From the culture-heavy east coast to the wilds of the west coast, Ireland is a spectacular country.

Known around the world by some of its rather strong stereotypes, it’s so much more than Guinness, emerald landscapes and friendly people, although all of these are still pretty good.

Soul warming food

Often the soul of a country, most people want to know about the food and drink of a place. If you’re not familiar with the place then you might just be thinking about Guinness and potatoes but Ireland is home to some heart-warming stews, delicious breads and given that it’s surrounded by the sea, there’s a lot of incredibly fresh fish dishes to try. Having said that there are some excellent potato dishes and the things they can do with a potato are way beyond chips and mash.

Japan Mount Fuji Sunset over City
Buddhist Temple in Arashiyama

Galway international seafood and oyster festival on the west coast is the perfect opportunity to try all of the tasty treats of the sea. On the most part, the seafood is best fresh and with just a hint of other flavours, maybe a squeeze of lemon or some herbs. Oysters, cockles and mussels are our favourites.

Other must trys are Soda bread (ideally lightly toasted with some Kerrygold Irish butter), Barm Brack, a sweet bread with raisins and similar to a tea loaf (you might also need to look this one up) and Coddle, a sort of leftovers stew made with potatoes, sausage, bacon and onions simmered in a stock. Then on the potato side of things, there’s boxty, a sort of potato pancake thing and Colcannon, a mash of potato and cabbage.

When it comes to drinks, Guinness is the go to. It’s known around the world for a reason and a tour of the Guinness factory is a must if you visit Dublin. This creamy topped stout is a filling drink so be careful, it’s said to be a meal in itself and it can be a heavy and filling if you’re not used to drinking stout. Alternatively, there’s Irish whiskey.

Wild, craggy wonders

Ireland is known as the Emerald land for a reason. The combination of a temperate climate and a fair amount of rain makes for extremely green landscapes. It’s not a particularly mountainous country compared to others with its highest point at 1038 metres but it is hilly, craggy and wild. Shaped by the ferocious winds coming off the Atlantic. It also has some excellent names with the highest point known as Carrauntoohil in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, a mountain range in County Kerry. 

Kyoto Arashiyama Katsura River Boats
Autumn Momiji Leaves

There are also some beautiful, endless, wild deserted sandy beaches all along the coast. While not made for sunbathing, they make brilliant hikes that will get your heart racing.

There are  plenty of castles dotted around the different counties of Ireland. If you can explore further afield than Dublin then we recommend stopping by some. A favourite amongst tourists and locals is Blarney Castle with the famous Blarney stone. It’s said that if you kiss the stone you will be granted the gift of eloquence. We’re not sure if this is completely true but might be worth it if you’re practicing the language!

Kind-hearted people and incredible history

The Irish have had a hard time to say the least with their history. Despite or maybe even because of this, they are some of the friendliest people you will meet. If you are lost, just find a local and they will help you find your way. You may also often find that people will strike up conversations with you when on the bus or train, they are both kind and curious, try to embrace it.

When you are heading out to the pub, as you must when in Ireland to try some Guinness, you may find that if you’ve picked well, there will be a local randomly bursting into song and some others will bring out some instruments from somewhere and play along. Sometimes others might join in and other times the rest of the pub will fall silent as they listen to the songs. Follow the crowd, be respectful and enjoy this spontaneous delight. It’s a little more common in the countryside but still happens occasionally in Dublin.

Akihabara at Night
Sensoji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo

Going back to the history, there are several places around the country and in Dublin where you can explore this and fully understand how this nation was shaped. More recent history is still visible in the bullet holes in the General Post Office in Dublin and the Kilmainham Gaol, a prison turned museum, gives you a very real insight into the history of the rebellions and the Irish civil war.

For those of you who want to go a little further back, Dublinia, the Viking museum is worth a stop, partly because vikings are cool and partly to learn about the amazing history and how they shaped Ireland.

Then there’s Trinity College, where you can see the book of Kells. A ninth century, decorated manuscript of the first four gospels in Latin. It’s considered to be one of the most famous and oldest books in the world. This exquisite illuminated manuscript is quite the spectacle and as one of the few surviving scripts from medieval times that are this elaborately decorated it’s worth a stop. The rest of the library at the College is just as beautiful and worth exploring if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.

So from history, to food to wild landscapes, there’s so much to explore, you better get out there. If you want to know more about our Ireland trips then just get in touch with our team.

Sensoji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo






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