You are here

17 Craicin’ Reasons to Go to Ireland

17th March 2015

To be sure, to be sure... Ireland is full of mighty fine sights. But there are also people to meet, flavours to taste and other awe-inspiring moments to be had. Wherever you go, that fine Irish accent is never far away. Here are 17 craicin' reasons to go to Ireland!

cliffs of moher

1. Nature puts on a heart-stopping show...
Here, hills defy gravity and coastlines convey the kind of drama you’re only used to seeing in soap operas. There’s nothing predictable about it. From tranquil lakes to soaring mountains, it’s a non-stop showreel of ‘wow’ moments set to make your heart flutter. Some of the most famous sights include the Aran Islands, Dingle Peninsula, Giant's Causeway and the rugged Cliffs of Moher, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Best of all though, Mother Nature plays out in all her glory never far from even the biggest Irish cities.

2. The local lingo is the craic…
Wondering what the craic is? It means “good fun” or “good times”, but really, the Irish throw the “craic” word into just about anywhere it remotely fits. “What’s the craic?” is also one of their favourite sayings – it’s their way of saying “What’s happening?”. Words like “deadly” and “savage” also mean good – great, actually – and if somebody says “The top of the morning to you”, then the correct reply is, “And the rest of the day to you”. Also, a cupboard is a “press”, the toilet is “the jacks” and the police are “guards” (or “gardai”) – and if somebody says “I will yea” to you, we’re not quite sure why, but what they actually mean is no.

guinness

3. There’s nothing like a pint of Guinness at the pub…
There’s no denying just how much the Irish like their pubs – and their Guinness, for that matter! There’s simply nowhere better, nowhere more iconic than Ireland to indulge in a few of the deep, thick, caramelised local brews. By far the best place to do so is at Sean’s Bar in Athlone, at the heart of the Lakelands, because it’s the oldest pub in the nation. Just keep in mind: Guinness is actually called "Gat" here and if you get asked how it is, be sure to say “sure look it” back.

4. It’s incredibly rich in history...
This is a land that dates back to prehistoric times, so there’s no shortage of historical sites, monuments and magnificent museums worth a gander. The ancient mound at Newgrange is even older than Egypt’s famed Pyramids! But also don’t miss the 6th-century ‘Monastic City’ of Glendalough, the megalithic sites of Burren, Skellig Michael monastery and the Hill of Tara, famed in song and story.

cahir castle

5. There are literally hundreds of castles...
Ireland is the king (and queen) of castles; there’s nowhere more storybook-worthy than here. Some are incredibly romantic, others are fascinatingly old and many now stand in ruins – but even then they’re still impressive. To narrow such a massive list down is a hard job, but Cahir Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Dublin Castle and Dunguaire Castle make the cut, as does King John’s Castle and Blarney Castle. The ancient fortified Rock of Cashel and the ruins beyond are also a must.

6. The people are friendly (and funny)…
If you like friendly folk that are full of chatter, laughter and wit, then you’ll like the locals in Ireland. They’re full of life, jokes and help should you find yourself lost – and they're generally short on ego. Never one to take themselves too seriously, it certainly creates a nice light-hearted vibe for a holiday. Walk into any Irish pub to see the lively and friendly action in full throttle.

dublin

7. Dublin is a very cool capital city...
Sitting somewhere between a small town and a big city, Dublin has a vibe that’s pulsating but not overwhelming. Compact enough to explore on foot, it offers some great galleries and museums, a lively nightlife – including bars owned by Bono and U2 – and an exciting, emerging food scene (the coffee is getting increasingly better too). With the added touch of architectural elegance and a beautiful waterside location, Dublin is a stop you must do.

8. Because it’s oh-so-road-trip-worthy...
Out-of-the-car-window sightseeing has never been better, and because Ireland is still small and compact, it’s much easier to discover on four wheels than somewhere like, say, Australia. What’s even better is that you don’t have to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road, because Irishmen (and ladies) drive on the left just like us! Two top driving routes include the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way.

blarney stone

9. You can finally get the gift of the gab...
All it takes is one kiss to be endowed with the gift of the gab forever. Only problem is: you won’t be the first to do so. Kissing the Blarney Stone at the top of Blarney Castle is practically a right of way when travelling through Ireland, so germaphobes beware. Everybody else: pucker up and don’t miss your fleeting chance! You’ll be left yabbering like an Irishman in no time.

10. There's a whopping number of golf courses…
The country is famous for being green, after all, so it makes sense that they have plenty of greens to keep the golfers of the world happy. There are literally hundreds of fantastic golf courses to choose from, including the well-known Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Ballybunion. The proof is in the pudding: Ireland has produced a number of pro golfers over the years, including Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion and the current World Number One.

galway

11. To take a step back in time in Galway…
Wandering the cobblestone streets of Galway is like stepping back in time into Medieval Ireland. It’s fascinating. But this thriving city is also fabulous for its arty and bohemian vibe thanks to the vibrant creative scene it fosters, brimming with art, colourful culture and live music. Despite all that modernity in amongst the old-school mix, Galway is still considered the ‘most Irish’ city in Ireland, and if you’re lucky, you may even overhear real Irish being spoken on the streets so keep those ears peeled.

12. The festivals practically run back-to-back…
There’s always something happening in Dublin as there’s no shortage of great festivals playing out across the city. Music festivals, folk festivals, cultural festivals, movie festivals and even a dedicated whiskey festival – the list goes on. Our favourites are the Dublin Irish Festival, Galway Food Festival, Kilkenny TradFest and Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (a national music festival). And then there’s the St Patrick’s Festival in Dublin (of course!).

blood sausage

13. The local fare is hearty…
There’s nowhere better than the Emerald Isle to try some hearty Irish fare – particularly Irish stew, soda bread (or beer bread), shepherd’s pie, potato cakes and a full Irish breakfast (accompanied by some Guinness). You'll quickly notice they like their potatoes. When it comes time for dessert, beware when you spot black pudding on the menu. While it sounds sweet and delicious and is definitely worth a try, let’s just say that this ‘pudding’ is otherwise referred to as ‘blood sausage’. It also happens to be made from pig’s blood and oatmeal.

14. A sunny day brings out the best in people…
The Irish aren’t all fair-skinned and ginger-haired, but they sure can act like it! Deprived of a sunny summer, on the occasion that the sun does come out to play in full strength they get so excited it feels like an impromptu celebration. Don’t be surprised if you hear repeated mentions about how good the weather is even if the sun is just peeking through the clouds.

the dark hedges

15. There are famous film locations to scout...
Remember the epic movie Braveheart? That’s not the only movie that used Ireland as a backdrop for filming. Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the 2004 take on King Arthur also owe these lush green lands a spot in their roll of credits. There are many more, including the latest hit television series Game of Thrones.

16. Where else can you see Gaelic football in action...
This is the home of Gaelic football after all, so get in with the locals and get excited in the stands as you try to figure out what’s going on. It sure is different to the kind of football played back home in Australia.

irish celebration

17. To experience an authentic local St Patrick’s Day!
There aren’t many nations whose national celebrations spring to life across the globe as much as St Patrick’s Day. So next year, take part in the glorious, green-smothered celebrations and colourful street parades in the land itself!