Why Ireland Should Be On Your Destination Bucketlist
The first time I visited Ireland, I had adventure in my heart. I had graduated from University and it felt like so many people I knew had moved overseas to teach English for a year. As I watched them all go, I wanted to have my own experience. My own challenge and adventure and stories to share.
My friend Ang agreed to come with me. I remember us leaving so very early in the morning - me a bit giddy with tiredness - and my mom crying as she dropped us off at the airport. I remember having the worst routing ever and arriving in Dublin TWENTY SEVEN hours later. (Life Tip - cheaper flights are not always the best flights).
I fell in love pretty much immediately - Ireland has some amazing things to share with visitors.
The Air I swear the air is different. There is something about the way the air feels and smells when you walk out of the airport terminal that is unlike anywhere else I have been. It just feels magical. It’s sort of what I imagine Narnia’s air to feel and smell like which makes sense, seeing as C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast.
The People The people in Ireland are all characters in their own right and each one of them is a pure “salt of the earth” type of folk. Friendly, hospitable and charming. I wanted to hear some trad music in town and found a pub that had a weekly session and tonight was the night. I got there nice and early – pubs can get crowded and I wanted a comfortable seat with a good view. I ordered a drink and sat and waited. Eventually, people started filing in and I look at the time. Where was the trad music? But in Ireland, time sometimes doesn’t matter and something to start at 7 doesn’t get going until 9 so I sit. I wait, and I eventually I’m asked the question “are these seats taken”. Looking up, it’s a family – a husband and wife and two children. They sit and we start talking and it turns out the pub was sold the week prior and I was now attending a wedding reception for a family member related to the pub’s new owner. Instead of getting kicked out, the husband gets up and orders me a beer. The next thing I know they’ve invited me to join them at the pub next door where, wouldn’t you know it, traditional music is playing and I have to tell the husband that I’m good on my quota of Heineken for the evening, because otherwise, he would have just kept buying them.
The Landscape The third reason Ireland should be on your radar (and honestly, should be your number one reason) is the landscape. Especially the west coast. Littered with ragged and craggy cliff faces, some of which are the highest in Europe, the views are incredible. Not to be outdone though by peat bogs, vast rocky lands, stone circles, rock walls, sheep, ruins and thatched cottages...the landscape is an Instagram dream.
The Local Pub’s Trad Night
Of course, a trip to Ireland would be remiss if you didn’t visit the local pub - and the pub scene in Ireland is definitely the fourth reason you should consider going. Even as an introvert, the appeal of the social atmosphere of the Irish Pub is intoxicating and I’ve ended up in many conversation with strangers. There was a girl on St. Patrick’s Day who was rather inebriated who sat down with my friend Heather and I and just started talking about life and philosophy and drinking. Or the guy in Galway who was asking me about my journal entry I was writing while at the pub.
Plus, Traditional Irish Music is fantastic. Ireland is littered with incredibly talented musicians who surprise you out of no where and just show up and start playing bodhrams and fiddles and you can’t help but feel like you’re in someone’s living room. My favourite spot is Sin É in Cork - one of the best pubs for Traditional Music. You could even find a gem on your travels as I did in Clifden - where I just happened to find myself listening to the All Ireland Banjo Champion and Fiddle Champion sharing the stage.
All The Other Music
If Traditional Music isn’t your jam, just pop outside, and walk down the street to another pub and you might just hear some awesome music along the way - and another reason to visit. I had the amazing fortune to pass by Keywest in their early days, busking in Galway - and they’re now an award winning, multi platinum rock band whose album Joyland was number one on the Irish Charts. When I saw them, they were selling albums out of their guitar cases and I bought 3 - all a mix of original songs and covers - and I paid busking prices for those discs.
If you have Spotify, here’s the link to the album: https://open.spotify.com/album/1UF6u2CIuj1a13pxTLB2uA
It’s definitely worth it to try and find local open mic nights or local concerts. Or pop into a local music store and ask if you can sample some local artist albums and see if you find a new artist to fall in love with.
One of the final reasons you should take a trip to Ireland is alcohol. Ireland, for being small in land size and population, is huge on quality liquors. The sheer number of Whisky Brands alone is mind boggling, but throw in the likes of Guinness, Murphy’s, Smithwicks, Harp, Baileys, Kerrygold, Bulmers, Magners, and add a whole host of Gins with a sprinkle of fine craft beers and vodkas to the pile and you have a mecca for folks with an interest in excellent liquor.
And if drinking wasn't enough, many of these brands have tastings, tours and exhibits for you to visit them, see their process and learn more about them!
Ireland is unlike anywhere else I’ve traveled - and that says a lot. It’s unpretentious and that’s one of the things I love the most about it. It just is what it is. And what is it? It's lovely, beautiful, relaxed, generous, inspiring country that holds a very special place in my heart.
If you're at all interested in crossing Ireland off your bucket list, send me a message - I would love to help you plan your next trip to the Emerald Isle.