Dreaming of a trip to Ireland? Our Flightie Kelsey recently travelled there and fell in love with the country. She shares the top 10 reasons why you too will fall in love with this ancient land of saints and scholars:
I recently had the opportunity to go to Ireland and see not only some of the sights and attractions that this country is famous for, but also some of the lesser known wonders. If you have never had the opportunity to travel to the Emerald Isle I have come up with the Top 10 reasons why you will fall in love with Ireland the second your flight touches down.
1. The Food
Ireland is famous for a few different types of food, their lamb and beef, oysters and seafood coast but I had two favorites things that I couldn’t get enough of when I was there. The first, was the traditional Irish Breakfast. No matter if you stay in a hotel, a castle or a bed and breakfast, you are treated with the most wonderful, heavenly breakfast. Consisting of pretty much the same thing every place you go, eggs, sausage, bacon, white and black pudding and a variety of fruits and pastries. It is the perfect way to start a busy day of site seeing and always puts you in a good mood. My next favorite food from Ireland is the soda bread. Every single place that you go will have Irish Soda bread. This is a simple bread that they make with no yeast, and I can guarantee that you will never get sick of it. In fact if you are anything like me you will buy mix while you are there and buy a loaf at the airport before you get on the plane back home! It’s just that good!
2. The History
You can’t help but be in awe when you hear and see the history in Ireland. Standing on the edge of the water staring over to Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine Monestary. This granite and limestone building that was originally built as a house from a husband to his wife in 1867 leaves you with a sense of amazement that a house like this could not only be still standing, but also be just as beautiful. It’s not only the building itself, but the history and story behind it that makes it so special. It started as a house, became a monestary, went on to become a prestige school with pupils from as far away as India and finally to this day it still houses nuns who continue their retreats, making their soaps and chocolate that they sell to people who visit the abbey. Ireland also has places like Waterford. Most people when they think of Waterford, they think of the famous crystal that comes from there. As beautiful as the crystal is, the history is what makes this “untaken city” breathtaking. The city dates back to the Vikings in the 850’s, and all along the streets there are remnants of these times. The historical ruins that can be found almost fully intact with everything but a roof right next to a building that was built only a few years ago. Or the mayors old wine vault that they have turned into a museum beneath the streets of Waterford. These are only two of the many things that you can explore and learn about while in Ireland. There is so much more!
3. Clay Shooting and Fly Fishing
OK, it’s a little more than just clay pigeon shooting, but this was probably one of the most unique things I did while I was in Ireland. The castles and manor houses that you stay at all around Ireland offer these fun, adventurous activities that you can partake in. Clay pigeon shooting is just one option. You can also go and fly fish on the banks or the many rivers and lochs within Ireland. If you don’t know how to fly fish, that’s OK too!
There are fly fishing guides that can give you lessons and show you the ropes. If fishing and shooting aren’t your thing, you can just take a guided hike along the countryside which will give you breathtaking views of rivers, lochs, mountains and the forest.
4. The Pubs
You can’t compare anything else to the fun and atmosphere that you will find in an Irish Pub. They are everywhere and you will experience the same sense of content and happiness (this is all pre-Guinness too for the record) no matter where you go. I had the opportunity to visit many pubs while I was in Ireland and I am going to do my best to describe it although I’m sure it won’t do it nearly the justice it deserves. The pubs are loud, full of laughter, music but full of warmth.
It doesn’t matter who you are, who you are with or where you come from, everyone is friendly and welcoming. It’s something that just has to be experienced.
5. The Aran Islands
These islands are a hidden gem located off the west coast of Ireland. They are not as of yet a hot tourist attraction but they really should be. I was lucky enough to spend a day and a half on Inishmore which is the largest of the three islands. You can travel to Inishmore by boat or by plane on good days and when you get to the island you can get around by walking, cycling, horse and buggy or taxi. The highlights in Inishmore would be a visit to Dun Aengus, a prehistorical fort that has been long debated by archeologists as to what it’s purpose was and a visit to Ti Joe Watty’s pub to enjoy the local seafood fare and of course a pint of Guinness.
6. The Gathering
In 2013, Ireland hosted something called The Gathering. The whole country was involved and they set up festivals and events to celebrate their culture and heritage. There was over 200 festivals planned for the year which included a St. Patrick’s day parade, a street performers championship and even an attempt at breaking a Guinness World Record having the most clan members in one place at a time! They poured their uniquely Irish pride and passion into a year of Gatherings and showed the world just what they’re made of.
7. The People and their Heritage
The people that you meet in Ireland live and breathe their heritage. It changes from county to county so the history and experience that you would get from the Burren will differ from what you will experience in Cork. In some places they still live in the thatched roof cottages and heat their houses with peet as opposed to the traditional methods of wood and gas the we use today. They also ingrain in their youth the importance of Irish song and dance. They keep their history and their heritage strong by not only remembering but practicing those old traditions. The way they hold on to their traditions should really be admired and is one of the reason that I fell in love with Ireland.
There aren’t many places in the world that you go that has the superstition and folklore that you find in Ireland. Everyone knows the tradition of the four leaf clover and how it brings luck to whom ever find it, but that is just the beginning of what they believe. I was told so many during my visit including if a woman sees seven white horses within one day, the next single man she sees would be their true love. No matter where you go in Ireland, if you take the time to talk to the people you are bound to be told these simple superstitions that truly add to the proper Irish experience.
9. The Scenery
You see the scenery on TV and in movies scenes of Ireland and you have a preconception of what it is before you go. It is that and so much more! Traveling down the country roads in Galway you see the sheep wandering along the road and yes, they do have the right of way there. Within a couple hours you are out of sheep country and take in the breathtaking views as you drive along Connemara and the Twelve Bens. You have endless lochs and rivers to gaze at and then of course you can see the natural wonders that Ireland is famous for like the Cliffs of Mohar. I can honestly say there is not one part of Ireland that is more beautiful than the other. Its something that everyone must go and experience for themselves.
10. The Proverbs
Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter.
Lullabies, dreams and love ever after.
A thousand welcomes when anyone comes
That’s the Irish for You!
I think that about sums up what Ireland has in store for you!
Looking for more information on travelling to Ireland? Contact Kelsey Harris an International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre Quinte Mall based in Ontario by connecting with her online or calling 1 877-408-5076.