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2020 – No Holiday in Ireland this year but staying positive.
In just a moment I offer five great great reasons to holiday in Ireland in 2021. Obviously it has been quiet year here in Ireland in 2020. There are no music festivals or sporting occasions, no international tourists, very limited options for going abroad. For those of us who love to travel and/or work in tourism, it has given us the opportunity to reflect on the nature of travel and tourism.
I am someone who both loves to travel and who works in tourism. While restrictions have been eased there was a long period of time when we couldn’t travel more then 2km from our home and even now international travel is severely limited and curtailed.
Fortunately, I am naturally an optimistic person. I saw the the quarantine period as an opportunity to learn, develop and grow. Prior to quarantine, my life had become pretty hectic. As a musician I was often out playing music in the bars and combining that with working as a teacher. I was also doing a lot of running and taking time for my daughter and girlfriend. My life was an enjoyable swirl of activity. And that was before the tourist season started !
And now, as we come towards the end of restrictions and move towards a more normal life, I am feeling positive. I have been appreciating the job of Travel Director more in its absence. The opportunity to bring people on a holiday in Ireland is a real privilege. It is exhilarating to see people experiencing, appreciating and responding to new places and experiences.
When on a holiday in Ireland the connection those with Irish ancestry feel to Ireland is so special. It is a visceral, heartfelt attachment kept alive by music, song, story and travel between Ireland and America. Most of the Irish emigration to America happened between 1850 and 1920. That is really not so long ago at all.
The Irish ways have been maintained in America and in this new global culture Irish music and culture is now an international phenomenon. If you have Irish ancestry, a trip to Ireland is special but even if you don’t have Irish ancestry, we have a lot to offer.
Top Five Reasons to Holiday in Ireland in 2021
Here are the top five reasons I can recommend a holiday in Ireland in 2021. I work as a Travel Director with Trafalgar Tours who provide a great range of options for a a holiday in Ireland. For all the best deals in 2021 visit Trafalgar US Homepage
1) The Natural Beauty of the West Coast:
The Wild Atlantic Way has really caught everyone’s imagination in the last few years. It is a 1600 mile stretch of road that starts close to my home here in Kinsale, West Cork and ambulates around many twisty, sea spattered roads as it winds and wends its way up the West Coast to Donegal and the Innishowen Peninsula. While it wouldn’t be feasible to navigate the whole thing in a tour bus, with Trafalgar Tours we generally include some of the highlights of it such as The Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, the Innishowen Peninsula and the Mullaghmore peninsula.
I love the West Coast. The wild, unpredictable weather, spectacular lighting and dramatic seascape lend an energetic vitality that is invigorating and refreshing. The towns along the way are hospitable and often full of the very best of traditional Irish music. There is something mesmeric about the ambulating roads that traverse the coastline. They afford spectacular views and the ever changing light and weather patterns engage all the senses.
2) Traditional Irish Music and Culture:
Ireland is full of musicians and these days all types of music are practiced and enjoyed throughout the country. Indeed, many of the greatest rock bands such as U2, the Cranberries, Thin Lizzy and many more hail from Ireland but, for me, it is the reservoir of traditional Irish music that makes the Irish music scene unique and special. Making sure you catch some good quality Irish music is a must on a holiday in Ireland.
Even in the modern era, Irish music has gone from strength to strength and there are more young traditional Irish musicians now then ever before. During the summer months there is a lively festival circuit devoted to traditional Irish music. The largest of these is the Fleadh Ceol which changes location every year but many other small towns hold traditional music festivals annually also.
For a full list of al types of Irish music festivals happening here ( and elsewhere) in check out here.
Irish music is especially close to my heart and I have devoted a lot of time to learning, playing and enjoying traditional Irish music over the years. For me, there is little to compare with a good organic traditional music session in a local pub. With Trafalgar Tours, on your holiday in Ireland, we always offer the opportunity to enjoy top quality concerts and more informal pub sessions also. Here is me, joining local musicians at Kate Kearney’s in Killarney during a Trafalgar Tour last year.
3) Great food.
Historically, Ireland has not had a strong food culture. But that has changed dramatically in recent years. With increasing prosperity, plenty of fresh local ingredients and a great mix of local and international talent and perspective, Ireland provides a diverse range of top quality dining experiences.
Being an island, we have a particular advantage when it comes to seafood but we also have a strong local farming culture underpinned by a vibrant, local, small scale agricultural economy that provides top quality ingredients for the local and export market. While Ireland has always been famous for its premium butter, dairy and beef industries, we are seeing more and more farmers experiment with organic food production also. Our niche is good quality food produced as naturally as possible.
Historically, we are a pastoral people living with herds of cattle and until the medieval period most of our food stuffs derived from milk. This would have been supplemented with oats, barley, root vegetables, leafy vegetables and meat. In coastal areas seafood would have been a huge part of the diet and seaweed was also part of the diet there.
The best Irish cuisine draws on fresh, local ingredients and experimentation with local possibilities, inspired by European sensibilities. Whereever you go on your holiday in Ireland, you will find good food in the pubs and restaurants.
4) Great Hospitality on your holiday in Ireland.
Ireland is famous for providing great hospitality. Hospitality is deep in the culture. As a community, we went through hard times and always tried to look out for each other. The community spirit is strong and vibrant and it is from this that we draw our tradition of hospitality. The Irish way of saying you are welcome is “Ta failte romhat” which literally translates as “there is happiness before you”. Or do put it another way – “When you step into my home, you step into my happiness”. It is a nice thought. Our culture of welcome and hospitality is the reason our pubs are the best in the world and our hotels and restaurants also maintain this welcoming, hospitable tradition.
5) Our drink !
Ireland is most famous for its stout (Guinness) and whiskeys but we have also taken to craft beer with enthusiasm and inventiveness also. I’ll get to those in a moment but lets consider Guinness first. The Guinness brewery was contracted on a 9,000 year lease in 1759 by the young business man Arthur Guinness and is still there to this day with the wonderful Guinness Storehouse now there to celebrate its lineage and history. Guinness is a dark brown beer known as porter made from malted barley and roasted unmalted barley. Parts of the brewing process are a well kept secret that no doubt drives intrigue and many pub conversations !
But there are other stouts too. For example in Cork, where I live, we have two types of local stout; Beamish and Murphy’s, that we regard as being superior to Guinness. I believe that Guinness is best when close to the brewery which is why I’ll drink Guinness in Dublin and Beamish in Cork. It also explains why the Guinness is invariably superior in Ireland and you will no doubt include a pint of it on your holiday in Ireland.
Of course, we are now in a golden age for craft beers and Ireland has got some fantastic local beers and ales now. Here are a few of my favourites. O Hara’a IPA , Kinsale session, Rascal’s chocolate stout are among my favourites. I will be adding a blog post on our wonderful craft beers shortly.
So there you have it folks. Five great reasons to visit the Emerald isle. Next year promises to be a very special year and I hope you join us here on your holiday in Ireland. I can’t wait to get back on a tour bus again shortly and share the beauty of the country and the rich culture with people again.
Alan is a Travel Director with Trafalgar Tours based in Ireland.
For all the best Trafalgar deals in 2021 visit Trafalgar US Homepage