Ireland's Hidden Gemsby Susan Byron
- Barron's Bakery, a family-run, Waterford staple baking the best bread in Ireland for over 125 years
- Step into a storybook garden with a fairytale castle at Lismore Castle and Gardens Arts Centre in County Waterford
- Colorado native has a eureka moment - sets up "Full Irish Whisky Tour of Ireland"
- Ireland's top ten tourist attractions in 2013 - Where to go and what to see in Ireland
- "Where to Eat, Sleep & Play in Ireland in 2013" during The Gathering
News of President Obama's forthcoming visit in May has been greeted with great joy and anticipation by the people of Ireland. We have always had a reputation for hospitality and a particular fondness for some American presidents ie JFK and Bill Clinton, but this is going to be a party to end all parties. It's already put a pep in the step of our newly formed government and Enda is right it's a great opportunity for us to showcase Ireland to the world and reclaim our national pride.
No doubt it will be a whirlwind tour but like I am always advising tourists, less is more! You really dont need to cover the whole of Ireland in a week, honestly I have lived here all my life and have only scratched the surface! You can see and more importantly experience the real Ireland much more if you limit yourself a little bit. With this in mind I have put together the following Top 10 for himself which you can easily follow yourself, without any pressure....
1 Dublin will probably be his first port of call and like most other tourists he will be advised to do the open- topped City Bus Tour? Only in his case there will be 1000’s of people lining the streets to welcome him. Enda wasn’t kidding when he said that the people of Ireland would give him a rapturous welcome. People are still talking about JFK’s visit in 1963 and the Clintons in 2005 so we’ll expect him to follow suit and address the nation from College Green.
There are now 100's of St Patricks Day parades throughout Ireland and many of the smaller more local ones are just as much fun as the big one in Dublin. So dont feel disappointed if you cant make it up there on the day, even though it is the longest running and best (I am a Dubliner). What started out as a military parade with marching bands which then got regulated to Easter Sunday(to commerate the 1916 rising)eventually dying out in favour of the much larger St Patrick Day Parade that it is today.
Which has just grown and grown with the participation of groups of visiting marching, dancing and pipe bands from all over the world including brave barelegged cheerleaders from the USA and our own little Irish dancing girls, scouts and guides, all decked out in their uniforms, often blue with the cold....
There are 100’s of holy wells all over of Ireland, sacred places since long before they were credited with the Christian saints names they bear today and are well worth a pause and a prayer if you are lucky enough to come across one of them. ‘Tobar’ is the Irish word for well, so anywhere with a name that ends in ‘tubber’ as in Baile an Tobair (the town of the well) or Ballintubber is bound to have one, most likely close to the church (where Pierce Brosnan got married) or graveyard.
Others, you will spot these easily enough by the roadside, as they are often adorned with statues, colourful (plastic)flowers and dozens of rosary beads. But many more you will have to ask about locally to get directions and possibly hike over some muddy fields and ditches to get to them. Which will be well worth the trouble (call it penance) as nearly all these wells are in stunning locations (the celts, monks, saints knew how to pick them) high up in the mountains, isolated onislands, or in wild and remote places such as the Burren (forty holy wells) which lend themselves to peaceful prayer or contemplation at least. Many are named after St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland or St Brigid, originally a pagan goddess, or a local saint such as St Colman in Clare and are credited with being a cure for most ailments the most popular being ‘eyes’ and ‘teeth’.
Whether that was because of the lack of dentists or the expense of spectacles at the time who knows but these places are still being visited today probably even more so? Perhaps as a cure for depression in these recessionary times or world weary travellers seeking solace in nature where the water (a symbol of new life in many cultures) gushes forth from the earth. People often leave small, if odd? tokens like chocolate wrappers, coins or pieces of cloth tied to the branches of overhanging trees. Which makes you wonder about the lives of the people who have visited over the years, hopefully their prayers were answered and their ailments cured.