Despite the jokes we make, the English have great relations and a kinship with the Irish. My paternal Grandfather was Irish although from the North, his parents having moved across the border when he was 2 years old. It’s a great country for a vacation and here are some reasons to visit Ireland.
Table of contents:
- the welcome
- the scenery
- the history
- the drink
- the food
- the myths and legends
- the craic
- the literature
- music and dance
1 The Welcome
Undoubtedly, the Irish people are some of the most welcoming people on Earth and they are fiercely proud of their hospitality. They are a hugely passionate race who loves music and literature, have many traditions and they are embracing of all other cultures.
2 The Scenery
It’s not known as the Emerald Isle for nothing because they reckon you can find 40 shades of green in the Irish landscape but geography is actually pretty varied and incredibly beautiful. Here are just a few examples of the spectacular: weirdly wonderful Giant’s Causeway, soaring cliffs, rocky inlets, rolling green hills, sheltered bays with pristine sandy beaches, the arrestingly desolate Burren – a massive area of limestone strata and caves, meandering rivers, Neolithic tombs and ring forts, lively fishing villages, historic towns and the fabled Aran Islands. Beach stays, motoring tours and hiking vacations are all brilliant ways to enjoy the topography.
3 The History
Ireland has been populated since 6,000 BC and its history up to the 15th century was pretty much the same as any European country: a series of invasions and conquests by various warrior and empirical races. The Tudor conquests led to a long period of oppression by the English until they finally got rid of us from Eire in 1921. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom. With this rich and varied history the cultural heritage and environment is fascinatingly diverse and whether you are interested in prehistoric temples, medieval castles or monuments to victims of The Troubles’ bombings, Ireland has historical sites of interest for everyone.
4 The Drink
The pub is an Irishman’s natural home. They are usually the centre of village life where the landlord often doubles as the local shopkeeper, the pub building serving dual purpose. No visit to Ireland would be complete without a freshly pulled pint of Guinness. Somehow it tastes better on home ground. Irish Whisky is the second most popular drink and is subtlety different to Scotch.
5 The Food
Ireland is one of the upcoming destinations for gourmands. Whilst the traditional cooking is rural and hearty and very much based on the humble potato with the national dishes being a hearty lamb stew and colcannon, the freshness of ingredients and the range of fabulous seafood means high-end dining is being found in tiny villages or on roads in the middle of nowhere thanks to some enterprising chef renovating an old coaching in a peat cottage.
6 The Myths and Legends
Celtic myths are the very core of Irish culture. Celtic warriors, ancient saints and the famed leprechauns with their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow are just a few. The giant Finn McCool’s footsteps are responsible for the famous Giant’s Causeway and all Irish people know of the Children of Lir and the great warrior Cú Chulainn.
7 The Craic
(Pronounced Crack) It’s hard to pin down the definition but it basically means having fun, being entertained, a lively gathering and just generally having a jolly old time. Enjoyable conversation is an essential element to creating the atmosphere and Craic is one of the most important sociological aspects of Irish culture and identity. Find it at the pub, on a St. Patrick’s Day parade or after a game of Gaelic Football.
8 The Literature
It might be a small country of only 4.5 million people but its literary heritage is long and deep. There have been 4 Irish winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature and that list excludes the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker. Wherever there is a site of tangible or intangible literary connection you will find it highlighted. For example, you can take a tour of Limerick to follow the footsteps of Frank McCourt of Angela Ashes fame.
9 Music and Dance
Traditional music can be heard all over the country and mostly features the fiddle, tin whistle and the bodhrán, a hand held drum. Of course, it is often accompanied by Irish dancing which is fiercely competitive and taken very seriously with provincial, national and international championships. Find a céili if you want to try it yourself as this is where everyone can join in. Modern music doesn’t do too badly either; remember U2, one of the biggest, if not the biggest band in the world are Irish.
The capital city of Dublin is a gorgeous, vibrant, exhilarating place where there’s something to see and do every minute of the day. It has a beautiful setting and some fantastic architectural sights both ancient and modern as well as some relaxing green open spaces. Shopping and dining out are awesome and the nightlife is legendary. You can easily spend a week here and not be bored.
I hope this has given you a taste of this marvellous country and some reasons to visit beautiful Ireland.
Top Photo Credit: IndulgeDesserts
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