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!
On a blustery Monday morning in Galway City we wake up to the real world, the post weekend blues, amplified by the realisation that on Saturday gone by, our neighbors and good friends Scotland, did beat us in our opening game of the Rugby 6 Nations. (Yes, I know, I’m struggling to understand it myself) In a David verses Goliath contest Scotland were very much the deserving victors.
But in an attempt on my part to brush of the disappointment of Saturday, today we look past the game itself and concentrate on the unique subculture within Irish Bars, The 6 Nations Pub goer. As the Bars for the next number of weekends fill with “Fans” we take a look at who will find in the pub on game days.
The Real Fan
Possibly one of the most important groups within any bar on game day is the true fan, the rugby fan that wears his/her colours on their sleeves. Supporting local clubs on a weekly basis and their professional team of choice throughout the teams battles across Europe, their die-hard love of the sport turns from a regional love to a national passion when the boys wear their green jerseys. With a deep knowledge of the team, the players, the referee, the physio, the water-boy etc. This group wishes they were at the game but for whatever personal reason make do for soaking up the atmosphere in the local. The only thing that surpasses their knowledge of the game is their passion for the sport and their contempt for many others on this list.
This is normally majority of the crowd in the pub during the game. Saturday or Sunday afternoon, what better reason to meet with your buddies and have a few pints than Ireland lining out on the Rugby pitch. A quick catch up, and down to business, Pints & Rugby. This group is a bit of a mix bag (as we call them) some rugby fan, some drinking fans, but really at heart it’s just an excuse for a lads afternoon out.
Often within the previous group of lads you will find the dreaded ex-player, often now overweight and overly fond of a pint these guys wax lyrical of days gone by, their schoolboy days when they scored the winning try in the last minute of the league game. Or maybe about the time they lined out against Johnny Sexton in a club game 15 years ago and “rang rings around him”, they would have been called up to the Irish under 20's team only and injury ended their career. Ah sure fair play to them, it must be tough to watch from a distance.
The Dolly Bird
Often called the “Rugby Groupie”, these are the girls that arrive into the bar on game day, high-heels on, their green jersey painted on to show off the “assets” and the hunt for a rugby man begins. Often heard screaming randomly “Cum’on Ireland” at the screen in between Facebook check-ins and Instagram duck faces. With disappointed faces, they realise the bar doesn’t do cocktails they settle for their glass of “Pinot” while frustratingly search for a seat. It’ll be a long night for them, normally drunk by the 2nd half.
The illusive non-drinker in an Irish Bar on Rugby day, crazy but it happens. Surprisingly there is a hefty percentage of non-drinkers in Ireland (you didn’t expect that but its true). Now most of those non-drinkers that go to the pub to watch the rugby are a special kind of bred. In this case we speak of the hospitality industry worker, The bar man or bouncer that won’t start work until later than day. They pop by, grabbing a coke or coffee, joining their lucky friends that are sitting with pints in front of them. The hardest part of their day is leaving the group to go home and get ready for work. Please spare a thought for these poor souls tonight at midnight when you’re ordering 12 Jagerbombs.
These are that group that have no interest in what’s happening, doesn't matter what sport, what occasion, even what day. These are the group that just love a busy bar, the excuse to start drinking early. With a game starting at maybe 2pm they have a long day to get as drunk as possible. Often they start off in great form, getting into the atmosphere and supporting the team but as the drinks flow this descends into madness. Before too long a trip to the nearest fast-food spot is needed to attempt the sober up as the venues that serve them get smaller and smaller in number. For this group, making it to the Nightclub is a badge of honor. The next day is a haze of regrets, fear and sickness.
Ireland’s Call Singers
A unique group to Ireland are the Ireland’s Call singers, this group that will proudly sing at the top of their voices the Irish Rugby song of Ireland's Call as the Team stands Shoulder to Shoulder (See what I did there?). This lovely song can be heard from every bar before the game, a great song, full with passion and drive. But as they finish Ireland's Call, asking them to sing “Amhrán na bhFiann” The Irish National Anthem is met with mumbling of the tune, maybe a line or two as it fades into the background and quickly brushed over. Now without getting into the politics of the song (For those that don’t know Irish Rugby is the Whole Island, Republic & Northern) we mention this as we are in Galway City and love our Anthem.
The most important group in any list about any bar anywhere in the world. It is the regular punters, the men and women that the staff know by name, are friends with and that drive the bar during the quieter times of the year. The regulars grumble, moan and complain about how busy it is, will argue and fight for their regular seat and want to watch the game in peace (and rightfully so) As I heard one regular say to a mouthy young rugby fan “will you be here and Tuesday?”, Regulars are the royalty of any bar and should be respected by outsiders as such. But really, most of the time, as long as they get their regular seat, can order their pint and see the tv, they are the nicest group in the bar. Much love for the Regulars.
As you criss-cross this beautiful little Island of ours it is easy to see why us Irish have an international reputation for being “Fond of a Pint”. From many a little back road village to every towns bustling main street you’ll find them, the back bone of the local community, The local Irish Bar.
But as you travel through our cities, towns and villages you will notice each has a distinct character and style.
Here is Craic & Cultúr’s introduction to 6 types of Irish Bars in Ireland.
The Tourist Bar
With The Top of the Morning and the Blessing of Bacon & Cabbage be upon you with the talk of Diddle eh Diddle eh Potatoes wafting through the atmosphere.
Irish Bars on steroids, the tourist bar is the hollywood vision of what as Irish bar is like, with hollywood pricing to match. Stepping into a Tourist bar, you will notice the “old-World” style, of dark wood, antique style furniture, and the famous clutter of “bits & bobs” hanging from walls and roofs.
With Traditional Irish Music or Folk and Ballads often playing from early afternoon pulling the tourists in as they explore with a hope they will stay for the night.
The music is good, played by local musicians earning their living playing a few gigs a week entertaining tourists with the same songs every night often allowing them to pursue their passion for original music or touring in the off season.
Typically the Guinness in tourist bars is of good quality due to the vast amounts of it they pour daily, but be warned with this good quality comes a “quality” price-tag, with pints often reaching over 5 euros, and often reaching up to 7 as the evening turns into night (Yes some venues increase pricing as the night gets later).
Guinness, Entertainment and a good slice of the Irish Craic, Tourist Bars tick all the right Boxes for most visitors to the Country.
But as Disneyland is not the real USA, The “Paddyland" of Tourist Bars is not the Real Irish Bar!
Where will you find these tourist Bars, well Temple Bar in Dublin City Centre is top of the list of offenders with a number of bars fighting for the top Paddyland Bar of the Country.
Our Favourite Tourist Bar is The Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar in Dublin Temple Bar.
The Trendy Bar
Where modern and old world style collide, dark wood meets chrome.
These bars for the Irish fashionable, with skinny jeans and high heels (And not a jacket in sight with it feckin’ pissin’ rain outside!!!)
Guinness here wouldn’t be our first choice, often with worrying quality we will stick to what the place does best,,look trendy…..So a cocktail it is.
Jam Jars, Kettles or even shinny mini buckets, getting a simple glass is too easy for these guys looking to show off their skills of showmanship from behind the bar.
With a huge range and knowledge from the bar you’ll be spoilt for choice. with the added bonus of Whiskey & Gin selection, Drink wise if your in the mode for being fancy your onto a winner.
Music wise with the odd exception of a decent live cover band the DJ is king at these trendy venues with loungey dance tracks building the atmosphere until the high heels and clutch bags make their way to the mini dance floor for the tight dress wiggle and duck face selfies.
Ireland meets London or New York. The trendy bar is a dream of Irish youth, the 20somethings brought up on the Girls of Sex & the City in Dublin Fair City.
Every major city has its very own trendy bars where the beautiful people head for on a Saturday night, just follow the clip clop of high heels or the steams of fake tan if its raining.
Our Favourite Trendy Bar is The House Cocktail in Galway, one of the place to ‘be-seen’ in Galway before the nightclub on a Saturday night.
The Gastro Bar
A leftover from our booming time we call the Celtic Tiger, Gastro Bars sprung up all over the country during the 90s.
Taking elements from both the tourist bar and the trendy bar but with food at the heart.
Priding themselves on the quality of their food, Gastro bars were once considered the alternative, relaxed, uber casual restaurants of the country. But now over time the line between the two (Gastro Bars vs Restaurants) has blurred into common ground.
Gastro Bars are not to be confused with any bar that serves food, but rather think of them as a fully functioning restaurant within a bar.
Often with Guinness just as good as any tourist bar aswell as a fine selection of craft beers, cocktails and spirits, Gastro Bars allow you the opportunity to have a great, locally sourced meal, and continue the night of conversation with friends over a tipple or two.
Entertainment normally comes in the form of a solo acoustic guitarist and singers, playing a mixture of covers creating a very relaxed enjoyable atmosphere, normally starting music after the kitchen has closed.
The Gastro Bar is now common place across the country with most towns having at least one decent gastro bar in the area. a perfect alternative to a night of excessive drinking, food, wine and maybe an after dinner whiskey. An altogether very grown up and respectable evenings entertainment.
Our Favourite Gastro Pub ; Fitzpatricks , Jenkinstown Co. Louth.
The All-Rounder Bar.
As the name suggests the all-rounder bar has elements to keep everyone happy.
Not fitting directly into any category yet easily fitting to all of those previous categories the all-rounder tries to be all things to all people and if done right it can be amazing.
Think of a bar, where a tourist could sit along side a local enjoying a pint, a whiskey or even a cocktail.
Then have a quality meal with good wine and follow it with a dance while being entertained by a band or DJ.
It is no surprise that most bars in the country aim for this style.
The Jack of All Trades in the world of Irish Bars these bars throughout the country have varying success in meeting the needs of all it’s clients.
Our Favourite All-Rounder Bar is Galway’s An Pucan,
With bar of old-world charm meets funky live music venue. Extensive cocktail menu, Premium Gins and a member of The Galway Whiskey Trail, their pedigree as a quality bar is unquestionable. Then you sit down to menu of simple yet tasty treats with something for everyone be you a tourist with a craving for bacon and cabbage to a Whiskey & food pairing platter for the foodies among us.
The Country Bar
Stepping outside of our urban area and back down the hedged roadways into the rural towns of Ireland we find the country bars, the local bars feeding the life-blood of the rural community.
Each country bar has its own flavour and character depending on where in the country you are, but still some things will always ring true no matter if its Mayo or Meath, Louth or Laois.
Consider the country bar as a concentrated observation of the local area. What a town is like echos in its local bar. Here the retired paddy-cap wearing Guinness drinker sits along side the 20 year old college and club footballer, chatting like friends with healthy amounts of abuse and geering.
As an outsider in these bars, don’t be under the illusion that your visit has gone unnoticed. It may not feel like a wild west saloon where everyone stops as you walk in the door, but its close.
Then follows the welcome and curiosity, questions, awkward and genuine may be asked and falling into conversations of politics, religion or anyone of those topics that should be banned from public houses will arise. But what ever you do don’t mention that Junior B Hurling Final from 1992.
The Guinness will flow and with perfect quality, and a perfect price, generally cheaper than city bars.
Music will come in the form of the Juke Box until the band arrives in and plays anything from the Field of Athenry to Fresh Prince of Belair while locals dance on the pool table and shout insults to their best friends.
Country Craziness in all its Glory! We love it!
Our Favourite Country Bar has to be simply named; ’The Pub’ in Mountrath Co. Laois, obviously theres no place like home for us but Every Irish person will have their own idea of perfection in this category.
The Old Man Bar
Aka The Stout Bar, Guinness Bar etc
Whatever you what to call it these bars are the only true traditional bars left.
It goes without saying these bars serve the best Guinness in the land. Smooth and fair too good for just one.
With furniture, decor and facilities that are decades old and worn from use the history and atmosphere is everywhere within the building.
No modern fads, maybe a radio playing, maybe a tv with the news on or simply nothing. No noise to interfere with the flow of conversation and the quiet contemplation between man and pint!
These bars a little piece of Irish heaven and should be cherished.
Hungry? No problem, a fine selection of Crisps (Cheese&Onion or Salt&Vinegar) or peanuts (DryRoasted or Salted) awaits you.
Although food may be in short supply, Conversations and opinions are not and any quiet, private conversations you wish to have should be had a home. Here it is a public matter and open to external analysis, weather you like it or not.
I could name my favourite Old Man Pub here but really, go explore and find them, theres a wonderful world of Irish bars out there. Each with their own character and style and out side of any category guideline I have here.
What’s your favourite??
I’m getting thirsty now…..Time for a pint!
Recently Craic & Cultúr travelled the short hop outside Galway City to Roundstone and Clifden on the West Coast of Connemara, as part of our research for
The Craic & Cultur – Wild Atlantic Way Guide.
Here is a little taster…….
Roundstone located a little over an hour’s drive North West of Galway City towards Clifden.
Now a word of caution for anyone that may not have driven on country roads of Ireland before, you may find our roadways small and bumpy, twisting and turning its way over hills and around headlands with speed limits that seem strangely high to any visitors.
The locals will know these roads well and will generally use the speed limit as a target rather than a limit.
The secret to anyone new to driving in this area is just take your time and be confident, don’t allow yourself to be stressed or panicked and enjoy the challenge.
As you travel through the picturesque villages of Moycullen and Oughterard and into the wilds of the heart of Connemara you will notice the change of landscape, from the lush green fields to rocky heather covered hills.
The majestic peaks of The Twelve Pins stand proud overlooking the small valley lakes that you drive along side.
A little insider tip for a quick stop and photo op – In the village of Recess, visit Conn the Protector of Connemara, his statue stands proud watching the visitors of Connemara as they drive by.
We continue in to the beautiful fishing village of Roundstone. Perched above the waters of the Atlantic looking down into its own small harbour, Roundstone is a picture postcard of an Irish fishing village. A line of small town houses facing the bay, dotted with small local bars, restaurants and cafes.
The close knit community of Roundstone is evident from the moment you step inside the door of any bar, shop or café, friendly and welcoming.
Right in the middle of the village with wonderful views across the bay is the Roundstone House Hotel locally known as Vaughans, it is here that we will be laying our heads tonight.
The Roundstone House Hotel is a small hotel, bar and restaurant owned and run by the Vaughan Family.
With the perfect balance of old Ireland family hospitality and charm combined with comfortable modern rooms and fantastic food.
Continuing along the coast, twisting and turning, passing the golden sands of Gurteen & Dogs Bay we arrive in the regional hub town of Clifden, sitting among the hills of Connemara with its pier touching the clear waters of the Atlantic.
With a selection of Bars, Hotels, Restaurants, Craft shops and everything an exploring traveller may need.
Heading towards the aptly named Sky Road we drive through the grand gates of Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.
The hotel stands on the hillside keeping watch over the bay with gardens and views to rival the most spectacular surroundings anywhere in Ireland.
Inside and out the Abbeyglen lives up to its Castle title, majestic with old world charm and the friendliness one would expect with real Irish Hospitality.
We are welcomed like returning family as is every guest.
VIP treatment here is the norm with Owners Paul and Brian Hughes hosting dinner and taking time to meet the needs of each guest with charisma and an evident passion for hospitality, and sharing their little slice of Irish heaven with the world.
For more on Roundstone, The Roundstone House Hotel and Things to see and do in the area visit www.roundstone-connemara.com
To experience the hospitality of Abbeyglen Castle Hotel visit www.abbeyglen.ie
And to read more about Connemara, Places to stay, Things to Do and enjoying an Authentic Irish Experience stay tuned for the release of
The Craic & Cultúr Guide to The Wild Atlantic Way (2017)
It’s the June Bank Holiday Weekend, and the Sun is "Splitting the Stones”
But on a Weekend like this, with the weather so fine and Galway city a buzz with life, what would be my perfect Galway day. Those little moments of perfection that bring the mind and body back to neutral before another crazy month.
So here it is My Perfect Galway Day
Plunge into Galway Bay
Where ever you are in the city, hop on a bus, get a taxi or take a stroll and get yourself to Blackrock in Salthill. Here take in the atmosphere, The sun worshipers lounging on the sand, the doggy paddle swimmers with their necks above water and the back flipping daredevils leaping off the divinnboards.
Maybe take a paddle yourself and immerse yourself, not only in the cool waters of the atlantic but in a local right of passage for teenagers and big kid adults alike.
Take the Prom to Town
From Blackrock, take a stroll along the famous Salthill Promenade, or “The Prom” as its called locally. Passing along the village of Salthill towards the City of Galway, grabbing an Ice cream cone and weaving your way through the smiles of dog walkers, the lycra wearing joggers, or simply the lazy dayers taking it all in. This route, a regular escape for the locals of Galway & Salthill, stretches along the bay.
From Salthill following the coast, the lapping waves are your constant companion and you make your way into the edges of the equally famous Claddagh, around South Park affectionally known as “the swamp” and onto the historical Nimmo’s Pier & Claddagh Quay. Stop and take it all in, Looking across at the picturesque Long Walk and Spanish Arch. With a few final steps you find yourself over the Corrib River stepping over Wolfe Tone Bridge and suddenly the relaxing, tranquility of the Prom and Claddagh changes to excitement as the Streets of Galway City layout infront of you.
With the City of Galway a buzz on a normal day, there is something extra special when the weather is good, and then the added bonus of the Bank Holiday, Well thats a recipe for an electric atmosphere. With Buskers playing instruments of all shapes and sizes with songs and voices to match, Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street, the main artery of the City has its own unique sound track. Time to Soak it up.
Head to Griffins Bakery on Shop St, Grab a coffee, treat yourself to alittle baked piece of loveliness, take advantage of the outside seating, then sit back, relax, watch the world go by and feel the hours drift away. It is now that you have stopped and are watching the lifeblood of Galway City pump around you that you really see the City. the craziness, the friendliness, the contradictions, the similarities, the alternative, the bohemian, the normal and the strange, all in one melting pot.
Jumping around the corner, turning onto Church Yard St. Under the shadow of St. Nicholas’ Church we find the buzz of Galway Market.
Here crafts people trade their creations. From knitwear to jewellery, paintings to woodcraft, artisan food to organic vegetables and fish mongers.
A stroll through the market is something to be savoured, and in my experience take more than one trip. Chat with the traders, hear the stories of what they’ve created. Take in the sounds, the smells and maybe even have a taste,Madras curry, Yummy Crepes, Japanese Sushi, and mouth watering handmade cookies.
if there was anywhere in the Galway that was an snapshot of its history, culture and diversity the Galway Market is it.
Exploring Local Shops
No Perfect Day in Galway is complete without stepping through the doorways of some of my favourite local retailers. Galway is a fantastic city for supporting it own local economy and I pride myself, like many other people in the city, in supporting and spending local. But these independent local stores have personality, character and history. Spending some time here you’re likely to leave with little less money but with a lot more than just the items you bought.
The moment you step inside the famous Charlie Byrnes Bookshop of The Cornstore brings a wave calmness and tranquility, surrounded by books, old and new, wealth of knowledge and culture with of course the few colourful characters always with a windward and a smile.
The Great Outdoors on Eglinton St for the active moments, looking a the new gear toys on the market, a playground for anyone with an adventurous soul. Chatting to the staff, exchanging stories of adventures gone by, plans yet to come and stories of the street from the 35year history of the Store.
These are just two of my Favourite Independent Local Retailers, maybe I’ll do another blog in the future about them all.
Time to fill the gap and grab a bite. But with hundreds to those from in Galway all of various styles and price ranges it’s hard to pick just one, Your spoilt for choice. But with the weather shining it’s close to the water I want to be so It’s down to O’Conaires on The Docks. If you’re lucky enough you’ll nab a window seat, looking across the harbour in early evening is magical the waving of sail masts and the squawking of seagulls as a masterly prepared meal is whipped up for you.
It is this standard of restaurant that makes Galway what it is for Culinary Creativity, Good Food, Good Wine, Good Service from the Bay into a Pan and onto your plate is something we take for granted in Galway and we are very lucky to think that.
Time for a Pint. It’s into O’Connell’s Beer Garden (the worst kept secret in Galway Bars) for a Cool Pint of Plain. Stepping in the front door into this old-world bar on a sunny day gives the misleading impression of quietness. Order the Pint and step out back for reality. O’Connell’s draws a crowd on a sunny weekend evening and has a relaxed atmosphere with a touch of devilment in the air. From a quiet pint reading a paper, to a chat with friends, as the pints flow so will the time until the music and night air become one. Surrounded by smiling faces, laughing, chatting and dancing.
From here the nights plans come together, where next, who’s playing where, whats on…….
But thats for a different Blog Post.
When I was growing up in a small town smack bang in the middle of Ireland, without even knowing it I was surround and immersed by a culture that people from around the world look at with intrigue, curiosity and mystery.
At a young age I never truly understood how special it was just being Irish, growing up within the Irish culture and almost taking it for granted. It was just the way it was.
From playing Traditional Irish Sport, being in a house surrounded by Irish Music ,sitting in school attempting to learn the Language and just the daily sub-conscience act of being Irish. It wasn’t anything we had to try to be, We just are. It is just part of us from that first breath.
I was lucky enough to travel a little as a teenager, not the romantic vision of worldwide wanderlust but more a chance to experience new cultures by simply stepping across the pond to our neighbours in the UK. Here I remember walking down Wembley High Street in London by myself, a fresh faced 15 year old from the bogs of Irelands Midlands, looking around and realising I was the only pale freckled face I could see. Here within that moment I had that swell of emotion, excitement of the new adventure and new culture I was experiencing but what stood out was the burning pride within this young 15 year old frame. I had learned of Irish history in school, the stories of Irishmen traveling around the world in search of a better life, adventure, wealth, knowledge or simply "for the craic”. Here I was with a heightened sense of nationality and pride of where I have come from. I was only a few hours away from my home town, but to me this was another world, even if this world had seen many an Irishman throughout the years but for me, at 15, I was an Irish Explorer.
National pride is something that is instilled within every Irish son and daughter. From our school history books, to the songs we sing at family occasions, to sporting events, every platform we gain a sense of history, culture and place within the world. Now it is probably true that we grow up with a very idealistic view of our roots, of the down trodden small little island that fought back to reclaim itself, spread its people (for both good and bad reasons) across the world and become one of the greatest international communities in the world.
We as a country and a culture have our demons, our dark secrets that we rather not think about. But we also have huge pride for our small little Atlantic home, warts and all. We know we are not perfect, but lets face it, as a people, Us Irish are pretty Close.
And as I get older, as I explore our own culture and what it means to be Irish, I see our historic culture, I see our stereotyped culture and I watch our new modern Irish culture. I explore, learn and study all of these in equal measure and I feel that same emotion as that young 15 year old boy from 15 years ago….
Pride, Passion, Excitement and a Desire…
A Desire to share The Country, The Counties, The Clans and The Culture that I love with the rest of the World.
Here it is folks,
The Bar Counter Blog,
Our unique insight into the views of Irish Culture.
So what will we be Blogging/Vlogging about I hear you ask?
We will be discussing Traveling in Ireland, Tips, Local Knowledge, Things to do.
As well as our famous Bar Culture, Beers, Whiskey, and Bars we Love.
Then some points on History, Music, Sport and General Irishness.
So I guess, what we will be covering is ......
So get involved, ask questions, share, comment and enjoy.
Looking forward to sharing our Ireland with you all.