Many people think that they know Ireland, even those who haven’t been before, but there is always more to discover. Each part of the country is different and it is worth getting out and truly exploring what it has to offer in its entirety.
This means getting away from Dublin, where many tourists spend the duration of their stay. Pick up a hire car from the city and hit the road. Follow this checklist to make sure that you get the proper Irish experience.
1. Have a pint of Guinness
Yes it is a cliché, but having a pint of the black stuff or two really is part of being in Ireland, so even if you aren’t normally a stout drinker you should give it a go. Despite popular belief, a shamrock should not appear on the head as this disturbs the foam. Visit a proper Irish pub for a well pulled pint.
2. Listen to traditional music
Ireland is famed for its traditional music, which can be found in pubs across the country on any night of the week. Try to avoid tourist haunts for a more authentic experience. The village of Doolin in County Clare is widely recognised as the centre of Irish music, so head here if you haven’t stumbled across a good soul lifting band elsewhere.
Galway and Westport also have excellent music scenes, but the chances are you will stumble across some folks having a singsong wherever you are. Many traditional pubs where music is played will also serve a decent pint so you can tick off numbers one and two at the same time!
3. See the Book of Kells
The stunning Trinity College Dublin is well worth a visit, not just to marvel at its architecture and ponder the talents that have studied here, but also to see the Book of Kells. On display in the Old Library, this illuminated manuscript is one of the oldest in the world. The intricacy of the calligraphy is astounding.
4. The Giant’s Causeway
There are plenty of beautiful parts of Ireland, which seem to have been blessed by Mother Nature herself, but nowhere is quite as impressive as the Giant’s Causeway. These hexagonal rock formations jutting out into the sea have been created entirely naturally and attract visitors from all over the world.
It means a trip over the border to Northern Ireland as well as facing the tourist crowds, but is well worth the drive. As geological wonders go, this one is top-class and you’ll kick yourself if you miss it.
5. Try the Irish grub
Your trip around Ireland will already have been a feast for your senses, but really treat your palate with some good old fashioned Irish food. This means large helpings of Dublin coddle – a hot pot made with potato, onion, sausage and bacon. Add soda bread to this and you have got yourself a hearty meal.