IrishCentral readers had the chance to send in their #IrelandStory as part of an exciting competition with Tourism Ireland in 2022.

Some of these entries included beautiful memories of Christmas in Ireland and we thought they were too lovely not to share! 

Reading these heartwarming stories had the team here at IrishCentral reminiscing about our own memories.

Kate said: “Belfast at Christmas just sparkles with magic!

“It's become part of our Christmas tradition to take the train up from Dublin (two hours) at the start of the festive season to get us all in the mood to party.

"The Belfast Christmas Market brings the best of crafts and special Irish gifts as well as delicious food stalls below the lights of Donegal Square.

"Christmas tunes fill the air along with the scent of mulled wine and sweet treats. It never fails to bring a grin to our faces.

“If it's Christmas shopping you're after there's no place better than Belfast and we just love exploring the shopping mall, Victoria Square. There's nothing you won't find and the atmosphere over the holidays is electric. No winter trip to Belfast would be complete without a good meal and the Mourne Seafood Bar and Home Restaurant have become two of our favorites. Always a pleasure returning to Belfast's winter wonderland.”

Catherine says that Christmas in her hometown of Dingle, Co Kerry is a spectacle like no other: “The ancient Irish tradition of Wren’s Day on December 26 is still celebrated in my town.

"The streets are filled with locals either dressed in brightly colored costumes or wearing the traditional straw suits that are crafted in pubs like O’Flatherty’s.

"While a fife and drum band play a series of tunes as they parade around the town. It’s a festivity like no other and needs to be seen to be believed!”

Here are IrishCentral readers' special Irish Christmas stories:

“Over the Christmas holidays, I flew to Ireland to visit a friend in Dublin. It was a wonderful experience. In fine weather, we took walks in Phoenix Park, along Dollymount Strand, and out along the Liffey to Chapelizod. We went to two delightful Sunday afternoon free concerts at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery. We took in an excellent Thornton Wilder play at the Peacock and enjoyed an extraordinary Abbey Theatre production of Brian Friel’s 'The Faith Healer.'

"I scheduled a session with a family history consultant who rekindled my interest in the genealogical inquiry, especially relating to Cork and Mayo ancestors who emigrated in the dark mid-19th century. We drove west to the wild and wonderful Renvyle Peninsula. We hiked in Connemara National Park and were there when a powerful storm crashed in from the Atlantic in mid-December.

"At Christmas, we were with friends in Killarney, an exquisite experience featuring a goose dinner with all the trimmings. There was great company, a tree with lit candles on its branches, and I was at least faintly mindful of the old Bing Crosby tune 'Christmas in Killarney.'

"Just after New Year’s and just before returning to North America’s frozen far north, I was invited to the home of a kind, gracious, and generous Dublin friend for a dinner to mark my 80th birthday. I will never forget that event, nor will I ever forget other highlights of my most recent visit to the land of at least some of my ancestors.”

- John Lambert

“Our children gave us a trip to Ireland for Christmas as a surprise. My husband had been there when he was young and often talked of the wonderful time he had. As a result of his time there we have friends who now reside in Belfast who we visited during our stay.

"We each chose a couple of things we wanted to see: the highest pub in Ireland - Johnnie Fox’s, Kilmainham Gaol, Kylemore Abbey, the Waterford Crystal Factory and the Guinness Storehouse.

"We took a ferry to the Aran Islands and spent a lovely, though wet day there. We also visited the Giant's Causeway, the Titanic Museum and the Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland.

"We traveled part of the Wild Atlantic Way and stayed in a variety of places including a couple of historic inns and a thatched cottage. We had a great time, met some lovely people and enjoyed wonderful hospitality.”

- Beth Anstett

“When Celtic Woman were filming their Christmas Special in Dublin at the Helix they were offering free tickets. My wife and I decided at the spur of the moment to take our first trip.

"We flew into Dublin, did some sightseeing the first day and went to the show that night. It was a fantastic show. The rest of our trip included stops in Wicklow, Waterford, Blarney, Killarney and Kilkenny. We did a Ring of Kerry bus tour. For a one-week trip, we saw a lot.

"We had bed & breakfast vouchers and we didn’t book anything in advance. When we got to a town, we would call a B&B from a nook we had. If they were full, they would refer us to a friend. It worked out great this way and we could travel at our own pace.

"We absolutely loved the people and all the owners of the B&B’s were friendly and offered travel tips. They fed us a great breakfast to start every day that held us till dinner. Our first night was in a hotel and we much preferred the B&B’s.”

- James Swanson

Next year, whether you decide to wander through 5,000 years of history in Ireland’s Ancient East, discover Ireland’s breathtaking west coast along the Wild Atlantic Way, embrace a giant spirit in Northern Ireland, or enjoy the unspoiled majesty of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands – you can do so in the knowledge that you will receive a warm welcome and the guarantee of the experience of a lifetime. 

This article is presented proudly in partnership with Tourism Ireland. To learn more about Tourism Ireland and get inspired for your next visit to Ireland, check out their website.

Note: some of these stories have been modified for the purpose of the article.