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.
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Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) is the middle island of the famous Aran Islandsoff the coast of Galway in Ireland. The population of Inishmaan is around 160 which means it is the smallest of the three Aran islands in terms of permanent residents. It is also the quietest of the three Aran Islands in terms of visitors and the most traditional of the three islands. The island was loved by author JM Synge who regularly visited.
The island is about 9km squared. The spoken language in Inishmaan is Irish like the other islands but the residents can usually speak English also. You can get around the island by horse and cart tour, by guided mini bus tour or by walking.
Lisheen, the main village is located just seconds walk from the pier and the beach. You will find a number of restaurants on the island and there is one pub known for its traditional Irish music sessions, Teach Ósta.
Some of the main tourist attractions on the island include –
Dún Chonchúir: An imposing oval fortress measuring up to 20ft in height. Built on a great height, it has great views of the Island and the other Aran Islands.
Dún Fearbhaí : Another stone fort on the island that overlooks the main pier, this fort is most known for its uncommon shape, it is square as opposed to the normal round shape.
Cill Cheannanach: A well-preserved 8th Century church with excellent views over the Islands.
Teach Synge – John Millington Synge’s Cottage & Museum: The summer home of writer John Millington Synge. Synge spent the summers from 1989 to 1902 here working on his upcoming plays. The cottage has been converted to a small museum in his honour.
Cathaoir Synge (Synge’s Chair): This was the writer’s favourite place to sit on the island, it has great views overlooking Inishmore Island and the Atlantic.
For more general information on the Aran Islands see our Aran Islands blog post here, or for information on getting to the islands clickhere.
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Our 2017 Knitting Vacations are now on sale and some dates are looking particularly busy. It is best to book early to avoid disappointment.
Feedback from our Knitting & Craft Tours has generally been excellent. From our first tour in 2016 for example an amazing 100% of respondents said that they were satisfied with the tour overall and the same 100% said that they would recommend us to a friend!
Here is a quick update on our 2016 and 2017 availability
14th May 2017- Spaces Available (Filling Up Quickly)
09th Jul 2017 – Spaces Available (Filling Up Quickly )
24th Sep 2017- Spaces Available
Non – Knitter Discount
Do you have a partner or friend that doesn’t knit? They are welcome to come along, ask our sales representatives about the non-knitter discount!
You Can Trust the Irish Tourism Group
The Irish Tourism Group is considered one of Ireland’s premier inbound tour operators and, in the last decade in particular, our regular attendance at the major travel expos throughout the world has only served to raise this profile. Testament to this is the reputation that we have developed over the years with the top accommodation, transport and other service providers within the country, a reputation we are extremely proud of.
We are also proud to be members of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).
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We do urge you to book early to avoid disappointment. For more information on both tours please visit our website or give us a call
When planning your Ireland vacation you should consider in advance which airport in Ireland is best for you to fly into and depart from. You could always choose to fly into one airport and out of another so as to make the best of your vacation time. If you are booking a tour with us, discuss this option with your sales team and they will gladly give you the best advice.
International Airports in Ireland:
Located about 15km north from Dublin City, Dublin Airport is Ireland’s busiest airport. If Dublin city is a must see on your itinerary then it makes perfect sense to begin your Ireland vacation here. There are connections via London from most US & Canadian cities and you can currently fly direct from Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. John’s, Montreal and Toronto. The airport has great links to the UK with flights to more than 15 UK cities including Newcastle, Edinburgh and London. There are many options to travel further afield in Europe from this airport also. Check out theDublin Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Shannon Airport is located on the west coast of Ireland 24 KM north of Limerick, 22 KM south of Ennis and 90 KM south of Galway. Shannon is a great option if you wish to explore the west and southwest of Ireland. This region is much more peaceful than Dublin should you wish to get away from city life. There are connections via London from many US and Canadian cities and you can currently fly direct from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The airport has great links to the UK with flights to Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Manchester and there are many options to travel further afield in Europe from this airport also. Check out the Shannon Airport Website for up to date destination information.
There are two airports in Belfast, Belfast International and Belfast City Airport, the latter has mainly UK connections. Belfast International airport is the busiest airport in Northern Ireland and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland after Dublin. Flying here is a great option if you wish to explore Northern Ireland and Donegal in the North West. There are connections via London from many US cities and you can currently fly direct from New York, Orlando and Las Vegas. Check out the Belfast Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Cork airport is located 6.5 km south of Cork city in an area known as Farmers Cross. The airport services mostly UK and European Airports but you may be able to route a flight from the US to Cork via London or another European Connection. Check out the Cork Airport Website for up to date destination information.
Regional Airports in Ireland:
There are four main regional airports in Ireland; Belfast City in the North, Knock in the West of Ireland, Kerry in the Southwest and Waterford in the southeast. These airports are quite small and mostly do not support on bound connections to the US or Canada. Destinations include Europe and the United Kingdom.
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If you are thinking of popping the question in Ireland, then I wouldn’t blame you. Ireland is often described as a beautiful, romantic country and everything that has been said, is 100% true! We’ve got rolling countryside, dramatic sea cliffs, stunning lakes and thousands of historic sites to visit, with our heritage going back thousands of years! So yes…Ireland is a great place to propose… do it!!
Before writing this post, I asked the Irish Tourism staff for their Ireland proposal ideas and between us, I think we’ve come up with some pretty good ideas:
Fanore Sea Cliffs, Followed by a pint at Gus O’Connors Pub & a Doolin Sunset
Fanore is located on the main road from Doolin to Ballyvaughan, in the Burren region of County Clare. Coming from Ballyvaughan, before you reach Fanore there is a rocky viewing point overlooking the Wild Atlantic Way. You will know the spot when you see it because there are laybys to park along the side of the road. On a good day the views over the cliff are breath-taking and all you can see is deep blue Atlantic Ocean, an ideal place to propose! Afterward head in to Doolin to celebrate with a pint or two and some great traditional music at Gus O’Connor’s pub! In the evening, head down to Doolin Pier where the sun setting over the rocks is very romantic!
Check-in to an Irish Castle
Ireland has a massive number of castles dispersed around the countryside, from romantic ruins, to grand castles that may have been once home to Irish Chieftains and Lords. There are many castles that have been converted into hotels where you can enjoy a romantic stay. Many of these Castle hotels have wooded walks or pretty gardens where you are sure to find a romantic spot to propose. Ashford Castle is situated beside a lake and boat trips can be booked from the reception. Wouldn’t that be a picturesque proposal….on a boat, just the two of you, overlooking one of Ireland’s most magnificent castles on stunning Lake Corrib!
Is your Partner a Film Fan? Choose one of Ireland’s famous film locations for your proposal!
Many movie-makers chose locations in Ireland to feature in their films. Most recently the Skellig Islands which you can reach by boat from the Ring of Kerry was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. There are several locations in Northern Ireland that were included in Game of Thrones filming including a haunting path of meandering beech trees near Armoy in County Antrim which became the ‘Dark Hedges’ and Shane’s Castle near Randalstown which featured in the tournament scene. The Dingle Peninsula was the setting for both Ryan’s Daughter in the 1970’s and Far & Away in 1992 and the stunning Cong region in County Mayo was the scene of John Ford’s Epic film, The Quiet Man.
Locations Associated with the Romantic Legend of Diarmuid & Grainne
One of Ireland’s most famous romantic legends is that of The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne. Gráinne had been betrothed to the leader of the Fianna, Fionn Mac Cumhail but on her wedding day; fell desperately in love with one of Fionn’s warriors, Diarmuid O’Duibhne. Putting a spell on Diarmuid to make him love her, the pair fled across Ireland, all the time being pursued by Fionn Mac Cumhail and the rest of his warriors. One day with Fionn closing in, Diarmuid and Grainne came across the heath of Benbulben in Co. Sligo, where a giant boar charged and fatally wounded Diarmuid. Many Neolithic stone monuments with flat roofs (such as court cairns, dolmens and wedge-shaped gallery graves) bear the local name Leaba Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne (Diarmuid and Grainne’s Bed), being viewed as one of the fugitive couple’s campsites for the night. An example would be Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare.
Look up your Partner’s Irish Heritage & Included the County of their Ancestors in your Itinerary.
Over 10% of the American population report that they have Irish ancestry. If there may be an Irish connection in your partner’s family tree, it may not be as difficult as you would think to find out where in Ireland their family came from. Talk to the elderly members to try and find out rough details; family name, approx. time leaving Ireland and possible county. You can cross reference any information you get on the Irish National Archive which has records back as far as 1821. If you do find a person connected to your partner, the site will tell you where they lived and you could perhaps stay nearby and take a trip there.
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The 1916 Easter Rising was an armed rebellion in Ireland during Easter Week by members of the Irish Volunteers led by Irish activists Padraig Pearse & James Connolly. With far superior soldier numbers and weaponry, the British army quickly defeated the rising, and Pearse agreed to surrender on Saturday 29 April 1916. Many of the leaders were executed following the events and so the rebellion in one sense was a failure. It did however succeed in bringing republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics and support for an independent Ireland continued to rise which eventually led to Ireland’s freedom after the war of Independence.
This year the people of Ireland are getting ready for the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Centenary celebrations will include a formal State celebration to remember the events and the people who made it possible. Some of the best places to visit in Dublin to find out more about the Easter Rising 1916 include;
The National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks: The National Museum of Ireland is a fantastic museum featuring decorative arts and Irish history. Given that the museum is placed in a building that was a former Army Barracks, there is an emphasis on Irish Military History. The 1916 Rising is currently covered in the Soldiers and Chiefs Exhibition but in 2016 a brand new exhibition will open called Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising, this exhibition will mark the 100 year anniversary of the Rising and is due to open around the 3rd of March 2016.
Kilmainham Gaol: Kilmainham Gaol is one of the biggest unoccupied gaols in Europe and played a central part in the events after the 1916 Rebellion. The Gaol had been closed at the time of the rising but was reopened especially to house the hundreds of men and women arrested for their part in the battle. In early May, fourteen of these prisoners including Padraig Pearse were executed in the stone breakers yard section of the grounds. Nowadays, attractions at the museum include a major presentation detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration. The museum have not yet released any information on their 1916 Centenary celebration events but it is expected that there will be events to commemorate the rising over the Easter period in 2016 and beyond.
The General Post Office (GPO): The General Post Office (GPO) in the centre of Dublin’s O’Connell Street is now the headquarters of the Irish Postal Service, An Post. During the Easter Rising, the building was headquarters of the men and women that took part in the battle. At the moment there is a small virtual exhibition in the GPO about the rising but in March 2016 a new visitor centre dedicated to the 1916 Rising is due to be opened called GPO Witness History. The museum will feature special effects, soundscapes and stories of real Irish people.
The Royal College of Surgeons, Stephen’s Green & the Shelbourne Hotel: During the Easter Rising, Michael Malin and Countess Markievicz were assigned to Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre public park in the centre of the city. It turned out that St. Stephen’s Green was a vulnerable position as it was overlooked by the Shelbourne Hotel which was occupied by British forces. Seeing this, the Green was abandoned and the volunteers fled to the Royal College of Surgeons. St. Stephen’s Green is still open to the public, there are 3.5km of pathways to walk through and you will find a bust of Countess Markievicz to the South of the central garden.
The Four Courts: The Four Courts is Ireland’s main court of Justice and houses the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court; it is located on Inns Quay in the city centre.The first battalion of the Dublin Brigade, led by Edward Daly, occupied this building and the surrounding streets during the rebellion. The building survived the Rising, but was subsequently destroyed during the Civil War in 1922. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1932.
Glasnevin Cemetery: Many of the people that died in the 1916 rebellion and subsequent battles for freedom were interred at Glasnevin Cemetery. The Glasnevin Trust operates tours of the graveyard daily and in 2016 there is a yearlong program of events planned to commemorate the 1916 Rising including re-enactments and special tours.
Dublin Castle & City Hall: The uprising began at Dublin Castle which was the centre of British Rule in Ireland. The rebellions failed to capture City Hall however they succeeded in occupying City Hall which is situated beside Dublin Castle.
City Hall is open to the public all year round and there is a permanent multi-media exhibition which traces the history of Dublin from 1170 to the present. There is also a new exhibition which tells the story of Dublin’s firefighters during the 1916 Rising. In addition the original copy of the 1916 Proclamation which has been recently preserved will be on display at City Hall from Easter 2016.
The grounds of Dublin Castle are free to explore, as are the Chester Beatty Library and the Revenue Museum which are located within the grounds. Access to the State Apartments and the Chapel Royal are by guided tour only and tickets can be purchased on site.
The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (The National Museum of Modern Art): The building which now houses the National Museum of Modern Art was at the time of the 1916 Rising, the headquarters of the British Army. Most exhibitions at the museum are free of charge, unless otherwise specified. Other facilities include a café, bookshop and free guided tours of the exhibitions.
Would you like to explore the locations associated with the 1916 uprising yourself? Then get in touch with us today and we can handle all the arrangements!
Every year thousands of visitors from all over the world visit Blarney Castle to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. Legend has it that kissing the stone forever awards the person with ‘The Gift of the Gab’ or great eloquence. This fantastic drone footage captured recently by Aerial Photography Ireland gives never before seen views of the Castle and grounds… Enjoy!
Ireland’s Sunny South East is made up of the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South-Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Is the South East sunnier than other parts of Ireland you might ask? Well apparently so! According to Ireland’s National Meteorological Service, Met Eireann – the extreme southeast gets an average of more than 7 hours a day in early summer when the rest of Ireland gets between 5-6.5 hours! This fact aside, Ireland’s South East has a treasure trove of interesting places to visit and here are some of them-
Wexford is well known for its annual Opera Festival, which has gained reputation internationally for introducing audiences to previously neglected works. Other places of interest include the Ring of Hook, a spectacular drive around the Hook Peninsula with the oldest operating lighthouse in the world at its tip! History and heritage seekers will love the Irish National Heritage Park, here trails run through replicas of Stone-Age to Early Christian and Viking dwellings giving an interactive insight into Ireland’s varied history. The ultimate Irish Castle experience can be found in Wexford’s Johnstown Castle– a remarkable Gothic Revival Mansion and in New Ross discover The Dunbrody, a full scale replica of a ‘coffin-ship’ used to take those suffering the Irish Famine to more hopeful lands.
The City of Waterford has strong links with the Vikings. The name Waterford itself is believed to derive from the old Norse word ‘Vedrarfjiordr’ and in what is known as the Viking Triangle you will find a number of interesting museums; Reginald’s Tower which has an exhibition that displays a superb collection of historic and archaeological artefacts, The Bishops Palace built in 1743 by renowned architect Richard Castle and the Medieval Museum which includes numerous well preserved medieval structures, including the beautiful Chorister’s Hall. Before you leave Waterford city we recommend a stop at the wonderful Waterford Crystal Museum where you can see one of Ireland’s most famous exports in the making. Further southeast, Dunmore East is a pleasant fishing village and popular seaside retreat. The heritage town of Lismore is also within easy reach and amongst the many interesting period buildings in the town you will find Lismore Castle and St. Carthages Cathedral.
If you are interested in sport at all try to take in a Hurling match! Kilkenny is most famous for its fantastic hurlers, having won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship 35 times! Kilkenny City itself is one of Ireland’s busiest, a popular destination for hen and stag parties and a popular family holiday destination. Sites of Interest include Kilkenny Castle ancestral home to the Butler family, Saint Canice’s Cathedral where a climb to the top of its adjacent round tower offers fantastic views of the city. Further north check out Castlecomer Discovery Park which as an interesting coal-mining museum and craft yard. In Thomastown you will find the extensive ruins of Jerpoint Abbey and Jerpoint Park, Ireland’s best example of an abandoned 12th Century Medieval Town.
South Tipperary –
Tipperary is rich in historic sites of interest; The Rock of Cashel which rises dramatically above Cashel town was once an important symbol of kingship and religious power. In the early 5th century it was the seat of the Kings of Munster and was famously presided over by Brian Boru. Later the fortress was given to the church and now there are many religious monuments to visit including the hall of the vicar’s choral and the ruin of an ornate gothic cathedral. Close by in the heritage town of Cahir, Cahir Castle can be visited. The castle retains so much of its original character that it has been the set for many films including Excalibur. The renovated interior of the castle includes a large great hall decorated with authentic furniture.
Carlow town is picturesquely situated where the River Barrow and the Burrin River meet. At one point in time it was believed that there were four lakes here, hence the Irish word Ceathar Loch, or Four Lakes. A small county, Carlow has few attractions relative to other counties in Ireland; however the few available are well worth a visit. Borris House in South Carlow is the ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanaghs, who were once kings of Leinster. Borris House’s past can be traced back to the Royal families of ancient Ireland and a tour of the house covers all aspects of this fascinating history.
One of Ireland’s newest museums, Carlow County Museum gives a fascinating insight into the social and industrial history of Carlow. Exhibits include a wonderful 19th century hand carved pulpit from Carlow Cathedral. If gardens is your thing, be sure to stop by the Altamont Gardens, on a 100 acre estate, these gardens are often considered as Ireland’s most romantic!
Between 1845 and 1852 our population was reduced by about 20% due to the impacts of the Potato Famine in Ireland, also known as The Great Famine or in our native language ‘An Gorta Mór’. It is estimated that about one million people died from starvation during this period and another million emigrated to America and other countries. It is no surprise therefore that the potato famine has left its mark on the country and remnants of this poignant period in Irish history remain evident to this day.
In this post we will provide you with the names and information of some of the best places that can be visited today to learn more about the potato famine in Ireland
Strokestown Park Famine Museum
Strokestown Park is an 18th century Palladian mansion, and home of the Packenham Mahon family from 1653 until 1979. The Famine Museum is located in the stable yard and was established when an archive of papers relating to the management of the estate during the 1840s was discovered. This collection is now regarded as the best archive on the Potato Famine in Ireland and all documents are on display in the museum. The mansion house may also be visited and this gives a sense of what life was like for the richer, more fortunate people of this time.
The Workhouse Dunfanaghy & the Irish Workhouse Centre Portumna
Workhouses had an important part to play during the famine times in Ireland. These were the places that the completely destitute went as a last resort, when the only alternative was to die of starvation. Families typically ended up here if they were evicted from their homes due to non-payment of rent. Once families entered a workhouse they were split up, oftentimes never seeing their loved ones again. There are two great museums in Ireland that tell the story of the workhouse in authentic buildings that once served as workhouses for their communities; The Dunfanaghy Workhouse in County Donegal and the Irish Workhouse Centre County Galway.
The first inmates of the Dunfanaghy workhouse were admitted in 1845 and parts of the building were restored and converted to exhibition space in the 1990’s to tell the story of the famine in the area. This story is told through the Wee Hannah Exhibition, which details the life of local girl Hannah Herrity as she struggled through the famine years and lived for a while in Dunfanaghy Workhouse.
The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna is one of the most complete workhouses left in Ireland. The best way to see this exhibition is by guided tour where guides take you through every aspect of workhouse life from entry to the waiting hall to the girls and boys dormitories and laundry rooms. Discover what life was like for the inmates in what many refer to as the most feared and hated institutions ever established in Ireland.
Coffin Ships; Jeanie Johnston & Dunbrody
The ships that carried the emigrants escaping to North America and other countries were often referred to as Coffin ships due to the high mortality rate amongst lower class travellers. These ships were often overcrowded and disease ridden with shortages of food and water a common occurrence. Two of this type of ship can be seen in Ireland today, the Dunbrody in New Ross & the Jeannie Johnston in Dublin.
Situated close to the Famine Memorial (pictured with the introduction) in Dublin’s Custom House Quay, the Jeanie Johnston made 16 emigrant journeys to America between 1847 and 1855, it carried more than 2,500 people with no loss of life which is unusual for a ship of this kind. Your tour guide will show you the ships main features and tell you stories about some stories of the passengers that travelled upon it giving a sense of what the arduous journey to America from Ireland would have been like at that time.
The Dunbrody is a similar type of ship moored at New Ross in county Wexford. Here you discover what life was like on board through guided tour with costumed performers and detailed exhibition models. Listen to accounts from a steerage and 1st class passenger as they explain the harsh realities of life aboard the ship. As well as the ship tour, at Dunbrody you can visit the Irish America Hall of Fame which details the contributions of Irish men and women to the history of the United States.
Skibbereen Heritage Centre
Skibbereen was very badly affected by the great famine, losing about a third of its population to starvation, disease and emigration to America. The heritage centre in Skibbereen has a great exhibition commemorating the Great Famine in Skibbereen. The Exhibition depicts the potato Famine through primary source accounts given at the time showing government policies and how they impacted the community. Reports from the relief committee and their efforts to lessen the suffering of local people are presented alongside reports of how the global community responded to the crisis.
Cobh Heritage Centre
The port of Cobh was the most important port of Emigration from Ireland during the mass exodus between 1848 and 1950. Cobh Heritage centre details this exodus through informative exhibitions and several short films. The main attraction is a replica of cross sections of an emigrant’s ship showing what life was like for the various classes on board; the passengers cramped in steerage quarters, the comfortable first class cabins and even prisoner’s quarters where those who were being transported to Australia for their crimes were held. This exhibition tells you about the Irish famine and its causes and helps you to understand why so many people felt they had to leave their friends and family in Ireland for ever.
Bunratty Folk Park
On the grounds of Bunratty Castle you will find Bunratty Folk Park, a reconstructed village which includes shops, streets and houses that reflect the social status of their occupants, from the poorest one roomed dwelling not unlike those lived in by tenants during the famine period to a fine example of a Georgian Residence built for the Studdart Family in 1804. What’s great about Bunratty Folk Park is that reconstructed cottages from different areas of Ireland can be explored and their subtle differences encountered.
The National Museum of Country Life
The National Museum of Country Life is located near Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The Museum houses the National Folk-life Collection and portrays the lives of ordinary people in the hundred years between the Great Famine and the end of the 1950s. Here you will see the clothes that people typically wore during these times, their culture and traditions. See how people worked the land and sea and discover the trades essential for the survival of the community including the blacksmith, carpenter, thatcher, and cobbler.
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The best way to learn about the potato famine in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –