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Archive for the ‘Irish Heritage’ Category

The Busy, Bustling Streets of Lively Galway City, Ireland

Authentic Ireland’s dedicated writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

In a nationwide survey, the people of Galway were found to be Ireland’s happiest residents. When you visit Galway City, it’s easy to understand why.  (Click the link http://www.authenticireland.com/galway?utm_source=authentic&utm_medium=email for a look around.)

Galway is a lively university enclave of narrow streets, quaint shop fronts, bustling pubs and stunning scenery. Galway has always attracted a bohemian mix of musicians, artists and intellectuals.  That sense of freedom and creativity is palpable as you walk the streets.

Galway has been an important commercial center since the 11th century when it traded heavily with Spain and Portugal.   In 1477, Christopher Columbus was one of Galway’s renowned visitors.  (It’s amazing he didn’t stay!)  At that time Galway was known as “The City of the Tribes” because it was ruled by 14 wealthy merchant families.

Today it is a vibrant, popular hub buzzing with festivals, parades, street musicians, and racing boats.  The annual Arts Festival attracts thousands, especially for its outrageous, glorious street parade.

Start the new year off with a dream.  Plan a perfect, custom time in Galway City!

Best, 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. 

http://www.authenticireland.com/geneology

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

Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

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1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is an historic Irish institution with more than 800 years of faithful service.

2. Visitors to Ireland love to kiss the Blarney Stone. Located at Blarney Castle, it was originally a timber lodge built in the 10th Century and replaced by the stone castle in 1210. Get a picture!

3. The Cliffs of Moher are, quite simply, breath-taking. Overlooking the wild and windy Atlantic in County Clare, they rise straight up over 700 feet.

4. The Four Courts governing the whole of Ireland are the Irish Supreme Court, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District courts  They’re grouped together in historic buildings. (Learn more about the Four Courts on our Historical Walking Tour of Dublin!)

5. The Oscar Wilde Statue, Merrion Square, Dublin. Wilde is lying back on a rock, as if he hasn’t a care in the world. Take our Literary Pub Crawl to learn more about Wilde, Beckett and other famous Irish writers as you visit local Dublin pubs.

6. When in Ireland, visit at least one castle–there are hundreds. Consider Belfast Castle, more than 400 feet above sea level with panoramic views of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

7. Grafton Street, Dublin, is a historic area with great shopping, pubs, restaurants and a cutting edge art scene.

Visit Ireland and make you own list! (Ours changes from week to week.)

Your dedicated writers, Meredith and Win Blevins

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The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Magic Steps to the Ocean

Northern IrelandThink about discovering her sights and sounds. It’s truly a hidden gem, and the place many Americans have their roots.

Belfast is the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland. It is a banquet of lovely gardens and neighborhoods, sublime Victorian homes and buildings.  There are extraordinary museums, great shopping and plenty of pubs filled with trad music and banter.

After all the hum and surprises that the big city has to offer, you might want to wind down and head to the countryside. Northern Ireland has one of the strangest and most exciting coastlines in the world. Explore the volcanic Giant’s Causeway. It’s made of 37,000 basalt columns running straight into the sea.  And, under the water, it leads to Scotland.  Many ancient tales surround the Giant’s Causeway.  How many are true?  There’s simply no way to know for sure, but let your imagination fly.

You’ll also want to explore the nine Glens of Antrim and experience the Mountains of Mourne sweeping down to the sea. And, a ramble through wild and gorgeous Donegal is a must, as is the serene Lake Country of Fermanagh.

Ireland is emerging unified, its troubles healed, its beauty and mystery made whole.

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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Get Lost in Wild Connemara, Ireland

Connemara, or Land of the Sea, is a wild region of bogland, pristine lakes and mountains.

Connemara is Ireland’s big sky country and is in the west of County Galway. Unlike the more famous Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula, Connemara is sparsely populated and the landscape is open–both foreboding and forgiving.

Wonderfully, because the area is so remote, the Irish language and traditions have survived here. Irish is the first language of many Connemara people, particularly those along the south coast.  Connemara is a beautiful place to drive. More than any Irish area, Connemara is about open air, and you’ll find activities ranging from hiking to fishing, horseback riding and scuba diving.

Connemara is the ultimate antidote to life in the fast lane. Two days is fine. A week is fabulous. Any longer and you may not want to get back on that freeway.

Authentic Ireland’s dedicated writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

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