Sunday, 9 January 2011

Explore the island

If you are not already cursing the USC (Universal Social Charge) coming out of your wages, by the end of the month you certainly will. This charge will hit your disposable income, your pocket money and your travel plans. So foreign holidays will more than likely be scaled back if not eradicated completely this year.
Although exploring this wonderful island may seem hypocritical since we curse it every day - a few organised trips around some Irish hot spots may be just what we need - and exactly what this country is craves.

- Irish Year of Craft
Already mentioned on my Eleven Locations blog the Crafts Council of Ireland will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, and in case you think local craft is made up for woolly jumpers and wooden ornaments you should get yourself away on a weekend trip to Kilkenny or indeed Carrick-on-Shannon to see some outstanding pieces of art (craft) their craft masters and also enjoy these two relaxing and dreamy locations. For local events see:  or

- Tall Ships
Love Pirates of the Caribbean? The feel of wind in your hair and desire to have a parrot on your shoulder? Well you are gonna be shaking your peg leg at the Tall Ships Race in Waterford from June 30 this year! If you have never stayed in Waterford then this is your chance to explore the city with parades, music, food when the world's sailing nations sail into the Sunny South East.

- Read, Write and Learn
Dublin has become the fourth UNESCO City of Literature in the world. Think you know everything about the Capital that you wish to know - think again. Stay clear of Leinster House and explore The Dublin Writers' Museum, the National Library or indeed the Irish Writers' Centre but whatever you do, do not miss Bloomsday June 16, Dublin Book Festival March 4-6 or Dublin's Writers' Festival May 31-June 5 and if you find a place on the city's grand lawns open up the City's selected book of 2011 Joseph O'Connor's 'Ghost Light.'

- Fancy a round?
North & West Coast Links Golf is Europe's Golf Destination 2011. You, your other half, the entire family and whoever else chooses to tag along have 12 championship golf courses to choose from. Royal Portrush to
Enniscrone will challenge your golfing skills but also your cultural mind - after some golf get out and discover some of the least populated and most stunning parts of Ireland. 

For packages:

- Just a small drop
I'm usually not one to name an individual premises and promote it - but when somewhere like Harbour Bar in Bray, Co Wicklow get's voted Lonely Planet's Best pub in world it is impossible not to. The bar is often frequented by Irish celebrities including Colin Farrell,Brendan Gleeson and Sinead O'Connor. Testament to it's charm, the bar also scooped the prize for the “off the beaten track” category this year.

-Time to breathe

I have only visited Glendalough once, I was young on a school tour in fact, but despite spending my time worried about looking good in front of boys, I felt unusually calm here. For thousands of years people have been drawn to 'the valley of the two lakes' for its spectacular scenery, rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. But aside from all that you should come here without a camera, phone or other tech deck and just breathe - free you mind.

-The obvious choice
This is ridiculous of course everyone has been to the Giant's Causeway by now, right? You haven't? You feel guilty though right? World Heritage Site, Irish Legend and a very cool trip away with friends. You need to see this in 2011 - but be warned it is smaller than expected - oh and don't be lazy take the longer walk it is worth it.

-The Rock of Cashel
I admit I have not visited yet, but by Easter I will be able to boast about prehistoric raths to mediaeval monasteries and fortified town houses and I will be able to report on the smallest book in Ireland - how small is it? Get up and have a look you fool! Get your heritage on this year.

- Cork City
Well when in Tipp you may as well scoot down the motorway to the People's Republic of Cork - a former Culture Capital of Europe and this year's trendiest city. Aside from plenty of culture and heritage and the challenge of understanding Corkonian's accents the nightlife in this cool city is heard bet. What about the Jazz Festival or Live at the Marquee for the music lovers?

- All that glitters...
Like a magpie I love things that sparkle, like diamonds, oh and silver. And I do love Newbridge Silverware jewelery, cutlery, lamps ... everything. But even if you don't have the cash to flash on something new, why not gaze upon some very fabulous things in Newbridge's  Museum dedicated to legendary Style Icons. Be in awe of Michael Jackson's clothes, Audrey Hepburn's dresses, Maryln Monroe's letters, Grace Kelly's style and Judy Garland's extraordinary collection.

-Head north
There are many beautiful places to see in Donegal, none so special as the Inishowen peninsula. See Irish nature run wild, sup in some very strange pubs and meet some unusual people as you walk, climb, drive or cycle your way around this peninsula. Find a secluded beach or indeed return to your pagan heritage and dance around some ancient burial ground.

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