This past June we made our fifth journey to the Emerald Isle in the past six years. In our opinion, there is no better way to connect with Irish people and other visitors than to stay in Ireland’s most fantastic bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Let us share with you some of the reasons we have become diehard B&B customers.

A warm and friendly greeting always awaits us when the front door opens. We have been treated to homemade jam and scones, a “cuppa” tea, homemade Irish brown bed, freshly baked apple pie, Irish coffee, and even Irish whiskey before even unpacking our bags! Our hosts and hostesses are always full of great information about local pubs, restaurants, back roads, special local sites to visit, and where to go to hear traditional Irish music.

Jim, Kate and Marilee:  Glenraha Farmhouse B&B, Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny.

Jim, Kate and Marilee: Glenraha Farmhouse B&B, Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny.

The conversation during breakfast is enchanting. The “Irish brogue” is charming to listen to and gives Kate a chance to break into her own “Irish brogue” picked up from her childhood living in North Albany, NY (referred to as Little Limerick). Mike often needs an interpreter once Kate breaks into the “Brogue.”

Kate with “Sidney” Yogurt:  Ashgrove House B&B, Bunratty, Co. Clare.

Kate with “Sidney” Yogurt: Ashgrove House B&B, Bunratty, Co. Clare.

Our hosts and hostesses have always loved to talk about Irish and American politics, sports (especially football and hurling), the economy at home and abroad, and of course, the weather. They even seem to know what time of day it will rain!

Did we mention breakfast? Every B&B we have stayed in takes great pride in offering a “Full Irish Breakfast” to each and every guest. Don’t be shy about asking for a modified version, especially if you have already spent a few nights in B&Bs. There is always a continental breakfast available as an option.

Meeting and sharing stories with tourists from other countries is a highlight of the B&B experience. We have had wonderful conversations with tourists from Scotland, Wales, England, Germany, France, Brazil, Australia, and yes, even the US. We always enjoy sharing perspectives about worldly issues with visitors from all over the globe.

Denise, Kate & Brid Sharing Family Genealogy:  Glenraha Farmhouse B&B, Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny.

Denise, Kate & Brid Sharing Family Genealogy: Glenraha Farmhouse B&B, Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny.

B&B hosts and hostesses are known for their personal touches. We have been sung to on more than one occasion, had beautiful prose passages read to us, Irish music played to us on flutes and other instruments, and served a dish of yogurt topped with strawberries and blueberries made to look like the host’s little terrier dog Sidney!

Hosts Richie & Margaret:  Novara House B&B, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Hosts Richie & Margaret: Novara House B&B, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

We have been “chasing” our Irish ancestors for years and are avid genealogists. Most importantly, our host and hostesses have helped us make connections. They have called local churches and town offices to make appointments for us, sent us down one-lane roads to find out of the way cemeteries, and even connected us by phone with long lost cousins. In fact, we have shared genealogy information with four different sets of long lost relatives. These connections would not have happened unless we were staying in B&Bs.

We personally book our own B&Bs by emailing each B&B directly. That way we can ask questions and exchange information (e.g. genealogy, sites of interest) before our visit. Oh, and by the way, did we mention that parking is always free at B&Bs.

Patio and Gardens:  Slidala B&B, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.

Patio and Gardens: Slidala B&B, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.

Our Irish experience has been made so much richer by staying in B&Bs. We have become friends with many of our hosts and hostesses and have returned to stay with them again. Booking B&Bs may not be as easy as booking hotels, but hopefully we have convinced you to go the B&B route when you plan your first or next trip to Ireland. You won’t regret it.

* Kate and Mike Lancor live in Moultonborough, NH and enjoy “chasing” their own ancestors as well as helping others “chase” theirs. They can be reached by emailing oldfriendsgenealogy@gmail.com or on their Oldfriends Genealogy Facebook page.

Mike & Kate (left) with hosts Luke and Ann at Dawn B&B, Kilmeaden, County Waterford.