Ireland is one of those countries whose rich culture, heritage and fairytale-like landscape make for one of the greatest escapes. Sure, there are other destinations that offer plenty in the way of a terrific experience but a journey here is unlike any other. Remember P.S. I Love You? Or Leap Year? Not only did they leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling but you just longed to visit those idyllic locales (set in Ireland, FYI) where everything seemed possible and dreams came true. That’s what Ireland makes you feel like. Gently rolling hills that bring to mind your favorite fantasy tales, haunted places that make you feel like you’re not alone, and even festivals held to bring people together – Ireland is filled with adventures and she’ll entice even the most seasoned travelers.
1) Knock, Knock…Who’s There?
For many, ghosts are nothing but flights of fancy to be brushed away like unimportant matters. But you may just start second-guessing your beliefs in Ireland. Legends abound of ghoulish creatures that prey on the unsuspecting, bloodthirsty vampire seductresses and royalty that were buried alive.
Travelers with a taste for the spooky and skeptics eager for excitement can journey to creepy ruins like Old Abbey in County Limerick and Montpelier Hill. The hairs on your neck will stand and you’ll feel compelled to look over your shoulder every so often. Maybe remnants of an old witchy spell still linger? Listen to tales of demonic possession and debauchery as you walk through dark rooms and arched doorways that slowly seem to be taken over by nature. Perhaps you’ll even spot a large black cat said to roam the haunted ruins. Just make sure nothing follows you home!
2) Romance Comes A-Calling
Finding the love of your life is not as easy as the movies make it. It’s not as simple as meeting someone and falling head over heels. But in Ireland, such dreams seem like a possibility especially in Lisdoonvarna’s famed annual festival. If your heart yearns for another but you haven’t seemed to find ‘the one’ or if you’re just looking to mingle with singles, test your chances at the month-long matchmaking festival.
40,000 hopefuls. Music. Dance. Speed-dating. Matchmaking with Willie Daly the matchmaker. Lisdoonvarna will transport to you a unique place where the quest for love edges nearer to fruition. Young adults, middle-aged folks and senior citizens all feel the pull of romance and are never too shy to take that step forward. Whether you’re looking for love again or have never experienced it before and are dying to, Lisdoonvarna’s Matchmaking Festival will kindle hope and bring love a step closer!
3) Of Witches and Witch Trails
Witches and witch trails, far-fetched claims that make you do a double take, and an inn that’s still standing complete with medieval influences – such lore will draw you in and deep into Ireland’s past. Kyteler’s Inn is where you want to be to get a glimpse of life in a bygone era when tales of witches and their ill deeds were whispered. Reflect longer on this while taking in the rustic décor of the inn and you may feel a vague chill run down your spine.
But it’s not only doom and gloom that draws visitors. Kyteler’s Inn is a very charming establishment and the warmly lit interior is the perfect place to sit down for a drink. Engage with the locals and get to know Kilkenny’s traditions and history. Take a stroll through the town and stop at craft stores selling souvenirs like Celtic jewelry and scented candles. They’ll remind you of your visit here and compel you to plan a second trip.
4) Where’s Father Christmas?
The big jolly man in a red suit had to have come from somewhere. And he did – from Saint Nicholas and his fondness for giving gifts. Local legend has it that the holy man is buried near Saint Nicholas’ Church after his remains were stolen. Okay, so not everyone will agree with this theory probably because it’s more a local belief. Yet, you can’t possibly go after each relic just to get closer to the man in red, right? So why not head to Saint Nicholas’ Church in Newtown Jerpoint? The place is amazingly beautiful with creepers creating a thick layer of green on the ruins and the verdant surroundings reminiscent of a fairytale forest. A tour of the bucolic grounds will remind you of just how stunning Ireland’s villages are.
5) Rediscover the Art of Storytelling
‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world’ said Philip Pullman. Truer words have never been spoken!
When’s the last time you heard someone tell a story? No, not gossip; actual stories that give flight to the imagination. It’s easy to get lost in the pace of the modern world, constantly checking in and trying to meet deadlines. Yet, there’s a haven where time seems to pause a little and slowly goes back to how things were, with the magic of words and incredible creativity.
Cape Clear, an island with just a handful of people is the venue for a gathering of storytellers who converge from all over the world, eager to regale and awe. You’ll be blown away with stories of wit, humor, fantasy and tradition, and will meet kindred spirits who love nothing more than to come together and connect. If ever there was an event that inspired you to tap into your creative side, this is it!
Ireland is charm, magic and adventure all rolled into one. It wakes the child in you and opens your mind to things you once believed in. Awe-inspiring and with the ability to sweep you away to a land of wonder, your adventure awaits in the Emerald Isle.