Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Very broad appeal; all personality types like it strongly
Did you know … ?
- Gaeltacht refers to areas, mostly to the west, where the Irish language is common.
- Ireland’s Valentia Island is the westernmost point in Europe.
- Leprechauns of Celtic folktales are shoemakers for other fairies.
- University College Dublin houses more than 100,000 tales, myths and legends, the world’s largest such collection.
- St. Patrick was born in Britain and came to Ireland as a slave.
Of leprechauns and computers
Mention Ireland to a North American and thoughts turn to leprechauns and Celtic folklore, rich green landscapes and the rain that produces them, Guinness and the pubs that serve it. Ireland also may be the home of an ancestor or two. Those are the features that tourism promoters lean on.
Ireland was, until recently, poor by European standards. But, beginning in the mid-1990s, the economy boomed, partly due to software development. Hence, the Emerald Isle is also called the Silicon Isle by some although recession has dampened the boom times.
Ireland is scenic, but this isn’t all sissy scenery. Complementing kelly green meadows, the rocky coast is as rugged as any shoreline, and the seas can deliver wild waves. On the gentler side, there are countless towns and villages to enchant visitors.
Then, there are the Irish! These Celts are funny and wild, admirers of good horses and pretty women, happy to see you and happy to have you buy the drinks!
For many North Americans of Irish descent, a trip to the Ould Sod is a must. They find a great variety of activities and sightseeing attractions. The pubs deliver on traditional comfort food and drink — Irish stews, shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread, Guinness, plus, often, live Irish music.
The least venturesome find the lifestyle quirky and interesting, but are relieved to communicate in English. They find the green countryside tranquil and relaxing.
Irish history and sightseeing appeal to those in the middle of the personality scale. They explore old castles, have drinks in village pubs, shop for crystal or sweaters, watch a breeder exercise his horses. They want to soak up the atmosphere of Ireland’s religious, artistic and literary history in places like Dublin’s Trinity College, the National Theatre and the pubs that hosted Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.
The adventurous share the Irish zest for life. They enjoy the scenery as they jog or walk through it. If they ride, there is plenty of company in a land of horse lovers. And Irish history is turbulent enough to involve these travelers in seeking out the sights associated with it.
Things to do for Venturers
- Tour the Irish countryside in a horse-drawn caravan that sleeps four and is equipped for housekeeping. You’ll be briefed on the care of the horse, then left on your own.
- Charter a cabin cruiser and explore Ireland via the clean, clear Shannon River, tying up at a different village each night. The boats are safe and easy to handle — you’ll get instructions.
- Kiss the Blarney Stone, which legend has it will bestow eloquence on any who kiss it. The stone is set in the wall below the battlements of Blarney Castle and, to kiss it, one must lean backwards from the parapet walk.
- Attend an old festival that is well understood in modern terms: the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, described as Europe’s biggest singles event.
- Scuba dive to see shipwrecks and admire craggy coastlines. Sample options, in a season that usually runs March to October, include the Atlantic coast of Cork, Donegal, Galway and Mayo.
- Waterski on the River Shannon, or shoot the rapids in a canoe on the River Liffey.
Things to do for Centrics
- Go fishing. One suggestion: Take a look at magnificent Ashford Castle (now a hotel), and fish for salmon in uncrowded streams nearby. Other sites and other fish abound, and all the settings are pleasing to the eye.
- See the mummies which lie in open coffins at St. Michan’s Church in Dublin. A likely earlier visitor to the crypt would have been Bram Stoker, the 19th century creator of the fictional Dracula. Some Stoker relatives were buried at St. Michan’s.
- Go to Irish pubs, listen to Irish music and don’t be too shy to dance a jig yourself. The top town for this kind of entertainment is Doolin on the west coast, called the traditional music capital of Ireland. Three pubs — McDermott’s, McGann’s and O’Connors — have music year-round.
- Visit Ireland’s ancient Newgrange mound tomb, which dates from about 3200 B.C. Located in County Meath, it covers more than an acre, and a 62-foot inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber. The passage and chamber are illuminated for each of five days a year, at the winter solstice. The rest of the year, visitors are shown, with artificial lighting, what it looks like to see the totally black tomb interior brighten at a solstice sunrise.
- Plan a self-drive tour themed around haunted houses and haunted castles. Also, stay at Ross Castle in Killarney, which is reputed to be haunted.
- Sample pub meals. Try Irish stews, shepherd’s pie, carving board service, Irish soda bread — plus the less-well-known colcannon (cabbage, potatoes, cheese and eggs). And don’t forget the Guinness. (Standard restaurants are less fun, with their frequent insistence that patrons eat at set seating times.)
Things to do for Authentics
- Attend the Bunratty Medieval Banquet, held twice nightly at Bunratty Castle near Shannon Airport, for a good look at a 15th century castle, a four-course dinner and period entertainment by the appropriately attired Bunratty Singers.
- Ireland exports Waterford crystal. Ask about facility tours in Waterford, then buy crystal to carry or ship home. Also, buy a fisherman’s sweater. It will last a lifetime.
- Drive the Ring of Kerry, a 100-mile circle of meadows, mountains, moors, beaches and coastal views. When people talk about “beautiful scenery,” this is what they mean.
- Tralee is a real place, and each August the town stages the Rose of Tralee Festival, a talent contest at which a winner is selected as the Rose of Tralee. Also, see the national folk theater of Ireland, Siamsa TÃ re, while in Tralee. It offers performances most evenings and, in high season, May to October, it offers a choice of four shows that capture the Irish story.
- In Dublin, attend a performance at Abbey Theatre. See the “Book of Kells,” too.
- Attend the Puck Fair in Killorglin, County Kerry, in August. There are plenty of cattle and horse fairs in Ireland, but this one has a twist all its own: Festivities include the coronation and dethronement of a mountain goat. We are not making this up.
For more information, consult Tourism Ireland at www.ireland.com