15 Ways to Immerse yourself in the Culture of Ireland
By College Tourist Contributor of 06/17/15
Live like a local, explore like a traveler in Ireland.
College Tourist Summer Team of Student Travel Bloggers.
St. Patirck’s Day in Dublin. Sydney Alonso, University of Central Florida
Ireland, the home of beautiful scenery, fantastic pubs and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. For those looking for a way to truly experience Irish culture and have a little (or a lot) fun, Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17th is the largest celebration of the holiday in the world. Have a pint with close to 500,000 attendees while watching over 3000 performers river dance, act, and sing. Don’t forget to wear green!
Get Outdoors. Nicole Darian, University of Iowa
Looking for a way to stay in shape and work off all those Guinness beers on your next trip to Ireland? Biking in the countryside is one of the best options for the adventurous and those who want to see the country without renting a car. If you´re staying in Dublin, Phoenix Park Bike Hire in Dublin City and Irish Centre for Cycling in Malahide are great options for biking in the city as well as the country. I would recommend more outdoor activities in Galway however, as it is already separated from a big city atmosphere and lush in greenery. Bike rental options include West Ireland Cycling, as well as Derroura Bike Hire for only 8 Euros for a whole day. Other outdoor activities in Galway include sea kayaking with the Dusk til Darkness Tour, horse back riding at Knockillaree Riding Centre, a walking tour in the West Highland Way, and even surfing in Clifdon. Fuel your need for adventure and enjoy the beautiful countryside that Ireland has to offer!
Eat, and Eat Well. Whitney Barnes, University of Central Florida
Ireland is good for more than just the famous Guinness. They have quite an eclectic food scene. Dublin is known for taking classical dishes and putting a unique twist on them. Here are a few foods you must eat before leaving Ireland:
1. Chicken Wings from Elephant and Castle: Said to be smothered in ‘sauce from a bottle’ – seems legit.
2. Sea Salt Ice Cream from Murphy’s: A picky eaters dreamland. No matter what your in the mood for Murphy’s is sure to meet your taste buds needs.
3. Nachos from Dillingers: If your like myself and eat with your eyes you may at first glance want to tackle this mountain by yourself. But, it is a large enough portion for three.
4. Burger from Jo Burger: You can have it your way, but really. Whatever meat, toppings, sauce combination your heart desires can be created for you. Be as picky as you want it’s their speciality and, they enjoy the challenge.
So, don’t write off those traditional foods from back home you’d be surprised what subtle differences can do for the palate.
Literally Get Literal Jamie Coulson, Flagler College
If you’re into literature, Ireland is a great place to immerse yourself into the life of one of your favorite writers. Each writer in Dublin had their own favorite spot to relax and put the pen down. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is tour and a pub crawl where two actors travel with you and perform a poem, a theatrical performance or a prose that corresponds with the writer depending which of the four pubs you are in. Crawl to The Duke, favorite spot of Patrick Kavanagh, O’Neills, a favorite of Brendan Behan, and other influential people such as the Revolutionary leader Michael Collins and James Joyce, who drank at The Old Stand, and Davy Brynes, respectively. It’s a great way to explore different watering holes in the area and learn a bit about the people who made a great impact in the world of literature!
More: Literary Dublin
Relax in Phoenix Park. Molly O’Connor, Southern Methodist University
With frequent rain showers throughout the year, Ireland boasts their luscious, green countryside. It only makes sense that this vibrant country is home to the largest European park in any capital city, the Phoenix Park. Five times the size of London’s Hyde Park, the 1,752 acres is filled with countless attractions for people of all ages. Spend time in the third oldest zoo in the world, the Dublin Zoo, gaze upon several different monuments, such as the Wellington Monument or Corinthian column, or relax in the People’s Gardens. Phoenix Park is also known for hosting various events; big name artists such as Coldplay, Kanye West and Florence and the Machine have performed here, as well as motorists competing in the Irish Grand Prix motor racing. No matter what your interests are, you are bound to find something to your delight in Phoenix Park!
Go Back in time on the Aran Islands. Ben Rissler, American University
Searching to discover untouched parts of the Emerald Isle? Step back in time at the Aran Islands, located in Galway Bay, to explore the raw beauty of this archipelago. Comprised of Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, the Aran Islands boast thousand-year-old fortresses, stone walls lining the perimeters of the islands, and a green landscape as far as one can see. Being a very culturally immersive experience, the islands transport travelers into the Irish way of life from hundreds of years ago. Try speaking Gaelic with the friendly locals, bike from one end of an island to another, walk around the grounds at O’Brien’s Castle, or wander the fortress of Dun Aengus from the Iron Age. Reach the Aran Islands by daily ferries from County Galway or County Clare for an interesting day trip that should not be missed by the curious traveler!
Live like Royalty. Marilyn La Jeunesse, New York University
Relive Ireland’s ancient history by staying overnight in a castle. That’s right, now you can live like royalty, at least for a few days. Some sites, like celticcastles.com, give a brief history of the castle and describe its charm. Feudalism was a major part of Irish history, and what better way to experience the life of the 1% back then than sleeping (figuratively) in their beds.
Tap your foot to the street music. Hannah McIntyre, Spring Hill College
Irish culture is one full of food, drink and always a good party. A great way to experience a local way of life is to hear live music. Having travelled to Dublin and Galway, I know the streets are filled with musicians of all types. Sitting outside of a pub or restaurant on any of the main strips is a great way to hear those diverse musicians while getting in some good people watching time. The locals are so friendly, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a few stopped to have a drink with you. Ask around or look on signs outside of pubs to see where there is live music off the beaten path. In Dublin, be sure to check out Whelans Live on Wexford Street, Merchant’s Arch Bar and The Old Storehouse both in Temple Bar, and the Celt Pub on Talbot Street.
Food, Folklore and Fairies Timpani Woodson, Northern Arizona University
Opening its doors in 1198, The Brazen Head in Dublin is the oldest pub in Ireland making it the perfect place to learn about Irish traditions and culture. From the end of March to New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy the pub’s Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies. The experience lasts three hours and features a traditional Irish meal accompanied by stories and music about the history of Ireland.
Potato Festival Mia Kavensky, University of Illinois
You say potato, Ireland says: Pot-aaa-to. Head to the country known for the tragic potato famine and attend the Northern Ireland Potato Festival! This festival caters to all things potato. You can find cooking demonstrations, exhibits, music and dance. At the end of the festival, there is an informational presentation to give attendees insight into the historical and current issues of potatoes. The location this year is TBD but keep up to date on their Facebook page.
Celebrate Marriage Equality Angela Serednicki, Reyerson University
This past May, Ireland became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality by public referendum. Celebrate this momentous event in recent history by heading out to The George, the oldest gay bar in Dublin. This bar is the heart of the city’s gay scene and has played an integral role in teaching Irish citizens the importance of accepting all types of love. No matter what day of the week it is, you’ll be sure to have a great time at the George listening to live music, watching talented drag performances, or joining in on fun weekly events like karaoke or bingo.
Learn a little Gaelic. Tori Danforth, University of South Florida
Welcome to Ireland! Or as they say in Gaelic, fáilte go hÉireann! Though English is used throughout the majority of the country, Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) is still considered to be the first and one of the official languages of the nation. In recent years, it has seen a revival with initiatives to implement language programs in schools and local communities. Gaelic is a Celtic language that not only originated in Ireland but was also the dominant language for hundreds of years. If you want to delve deep into the land’s history and culture, Gaelic is your ticket! The best places to learn are in the Gaeltacht, regions where the Irish language has thrived and is used primarily over English. Most of the Gaeltacht are located on the west coast of Ireland, mainly in County Kerry, Galway, and Donegal. County Kerry offers multiple options for Gaelic language schools, as well as some of the best scenery Ireland has to offer! You can practice this beautiful and ancient language as you enjoy a pint of Guinness over a local Gaelic football game or as you make your way through the famous Ring of Kerry, exploring a land that has captivated travelers for centuries.
See the famous Trinity College Library Elena Metzner, University of Connecticut
A popular tourist spot in Dublin is Trinity College, where people go to see the famous library. People come far and wide to see the architecture and wind around the paths of the campus. One of the biggest draws is the Book of Kells, a manuscript in Latin containing Gospels of the New Testament. With its convenient location right in Dublin, near Grafton Street, it’s an accessible attraction at a cheap price of 10 euros. Near by Grafton Street has many stores and is a lively area!
Find a panoramic view. Amanda Tempesta, Hofstra University
Most cities in Ireland are relatively flat so finding that breathtaking view seems difficult. If you’re searching for a picture perfect moment I suggest checking out “Gravity Bar” in the Guinness Storehouse. The view comes with a fee, but its worth every euro. If you’re traveling on a budget, or not a Guinness drinker you can try Dun Laoghaire Pier, located in southern Dublin. A quiet walk to the end of the pier reveals a look back across Dublin bay and to the bustling city. On the other hand, if you want a view with a little more adventure, head over to Howth, in northern Dublin, and try the coastal cliff walk. These suburban areas are the root of irish culture and are an easy way to connect with the locals. Both towns are easily accessible by train or bus and are prime locations for that Instagram worthy photo.