Seek out the authentic essence of Ireland in the island’s sports, food, culture and traditions.
Among the oldest and fastest field sports on earth, hurling and Gaelic football are part of the soul of the Irish. A visit to the interactive visitor centre at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin is a good place to learn about these unique sports and to enjoy the spectacle of a match.
Turf was once completely integral to life in Ireland, and the smell of a turf fire is still a uniquely comforting one. Drop into a working Irish turf bog for the opportunity to learn about turf-cutting, its cultural significance and to try out the traditional method of cutting a sod with a spade.
Pubs you can shop in
At Curran’s pub in Dingle, County Kerry you can have a pint, and while you’re there shop for a cap, a shirt or a pair of wellies. Or try O Shea’s in Borris, County Carlow – pub, hardware store and general grocery store where you can pick up a tin of peas along with your drink.
The island’s distinctive recipes for things you can do with dough include soda bread, a traditional quick-to-make tasty filler. Delicious with butter when freshly baked or toasted, every region has its own inimitable variation passed down through the generations.
Stay a while in any traditional Irish pub. Pretty soon somebody will produce a fiddle and start softly playing. The next thing, someone else will strum a guitar. Then a whistle will come out. More instruments may come. Then it’s a full-scale session. Go with it. It’s part of the magic of the island.
Gaelic is the first language of the people who live (mainly) in pockets of rural Ireland. In an Irish-speaking area or Gaeltacht, plural Gaeltachtai, authentic Irish culture and traditions are kept very much alive. For an amazing experience of this real Ireland, head to somewhere like Connemara.