf courses in Ireland contact us today on the below numbers or through our enquiry form. One of our experienced travel advisors will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.
County Donegal, located in the North West of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most rural county’s 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 recently topped National Geographic’s Cool List for 2017 and 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 school house 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 Wards: 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 breath taking view across Lough Foyle & Lough Swilly as well as the entire Inishowen Peninsula.
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Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Ireland that we get asked for consistently over and over again. It is important not to try and visit too many places in Ireland on one trip, talk to our sales representatives about how you can make the best of your time here so that you can visit the places that are important to you but also not go home feeling like you need another vacation! There is so much to see & do in Ireland so please do not limit yourself to just these attractions however these are the places we get asked for a lot;
Top 10 things to do in Ireland
Visit Dublin & The Guinness Storehouse
2. See the Cliffs of Moher
3. Drive the famous Ring of Kerry
4. Take a boat trip to the Aran Islands
5. Tour the Stunning Connemara Region
6. Check out the Festival City of Galway
7. Visit the famous Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast
8. Visit Belfast City & Titanic Belfast
9. Visit Blarney Castle
10. Visit the Boyne Valley & Newgrange
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Learn more about the top 10 things to do in Ireland by taking your own trip here! Contact us today to arrange your own vacation in Ireland including some or all of these fantastic locations!
The Ring of Kerry, a 180km circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwest, is quite possibly Ireland’s most well-known driving route. Superb Mountains and coastal settings combined with vibrant towns and villages will make this tour one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation.
All of our Self Drive tours include a detailed suggested itinerary which will help you decide what to see or what to leave out. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route.
The 10 Stops to Make on your self-drive or Escorted Ring of Kerry Tour are;
Killorglin is the first town you will meet when you begin your Ring of Kerry Adventure! Home to the famous ‘Puck Fair’, Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest market fair. The town has some nice restaurants and shops and pretty riverside views.
Glenbeigh & Rosbeigh Beach
The mountainous backdrop here is glorious, and the half circle of hills from Seefin to Drung Hill, nicknamed the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe” is one of Kerry’s finest mountain walks. Near to Glenbeigh Village you will find Rosbeigh Beach with its lovely sand dunes and shale walks.
This is the principal town on the Ring of Kerry and birthplace of the famous Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’ Connell. Pay a visit to ‘The Barracks’, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the life and times of Cahersiveen.
You can reach Valentia by the car ferry from Cahersiveen from April to October. Outside of this time take the bridge across to the island from the pretty harbour village of Portmagee. There are a few places to visit on the island including the village of Knighstown with its beautiful period buildings, Valentia Island Lighthouse and Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs; Valentia’s highest point and a superb spot to enjoy 360 degree views of the island and beyond!
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre & The Skellig Islands
Skellig Michael also known as the Great Skellig is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. At the summit of the 230m high rock there is a 6th century Christian monastery and stone beehive huts which the monks who inhabited the island lived in. Boat trips to the islands can be taken from Portmagee pier. Trips to Skellig are not for the feint hearted however as there are 670 stone steps to climb before you reach the top! You can learn more about the Skelligs at the Skellig Island Visitor Experience which is located on Valentia Island near the bridge across to Portmagee.
Ballinskelligs or “Baile na Sceilge” is one of the few remaining Irish speaking areas in this region of Kerry. Southwest of the village you will find Bolus Head, which looks over St. Finan’s Bay and the Skelligs. The ruins of Cill Rialiag, an early Christian monastic settlement are located nearby. Ballinskellig Beach known locally as Ladies Beach is a stunning place to relax or take a long beach walk!
Waterville is a lovely little village overlooking stunning Ballinskelligs Bay and nestled on the beautiful Lake Currane. The town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who used to holiday here. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane House
Caherdaniel is small but striking and perhaps set in one of the most scenic locations on the Ring of Kerry, on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’ Connell, a 19th century politician who achieved Catholic emancipation for the Irish people. The house is now a public museum.
Kenmare town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. One of the most striking features of the town is its colourfully painted houses and shops. There are lots of nice restaurants, pubs and craft shops here also.
Moll’s Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. Here you will find unrivalled views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Nearby you will find Avoca Handweavers which sells Irish giftware and local food produce.
To discover these locations and more on your own Ring of Kerry tour, contact us today:
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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Irish folklore and stories were describing ghosts, monsters and banshees long before they were made into blockbuster films. It is not surprising therefore that we have our fair share of haunted castles in Ireland as well as, some eerie and frightening locations to visit! Here is a list of 8 Irish ghosts that you just might bump into on your travels here in Ireland:
Anne Tottenham at Loftus Hall
Loftus Hall is full of mystery and with lots of mystique surrounding the building. It is very much a favourite place to visit during the Halloween season. Loftus Hall is a mansion house on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford which is said to be haunted the ghost of young Anne Tottenham. The story goes that Anne had an encounter with the Devil, fell ill and was confined to her room for the rest of her life. Throughout the years there have been several reported sightings of her ghost. It is widely regarded as Ireland’s most haunted house with various theories of ghosts appearing over the past number of years. Loftus Hall opened its door in 2012 after 30 years closed. Aidan Quigley the owner now gives guided tours that will spook the best and are not for the faint hearted but certainly worth the visit during the Halloween season.
Lady Maud Plunkett, Her Husband & Jester Puck at Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle is just outside Dublin City, built in 1185 by King Henry the II for the Talbot family, the castle is said to have five ghosts including that of Maud Plunkett and her husband Lord Chief Justice. The castle jester, Puck who is said to have been murdered by one of the Talbot family, on occasion also makes an appearance!
Lady Margaret Butler at Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle situated in the heart of the medieval Kilkenny city. The castle has been owned by the Butler family for hundreds of years. It is well known to have a banshee soul with tales of a ghostly woman wandering through the castle, gardens while lost and lonely. Some believe that this is the spirit of Lady Margaret Butler known as the “white lady”. She was born in the castle and the grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VII of England.
The White Lady of Charles Fort, Kinsale
About two miles outside the town of Kinsale lies Charles Fort, an old army barracks and reported home to ‘The White Lady’. The story goes that this unfortunate lady married a soldier of the barracks who was shot on the day of their wedding. Overcome with grief, she jumped to her death, still wearing her white wedding dress. Her lost soul has been spotted wandering the grounds, wedding dress and all.
Red Mary at Leamanach Castle
Leamaneh Castle is a ruined castle located in Kilnaboy in the Burren Region of Country Clare. It is said that the ghost of Máire Rúa (Red Mary) roams the grounds. According to local legend, Red Mary wed 25 men, killing each one in turn. Eventually, after murdering her final husband she was captured and sealed into a hollow tree. The frightening apparition of her red-haired ghost is said to be still seen at Leamaneh today.
Little Harriet at Charleville Castle
Charleville Castle is a Gothic-style castle located in County Offaly. The castle is believed to be occupied by a little ghost girl named Harriet who died tragically in the castle in 1861. Her eerie childlike laughing and screams have been reported by many people throughout the years. Others are sure that they have seen the image of a golden aired little girl in a blue and white dress.
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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!