Top of the mornin’ to ya! Sorry – I just couldn’t resist! I adore an Irish brogue but if you listened to this native New Yorker try one out on my Travel Tuesday video chat with a representative from Ireland – you know that this is one accent I definitely need to work on!
Anywho – for this chat I welcomed my eyes and ears on the ground - straight from Ireland - Cairin O'Connor from Ireland Less Traveled and a National Tour Guide as well! Cairin grew up in Dublin and studied at 400-year-old Trinity College Dublin. She then travelled the country extensively for 15 years marketing those yummy Irish cheeses before eventually setting up her business – Ireland Less Traveled. After organizing tours for a number of years, two years ago she trained to become a licensed tour guide and also studied genealogy. And all of this makes Cairin a wonderful partner to help me curate your Ireland adventure.
Now, let’s take a peek at what that adventure could include, shall we?
Background and History: Cead Mile Failte means A Hundred Thousand Welcomes and Cairin promised you would be assured of that when you visit this friendly country! Ireland is actually an island off the Atlantic Ocean and a small one at that. It is not much more than 30 miles long, about 200 miles wide and that makes it 36,000 square miles – which for perspective is similar in size to the state of Indiana. Their population is 6.5 million people and 1.5 million of those reside in the northern part of the island. There are a total of 32 counties throughout Ireland with six of them also situated in the northern part of the island.
Cairin cautioned that many people think you can see Ireland in four or five days but since a lot of the great scenery and the “must see” places to visit are along the west coast this is not very likely. Why? Traveling the coast is primarily on one to two lane roads and highways so for that reason you will need more time than most think.
Ireland’s history dates back 10,000 years with Waterford claiming the title of its oldest city. It was founded in 910 AD when Vikings invaded and is home to that famous Waterford crystal we all bring out for special occasions.
One interesting fact that Cairin pointed out was that the population in Ireland was eight million at one time. But during the famine over one million residents left and went to seek work in the United States (and Canada). The result? There are now over 40 million Irish Americans and many who come back to see where their relatives came from. It is a great place to visit if you are into genealogy – and if you let Cairin and I know exactly where they came from in Ireland, we can get you there and it’s guaranteed you’ll feel a connection with the area. Thanks to the fact it’s a small country we can certainly fit this into any itinerary. She did note that the records aren’t that great before 1850 but still there is enough there and you’d be surprised how much you can find out!
As for some cities you may be familiar with – there’s Dublin – which is the capital of Ireland, Belfast – which is the second largest city in the country, Cork, Galway and Limerick. And Cairin was also sure to note that their Gaelic language – which is their own Irish language that everyone is taught in school - has shaped who they are including their history, culture, writers, music, food and drink. All of that - combined with being an island nation - makes them very proud of Ireland and its uniqueness.
Getting Around: Driving the world’s longest defined coastal touring route – the 1600-mile Wild Atlantic Way is the best way to see and visit some of Ireland’s most dramatic sites - from wild beaches and jagged cliffs to lively cities and colorful towns. The route traces Ireland’s rugged West Coast from Cork in the south to Donegal in the north. Along the way you will find there are numerous beautiful pitstops to make.
Start your adventure in the south and cross the foot bridge at Mizen Head in County Cork for views of Fastnet Rock and its spectacular lighthouse – which was the last site of Ireland for emigrants sailing to America.
Moving up the coast - Star Wars fans may recognize Skellig Michael which recently appeared as Luke Skywalker‘s hideaway. It’s also home to a unique colony of puffins!
You’ll then head to the Dingle Peninsula for traditional Irish music and “the craic” – otherwise known as good old-fashioned Irish fun! Loop Head is a perfect spot to get out for a stroll with a great hiking trail between its tip and the village of Kilkee. Continuing on you’ll come across the dramatic Cliffs of Moher rising 214 meters from the sea and take in this incredible view.
Next - for the feeling of being at the edge of the world and the traditional way of life catch a ferry or fly to the isolated Aran Islands.
Once back on the mainland make a stop in lively Galway for sea-fresh oysters and a warm Irish welcome! Make sure to stop in the pretty town of Westport in County Mayo on your way to the peak of Benbulben - which was immortalized in the poetry of W.B Yeats.
You will ultimately reach your journeys end at Malin Head - famous for its history and folklore. It is the country’s northern most point and one of the final landmarks on the Wild Atlantic Way.
As you can see - Ireland’s coastline is packed with breathtaking landscapes, cultural hotspots and of course classic Irish charm so it’s always worth taking the scenic route!
Destinations aka Counties: Ok now that we laid out some of the highlights to check out – lets take a look at the counties individually!
Aside from the plentiful food options Cork is also home to the two hundred plus year old Jameson Distillery which is located in the eastern part of the town and an extremely popular place to visit. Gee – I wonder why?
Cairin’s Favorite Places: Cairin didn’t want to leave our chat until she let us in on some of her favorite places to see and we are so incredibly grateful to her for doing so!
Accommodations: Ireland is home to a lot of boutique hotels which are owned by local hosts who are willing to be your guide and tell you their secrets. And they are genuinely interested in meeting and talking to you too.
Miscellaneous: So Cairin was also kind enough to give us some time frames to keep your travel to Ireland in perspective. If you want to see both the North and the South regions of Ireland as well as the entire Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin – you need at least ten days. If you are ok with only seeing some of the Wild Atlantic Way and want to see Dublin too – you can do that in about seven or eight days. Side Note: If you want to leave Dublin entirely out, you can substitute something else in its place – perhaps a boat trip to Skellig Michael or the Aaron Islands.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing travel the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Ireland.
For the CDC’s most up to date information on COVID-19 in Ireland click here. And for the most up to date entry requirements for Ireland click here.
And that me lasses and lassies completes our tour of Ireland. And remember – with Cairin as my contact together we can curate an itinerary based on what YOU want to see and make it an amazing trip that you will never forget. And Cairin reminded us that they have a fabulous tourism board in Ireland that is gearing up for 2021 travel so contact me to get your itinerary started today!
For more details on things to see and do in Ireland, where to stay, it’s price points and more - contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!
During the shutdown of Covid19, Loulu Lima began interviewing many tourism boards, destination management companies and suppliers whom BHGH works with in the curation of your itineraries.
Here you will find the videos as well as written summary of each. Summaries are transcribed by Carole A. Peck.
Video post production managed by MotionDash.Media
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