A small country with a big reputation, Ireland is packed with fascinating history, rugged, romantic landscapes and a vibrant culture. Norman castles overlook wild, deserted beaches, Georgian country houses are home to impromptu traditional music sessions and theatre goers spill out into bustling Dublin pubs.
The stunning natural beauty is only outshone by the warm welcome you’ll receive from the Irish. Their unique blend of warmth, humour and irreverence will ensure your trip to the Emerald Isle is a true adventure.
Cliffs of Moher
Towering of the rugged west Clare coast the famous cliffs offer spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands. The area is also a protected wildlife haven for puffins, falcons and kittiwakes.
The largest county in Ireland and with over 100km of coastline it is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, which is home to small harbours, quiet inlets and pretty islands. The city itself is home to cosy pubs, great restaurants and music scene.
Located in the harbour where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland’s West, Galway has a beautiful rugged coastline dotted with pretty islands and villages. It is a fabulous self-drive destination with some of the most scenic beauty and natural attractions in Ireland.
Located in County Limerick, Adare is designated as a heritage town making it one of the prettiest places to visit in Ireland. Walking through the village you will see thatched cottages with tiny windows, ancient churches and quaint shops.
Stretching for 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean on the south-west coast, it consists of steep sea-cliffs, dramatic headlands and pretty villages. It is a fabulous area for the great outdoors with walking trails, horse riding and water activities.
You could say this country receives slightly more than its fair share of rain but don’t let this put you off! It has of course resulted in brilliant green countryside. If you are planning a visit, June to September are the very best times. We’d also recommend Christmas time, when the pubs string festive lights everywhere and everyone is in good spirits.
As a Kiwi visiting Ireland a couple of weeks after an historic All Black defeat, I was prepared for a bit of ribbing. That happened. A lot. I was also prepared for generous, gregarious, funny locals, plenty to talk about and too much to drink. That happened a lot as well.
Arriving at the end of November, I was not prepared for glorious, bright, clear skies, the soft golden glow of the late Autumn sun bouncing off weathered stone and quiet, crisp, still, frosty mornings turning the countryside into a sparkling wonderland.
After a couple of days exploring Dublin on foot we headed across country in a small rental car guided by a somewhat temperamental GPS we affectionately named ‘Aoife’. Aoife was regularly on the receiving end of some earthy swear words as we turned down yet another overgrown one way track requiring careful manoeuvring and quiet curses as we met a vehicle coming the other way, but in hindsight, she also took us to breathtakingly beautiful parts of the country we really would not have seen otherwise, so thank you lass.
Staying in the Manor Houses of Ireland, our accommodation throughout was charming and authentic. Deep leather armchairs can be pulled up close to roaring open fires, Christmas trees glitter while endless cups of tea, or pints of Guinness (!) supplement the lively chat from both residents and locals.
Mount Falcon near Ballina in Co Mayo has been lovingly restored by the owner, Shane, who also tells a grand tale of love and loss around the estate. An up close and personal encounter with the falcons, owls and ferrets was a special highlight.
We roughly followed a section of the Wild Atlantic Way which stretches 2500km along the west coast. Magnificent sea and landscapes, captivating villages, inviting pubs, legends and stories pepper the route; stopping to explore often resulted in long conversations and laughs with a local or two.
A bright but freezing afternoon we stopped in the fishing town of Dingle – bursting with Christmas lights and happy crowds. We reached Cork and our departing flight far too soon. I will admit the only thing I was ready to farewell, was Aoife.
Sláinte – you gorgeous place and you gorgeous people. I’ll be back soon.
Kate Couling, Director
Language English is very commonly used. Gaelic is recognised as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland but of the 3.5 million population, only 5% use it regularly.
Why we love it It’s sweeping landscapes of rich green, the live music seeping out of the cosy pubs and the friendliness of the people is absolutely unparalleled.
Weather You could say this country, receives slightly more than its fair share of rain but this of course has resulted in brilliant green countryside. June to September are the best times to visit. Christmas is a great time to visit, with the pubs stringing festive lights everywhere and everyone in good spirits.
Social customs & quirks After a troubled past, the mostly Catholic land takes its hard-won religious freedom seriously. ‘Wearing of the green’ and the traditional costume, is done with pride. Legends, folk tales and beliefs in supernatural beings such as Leprechauns are commonplace, and the lucky three-leaf shamrock is a much-loved symbol. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow originated in Irish mythology, and Halloween is a favorite holiday. Irish dance, gypsy music, great literature and links to tragic, romantic, Arthurian legends such as Tristan and Isolde are all part of Ireland’s rich and colorful cultural heritage.
Festivals & events As if Ireland wasn’t lively enough! Festivals in Ireland involve traditional cultural celebrations with varied musical styles, film, the performing arts, food and drink, Catholic religious and pagan events. The biggest day in Ireland, would of course, be St Patrick’s Day, honoring the birthday of Ireland’s patron saint with huge parades across the country.
Halloween is another big one, and the most ancient of all Irish festivals, its origins go back to pagan times. Celebrated by the Celts as the Feast of the Dead, nowadays people dress as witches, ghouls and ghosts. Families carve jack ‘o lanterns, children go trick and treating, and bonfires are lit to ward off the ‘little people’ – the fairies and leprechauns.
Health* Currently there are no compulsory health requirements for Ireland.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.