It’s March and for many of us, that means St. Patrick’s Day. We in America celebrate this Luck o’ the Irish Day almost as much as those in Ireland do. We have a strong, Irish heritage here; even if you don’t have any Irish in your background, on March 17th, it doesn’t matter. In Ireland, it also doesn’t matter; when you are there you’re treated like one of the family. I can say this with confidence as I experienced in on my own Irish adventure I took with my husband and daughter several years ago. Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is truly a magical place worth exploring and getting to know.
Often you hear about how friendly people are when someone talks about their travels. Well, when it comes to the Irish, this is no exaggeration. Everywhere we went, which was all around the Republic of Ireland and the Aran Islands, everyone we met was not only nice, but genuinely kind and welcoming. Local residents were happy to meet us and help us along the way, whether we got lost on a country road or were looking for a good pub suggestion. I will admit when ever I did mention my father was Irish, there was an even deeper sense of that warm-fuzzy feeling when you get reunited with a long lost loved one. It was as though we were being welcomed back home by the extended family and this truly touched the heart.
So what else makes Ireland so amazing? There’s one thing which may surprise many. Often when we think of Ireland, we think of Scotland and England too, and our thoughts can easily turn to the well-known, traditional foods to be found in the British Isles. Even though food choices are international in flavor and variety, it’s easy to picture bangers and mash, fried food of all kinds and even haggis being everywhere in this part of the world. These foods don’t always appeal to everyone, and that’s fine, but if you are concerned that Ireland’s food will be much the same, let me put you at ease. Many of the dishes we think of as the finest in American dining, such as steak or salmon, and organic leafy garden greens or seasonal vegetables, have long been a part of Ireland’s culinary culture.
From the moment we arrived, it didn’t matter if we ate lunch or dinner at a road-side pub, a family owned restaurant in a small town, or took the ultimate splurge and dined gourmet-style in a castle, the food was extraordinary. Everywhere we ate, food was supplied by the local farms, often within There’s also quite a few distinctly Irish flavors to enjoy such as Brennan cheese, Ireland’s answer brie, and coastal towns have incredible recipes for seafood. Tasting your way around Ireland would be a food-lover’s delight.
We can’t talk about Ireland without talking about two major products which also help identify Irish Character: Irish Stout (Guinness) and Irish Whiskey (Jameson/Bushnell’s). When you experience Ireland, you’ll experience the taste of these two long-loved beverages like never before. Drinking the real deal in a genuine Irish Pub with the green hills nearby, simply can’t be beat.
History buffs should have Ireland on their Top 10 places to visit. History is truly alive on the Emerald Island. As a culture, the Irish still hold their ancestral history in high regard. The rest of world may consider the 5 Waves of Invasion as myth, but don’t say that too loud. These ancient stories are deeply ingrained in the Irish character and respect for the connection to the past they bring. You can get in touch with Ireland’s past at locations such as the Hill of Tara, New Grange, The Blarney Castle (Home of the world-famous Blarney Stone) and the Rock of Chashel where the great Irish hero-king Brian Boru ruled.
A stop in Dublin will provide you with some of the most incredible literary influences ever to come from Ireland, and the world. Examples includeUNESCO’s City of Literature. Experience living history with a stop in Waterford, the town where perhaps the world’s best crystal glassware and dishes are made. See for yourself as a new vase is made by an artisan glass -blower, and of course, you can get your own bit of Waterford Crystal before you leave.
Ireland is also a place where you can easily step off the beaten road and take your own path. If you are willing to take a chance for adventure, you will be thrilled and cherish the results. While we were in Ireland there were many moments which could have only happened because we forged away from the crowds. This is not a difficult thing to do in Ireland, which also adds to the magic of this place. While there were bustling city centers and yes, tourist attractions with all the trappings such gift shops and photo-ops, it never took long to get out on our own and spend some quality time with the spirit of Ireland itself.
My daughter’s adventure of following the “Little Yellow Man” markers for a walking trails led her through pasture fields alive with the song of bird calls and an occasional lowing cow, to an ancient Dolmen, a stone cairn. The one she found was said to been one of the places Diarmuid and Grainne slept as they fled from Fin in a legend similar to Lancelet and Guinevere. As Lana puts it, “When I stopped at the Dolmen, I had an overwhelming sense of anticipation. I walk around the cairn, which was like a small shelter one would seek to get out of the rain. I closed my eyes, touched the stone and it felt as though I could step back in time at any moment. Then I saw a large granite slab nearby and sat upon it for a rest. It was then that I took in the magnificent sight of the valley and river which spread out away from the field. I was awestruck by the beauty of this place.”
You can step off the path in Ireland too, and C.P. Trips can help make it happen, worry free. We have a wonderful travel partner in Ireland, Turas Adventures, which specializes in small group (4-8 people) tours with an expert guide to show you the hidden gems of Ireland. You can also create your own Irish adventure with the folks at Turas Adventures leading the way, so you can relax and enjoy your explorations with ease. 2018 Summer tours in Ireland are available to reserve now but will fill up fast. C.P. Trips Agent partner, Judy Arndt of Journeys by Judy will also be joining a Turas Adventure this summer, contact us today and we can reserve your space before it goes to someone else. Judy Arndt: 503- 666-8828 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Cindy Passannante: 503-658-5646 or email@example.com. Be sure to visit our website where you can learn more about Turas Adventures Ireland travel ideas.