Archive for the ‘Festivals (or Ireland is always looking for an excuse to party.)’ Category

The Wren Boys in Dingle, Ireland, Celebrating St. Stephen’s Day

From Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland Writers, Meredith and Win Blevins:

In Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is one of nine official public holidays.

In Irish, it is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín, meaning the Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day. When used in this context, “wren” is often pronounced “ran”.

This name alludes to several Irish legends, some linking episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren. Although not practiced often anymore,  in certain parts of Ireland people carry either an effigy of a wren or an actual caged wren through the streets.  They travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing.

Depending on which region of the country, they are called wrenboys and mummers. A Mummer’s Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, County Galway and Dingle in County Kerry. St. Stephen’s Day is also a popular day for visiting family members.  (Good-bye Christmas dinner leftovers!)

A popular rhyme is known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers.  Here’s a very nice version of the song for you to enjoy, complete with chords and words!:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZI_PzRIqU0

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds…

Happy December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, from the Crew at Authentic Ireland Travel


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Leave a Guinness out for Santa this Christmas.  It’s Tradition!

From your Dedicated Authentic Ireland Writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

True:  In Ireland, it is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.  After all, Santa has a long journey, not much time, and so fortification seems like an excellent idea.

And, children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings, in the less Americanized parts of Ireland.

Christmas in Ireland lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to as Little Christmas. Ireland’s Christmas is more religious than a time of fun.  Lighted candles are placed in windows on Christmas Eve, as a guide that Joseph and Mary might be looking for shelter. The candles are usually red in color, and decorated with sprigs of holly.

Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year’s Day and the Twelfth Night.

After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of hospitality.

St Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony is to ask for money ‘for the starving wren’, that is, for their own pockets.

This year, join the tradition, and leave a bit of Guinness out for Santa.  We are quite sure he’ll appreciate it.

Best!  Your Crew at Authentic Ireland Travel

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Old Glory Flies Over Dublin during a Parade

Would your guess be Ireland? If you’re talking about people who are 100% Irish, you’re right.  But the United States has more folks with Irish ancestors than any other place in the world.

Even people with non-Irish sounding last names may have an ancestor who hailed from this country. Oftentimes, the family name was changed when the person or family arrived at Ellis Island. The recorder simply couldn’t understand the accent or their Irish language. Others immigrants changed their name to Americanize, to fit more easily into the giant melting pot called the U.S.

The potato famine caused a large number of crops in Ireland to die, leaving many people without food in the 1830s. These citizens had the option of leaving or staying and facing certain death. (More people died during those years than at any other point in Ireland’s history.) Some moved to other parts of Europe, but a large number of people headed west to America.  Others came due to political unrest at home and looked to homestead in the U.S. after the famine.  And, some Irish people were the first settlers in the States, particularly in the Southern part of the country where their music still has great influence.

Curious about your own roots? For Irish Genealogical Resources, go to this link for a fairly complete list of organizations and websites to help you track down your Irish family. 


After you’ve found them?  Visit them in Ireland, of course!

Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

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Traditionional Pubs and Music in West Clare are Cozy, and Rocking, Affairs.

People come to Clare from all over the world to hear traditional Irish music, or trad for short. Of course it can be heard in most counties of Ireland but nowhere are the people more passionate about it than in Clare. And it shows. The quantity, quality and variety of pub sessions going on across the county throughout the year is simply unmatched anywhere else in Ireland. It would be a shame if you came to Clare and missed out!

Here’s our guide to the trad music pubs of West Clare, pubbing from Kilrush in the south to Ballyvaughan in the north.

Kilrush: Crotty’s Pub – every Tuesday, festival mid-August. The Way Inn – nightly during the summer

Carrigaholt:  The Long Dock – Wed, Friday to Sunday during the summer. Morrissey’s Village Pub – trad music and set dancing at the weekends. Eat here: Fennell’s – top notch seafood

 Kilbaha (near Loop Head): The Lighthouse Inn – irregular sessions

Kilkee: O’ Mara’s – irregular sessions

Doonbeg : Eat here: Morrissey’s Seafood Bar and Grill

Milltown: Malbay Home to the Willie Clancy Summer School.  If you are here for the week commencing the first Sunday of July, you will be treated to the best traditional music this country has to offer all week long in all bars and all free. Do yourself a favour. Outside this week try:

Lynch’s Bar – Wed, Fri & Saturday Hillery’s – Mon, Wed, Fri – Sunday Eat here: Berry Lodge and Cookery School, south of Milltown, great restaurant (reservations essential) Eat here: Black Oak, north of town, sea view location

Lahinch: The Cornerstone – Thursday The Nineteenth – Saturday, The Claremount Hotel – Sunday Eat here: Barrtra Seafood Restaurant. Excellent seafood 5km north of Lahinch Eat here: Atlantic Hotel – great food and a friendly atmosphere

Ennistymon: Daly’s – Thur & Sunday Cooley’s House – Wed & Friday

Liscannor: Eat here: Vaughan’s Anchor Inn – easily the best seafood in County Clare

Corofin: The Corofin Arms – Tuesday, Friday & Sunday Campbell ’s – Tuesday The Inchiquinn Inn – Friday

Kilfenora: A little inland, but Kilfenora can rightly claim to be the capital of the trad music kingdom that is County Clare. Linnane’s – sessions most nights, the Kilfenora Ceili Band (the Arcade Fire of trad music) play here on Wednesdays. Vaughan ’s Pub – set dancing in the barn (no kidding!) – Thurs & Sunday, session in the pub on Tuesdays Nagle’s – Sunday

Doolin McGann’s: – 363 nights a year and weekend afternoons McDermotts’s – 363 nights a year and weekend afternoons O’Connor’s – 363 nights a year and weekend afternoons Eat here: Cullinan’s Seafood Restaurant

Aran Islands:  Tigh Jo Mac’s, Inishmore – sessions throughout the summer Joe Whatty’s, Inishmore – live music all summer though not always trad Tigh Ruairi – Inisheer – most nights during the summer Tigh Ned’s – Inisheer – irregular nights during the summer Eat here: Pier House, Kilronan

Lisdoonvarna: More famous for tangos and slow waltzes, however.. The Royal Spa Hotel – Thur to Saturday Eat here: Sheedy’s Country House Hotel

Fanore: O’Donoghue’s Pub – middle of nowhere bar where anything can happen, Saturday night ballad sessions. Sunday afternoon Irish dances, be ready.

Ballyvaughan: Hyland’s Burren Hotel – M

That should be a good start for you.  Enjoy!

Your dedicate writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

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Take a walking tour of Ireland

Try Irish Adventure on a walking tour! 

Looking for an intimate, authentic experience with the country and her people?  If so, you may want to spend a few days walking in Ireland.

What? Walking Festivals?  Absolutely.

You don’t have to be a marathon athlete to join, just open yourself to pure Irish adventure, glorious countryside and backroad surprises.  Most importantly, be prepared to have a rollicking, good time with the people you’ll be walking with!

Walking festivals are held from March through April.  Following is a small sampling:

March:   Achill, County Mayo;  Andara, County Donegal

April:     Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary;  North Leitrim, County Leitrim.   South Sligo, County Sligo.   West Cork, County Cork

May:       Ballyhoura Int’l, County Limerick;  North West Mayo, County Mayo;  Slieve Bloom, County Offaly;  Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow

June:      Mourne Int’l, County Down.   Sliabh an Iarainn, County Leitrim

Aug:       Sperrins, County Tyrone

Sept:      Curlew Walkers, County Roscommon;  Hills of Donegal, County Donegal;  Wee Binnians, County Down

Oct:        Donegal Int’l, County Donegal;  Fingal, County Dublin

Walking in Ireland is a pleasure, an honor, and a promise to respect the land.  It is an experience to be treasured once and forever.

Authentic Ireland is happy to plan your walking holiday, whether you choose to join a festival, use one of our guides, or go on your own.  We will arrange the sort of Irish accommodation you want that follows your path, and wraps you in comfort and good cheer every evening!   Best to you from the crew at Authentic Ireland!

Best!  The Crew at AIT.

Find Authentic Ireland’s featured writers at: http://www.blevinswordworx.com

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Great recipes, restaurants, and cuisine in Ireland

Ireland has become a haven for foodies.

Kinsale  is a sweet seaport town, rippling with Irish tales and history, in County Cork.  In the 1980′s a seriously wonderful influx occured.  Talented and creative chefs from around Europe made thier way to romantic Kinsale.  The result?  An extraordinary number of culinary masterpiece restaurants opened their doors.

If you’re in Kinsale, check out hese restuarants for starters:  The Spinnaker, The Man Friday, Gino’s, The Vintage, The Bistro Bacchus, abd the Blue Haven.  These are terrific places using only fresh food, and they have exceptional wine lists.  They are also the folks that led to the establishment of the Kinsale Good Food Circle and the Kinsale Food Festival.  Visit for an experience that is out of this world!  

There’s a new breed of confident and daring Irish chefs and restauranteurs.   Over the last 15 years they’ve raised the bar of excellence that’s being copied by others, but there is no place quite like the Irish Foodie Haven — Kinsale.

Enjoy delicious travels!  The crew at www.authenticireland.com

Find Authentic Ireland’s featured writers at http://www.blevinswordworx.com

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Even Dogs get Hangovers on St. Patrick’s Day 

The Ancient Irish cure for Hangovers

Even dogs get hangovers after St. Patrick's Day festivities

There’s an ancient cure used in Ireland, and has been used, for thousands of years to cure a hangover.

Here it is:  Dubliners cured their after-party St. Patrick’s blues by drinking from the well of a spa beside the Weaver’s Hall in the Coombe.  Now… There was just one problem here.  They often visited the nearby tavern, quite nearby, after they’d taken the waters of the spa.

On the other hand, at least they had a fresh start for a new round!

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, and make sure your doggie has a sitter.

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