Our little guide to help you get the most out of your trip to Ireland.
We get a lot of e-mails from people planning their trip to Ireland, reviewing Itineraries giving advice and helping people to get the most out of their experience while in Ireland is what we do best. But often we meet visitors to Ireland too late into their trip to offer any real help, but luckily for you we have complied the Top 10 mistake made by visitor to this wonderful little Island.
Top 10 mistakes made by first time visitors to Ireland.
Spending too much time in Dublin
This may sound like I’m having a dig at Dublin, I’m not, Dublin is a wonderful city. Dublin has an edginess rarely found anywhere else in the country. A streetwise friendliness that rivals anywhere in the world. Built on layer on top of layer of national historical importance Dublin is a special place, but there is a whole country out there to explore. And unlike many countries around the world it is very possible to explore and experience a lot of the culture of Ireland in a relatively short space of time. So, do your time in Dublin, see the Book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse (Ireland’s answer to Disneyland) and then get out of the ‘Big Smoke’ and explore.
Only visiting Temple Bar when in Dublin
While spending that day or 2 in Dublin you will no doubt at some point end up in Temple Bar. With bar after bar crammed with tourists, music starting early in the afternoon and inflated prices it is very easy to see why you will find it very difficult to meet a local here. So be warned, Temple Bar is a tourist trap. This does not mean totally avoid it, I love nothing more when I’m in Dublin than to take a stroll through Temple Bar but limit your time there. Experience it and then Explore. There is so much more to Dublin than that small area. The city center has many different districts to explore or even hop on a train and explore the Bay. Dublin just needs a little effort to scratch the surface and find it’s real heartbeat.
Cramming too much into your itinerary
So, you want to experience the ‘real’ Ireland, you want to step into the culture, find your Irish heritage inside you, you want to see all there is to see. We get it, you only have a week or two and there’s so much to see and do. So, at breakneck speed you set off around the country, hours of travel each day, another pub, another music session, different town. Ok, take a breath. You’re in Ireland now, we work on Irish Time! Take time to really experience where you are, rushing from point A to B to C will only tick boxes for you. You’ll arrive home with an extra stamp on your Passport, a credit card bill and total exhaustion, for what? Read the guide book, plan what you really REALLY want to see and do. Now throw the guide book away and find your own path in between those must-see points along the way. It is the experiences you have, the people you meet and the memories you make that are the real gifts when you return home. Slow Down, Explore and Experience. Your soul will thank you for it.
Relying on the Irish Public Transport System
Depending on where in the world you are coming from you will have different options on public transport. Some countries have exceptionally effective transport systems. Some have terrible systems but somehow that becomes part of the cultural experience. Ireland falls somewhere in between. Major regional towns and cities are all well connected and getting around the country from town to town can be done relatively easily and cheaply, relatively! But if you want to step away from the larger towns, if you want to get off the beaten track, here is where you will find the national public transport system restricting. Our advice, if you have the ability and the confidence, hire a car. Give yourself the freedom to control your own movements and go anywhere you want whenever you want. Enjoy the open road, they may be tight, small and curvy but you never know what little gem awaits you around the next bend.
Expecting things to be the same as home
I’ll be honest with you here, this is a little pet peeve of mine and something that everyone working with tourists come across at least a few times. Generally, I see this with the older tourists, inexperienced travelers. Visitors to our wonderful little island expecting little things to be the same as home. “But at home we do it this way..”, “I don’t understand, don’t you have….like we do at home?”. Embrace the change, explore the differences, it is these beautiful little differences that you traveled here to experience and what makes it exciting.
Get off your phone
So, In the last point I spoke about the older visitors we get, now for you younger folk. The tourists that experience their world through the screen of a smartphone. As some of you will be aware I do love my Instagram, putting up pics of my daily life, sharing the life and culture here with the world so without being a hypocrite, lads and ladies, put down the phones, don’t look for the wifi code and get chatting to people, meet the locals and fellow travellers and limit the faceybook and snappychat down to a minimum. Sounds almost like a life lesson but test the theory for a short time on your trip. There are real people behind those camera lenses, a simple hello can start you on an experience that could build real memories, not just the type that facebook tells you about a year later.
Not Visiting Northern Ireland
This is something I get asked about often, is Northern Ireland safe, can we travel there? The easy answer is yes, the longer answer is HELL YES. Northern Ireland is amazing, beautiful scenery and beautiful people. Many of you will be aware of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland for a long time up until about 20 years ago, thankfully those days a truly behind us. And with that change, comes with it a very warm welcome. Tourism in Northern Ireland has only kicked off in the last 10 to 15 years and I find that the people of Northern Ireland love to have visitors and show the world that Northern Ireland is Open for Business!
Not Claiming your Tax Back
Here is a little tip for those of you planning to travel here from outside the EU. No doubt you will partake in a little shopping while you’re here. Maybe it’s gifts for those at home, a cheesy Aran Jumper for your other half or a really good bottle of Irish Whiskey for a special occasion, you will at some point find yourself in the retail environment. Here in Ireland Tax is already added to the price tag you will see on the item. When you pay at the counter, ask the staff about getting your tax back, some retailers have a card scheme to collect your tax on to reclaim later. For those that look at you strangely, unsure what you are talking about, that no problem, simply keep your receipts and you can claim your tax refund at the airport on your departure.
Missing the “Real” Ireland
Although The Quiet Man is an amazing Movie and reminiscent of the Ireland many of your ancestors may have experienced, this is not Ireland today. We love our heritage and embrace it as part of our making, our culture and our story as a people, but it doesn’t define us. While here explore modern Ireland just as much as the historic Ireland, the ‘real’ Ireland is different for all of us. Mugs of Tea and pints of Guinness are just as common as Grande Latte and Gin & Tonic. Some locals will know more about Game of Thrones than they will local history or Irish culture. A band will rock out AC/DC on stage more often than the Jigs & Reels of Traditional Irish Music. Our little country have evolved, grown and developed, for better or worse that’s a personal opinion. But one thing is sure, the soul of Ireland is still the same, the eternal hunt for ‘The Craic’, The gift of the Gab and that Irish Welcome. The conversations are different but the Irishness is still the same. Don’t be afraid to experience and explore, make memories while also dreaming of days gone by. The beauty of Ireland is you know never know what might happen.
#Experience #Explore #Memories #CraicandCulturGuide
Mothers throughout the world are wonderful creatures but there is something uniquely special about an Irish Mammy. Dragging up a gang of children, running a household often while holding down a fulltime job, dishing out the discipline as needed but most importantly being the backbone of the family, the strength and love that keeps everything ticking along.
Over the years, we have all heard different saying or phrases that Mothers, Grandmothers, Godmothers have used, Irish mammies have more than their fair share of go-to phrases for every situation. Here is a few of our favourite Irish Mammy Sayings and the situations they come up in.
Ah sure she’s the spit of her mother / Isn’t he the head of his father?
A new born baby in any community is a thing of excitement especially for other mammies, Irish mammies have a unique way of recognising the parents in the features of the new baby.
I’m changing my fecking Name
As children grow, Mammy is the source of all knowledge and all power. To gain anything at this stage of life one must get the attention of mammy. This is often done with the tedious repetition of “Mam, Mam, mam, mam, mammy, mum, mam, mam mammy” to which a loud reply would be:
“Jaysus I swear to God I’m changing my fecking name, what do ya want?”
I’ll redden your arse for ya
The Ultimate threat, evokes visions of the wooden spoon or the slipper. When the boldness becomes too much a warning would be announced to all involved. Those that do not scatter to the four corners of the house do so at their own risk as these threats were not thrown out lightly.
I’ll make ya smile outa the other side of your face
One of the most confusing yet effective threats an Irish Mammy can give. As children get older they become more brazen or “cheeky”. Smart comments, back talk or even laughing at others misfortune. “I’ll make you smile outa the other side of your face” would be said quietly, up close with a wagged finger or arm grab if you crossed the line. It always worked, but I'm still not sure what it meant!
If Joe Blogs jumped of a bridge would ya follow him?
As a boy, the possibility and probability of getting up to mischief or general stupidity is very likely. Normally while out with friends, cheered on or dared. Sure, boys will be boys. But it’s all fun and games until mammy finds out about it and then you’re in trouble. Of course, you would try justify your stupid decision to do whatever it was by saying “But mammy, sure Joe did it”. As soon as it was said you know you have lost the argument.
I’m not angry I’m just disappointed
The sentence that would make your stomach drop to the floor, the ultimate checkmate by an Irish Mammy. No punishment necessary she has already welded the killer blow, the thought that you have upset your dear mother by whatever action you have done. Oh god, the pain!
Jaysus the washing / theres great drying out / a grand stretch in the evening
One of the greatest joys in life for any Irish Mammy is the hours of conversation that can be had concerning the Irish weather. “There’s great drying out” – A good dry day usually with a good steady breeze. “A grand stretch in the evening” – The daylight hours are getting longer, ending of winter, start of spring.
“Jaysus the washing” – The shout that would echo throughout the house when the great drying out turns into a showery day and Mammy has just remembered there’s washing on the line.
Now this one I’m unsure if it’s every Irish mammy or just mine.
In early teenage years, school discos were where sweaty spotty kids, fuelled on coke cola would mostly attempt to dance but on the odd occasion, with sufficient egging on from friends, an innocent interaction with the opposite sex known as “The Shift” might take pace. Afterward, jumping in the car with friends, Mammy in the driver’s seat, she would question “well lads, how was it? Any talent?” which would be met with cringe worthy nervous teenage laughs.
Pigs thing and an onion
I have heard variations of this from various Irish Mammies across the country. We all know this story, anytime of the day or night, if hungry or not, mothers will be asked the question “Mam what’s for dinner?” to which the reply sarcastically from the mammy would be “Pigs thing and an onion”. I’m not sure what pigs’ thing and an onion is but it doesn’t sound to appealing.
Ahh ya do know them / ya know your one
When you grow and leave the nest, as a responsible Son or Daughter you must check in with the Auld Pair (parents) from time to time. Get the latest from the family news, found out how Dads in growing toenail is, and the latest gossip from the home town. This weekly update also includes the local death notices, the who’s who of the graveyard festivities. The Irish Mammy will tell you about Mrs Murphy from down town that has passed away as if you should know this elderly lady as much as she does. The conversation normally runs something like:
Mam: Do you know who died, Mrs Murphy from Main Street.
Me: No mam, I don’t know her.
Mam: Ahh ya do know her, she was married to the brother of Mrs Smith down on Chruch Rd.
Me: No Mam, I’ve no clue who any of them are.
Mam: Ahh ya do, she wore that purple coat to Christmas eve Mass back in 1994. Lovely Lady! Well they’re burying her tomorrow. That’ll be a big funeral.
The Irish mammy is something special and no matter where in the world you are, if you’ve been brought up by an Irish mammy you will know her own phrases and sayings that make you chuckle.
On this Mother’s Day, spare a thought for your mammy, Irish or not, that put up with us through the terrible twos, the hormonally challenged puberty and all-knowing adolescence.
They made us who we are. So, today we raise a glass to mothers everywhere but an extra special wink to the Irish mammy!
As it is International Women’s Day we thought how best to mark the occasion than to celebrate the strong Irish women that helped mold our country and culture. We have picked our top 5 Heroines throughout Irish History, These 5 Strong Irish Women that every young Irish Girl should learn about:
Grace O’Malley / The Pirate Queen of Ireland
Although there is little recorded knowledge of this female chieftain in official Irish historical records, Grace O’Malley can be considered one of the most fierce and formidable women ever to walk the blessed Irish soil. Although her legacy cannot be view as nationalist, as she tended to side with whoever would keep her clan in power, her character and ability in the 16th century has become the stuff of proud local legend, preserved in story and song.
Her Father, chief of the O’Malleys, ran the area of the Irish west coast now known as County Mayo. She was an only child, growing up as both son and daughter to her father. She found her sea legs in her early adulthood as she captained a fleet of fishing boats that frequently turned into pirate ships, or maybe pirate ships that masqueraded as fishing boats. These pirate attacks tended to happen when English ships navigated too close to the Irish coast. Throughout the years to follow she commanded respect as a leader, outliving her first husband and then marrying the chief of the Bourke clan at 36; he became her second–in-command, of course.
As self-preservation and reward were at the heart of this feisty woman when in her 60s, (a surprising age for the time) she negotiated with Queen Elizabeth I — in Latin no less. Allying herself with the British with an aim of gaining control over some no growing Irish clans that were proving bothersome for both sides. Obviously Irish freedom was not at the forefront of her mind but her ability to become such a powerhouse in the 16th century is something that must be admired. Although many nationalist poems and songs mention the lady leader of the O’Malleys was a pirate and a tribal leader first, and a very tough cookie. It seems over time we have remembered a strong Irish woman, driven in her aim for dominance and leadership, any other less nationalist characteristics fade with time.
Countess Constance Markievicz
Born in London to a wealthy aristocrat, explorer and philanthropist, Henry Gore-Booth. Constance Gore-Booth was raised on her family estate in County Sligo. Growing up she became unsettled by the lifestyle and position she was born, becoming increasingly interested in Nationalism within Ireland and social revolution. While studying in London and Paris she met a Polish count to which she married, giving her the title Countess Markievicz. Not a common name around the parishes of Sligo.
Returning to Ireland in 1901 she joined she joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) in 1903. And later in 1909 founded Na Fianna Éireann (Soldiers of Ireland), where she trained young men to shoot under the banner of “Boy Scouts”. She assisted the great James Connolly, during the 1913 lockout, and went on to join the Citizen Army. During the 1916 Rising Markievicz was second in command at the St Stephen’s Green stronghold. It is said that upon the order surrendering, she kissed her revolver before handing it over to the British officer. All in all between 1911 and 1920, Countess Markievicz was imprisoned by the British government four times for various acts of treason or heroic acts of nationalism, depending how you look at it.
Seen as one of the first true feminists in Ireland she once addressed a group of educated college women in Dublin “dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank, and buy a revolver. … Be prepared to go your own way depending for safety on your own courage, your own truth, and your own common sense, and not on the problematic chivalry of the men you may meet on the way….”
Ireland under British rule began electing representatives to British parliament. Countess Markievicz was the first woman ever elected to the British House of Commons, but could not take her seat due to her imprisonment at the time. Her final spell in the slammer was in 1923 at age 55, for treason against the Irish government. This was the Civil War and Markievicz believed in a united Ireland, and that those that accepted partial freedom from the British (the Irish parliamentary majority) were traitors themselves, and as you can probably tell, she had no problem in telling them that.
She died in 1927, in custody, while on hungry strike for her beliefs. The city of Dublin came to a standstill. Man, Woman & Child, the working class, the political class, and everyone in between swarmed the streets to watch her casket go by.
To this day, she is considered a Heroine of Ireland, its freedoms and its culture.
Mary Kenny and The Irish Women’s Liberation Movement
The Irish constitution (written in 1937) instructed the women of Ireland that they were mothers and wives first and foremost, divorce and any kind of contraception were strictly illegal; the advertisements for family planning was considered immorality and as such censored.
This thinking continued in Ireland until as recent as 1971, when Mary Kenny, a journalist, working alongside other rabble-rousing feminists began to challenge the ban on contraception in the Republic of Ireland. Mary and the group of other crazy radical liberal women thought they should have the right to choose contraception if they so wished, live by their own moral compass and so they decided to collectively and openly defy the high and mighty bishops of the catholic church and cranky old suit and tie men running the country. (Shock, How Dare They?!!)
On May 22, 1971, Kenny and forty-six other strong willed women jump aboard what was dubbed The Contraceptive Train to Belfast. As Belfast is in Northern Ireland, part of the UK, in the 1970’s contraception’s like the pill and condoms were readily available where they were illegal only a few miles away. The group lead by Mary crowded into a pharmacy, and shockingly in what was a stark realisation of the lack of sexual education within the republic, Mary Kenny didn’t even know what specifically to ask for.
The women’s liberation movement returned over the border waving packets of Durex in the faces of custom officers, arriving back into Dublin’s Connolly station to crowds of supporters (both genders). That night Mary Kenny went on the Irish national TV and Radio, fighting the case for access to birth control and ultimately a blow for women’s rights in Ireland.
This movement could be considered the start of Irelands move towards liberalism and free thinking. The following year, 1972, saw the Catholic Church lose their “Special Position” within the Constitution. Eight years later, “The Pill” was legalised on prescription by a doctor and condoms were readily available from pharmacies and Men’s Room vending machines.
God Bless Mary Kenny & The Ladies of the Women’s Liberation Movement!!
Veronica Guerin started out in the public relations industry in the early 1980s, almost 10 years later she had made to move from PR into journalism when she began writing for the Sunday Business Post and Sunday Tribune. Over time she became respected as a journalist who investigated and exposed the activities of Ireland’s drug criminals. Known for her tenacity, pursuing every story as vigorously as possible regardless of the risk involved. Even assisting An Garda Siochana (The Irish Police Force) on occasion. She developed close connections with figures on both sides – the Gardí as well as the criminals.
Getting to close for comfort for the Irish crime bosses she began to receive death threats. In October 1994 two warning shots were fired at her home in Dublin. She continued her work. On another occasion, the now convicted criminal John Gilligan personally attacked and threatened her. She continued Working. An attempted assignation took place when she answered her front door to find a man pointing a gun at her head, although his shot missed and hit her in the leg instead. She continued to work.
Veronica got too close to exposing these criminals in 1996. When she was gunned down by two men (said to be working for Gilligan) on a motorbike, pulling up alongside her car at traffic lights. Her death caused national public outrage and indirectly lead to a huge crackdown on organised crime in the country and the setting up of the Criminal Assets Bureau (Ireland’s fight on crime through financial methods - Al Capone how are ya!)
She will always be considered a shining light for truth and justice in Ireland.
Any Irish woman that has been a Senator and President, UN High Commissioner and University Chancellor and now sits on a group known as The Elders (a group of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights. They were originally brought together by Nelson Mandela) must make it to the top of our list.
Mary Robinson was born Mary Bourke (remember the Bourke that married the Pirate Queen? Same family, five hundred years later), a wealthy family which coupled with her passion and drive for justice, peace and human rights found her gaining law degrees in Ireland, the UK, and the US and becoming a Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin by the age of 25. Nice start to a career. Not yet satisfied with her ability to crate change she campaigned as an independent for a seat in the Republic of Ireland’s Seanad (Senate). Continuing as a lecturer at Trinity and practising law, she tirelessly campaigned for equality rights, women’s rights (like the right to birth control train of 1971), gay rights, and the rights of the poor.
After twenty years of campaigning, working and fighting for others within the Seanad, Mary Robinson was approached by the coalition of Irish Labour Party and The Green Party and asked to run for President. Mary Robinson was elected Ireland’s first female head of state in 1990 taking her voice international.
After seven years of turning the figure head presidency into an activist position, Mary Robinson was chosen to be the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. She remains a fighter for social justice on behalf of the world’s downtrodden and less fortunate. If I felt persecuted or wronged in any way, she the woman I want in my corner.
Go On Mary Ya Good Thing!