Discovering Ireland

I always wanted to visit Ireland and in 2009 my dream came true. It was a two-week trip with my husband and his friends: we started in Dublin and then just drove down the coast. At that time I knew little about the country, but Ireland turned out to be exactly what I expected and more: it is a very beautiful country, with fascinating music and dance culture, friendly people and blooming nature.

Here are some things I have found fascinating…

Riverdance

The show is fantastic – it is a mixture of step dancing and Celtic music. I saw it in Dublin, but found out that the cast is travelling around Europe as well – however, they are nearly never in Switzerland… Seize the day: if you see a poster of the show in Dublin or another big city – do not miss such a chance, it’s a pure delight and a good way of getting closer to the Irish culture.

Killarney

Situated in County Kerry, this town is a good place to stay for a couple of days if you like to be close to nature. There is a national park, lakes, castles and ruins of ancient churches; one can also go riding, hiking and play golf.

Cashel

The Rock of Cashel in the County Tipperary (traditional seat of the kings of Munster) is a very beautiful old castle on the hill. At night it becomes even more mysterious and spectacular, being lit from inside.

Galway

There you will not see crowds of tourists, but you will notice many students and people who are concerned about their health – they are jogging in the morning or in the evening along the coast. Being situated so far in the west, Galway might appear somewhat gloomy, but that is only because of the changeable weather (different every fifteen minutes – all range, from rain to sunshine).

Trinity College

The most prestigious college in Ireland is worth seeing not only for the beautiful campus, but also for the gorgeous Library and the Book of Kells (illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin).

Cliffs of Moher

Situated in county Clare, these cliffs rise about 120 metres from the Atlantic Ocean. The view is simply breath-taking: it attracts around 1 million visitors per year (you have certainly seen the cliffs in many movies, too). It can be very windy on top and if it starts raining… good luck to you, fellows – one can get soaking wet within minutes! (A raincoat, an umbrella and Wellington boots are valuable and important items for taking with you to Ireland, or buying there, even in summer).

Newgrange

An ancient tomb in County Meath is one of the Irish mysteries. Following a guided tour, one can enter the grave and walk inside through a very narrow passage. It is dark and quiet inside… I never had the courage to enter because I’m afraid of closed spaces, but my friends were very impressed. A special event is held on Winter Solstice, December 21st: winners of the lottery (tickets are available in Visitor Center) can enter the monument and observe the ray of sunlight entering the tomb through a little opening in the ceiling.

Guinness

Guinness is the most famous Irish beer, which comes in many varieties. In order to know more about production and recipes, one can visit the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, where the process of making the brew is shown and explained, accompanied by a degustation at the end.

Irish Stew & Co

Try a popular local dish which consists of meat (lamb, mutton) cooked together with vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions). In Galway I would also recommend Couch Potatas restaurant (Upper Abbeygate Street, 40):  not only is it simply tasty, but it is also ideal for vegetarians (huge baked potatoes with different fillings, served with sour cream). For those who (like me) cannot live without chocolate: fudge cake (UK/USA dessert) with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream is just the best!

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4 responses to “Discovering Ireland

  1. I’m so glad someone has written a piece full of the joys of Ireland! 🙂 Many happy holidays spent driving round the coast, sitting in pubs playing music, and being blown around on blustery beaches.

    As an aside: Music fans – if you’re in the Galway area, go to The Crane bar http://www.thecranebar.com/ for a fantastic session almost any night of the week; if you happen to be in Sligo, you can do worse than go to Matt Molloy’s (of Chieftains fame) pub, and finally, if you’re desperate to find a session wherever you happen to be, you can use the search facility on http://www.thesession.org/sessions/ to find your nearest musically-inclined bar/pub…. 😀

  2. This brings back memories of my trip (also in 2009) – thanks for pointing out some great stuff! 🙂

  3. Have been there many times, last time in 2007. Way too long ago…

    And let’s not forget to talk about the beautiful North. Although Connacht in general and Galway in particular are my favourite parts of the country, I also have a special fondness for the County Donegal and the western part of Northern Ireland. Go to Derry, for instance – it’s a great city as well.

  4. This post comes just in time for my trip to Dublin next week 🙂 I don’t think I will make it to most of the places since I’m only going for a couple days and will probably stay in the city, but I’ll definitly have a look at the Book of Kells!
    Wish I could go to Newgrange…

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