5 Tips to find the authentic Myth & Magic of Ireland

There is this magical feeling to Ireland that all visitors should experience. The combination of Ireland’s beautiful scenery, powerful history and legends, and the intriguing culture and fascinating people, draws visitors from all over the world.

Picture yourself strolling along secret beaches, visiting ancient castles and forts, exploring tranquil villages and watching the wild Atlantic Ocean from spectacular cliffs. Enjoy the warm welcome of the Irish people, listen to their stories, soak up traditional music and enjoy a taste of quality food and drink. Sounds like the Ireland you’ve always imagined? Here are some tips to help you find the authentic myth & magic of Ireland.

Follow these 5 tips to plan an Irish journey of discovery that will bring moments of magic, moments to treasure and experiences you want to return to again and again!

1. Travel off the beaten path

Our first recommendation is to explore beyond the main routes, explore Ireland off the beaten path. Every color of green that possibly sits on an artist’s palette inspires Ireland’s other name – the Emerald isle. You’ll find yourself on winding lanes with grass growing in the middle, and too narrow for cars to pass. Colourful wildflowers growing along the roadsides, encourage photo stops. Wandering sheep in search of green clover create the only traffic jams.

The countryside is dotted with ring forts, standing stones and other mysterious remains from an ancient Ireland ruled by celts and kings. The lush, rolling hills are criss-crossed by old stone walls that harken back to centuries of country life. You might even see a farmer cutting turf from the bog.

Travel on along meandering coastal roads with hidden coves, rock cliffs and golden beaches. And when you stop for lunch in one of the picturesque villages, you will surely meet friendly locals looking for a chat. A great conversation starter: ask for directions!

2. Explore the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way coastal road stretches along Ireland’s western and south-western seaboard. This spectacular drive will take you along routes that ring great peninsulas and tiny tracks that reach out into the ocean.

You’ll want to stop often to watch the huge Atlantic waves crash, to walk along beautiful beaches, visit ancient sites or take in the views whilst standing high above the ocean on cliffs that are amongst some of the highest in Europe. The magnificent seascapes will take your breath away.

Explore small settlements and quaint towns along the route and experience the warmth of the local people. In the west coast’s remote regions you’re most likely to hear the Irish Gaelic language. “Fáilte romhat isteach” tells you that you’re most welcome here. It is in these Gaeltacht areas that traditional language, customs, crafts and folklore are very much alive today.

3. Experience local

Although Ireland’s bigger cities like Cork, Galway and Dublin have a lot to offer, it can get quite busy and touristic. Our advice, stay in smaller towns and villages on at least a couple of nights during your Ireland trip. A local B&B or small boutique hotel and pub grub in the evening, are meaningful alternatives for chain hotels and expensive restaurants. It is the best way to experience the warm welcome of the Irish people.

After your daily travels, the next adventure awaits. Check in to a traditional pub, enjoy fresh seafood and authentic dishes, and a pint of Guinness. Discover that the Celtic heritage is still alive today by listening to the Irish language, songs and stories. You might even be treated to a traditional Irish music session that we like to refer to as “Trad”. A late afternoon conversation that starts with “Where are you from?” often ends late at night.

As Irish poet and wise man William Butler Yeats once said, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet”. William was right.

4. Take it easy

When you’re planning your trip to Ireland, you probably have a long bucket list. You’ve done your research, and there’s an overload of ideas from family and friends who have travelled here before. If you truly wish to experience the myth and magic of Ireland, then avoid packing everything into one trip.

Make sure to build in time to enjoy the unexpected, the hidden treasures that lie off the beaten track. Don’t rush, take a step back, and take your foot off the accelerator. Rush hour in Ireland simply means waiting for sheep or cattle to cross the road.  

Take time to see that rainbow, watch the border collie herd sheep, and hear the waves crashing onto the cliffs. Enjoy all the breath-taking moments that cross your path. It’s the unexpected moments that will make your Irish vacation unforgettable. You can always come back again!

5. Hire a private driver

Last but not least, hiring a private driver will ensure that you will experience the very best of Ireland. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the incredible scenery, history and culture Ireland has to offer. You’ll be treated to the most scenic drives, historic wonders, inspirational places (pubs and other 😉 )and hidden gems off the beaten track.

A private driver can navigate the backroads and knows the best places to go to avoid the tourists and the buses. You can customize your adventure and travel at your own pace rather than following the itinerary of a large group. It’s a fun way to find the Ireland you’ve always imagined!

Celts, Kings and Wise Men have left their marks, now it is your turn. Contact us now to find out more about a tailormade bespoke tour of Ireland. The Myth & Magic of Ireland starts here!

About Kerry Experience Tours

For a truly local experience in one of the most charming and warm cultures in the world, Kerry Experience Tours will show visitors the most magical parts of Ireland. On offer are private day tours and multiday tours, tailored to suit your wishes. Enjoy the most scenic drives, spectacular land and seascapes, historic wonders, inspirational places, and hidden gems off the beaten path, completed with background information and stories.

The Emerald Isle is enjoyed best in the hands of experienced tour guides, who will personalize every trip to what guests want to see. Kerry Experience Tours is run by Gerrit & Ester, who made their dreams come true by moving to this beautiful, enchanting country. Since 2007 they run the touring company together, sharing their passion for Ireland with others. Their aim is for you to enjoy the absolute best Ireland has to offer, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Join Kerry Experience Tours and find the Ireland you’ve always imagined.

5 Reasons to travel to Ireland

The Isle of Ireland, made up of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. Visitors have flocked to Ireland for centuries to experience this enchanting, mythical and magical country.

Anyone who has been there will say that the famous Irish warm welcome is the real deal. They will tell you that the Emerald Isle is fantastic for scenic road trips. Captivating photos and vivid memories take you on a mesmerising journey of green hills, rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches, castles, lighthouses and charming villages.  Stories are shared about the fresh local seafood, music and dancing, and the friendly people in the local pubs. Surely, you will be told a couple of times that Guinness really does taste better in Ireland. Well, that is something you must find out for yourself!

Here’s a list of 5 reasons why you should make that trip to Ireland happen.

1. NATURAL BEAUTY

The 1st of 5 reasons to travel to Ireland …. natural beauty. Ireland’s scenery is beyond compare, beautiful and untouched. The majestic and dramatic land and seascapes will draw you in and inspire you to discover more. The Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Giant’s Causeway, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Mizen Head, Connemara, the list of postcard-pretty places is endless. 

One of the most visited natural wonders are the iconic Cliffs of Moher, stretching for 5 miles and reaching 702 feet at their highest point. The cliffs have been featured in many movies including Harry Potter and Leap Year. The cliff walk trail from the village of Doolin to the Cliffs comes highly recommended and offers magnificent views out over the ocean. Nearby you can explore The Burren National Park, a wonderland of karstic limestone, one of Ireland’s most unusual geological landscapes. The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren form a UNESCO Global Geopark.

Some of the wildest, most beautiful places are found along Ireland’s windswept Wild Atlantic Way. This captivating drive stretches over 1,500 miles along Ireland’s west coast and is filled with unforgettable scenery, spectacular cliffs, beautiful beaches, hidden bays and picturesque towns. Don’t miss our upcoming blog posts for tips on the best places to visit along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Wherever the road takes you in Ireland, you will be surrounded by magnificent natural beauty. You will love it, and your camera will love it!

2. HISTORY & HERITAGE

Ireland is just packed with history. Celts, Kings and Wise Men left their marks in the landscape and culture. Fascinating historical and archaeology gems are found all over the island.

An important part of Irish history that continues to intrigue us is the mysterious world of the Celts. From about 700BC Celtic tribes started to mix, mingle and fight in Ireland. There were more than 300 clans in Ireland, each with their own King, ruled by a single High King at the famous Hill of Tara. Since Celtic times, the Irish countryside is dotted with ring forts, wedge tombs and standing stones.

When the Romans conquered much of Europe, they left Ireland untouched as it was too far and too cold. Ireland remained a land of Celts and Kings. As a result, the Celtic heritage is still alive today, from language and legends to music and dance. Christianity came to Ireland in 432AD when St. Patrick started to convert the sun-worshipping Celts. Monks flocked to Ireland to continue his work. In the late 900s there was a short Gaelic revival when the last High King of Ireland Brian Boru controlled the entire island. When his kingdom fell apart, the Vikings, Normans, and English dominated the area in subsequent centuries.

Travellers to Ireland are spoiled for choice when it comes to visiting ancient sites. It’s a journey through 5,000 years of history! One of the highlights is the passage tomb at Newgrange which dates back to 3200 BC and is older than the pyramids in Egypt. Every year on winter solstice a beam of sunlight travels up the passage illuminating the inner chamber. Another great example of Irish history is the iconic Rock of Cashel. High up on a limestone rock you’ll find an impressive group of medieval buildings and Celtic art. It is here that St. Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity – when he accidentally stabbed the king in the foot with his staff. Luckily for St. Patrick, the king thought that this was all part of the painful process of becoming a Christian.

Other must-see historical gems are the many prehistoric ringforts and stone circles you will find along the Wild Atlantic Way, the remote Skellig Michael monastic settlement (featured in StarWars), megalithic dolmens, medieval churches, and the many castles. With over 3,000 castles in Ireland you don’t have to look far to find one. Whether you’re seeking mystery, drama, storybook romance, or perhaps a good ghost story, Ireland offers something for everyone. Keep an eye on our upcoming blog posts if you wish to read more about the best Irish Castles!

3. THE CRAIC

The “craic,” a commonly used term in Ireland, tends to confuse visitors to the country. It basically refers to having great fun – Irish style! Many a conversation starts with “What’s the craic?” (meaning “How are you?” or “What’s happening?”). The Irish are known for their famous ability to find craic (good fun) in every situation.

The craic is mighty everywhere with the Irish pub culture topping the list.  Irish music is an inherent part of Irish culture that brings people together, and comes to life in Irish pubs’ live music sessions. For many, the craic is enjoying a pint, a lively conversation with friends old and new, and good music. There’s no better place for that than an Irish pub or festival!

Ireland hosts many festivals and events each year where good craic is guaranteed. The most famous are the St. Patrick’s Day festivals that take place all around the island. Other festivals focus on the arts, music, food, literature, storytelling and so on. We’ll share more about the best Irish festivals in our upcoming blogs.

The Irish people truly make Ireland special. No craic without the Irish! It is the friendliness and humour of the Irish, their love for music, dance, entertainment and witty conversations, and the pride of the Irish culture and heritage. Ireland is a small island with a big heart.

On your next trip to Ireland make sure to walk into a local pub during a traditional music session and ask the person beside you “What’s the craic”. You might be in for one of the best nights of your visit to Ireland! Come over and find out what the craic is all about!

4. FOOD & DRINK

If you are a fan of delicious food, locally brewed beers and fine whiskeys, you will be in for a treat.

Breweries and distilleries dot the island. The most renowned, without a doubt, is the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Guinness is Ireland’s – and probably the world’s – most famous beer, and no trip to Ireland is complete without tasting a pint of the black stuff. Have we mentioned yet that Guinness really does taste better in Ireland?!  You will also want to visit a whiskey distillery, and we have plenty. Among the most popular are the Jameson Distillery in Middleton and the Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland. Over the last decade many smaller breweries and distilleries have opened their doors. Personal favourites are the award-winning Dingle Distillery in Dingle Town, and the newly opened Tom Crean Brewery in Kenmare.

During your time in Ireland you will be able to enjoy delicious local food. Start your day with a hearty traditional Full Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, black and white pudding and toast. This probably will keep you energized until dinner time. Whether you’re going to a restaurant or out for pub grub, choose a spot popular with locals. Dig your teeth into beef & Guinness stew, Irish soda bread, bacon & cabbage, and some of the freshest seafood in the world. Scallops, Wild Atlantic salmon, crab meat, lobster, grilled sole, oysters…need we say more?

Looking for a different dining experience filled with good food, drink and entertainment? Step back in time for medieval magic at Dunguaire Castle or Bunratty Castle. Banquets are filled with meade, great food, historic surroundings and a whole lot of music and stories.

Other ways to experience the great tastes of Ireland are by visiting a market or a food festival. Two famous markets are Cork’s English Market and St. George’s Market in Belfast. Both, set in beautiful 18th and 19th century surroundings, offer a fabulous range of Irish treats.  There’s hardly a week that goes by without a food festival being held somewhere on the island. Put the annual Dingle Food Festival held the first weekend of October on your list. Here, you will enjoy market stalls, wine tasting, cookery shows, and a food trail that offers over 70 different local taste experiences.

5. FIND YOUR IRISH ROOTS

The last – but not least – of our top 5 reasons to travel to Ireland is to find your Irish roots! The Irish have emigrated all over the globe. Around 80 million people worldwide claim to have Irish roots. If you are from the USA, Canada or Australia, chances are that at least one of your ancestors came from the Emerald Isle.  No wonder that so many people come to Ireland for an adventure into their past.

Tracing your Irish roots can be fun and exciting. The Irish were survivors, bound with strength and optimism. They moved to a distant country to build a new life. What made them leave? Where did their journey start? Tracing your family history can be time-consuming but rewarding. Connecting with the land of your ancestors can bring a deep sense of belonging. A journey into this past will create everlasting memories for your entire family.

The key to your search is identifying the town or village where your ancestors originated. Ultimately, you’ll want to make the journey to the homeland. Coming to Ireland will add a whole new dimension to your genealogy experience that will stay with you forever. Visit the very place where your ancestors lived in the early years of their lives. Explore the land they loved so much, but had to leave behind. Talk to the people who still live there and listen to their stories. You might even connect with members of your extended family.

Kerry Experience Tours have teamed with USA-based genealogist and avid traveller Melanie Nelson. She will author a guest blog about genealogy research in Ireland, sharing her own experiences tracing her Irish roots. Keep an eye on her posts that will include lots of useful information and tips!

Make that trip to Ireland happen!

These are only 5 reasons to travel to Ireland, but there are so many more! Ireland offers a unique adventure that will make lifetime memories for you and your family. In our upcoming blog posts we’ll highlight more reasons to visit this magical island – as if you would need any more excuses, right?

Discover the Myth and Magic of Ireland with Kerry Experience Tours. Get in touch now for more information or to get a quote!

About Kerry Experience Tours

For a truly local experience in one of the most charming and warm cultures in the world, Kerry Experience Tours will show visitors the most magical parts of Ireland. On offer are private day tours and multiday tours, tailored to suit your wishes. Enjoy the most scenic drives, spectacular land and seascapes, historic wonders, inspirational places, and hidden gems off the beaten path, completed with background information and stories.

The Emerald Isle is enjoyed best in the hands of experienced tour guides, who will personalize every trip to what guests want to see. Kerry Experience Tours is run by Gerrit & Ester, who made their dreams come true by moving to this beautiful, enchanting country. Since 2007 they run the touring company together, sharing their passion for Ireland with others. Their aim is for you to enjoy the absolute best Ireland has to offer, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Join Kerry Experience Tours and find the Ireland you’ve always imagined.