Bresail Bodivo and the cattle famine – Annals of Clonmacnoise

The above story about Bresail Bodivo is from Martin Haverty’s The History of Ireland, Ancient and Modern (1867). It quotes from the Annals of Clonmacnoise a story which is familiar from the Metrical Dindshenchas – a story that appears to describe the reason the Dowth passage-mound in the Boyne Valley was built. Here is the Dindshenchas version. The above version from the Annals of Clonmacnoise names the valley where the bull and heifer lived – Gleann Sawasge.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/12/bresail-bodivo-and-cattle-famine-annals.html

Some wonderful reviews of ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’

Now that people have had a chance to read ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’ and to reflect upon its story and its meaning, the book is receiving some fantastic reviews. Here is a selection of those reviews:
Simon W. Kennedy (author of ‘The Year the Whales Came In’ and ‘Sacred Cows, Silent Sheep’):

As the name suggests, this beautiful little book is about the Otherworld of Irish Mythology. To say this is an enchanting book is to understate its charm, but more, especially to understate its intellectual and mystical provenance disguised in dialogue between an older man (the sean-draoi) and the quintessential inquisitive young boy.
One of the great beauties of this work is the lightness with which its wisdom is conveyed and the depth of soul it so simply imparts.  
The ancient Irish of prehistory recounted their explanations of life in antique mnemonic sagas too turgid for those with a passing interest.  In what he describes as his first novella and a departure from the analytical and in-depth, field-researched ‘Island of the Setting Sun’, which was strident in putting the barriers of intellectual snobbery and archaeological pedanticism aside, in order to open minds to fresher, more imaginative means of consideration and to challenge all comers to consider what was staring them in the face and  those “elite” who considered his observations, too obvious to be considered of any great merit. To their chargin, his analysis of the centrality of alignments of various sites added fresh stimulus to topographical interpretation in line with its soul companion – the mythology of the earth and stars.
In this current endeavour he draws heavily on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the stars and the universe and lays out a tapestry in front of the reader, not unlike what one might have expected of Copernicus and brings to life the ancient lights that illuminate our skies with dimensions of distance, vastness and most tellingly the colour and feel that Irish mythological accounts of the footsteps through the stars of the ancient Irish Gods recounted in these mythological stories. Most inspiringly, he demonstrates, through his conversational motif, and connects, the interaction between the heavenly bodies with those of their observers here in this world, not just then, but breathtakingly, makes it relevant in our times in such a simple poetic style as to be readily and easily consumed by those of an age with his sean-draoi and this attentive pupil to those of any age, in our own time.
In attempting to describe the process it is perhaps easier to do a greater disservice than service to this extraordinary, exquisitely, beautifully presented novella. Its appeal is universal –  and to all ages.  It also costs less than  €10!   If you want to open your mind to the delights and insights of our ancestors who formulated our culture, this “bottle” of pure mystical spring water will refresh your imagination, and resurrect a curiosity within you, of your affinity to your identity and your past.
In our youth all of us will remember some seminal small beautiful book – A Treasury, the Victorians called it  – which found a place in our hearts.  Give this to your child and his or her imagination will be given a key to the door of adventure, and a code to the stars, and our connection with them, that will last. Give yourself a present of space and an hour or two to read and reflect, and like Oisin in Tir n-Og, you will return to this world, reluctantly, but enriched.

Tomas de Faoite (poet):

Land Of The Ever-Living Ones is a treasure trove of great imagery, relating to the heavens and the earth. It brings the earth to the sky, and the earth back down to earth, through the fine-tuned eyes and observations of an old man, in conversation with a boy. It allows the reader to blend it with the voice of the old man.  It makes the universal personal. It transcends the ordinary, yet keeps the simple way. I recommend it highly.  It will bring you to places both familiar, and strange, both firmamental and local. (Read more about Tomas here)
Richard Moore (my co-author on ‘Island of the Setting Sun’):

The bludgeoning of the senses by the so called Celtic Tiger years has left a generation of children and young adults with a shallow perspective of what life is about. Brutalised into insensitivity with their natural world. Bred not to think for themselves and to become a machine for base thoughts. Their individual uniqueness is discarded and replaced with homogenous banality.
‘Do not think for yourselves’ seems to be the mantra for this generation, to make them become depressed and suicidal with no or care or thought for themselves or their children.
Material gains are never satisfied and fulfilment is never reached because they have forgotten how to think for themselves… and more importantly … they have forgotten who they really are .. But this little diamond of a book is the perfect antidote for this sickness that has spread over the land indeed the world. Because it reminds us of our ancestors whose wisdom and understanding of our existence is laid bare as we listen to the old man tell the young boy of his unique and precious place in the cosmos of our lives on this earth. This book is beautifully written, beautifully told … A treasure to behold and pass on…
Michael Fox (on Amazon.com):
A rare and delightful story combining philosophy, spirituality and magic December 14, 2013
By Michael Ray Fox
Format:Kindle Edition

This short novel by author Anthony Murphy introduces the reader to many of the famous ancient Irish landmarks, personalities and stories of Irish antiquity. A old man, a seer with visionary wisdom explains to a inquisitive boy the mysteries of the Irish cosmos. The author takes us to a time when knowledge and learning were passed orally. It was the Celtic learning process of question and answer. We are transported Ireland’s Newgrange monument “Brug na Boinne” for a magical, metaphorical journey from the darkness into the sacred light. It was there, that only on the winter solstice, sunshine would illuminate the interior and its art. This luminous excursion into the Irish otherworld is reminiscent of the mystic writer George William Russell (AE) who penned “The Candle of Vision”. We are also invited to see our ancestors as a continous wisdom source, a well of knowledge and not a forgotten, dead and gone, memory of the past. This novella of hope will be like my Anam Cara, my soul friend. (See the review here)

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/12/some-wonderful-reviews-of-land-of-ever.html

Havel’s Place in Dublin

Today I’d like to tell you about my new favorite place in Dublin. As I am Czech and I live in Dublin, 
the international day of human rights made my day today. I was so proud to be part of opening the first Havel’s place in Europe – Dublin, st. Patrick’s park, Dublin Ireland.

Havel's Place in Dublin
Havel’s Place, St. Patrick’s park, Dublin

Since today if you enter the St. Patrick’s park by the cathedral you get to see two benches which are designed to bring people into conversation and discussion. It is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Václav Havel was my hero. I grew up in the 80.ties and 90.ties in a new democracy forming state the Czech republic and work of Vaclav Havel was always very fascinating for me. I was inspired by his life, importance and his kindness. The person who never gave up his fight for freedom and resisted even though he had the chance to leave. I am fully aware of the difference between the life I have and my parents had. No freedom of traveling or speech and the propaganda all together caused to make people think less and be afraid of the war and believe in the great ideology.
One day as a proud Czech I will tell my children about people like Vaclav Havel. I will also tell them about how Ireland helped me realize what I have. That’s why I am delighted to write about such and important event.

Havel's Place in Dublin
Sign

The fact that Havel’s Place will be opened in my beloved Dublin where I have lived in the last five years made me really excited.
Havel’s Place is a bench for two people to bring them in a discussion. The seats are really cosy and the table is decorated with Vaclav Havel’s word “Truth and love will win against lies and hate one day”.  The glass hearts are typical for Mr. Havel, he used to use them in his signature, lime tree in the middle is the national tree. My big thanks to all the team to put so much afford in this project because the idea only came up a couple weeks ago after opening the first Havel’s Place in the USA.

Havel's Place in Dublin
Four important man

Havel’s Place is designed by Borek Sipek (on the left at the back), for me personally a very important designer, Czech origin and a close friend of Vaclav Havel. Borek Sipek did incredible work on the castle of Prague in the 90.ties together with Václav Havel. He is an architect and a designer.

The actual idea to have Havel’s Place in Dublin was conceived by Bill Shipsey (on the right at the back) on behalf of Amnesty International. The city of Dublin, Czech embassy, Irish Skoda and friends of Vaclav Havel supported this idea and it was opened as a second Havel place in the world. The next one will take place in Barcelona and I believe there will be more.


The opening was accompanied by three speeches. First from Bill Shipsey about the importance of Vaclav Havel’s fight and the connection with the park for example: to be surrounded by lots of great Irish writers at the back of St. Patrick’s park is a really convenient place for such a great playwright. The lord mayor of Dublin (on the right sitting) mentioned that the city Dublin is honored to have such a place and mentioned the great work the city council did on this project in such a short time period. Last speech was held by Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg (sitting on the left) who was a former adviser of Mr. Havel and a close friend. He was delighted and thanked to the city of Dublin on behalf of the Czech republic.  I was personally really delighted to see him there.

Havel's Place in Dublin
People who attended 
As you can see this little Czech gathering in the heart of Dublin was full of people who came to remember this great person who was also known as the last Czechoslovak and the first Czech president. I remember my grandfather had his picture at home after the Velvet revolution. I will always keep a piece of Vaclav Havel with me. 

If you have time and you go to see the St. Patrick’s cathedral, make sure you pop in to see the little place and sit down. I hope it will bring you peace and good spirit as it did to me today. Big thanks again to the Amnesty International, Czech Embassy, Dublin city council and friends of Vaclav Havel for this gift! 

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Land of the Ever-Living ones books have arrived!

The printed copies of ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’ have arrived from the printer. It’s nice to have them well in advance of the launch and not to be worrying about whether they will arrive on time. I decided to put the new novella up against my other books, ‘Island of the Setting Sun’ and ‘Newgrange: Monument to Immortality’. I think they look really well together. They are three very vivid and well designed covers. Being a much smaller book, LOTELO looks almost like the baby with its parents in this picture! 
The Amazon Kindle version has begun to sell, and people are already reading it, which is fantastic. Don’t forget, if you like it, give it a positive review. This would be very much appreciated. And it might help to sell a few more.
In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the book’s official blog page here, and also my new author profile on Good Reads. Also, you can read more about Land of the Ever-Living Ones on its Facebook page.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/11/land-of-ever-living-ones-books-have.html

Land of the Ever-Living Ones now available as an eBook to purchase on Amazon Kindle!

My new novella, ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’, is now available to purchase as an eBook on the Amazon Kindle platform. If you have a Kindle, you can purchase and download the book easily by searching for “ever living ones”, or at this link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-Ever-Living-Ones-Anthony-Murphy-ebook/dp/B00GPMOS0U/

Land of the Ever-Living Ones now available as an eBook to purchase on Amazon Kindle!
The cover of my new novella, ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’

It’s a very exciting time for me. As an established non-fiction author, I’m naturally apprehensive about my first work of fiction. It draws on many themes explored on Mythical Ireland and in my non-fiction books, and could easily fit under a number of categories and keywords, including mythology, spirituality, eternity, afterlife, nature, cosmos, elements, humanity, earth wisdom, new age, self-help. It is a moving dialogue between a sean-draoi (wise old man) and a young boy and reaches into cosmic and spiritual realms. A full description can be read here:
http://www.mythicalireland.com/landoftheeverlivingones/land-of-the-ever-living-ones.html
In the meantime, if you would like to read it you can get it on your Kindle. If you enjoy it, I would greatly appreciate a nice review on Amazon. And, of course, don’t forget to give me your feedback in a comment on this blog. Thank you very much.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/11/land-of-ever-living-ones-now-available.html

Newgrange henge (site P) clearly visible in Google imagery


Newgrange henge (site P) clearly visible in Google imagery
The henge known as Site P. Click image to see larger version.
The partially destroyed henge known as Site P, one of a number of henges in the Boyne Valley near Newgrange, is clearly visible in new imagery on Google Earth. Google recently updated its imagery of the Boyne Valley area. This satellite image was taken in July 2013. The henge is clearly visible as a crop mark near the Boyne river. It is located immediately west of a double “ritual pond” feature and is one of a large number of monuments in the Bend of the Boyne. For a map and information about all these sites, see Mythical Ireland’s Boyne Valley Ancient Sites Interactive Map.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/11/newgrange-henge-site-p-clearly-visible.html

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Blarnan) is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446. The noted Blarney Stone is found among the machicolations of the castle.

The castle originally dates from before 1200, when a wooden structure was believed to have been built on the site, although no evidence remains of this. Around 1210 this was replaced by a stone fortification. It was destroyed in 1446, but subsequently rebuilt by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muscry.
Blarney House

The castle was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars and was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces under Lord Broghill. However after the Restoration the castle was restored to Donough MacCarty, who was made 1st Earl of Clancarty.

During the Williamite War in Ireland in the 1690s, the then 4th Earl of Clancarty (also named Donough MacCarty) was captured and his lands (including Blarney Castle) were confiscated by the Williamites.

The castle was sold and changed hands a number of times-Sir Richard Pyne, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, owned it briefly- before being purchased in the early 1700s by Sir James St. John Jefferyes, then Governor of Cork City.

Members of the Jefferyes family would later build a mansion near the keep. This house was destroyed by fire however, and in 1874 a replacement baronial mansion—known as Blarney House—was built overlooking the nearby lake.

In the mid 19th century the Jefferyes and Colthurst families were joined by marriage, and the Colthurst family still occupy the demesne. In May 2008, the present estate owner, Sir Charles St John Colthurst, Baronet, succeeded in a court action to eject a man who has lived on his land for 44 years. The man’s great-grandfather was the first to occupy the estate cottage.
Tourism
Kissing the Blarney Stone

The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the Lia Fáil—a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.

Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations which have been given fanciful names, such as Druid’s Circle, Witch’s Cave and the Wishing Steps. Blarney House, also open to the public, is a Scottish baronial-style mansion that was built on the grounds in 1874.

Newgrange

Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne.It was built about 3200 BC,during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.[5] Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by ‘kerbstones’ engraved with artwork. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice. It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. Newgrange also shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, such as Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland and the Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales.

After its initial use, Newgrange was sealed and it remained so for several millennia, later appearing in Irish mythology and folklore. It first began to be studied by antiquarians in the 17th century AD and archaeological excavations took place at the site over the following centuries. In the 1970s, the front of the monument was reconstructed, although some have questioned this move. Today, Newgrange is a popular tourist site and, according to the archaeologist Colin Renfrew, is “unhesitatingly regarded by the prehistorian as the great national monument of Ireland” and as one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway (known as Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach in Irish and tha Giant’s Causey in Ulster-Scots)[2] is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.[3] The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places.

The Giant’s Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.

Lakes of Killarney and Ring of Kerry

The Lakes of Killarney are a renowned scenic attraction located near Killarney, County Kerry, in Ireland. They consist of three lakes – Lough Leane, Muckross Lake (also called Middle Lake) and Upper Lake.

Lough Leane (from Irish Loch Léin, meaning “lake of learning”) is the largest of the three lakes. The River Laune drains Lough Leane to the north towards Killorglin and into Dingle Bay.

The lakes lie in a mountain-ringed valley starting in the Black Valley. The mountains include :

Carrauntoohil 1,038 metres (Ireland’s highest mountain)
Purple Mountain (832m)
Mangerton Mountain (843m)
Torc Mountain (535m)

Ladies View is a scenic stopping point on the N71 road from Killarney to Kenmare that offers a view of the lakes and valleys.

There are many sites of natural, historic and religious interest on the lakes which are mostly contained in the surrounding Killarney National Park. On the shores lie Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey and Muckross House. On Lough Leane is Innisfallen Island.

Ross Island, a peninsula on the eastern shore of Lough Leane, is the site of copper mines dating back 4000 years to the Bronze Age, the earliest known copper mines in the British Isles.[citation needed] The area was also extensively mined in the early 19th century by the Herbert family of Muckross House.

Muckross Peninsula, which separates Lough Leane from Muckross Lake, contains one of the few yew woods in Europe.

The lakes are renowned for their trout fisheries.

Eclipse of the moon takes place this Friday

Eclipse of the Moon this Week

Penumbral eclipse takes place on Friday night

This Friday, October 18th, the Full Moon will undergo a penumbral lunar eclipse as it passes through the outer region of Earth’s shadow.

During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly, and this can be observed without any special equipment.

Unlike a solar eclipse which may last only a few minutes, a lunar eclipse can last hours and is viewable by anyone on the night-side of Earth. The eclipse will begin at 10:50pm when the Moon begins to enter Earth’s shadow. By 12:50am (then into Saturday morning) the eclipse will be at its greatest, and almost all of the Moon will be slightly darkened by the shadow. The eclipse ends at 2:49am.

“I’ve seen lots of lunar eclipses over the years and I’ve always found them very fascinating to watch,” said David Moore, Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine. “This Friday is a great opportunity for people all over Ireland to go out and see an eclipse for themselves. The best thing is to look at the Moon before the eclipse starts, so you can see how much darker it gets as the night goes on.”

“We want people to send in their observation reports and photos for publication in our magazine. Email them to observe@astronomy.ie,” said Mr Moore.

More information about the lunar eclipse can be found at www.astronomy.ie

Authors: Aran Islander

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/eclipse-of-moon-takes-place-this-friday.html

Anthony Murphy interviewed on Ancient Origins

I have the distinction and pleasure of being the latest guest author to be interviewed for the Ancient Origins website. The interview was conducted by April Holloway and was done via Skype. Have a look at the video above for some insights into Newgrange, including the extraordinary tale recorded there in the mid 20th century relating to an event that was first witnessed at this monument in deep prehistory.

Authors: Aran Islander

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/anthony-murphy-interviewed-on-ancient.html

International Space Station to pass in front of moon as viewed from Ireland tonight

Rare space event takes place at 8:54pm

The biggest and most expensive spacecraft ever put into orbit around Earth will pass in front of the Moon as viewed by people along a line from Dublin to Bantry, Co Cork, tonight. See map at bottom of this post.

International Space Station to pass in front of moon as viewed from Ireland tonight
The International Space Station (ISS)

At 8:54pm (Thursday, October 10th) the International Space Station will rise in the west and blaze through the sky towards the Moon in a spectacular sight. Astronomy Ireland urges everyone to go out and see the spectacle.

“The ISS will almost look as if it will crash into the Moon, but of course this won’t happen, as the Moon is about a thousand times further away than the space station,” said David Moore, Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine. “However, if you imagine a line drawn from Dublin to Bantry Bay in Cork, people along that line – or within 16km either side of it – can look up and see the ISS pass in front of the Moon. This is a very rare event and we want everyone who can to go out and see it!”

“Because this is so rare, we want people to send in their observation reports and photos for publication in our magazine. Email them to observe@astronomy.ie,” said Mr Moore.

A map of Ireland showing where people can view the International Space Station pass in front of the Moon can be found below.

The ISS will continue to pass over Ireland every evening until October 26th, and the times it will be visible will be posted online at www.astronomy.ie/iss each afternoon.

Authors: Aran Islander

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/international-space-station-to-pass-in.html

Fantastic video of solstice sunlight in Newgrange

I’m amazed that this beautiful video showing the solstice sunlight in the chamber of Newgrange hasn’t had more views on YouTube. Currently, it only has 112 views. This is the sort of video that is extremely rare, because it’s so difficult to get into Newgrange on the solstice and usually only the press photographers are allowed in, and they don’t usually do video. This video puts you right in the chamber, at that special moment. There are some shots closer to the entrance too. Really beautiful stuff. Well worth a look.

Authors: Aran Islander

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/fantastic-video-of-solstice-sunlight-in.html

Two ancient names for Newgrange

Two photos of Newgrange taken last night, on a beautiful October evening, with Ursa Major (The Plough) hanging in the northern sky above the monument. Two of the ancient names of Newgrange are represented, Síd in Broga and Brug Mac Ind Oc. The name Newgrange was given to the monument in the 12th century by the Cistercian order, who had established the nearby Mellifont Abbey and come into ownership of all the lands down to the Boyne. The name the ‘New Grange’ was given to the field which contained the monument previously known by various names, including the above. That’s the name by which we know it today, but it is a relatively modern sobriquet !!!

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/two-ancient-names-for-newgrange.html

New blog and Facebook pages for my new novel ‘Land of the Ever-Living Ones’

New blog and Facebook pages for my new novel 'Land of the Ever-Living Ones'

I have set up a Facebook page and a blog page for Land of the Ever-Living Ones. You can see them at the following links:
https://www.facebook.com/landoftheeverlivingones
http://landoftheeverlivingones.blogspot.ie/
In the meantime, above is another wallpaper with a quote from LOTELO. Feel free to share and download.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/10/new-blog-and-facebook-pages-for-land-of.html

Little day trips around Dublin …the North side

Little day trips around Dublin ...the North side
Clontarf bay walk 

The capital city of Ireland has lots of little hidden places where you see many nice things and easily spend a day having a picnic or walking around & enjoy the atmosphere of Dublin. I love Dublin as much as the west coast so I think it’s about time to give you a little bit more info about the metropole. Make sure you have enough time for Dublin while planning your trip.

Little day trips around Dublin ...the North side
the ship is going to Dublin port 

I would like to start with North Bull island in Clontarf in Dublin. The bus leaves city centre very often, you can ask the bus driver where to get off. It’s also lovely to cycle along the bay side, which  takes about 45 minutes from the city centre. Clontarf  is a coastal suburb on the northside of Dublin, Ireland, located in Dublin 3. It is most famous for giving the name to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 during which Brian Boru, High King of Ireland defeated the Viking invaders. This battle, which extended to districts over several miles, is seen as marking an end to the Irish-Viking Wars.

image
Kite surfing on North Bull island beach 

I think this is an ideal destination for families, people with dogs, kite surfers or just to take the granny out on the beach by car. You have to cross a bridge and walk towards to the statue, where the sand dunes and beach start. Ideal picnic place complemented with wooden benches, which offer nice sea view. You can also have a swim if you like, many winter swimmers practice there every day. You can walk really far along the beach. The industrial view is kind of cute, I enjoy it because it’s a face of Dublin. I love when the sun sets over there and you see the Pigeon towers getting
darker. The high or low tide have their magic so enjoy!

image
Howth lighthouse

Another great destination for everybody is Howth. It is on a peninsula of the same name at the north of Dublin Bay. Originally just a small fishing village. You can either take dart or bus from the city centre. I love to take a bus up to Howth summit and walk back along the cliffs of Howth. It’s an easy walk and you can do it even with children. Just walk up the hill from Summit Inn and you will get to a parking place, where you can see the map. Plenty of picnic places and space for your children to play. Howth itself has nice pier and a lighthouse. There is lots of shops where you can buy fresh sea food .

Little day trips around Dublin ...the North side
The Ireland’s eye, where the birds hatch 

Another great day to spend out is to take a boat  to Ireland’s Eye island. This is a great chance to observe the life of birds hatching there. If you get lucky you get to see Puffin hunters in action. Remember do not get too close to the birds when their little ones are growing up because they simply don’t like it. The boats leave every 30 minutes but only in good weather, so check it before you go. I hope that these tips will make your days here in Dublin and you will enjoy your stay in the capital. Good luck

Little day trips around Dublin ...the North side
Puffin hunters hatching

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Woman of Aran


I’m Donna and I work for Tourism Ireland in Sydney having worked my way across the world with the company after a couple of stints in our offices in both Frankfurt and Paris. I love to cook, eat, travel, take photos, walk and play tag rugby. A couple of months ago I travelled to Inishmore on the Aran Islands for what must have been my fourth day trip and I have since vowed to make sure I stay overnight on my next visit.

Woman of Aran
As we boarded the Aran Island Ferries vessel, the Atlantic Ocean (or what I could see of it from Rossaveel) looked very calm; serene even… as we eased out of the harbour the sea started to get a bit choppy. The bouts of raucous laughter coming from the stern gradually subsided as we were rocked to and fro. Some passengers couldn’t get enough, ‘wahey!’ they cheered. Other passengers couldn’t get out of their seats quickly enough, as they scurried towards the back of the boat for fresh air. Another twenty minutes into the crossing and the ferry actually flew over a wave, I jest not, she soared, suspended over the Atlantic for a few seconds before crashing back into the ocean again. That’s when Michael from Aran Island Ferries started distributing the paper bags. “Would you like a sick bag Madame?” he said to a lady cowering in her seat, her face paler than pale. She shook her head adamantly. “Is that your normal colour?” quipped Michael, much to the amusement of us all within earshot.

As we disembarked on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands we were greeted by our chauffeur-guide Michael from Hernon Tours. Michael took us on a tour of the island stopping off at the many ancient stone forts and churches along the way. He pointed out the Leachtai Cuimhe, a type of roadside monument, which were erected as memorials for the dead.

Woman of Aran
No trip to the island would be complete without a visit to Dun Aengus Fort, a semi-circular stone fort perched dramatically on the edge of 100metre cliffs that drop straight to the sea (that’s right, there is no fence, so watch your step). It is a stunningly beautiful area and well worth the walk to the top. In addition to the fort itself, you can enjoy arresting views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, while the other side offers a panorama of the island’s landscape, which is similar to that of the karst landscape found in the Burren in County Clare.

Woman of Aran
If you fancy a dip after walking around Dun Aengus then head to the Blue Flag awarded Kilmurvey beach. It was the location for the world renowned Irish film/documentary ‘Man of Aran’, which was filmed in 1934 on Inishmore, the making of which was fictionalised in the Martin McDonagh play, “The Cripple of Inishmaan” some years later. On this particular visit we didn’t have time to brave the water, but we did manage to happen upon a herd of seals sunning themselves along the island’s shore.

After a sumptuous sea-food lunch at Joe Watty’s Pub, it was time to leave the truly authentic time-travel experience that is any visit to the Aran Islands. If ferries aren’t your thing, rest assured there’s also an airport on the island that will take you to Inveran on the mainland in under fifteen minutes! Likewise, other options for touring the island include walking, cycling and jaunting cart. If you want my advice, learn from my mistakes and stay the night! The island boasts numerous bed & breakfasts, as well as one hotel and I’ve no doubt that the locals will keep company once you settle down in a cosy pub for the night.Woman of Aran


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Visit Cobh, Co. Cork with Orlaith


Orlaith (pronounced Orla) Mc Carthy is Tourism Ireland’s Public Affairs Executive based in Dublin, but she’s originally from Cobh, Co. Cork. Orlaith enjoys politics, baking and exploring new places.

Visit Cobh, Co. Cork with Orlaith
Cobh is such a wonderful place to visit and it is even more spectacular when the sun is shining. Having lived away from my home town, Cobh (formally known as Queenstown) for over six years I always enjoy visiting this seaside town especially during the summer.

The most recognised iconic building in Cobh is St Coleman’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is perched on one of the many hills in Cobh and overlooks the mouth of Cork harbour (one of the largest and safest harbours in the world), Spike Island and the home of the Irish Naval base.

One of the biggest attractions in Cobh are the Cruise Ships that dock in the deep water quay next to the Cobh Heritage Centre. This year Cobh is expecting over 60 Cruise liners. When the liners are docked, visitors from home and abroad enjoy exciting festivals with a selection of artisan food stalls.

The Titanic Experience was opened in Cobh to mark the Titanic’s centenary anniversary in February 2012. Visitors to the Museum are moved by the maritime story of the Titanic’s sinking and the stories associated with the Titanic’s last port of call to Cork Harbour. Visit Cobh, Co. Cork with Orlaith

Every time I go home I treat myself to a large frothy cappuccino in the Titanic Bar and Restaurant on the waterfront. It comes served with a chocolate sauce on top! One of my favourite Restaurants in Cobh is Gilberts Restaurant; it is always nice to go there for a family occasion. When catching up with friends, Kelly’s Bar on the main street is top of my list. It is a popular bar for all age groups and there is plenty of live music at weekends.

The best time of the year to visit Cobh is the middle of August when the annual Cobh People’s Regatta takes place. While the sailing boats race in the harbour, music fills the streets and there is plenty of street entertainment for all age groups to enjoy. The closing of the Regatta weekend features a spectacular fireworks display which can be seen from every corner of Cork harbour and is well worth seeing.

Fota Wildlife Park is a stone’s throw away from Cobh. Visitors to the park can also enjoy a visit to Fota Gardens and House for afternoon tea. If you are coming from Cork City, Fota is accessible by train and there are plenty of car spaces and picnic facilities.

For some down time and a treat, I like to book into the Fota Island Resort Spa. The Spa experience is good value for money. The hydrotherapy pool is very refreshing and the therapists are extremely friendly and professional. I would recommend the hot stone massage.

Cobh, Co. Cork
Some other must see attractions in East Cork include;

The Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Co. Cork

Midleton Farmer’s Market – opened every Saturday. (This was the first Farmers Market established in Ireland by Irish Celebrity Chef, Darina Allen).

Ballymaloe House and Cookery School, Cloyne, Co. Cork

Beautiful beaches; Garryvoe Beach, Cloyne.


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My first work of fiction – ‘Land of the Ever Living Ones’ – coming soon

ANNOUNCEMENT
I am taking a giant leap into the realm of fiction!
My first work of fiction, a novella called ‘Land of the Ever Living Ones’, is nearing completion. The text is finished, and is currently being edited. I am planning to publish the book at Samhain, and if all goes to plan there will be both a printed version and an eBook version.
Land of the Ever Living Ones is an extraordinary dialogue between an old man and a young boy that reaches into cosmic and spiritual realms. In one fireside conversation, they sweep the universe with discussion about many different things, including natural phenomena, the mysteries of life and the question of what happens to us when we die.
The old man (seandraoí) has gained much knowledge and wisdom during his life, and readily imparts it to the eager young boy, who is full of questions.
Tír na mBeo (Land of the Ever Living Ones) was an ancient Irish name for the otherworld, the place to which the soul was believed to have gone after death. In this wide-ranging conversation, the man takes the boy on a journey into his own ancestral past, and through lesson, metaphor, story and dream, creates for him a stunning insight into his spiritual existence and his quest for eternity.
The journey is a magical and powerful one, evoking both ecstasy and melancholy, for lost ancestors, for the frailties of mankind, and for the sometimes harsh lessons of worldly life. However, it is an optimistic tale, one that stirs up great hope for the eventual destiny of the boy, and for all his kin.
Its central message is one of hope – that there is some reward beyond this life, and that all our struggles on this earth are not in vain.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/09/my-first-work-of-fiction-land-of-ever.html

A tourist in my own county


Quick Bio: I’m Leonie, a proud Kerrywoman, based in Tourism Ireland’s Dublin office. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to explore much of South East Asia, South America and Australasia…however, the two most beautiful and inspiring places I have ever been are the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and the stretch of strand between Ballyheigue and Banna in North Kerry. I love Dolly Parton, Kerry football, sing-songs, dancing, dresses and dinner, witty banter, red wine and the craic!

Proud Kerrywoman

Proud Kerrywoman

I am of Kerry – a child of ‘the Kingdom.’  Although I have now lived out of the county longer than I lived there, I am still a proud and passionate Kerrywoman. I might be biased, but I do believe that the beauty of the county is unmatched anywhere in the world.For many years the Skellig islands have been on my ‘must-see’ list, and this summer I finally got the chance to visit.  In early August I embarked on a tour of the Ring of Kerry with my Cork-based Aunt and my Cork-born Mum.  (It’s always enjoyable to prove to Cork people why Kerry is truly the Kingdom!)  We headed off from my home village of Tarbert to Cahersiveen – where we took the short car ferry journey from Renard Point across the straight to Knightstown, on Valentia Island.  After a round of seafood chowder and freshly baked brown bread in The Coffee Dock restaurant we were suitably sustained for an afternoon of exploration.

Valentia Island

The first stop on our itinerary was Valentia Slate Quarry, which has supplied slate to numerous historic state buildings worldwide – including the British Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Paris Opera House. The views of the island and its surroundings from here are really fantastic and the history of the site is very interesting.

A tourist in my own county

Amazing views from the top of Geokaun Mountain

Next stop was the viewing area on top of Geokaun Mountain -Valentia Island’s highest point. There’s a fantastic loop walk up here, offering spectacular views of the Blasket Islands, the Skelligs, Valencia Lighthouse, Dingle Peninsula and the Macgillycuddy Reeks. There are plaques dotted throughout the walk with fascinating information on the social and cultural history of the area, as well as the landscape surrounding you.  Be sure and take the short walk to the Fogher Cliffs while you are up here – the viewing deck offers beautiful views of the cliffs and out over the Atlantic!  Sturdy shoes and a windbreaker are in order here!

Portmagee

Back on the mainland, via the bridge, we spent the night in The Moorings in Portmagee, a gorgeous little guesthouse, restaurant and bar. Our delicious seafood supper was fresh off the local fishing boat and cooked to perfection. The serving staff managed to combine consummate professionalism with genuine charm – as anyone who has ever visited Kerry knows, you don’t get away without an exchange of banter and craic with the locals!  After supper we enjoyed a great night of Irish music, song and dance in their adjoining bar. The proprietor, Gerard Kennedy, plays music and rallies the crowd, making it a uniquely enjoyable evening. Between the Irish dancing, the sing-song, the hot toddies and the fresh air we were worn out when we hit the hay and slept very soundly indeed!

I was up early the next morning for a hearty full Irish breakfast and a quick 30 second sprint down to Portmagee Pier to catch my boat to the Skelligs. Togged off in the latest saffron oilskins I really was working the “deadliest catch” look! As luck would have it (!) I picked one of the worst days of the summer to visit, with choppy seas and driving rain my constant companion as I crossed the 13km stretch of Atlantic Ocean.

Sceilg Mhichíl

Lying off the coast of Portmagee, this UNESCO world heritage site is one of the ultimate icons of Ireland.  Home to an astonishingly well-conserved monastic settlement, dating from the sixth century, Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) is remarkable in its uniqueness.  Accessible by boat from either Portmagee or Ballinskelligs, there are limited numbers allowed on the island each day so it’s advisable to book well in advance and pray for great weather!

A tourist in my own county

Beehive Huts Skellig Michael

When you arrive it’s a short walk from the small jetty on the island, up to the bottom of the trail to the Monastery.  Here we were given a safety talk by an OPW guide, at the bottom of the 670 steps, and this only added to the drama and excitement!  While you don’t need to be a triathlete or supremely fit to climb the steps, it’s advisable to be fairly fit and healthy as it’s quite a tough climb, especially in inclement weather. However, the mist and rain only added to the experience for me and gave a great insight into what life must have been like for the monks (albeit without the latest North Face gear!).  The beehive huts are amazing structures, round on the outside and rectangular on the inside and constructed in such a way that they are entirely waterproof.  It feels so peaceful and special up there, you can appreciate why the monks sought solace here. It’s very easy to spend an hour or two exploring the Monastery site with loads of photo opportunities and, if you’re not claustrophobic, chances to inspect the inside of the beehive huts.

The smaller Skellig is home to the second largest gannet colony in the world, 23,000 breeding pairs, who nest on every available spot of rock providing a pretty impressive spectacle as you approach by boat.

Mmmmm, chocolate!

When I got back to Portmagee I collected my Mum and Aunt and the three of us headed off to Waterville via the Skelligs Chocolate Factory. This is a great free attraction with lots of complimentary chocolate samples and delicious array of goodies available to purchase in their factory shop. You can watch the chocolate being made and chat to the chocolatiers – a lovely experience.

We spent the night in Waterville’s Butler Arms Hotel, a quaintly charming hotel right on the seafront.  This traditional style hotel is perfectly located for a walk on the town’s fabulous beach and provides easy access to a host of local bars and restaurants.  We ate in “An Corcan” which is a great option for an inexpensive and informal meal – the restaurant offers a traditional menu in relaxed surroundings.

Derrynane

Derrynane House

Derrynane House

The following morning we stopped off to see Derrynane House, the ancestral home of the great Daniel O’Connell.  Here you can see a variety of historic artefacts relating to ‘The Liberator’ – including family portraits, documents, furniture and gifts he received from the state and international dignitaries. You can also view the opulent gold chariot that brought him triumphantly through the streets of Dublin when he was released from prison in 1844.  The grounds surrounding the house are beautifully maintained and would be a wonderful place to picnic, and there is also easy access to Derrynane Strand.

From here we drove back to Tarbert through Sneem and Killarney. The views are simply awesome. If you can, I recommend you take your time to stop off and explore, your camera will be worn out from the multitude of vistas and sights along this section of the Ring of Kerry road! I highly recommend you enjoy a spot of lunch or afternoon tea in Avoca, Moll’s Gap…the retail therapy is pretty good there too!

All in all it was a fantastic few days.  Sceilg Mhichíl has to be one of the most magnificent sites I have ever visited – every bit as impressive as Angkor Watt in Cambodia and Machu Pichu in Peru, but more soulful, less crowded and, thankfully, superbly protected. Start planning your trip today!


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Podcast: Interview with Jack Roberts, author of ‘The Sun Circles of Ireland’ and Cairn T alignment co-discoverer

Author and jewellery maker Jack Roberts, who is well known as being the co-discoverer of the equinox alignment of Cairn T, Loughcrew, with Martin Brennan, has just published a new book about stone circles. It’s called ‘The Sun Circles of Ancient Ireland’ and is available in all good bookshops now. In this interview with Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland, Jack speaks about how he came to be interested in stone monuments and stone circles in particular. He also speaks candidly about his friendship with Martin Brennan, who he describes as his “guru” and “teacher”, and about the controversy between Brennan and archaeologists that led to Brennan fleeing Ireland and not returning for a quarter of a century.
Roberts was also a good friend of John Michell. He lives in Sligo, but has spent 30 years on and off studying the stone circles of the south of Ireland. His new book represents the fruits of that labour.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/09/podcast-interview-with-jack-roberts.html

Connemara loop – a drive through Joyce county

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Maam 

The Connemara loop is just a really beautiful way how to get to know the Joyce county. You can do it in one day but you might feel sad driving through all the beauty only for one day. Anyway this is the map of the Connemara Loop , have a look & think about the journey yourself. Every spot is worth stopping.

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Lough Corrib 

Unfortunately you won’t be able to do this trip
on a bus because there is not much public transport around this area. You can try hitchhiking if you want. People are very friendly over here so it might just work for you. We drove from Galway to do the Connemara loop and started in Maam cross, which is a beautiful spot and had a pint of Guinness in the Maam village, tasted really good.

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
On the way to Leenane village 

Driving further towards to Leenane village will be very pleasant because you’ll see lots of lakes and turf hills. This area always makes me think about the famine times, because you can really see that the people of Ireland had nothing else than potatoes. Life must have been tough here.
The road will bring you to one of my favorite parts of Connemara – Leenane village & Killary fjord – the link is to another post of this blog especially dedicated to Killary fjord. Make sure to stop here. The Leenane village & its surrounding is just breathtaking. Killary fjord is the only fjord in Ireland so have enough time to see it.

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Kylemore abbey
Driving from Killary fjord will take you to the Kylemore abbey. Kylemore is a home to a community of nuns of the Benedictine order. Don’t hesitate to visit this place because the Victorian gardens are full of seasonal plants, gazibos and lovely benches with beautiful views. Just a bit further down there is Connemara national park. A unique spot in the heart of Connemara with lots of hiking possibilities.  I might repeat myself again but don’t miss it.

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Overviewing the Atlantic ocean 

You can now choose how you want to go back, either follow the map or just drive along the coast. Both ways have their own beauty. The inland way is stunning, you will be passing the twelve pins and see the marble mines. The coastal way via Cliffden reveals the stunning coast so you decide. I hope you will love Connemara as much as I do. Enjoy.

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Overviewing the Killary fjord

Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Lettergesh beach
Connemara loop - a drive through Joyce county
Driving towards Galway

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Newgrange and asking life’s big questions

This is a short extract of a speech I made at the launch of ‘Newgrange: Monument to Immortality’ in Drogheda in October 2012. It serves to highlight some of the themes explored in the book, and to explain how the journey of exploration of Newgrange for me was as much a personal and spiritual journey as it was a journalistic one.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/newgrange-and-asking-lifes-big-questions.html

Lots to Love in Limerick


Quick Bio: Roisin here! I’m lucky enough to say that my job for the last three years has been telling people how amazing Ireland is. Now I have the chance to let you in on Ireland’s best kept secret; my native County Limerick. Lots to Love in Limerick

She’s been celebrated as ‘a lady’ in song and has reigned as European City of Sport; now in 2014 Limerick will be crowned Irish City of Culture. Limerick city and its beautiful surrounding county enjoy convenience to many other iconic parts of Ireland, yet there are more reasons than ever not to simply rush through without taking in all it has to offer.

 

Lots to Love in Limerick

Get active in Ballyhoura

Rolling Through the Landscape and Heritage

Amidst the rolling hills and lush valleys to the east of the county, straddling the Limerick and Cork border, there’s plenty of activity to keep you busy in Ballyhoura. The area has been praised as a dream mountain biking destination with an impressive network of breath-taking trails. It’s not just great for two wheels though; walkers, horse riding enthusiasts and anyone hungry for heritage will not want to leave this natural and cultural heartland.

The Scenic Routes

Two routes, both scenic, take you from Limerick to Kerry, but there is so much to discover along the way that you might just want to linger a while longer in Limerick before heading further afield …

If you take the coastal route, a stunning drive along the Shannon as it flows towards the wild Atlantic, make sure you stop off in the picturesque estuary towns and villages. Traditional culture can be heard in the music of local pubs and beautifully preserved history still lives in Glin Castle.

Lots to Love in Limerick

Foynes was the centre of the aviation world in the 1940s

A journey along this route would not be complete without a stop in the town of Foynes. Learn the unknown and amazing stories of the Foynes air terminal and the aviation world in the 30s and 40s at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.  Don’t forget to stop for refreshment! The Irish Coffee was invented here one stormy night in 1943.An alternative route west from Limerick city takes you through Ireland’s prettiest village and the home of one of our more famous manors – Adare. Family history and local culture are interpreted wonderfully at Adare Heritage Centre.  If all this history gets your appetite going, enjoy the village park with a picnic available to go from the centre’s restaurant. Perhaps affordable fine dining is more your style? You’ll find some of Ireland’s most celebrated restaurants in the villages of Adare and nearby Ballingarry.

Souvenirs?

What better way to remember a great trip than with something beautiful and unique you can wear? Newcastle West was always a market town, and indeed you will still find local farmers selling their produce in the Medieval Square, but today the heritage and literary town of Newcastle West is also a hotbed for cutting edge design and luxury boutiques, bursting with inspired fashion for you to take home and treasure – or flaunt!

Adare Heritage Centre

Adare Heritage Centre

 

Lots to Love

Although Frank McCourt made Limerick’s rain famous, you might not have known that it’s soaked with heritage, brimming with culture and overflowing with nature. Best of all, the city and county’s authentically Irish experiences make you feel like it’s ‘off the beaten track’, yet the more I travel away from Limerick, the more I realise how blissfully easy to is to get there, from anywhere! Once you enjoy the Limerick welcome leaving will be the hard part.


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Two Wheels Good


Quick Bio: Aileen here, I’m from Co. Kerry and work for Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam. I love cooking, travelling and cycling – I own five bikes, and it’s still not enough! I love getting back home to fresh mountain air and my mother’s brown bread. @aileenverykeen

Two Wheels Good

On top of An Grianán Aileach, Co. Donegal

One of the most noticeable changes I’ve seen on my trips back home in recent years is the number of cyclists you see. On city streets and on country roads, the humble bike is becoming part of the fabric of people’s everyday lives whether for commuting, leisure or sporting reasons. It brings to mind Flann O’Brien’s observation in The Third Policeman: “The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles…”

I’ve chosen some of my favourite cycles in Ireland here. The routes are well marked, traffic-free in the main and will give you the chance to spend a few hours in Ireland’s countryside at your own pace. You won’t have any problem renting a bike for any of these routes, and each can be shortened or extended to suit your energy levels.

The Greenway from Westport to Achill, Co Mayo

Following the route of the old Westport to Achill railway (which closed in 1937), you’ll be treated to the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland. It’s also mercifully flat (well, trains don’t usually go up hills do they?) allowing you to enjoy the varied features on the trail – villages, mountains, sea views, forest and bogland. The route can be completed in one go, or choose a section punctuated by the villages of Mulranny and Newport. I tackled the Mulranny to Achill Island section with some friends this summer and we’ve been raving about it ever since. Wide expanses of sky, sea and stress free cycling – a perfect summer afternoon.

Two Wheels Good

‘Breathtaking views’ The Great Western Greenway

 Slea Head, Co. Kerry
One of the finest coastal drives in Ireland, this 40km circular route takes you west from Dingle town around a stunning peninsula, dotted with white beaches, monastic sites and small villages. It’s possible to do it all in one day, but you won’t regret spending a night on the peninsula – the starlit stroll home from the pub was one of the highlights for me. Get the trip off to the right start by picking up your bike in the inimitable Foxy John’s in Dingle – you’ll pass the bar counter on your left and the hardware counter on your right as you make your way to the bikes at the back!
Two Wheels Good

Taking it all in at Slea Head Co.Kerry

Inis Eoghan Cycleway, Co. Londonderry and Co. Donegal
Taking in two counties, the route connects the River Foyle in County Londonderry to Lough Swilly in Donegal. More than one third of the route is traffic free, and the remainder is along quieter country roads. It’s worth the climb up to An Grianán Aileach where the stunning views takes in Lough Swilly, Inch Island, the Inis Eoghain Peninsula and the Sperrin Mountains. An Grianán is a stone circle temple that dates back to circa 1,700 BC. Pick up your bike in the city of Derry-Londonderry and follow the route anti-clockwise. You’ll be rewarded on your return with a flat traffic-free path that follows the line of the former Great Northern Railway, called the Foyle Valley Greenway.

A holiday for me isn’t complete until I’ve picked up a bike and map. On two wheels you have a great vantage point to take in your surroundings through all your senses, and in glorious 3D and full colour surround sound. When you’re on a bike you’re not just observing the scene, you’re in the scene. It’s easy to see why Ireland is enjoy a cycling renaissance – just beware of those that have exchanged a few too many atoms with their bicycles, as Flann O’Brien goes on to warn us: “when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”


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Slieve League – the hidden beauty of county Donegal

Slieve League - the hidden beauty of county Donegal
Slieve League

County Donegal is one of my favorite parts of Ireland, people are very friendly & helpful over here. If you are planning your holidays in Ireland, don’t forget to visit Donegal. There are so many things you can see & visit that one week is not enough to see the whole county.
Do not worry about accommodation because you will have plenty of possibilities from small B&Bs, hostels to 4* hotels. While planning your trip remember to visit the cliffs of Slieve League. People might get confused about names of places written in Gaelic but do not worry because everybody speaks English. Donegal is a part of Ireland where people speak Gaelic to keep the history of Ireland alive.

Slieve League - the hidden beauty of county Donegal
Coastal road towards to the Slieve League

Let’s go back to the trip – this is the map for driving directions from Donegal town, make sure you take the coastal road because you will just love the beautiful panoramas and scenery. Photographers make sure that your batteries are fully charged to be able to take as many pictures as you like. I can assure you that there is so much to see. If planning this trip consider that you will be stopping every 5 minutes. It is nice to stay in Donegal town but I preffered to stay in one of the local villages to be closer to the coast. If you have no car you can use public bus to Donegal and that use the local bus to get to Carrick. That’s the village which is the closest to the cliffs.
Plenty of accommodation possibilities again – lodge, hostel, B&Bs or self catering cottages. I don’t think I saw a hotel in Carrick town but there might be one somewhere around. You can rent a bike in Carrick and cycle around this area, just remember the hills are very steep.

Slieve League - the hidden beauty of county Donegal
The lake on the top of the Slieve League

To get to the Slieve league you can either walk the old pilgrimage, drive or cycle. It might seem really long journey to get to the top but once you get there, you will just be amazed. Drive carefully because the roads are narrow and there is lots of sheep around.

Slieve League - the hidden beauty of county Donegal
Slieve League cliffs

The Slieve League cliffs offers boat trips underneath the cliffs, which must be an amazing experience. I can’t wait to go back & try this experience. Local people will be happy to help you so if you get lost, don’t be affraid to ask. Have lots of fun! (more…)

Latest podcast: Newgrange and the place name ‘Bro’ or ‘Broe’ – from Brug na Bóinne, its ancient name

Above is my latest podcast, which this week focuses on the place name ‘Bro’, also written ‘Broe’, which is found at Newgrange and in its vicinity. William Borlase, in his 1897 second volume of ‘The Dolmens of Ireland’, refers to this name and talks about how local people at the time pointed out that the field in which Newgrange sits was called ‘Bro Park’, or Brugh Field. This could relate to the old name of Newgrange, Brú na Bóinne, originally Brug na Bóinne.
To hear the podcast, just click on the arrow in the orange circle above. The piece is just under five minutes long. I have recently started doing short audio clips about Irish myths and monuments, mostly related to the Boyne Valley. If you’d like to hear more of these, please do let me know. There are several ways to contact me:
1) Add a comment to this blog post.
2) Email me at mythicalireland@gmail.com
3) ‘Like’ the Mythical Ireland page on Facebook and interact there
4) Follow me on Twitter
I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/latest-podcast-newgrange-and-place-name.html

Rare exquisite drawings of Newgrange from 1866


Newgrange sketch from 1966
A sketch of the entrance to Newgrange published in 1866.

These two drawings of Newgrange are extraordinary. I’ve never seen them until today. And even though I’ve written a book about Newgrange and might be considered something of an expert on the monument, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen them replicated in any modern book on the subject. I could, of course, be wrong, but certainly I have no memory of ever seeing them before. Which is why seeing them today for the first time has been such a beautifully pleasant surprise. They were published in a book (it’s name I will reveal in another blog post soon!) in 1866, and so belong to a time when we weren’t exactly sure what Newgrange looked like. We have earlier drawings and paintings, by the likes of Vallancey and Ledwich etc., and then photographs from the late 19th century onwards. Here is a unique moment in the Newgrange timeline. The mound is considerably overgrown with trees. In fact, they almost smother the entrance. There is something extraordinarily romantic and evocative about the above drawing.
Views similar to the one below have been seen before, but I’ve never seen an early drawing or sketch from that particular angle. Again, I think that this might be a unique image, having not seen the light of day in modern times. I am, of course, open to correction, and if anyone can put me right, please do!

I’ve gone to the trouble of performing a Google Image search and these two images don’t have a match, so it would appear they are not on the internet at all – until now. There is a not dissimilar view to this one contained in a book by David MacRitchie called ‘Testimony from Tradition’, published in 1890:

I would be very interested in hearing from anybody who might have seen the first two images before. I have checked any books about Newgrange here in my own library and am pretty sure that it is not featured in any of those.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/rare-exquisite-drawings-of-newgrange.html

Early plans, drawings and photographs of Newgrange by Irish scholar and archaeologist George Coffey


Early plans, drawings and photographs of Newgrange by Irish scholar and archaeologist George Coffey
The entrance of Newgrange as it looked before the 1960s excavation and renovation, but long after the entrance had been rediscovered by Charles Campbell’s labourers in 1699. Featured in George Coffey’s RIA paper and reproduced in William C. Borlase’s Dolmens of Ireland (Vol II).
Early plans, drawings and photographs of Newgrange by Irish scholar and archaeologist George Coffey
George Coffee’s plan and section of Newgrange from his RIA paper as featured
in Borlase’s Dolmens of Ireland (Vol. II)
Early plans, drawings and photographs of Newgrange by Irish scholar and archaeologist George Coffey
A section and plan of the passage and chamber of Newgrange by George Coffey.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/early-plans-drawings-and-photographs-of.html

A good reason to travel to the West of Ireland

Hello, it's me!
Quick bio:
Hi, I am Greg, I’m French and I work for Tourism Ireland in Paris. My job is to convince people –and even intimidate them – that they need to go Ireland. Now. When I don’t work, I love walking in the city or the countryside, going to pubs and concerts, football and rugby matches, having fun with friends and family.Cheers! @twitthermann

Those who travel have a good reason – a trip to the West of Ireland
Here I am! This was my first trip to Ireland. My first real trip to the island. Ok, I had been once to Dublin, lost in the rain, running late to a professional meeting. But this time, I had chosen to come here. I had a long-term relationship – with cigarettes – to forget, so I went to the West of Ireland, looking for health, solitude, and an authentic experience.
I climbed the sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick – and it was really hard !-, hiked to the top of Diamond Hill, where I felt like the King of Connemara;Diamond Hill - I am the King of Connemara

I learned to surf, along the stunning beach of Strandhill. And went around a cairn on a hill – Knocknarea -, reputedly the tomb of the mythical Queen Maeve; no matter who is actually buried there, it’s a majestic and old lady’s grave anyway. So she inspired me respect.
I tasted juicy fish & chips, relieved my fatigue with deep and cold beers after good walks. When I wanted to be alone, I was completely quiet, either somewhere in the hills near Glencar Waterfall– I won’t tell you where, this is now my secret place- or at sunset on end-of-the-world beaches. Inishbofin - Hello, new friend
And I when I realized I also wanted to see other humans, not only horses or sheep, I met people. Musicians, surfers, backpackers, pilgrims or farmers… All the people there told me “Here, this is the real Ireland”. Who knows?
So why did I feel that I was finding something, while lost amongst heathers, sheep, turf and clouds? Maybe my answer is hidden somewhere in the West. Some people go on a trip when they want to celebrate a change in their lives, some when their heart is broken. Those who travel have a good reason. So what is yours?Quirky signs on the road - Connemara


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The search for Amergin and Drogheda’s Stone Age past

Drogheda Museum / Old Drogheda Society
Special HERITAGE WEEK lecture

The search for Amergin and Drogheda's Stone Age past
Is Millmount really a passage-tomb? 

THE SEARCH FOR AMHAIRGIN – Looking deep into Millmount’s past …

By Kevin Barton & Conor Brady
THURS 22 AUG 2013 – 8pm
Governor’s House, Millmount Cultural Quarter
Using the latest geophys technology Drogheda Museum begin a year-long project to look deep into the ancient mound at Millmount in a search for Drogheda’s Stone Age …
It is thought that the mound at Millmount in Drogheda was originally part of the great Megalithic (“large stone”) Culture which flourished in the Boyne Valley from 5,000BCE to 2,000BCE and includes the internationally-famous tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. Its importance in our collective folk memory is underlined by the legend that the mythological figure Amhairgin (pronounced “Aver-gin”) the originator of song and poetry is buried there.
Because of the huge amount of structural changes on the mound over the millennia normal archaeological excavation is impossible but now through the wonders of modern electronic remote sensing (“geophys”) we can scan deep into Millmount and begin to unlock its secrets.
Leaders of the Project Team, Kevin Barton of Landscape & Geophysical Services  and Conor Brady, Lecturer in Archaeology at DKIT will launch the research programme with a special lecture in The Governor’s House Millmount on Thursday 22 Aug 2013 at 8pm.
In Early Irish mythology Amhairgin (“aver-gin”) was the inventor of song and poetry as implied in his name (“Amhair”=singing; “gin” = give birth to). The extraordinary poem/song associated with him, Duan Amhairgine (The Song of Amhairgin), was therefore regarded by the Old Irish as the first song ever made and was always placed first in collections of poetry.
The power of this poem in Old Irish is such that a whole array of famous poets in many languages have attempted translations. Among them was the great English poet Robert Graves who said that “English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.”
Many composers and songwriters have also set versions of the text to music including this one in the original Old Irish by Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance) from the BBC series “The Celts”.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/the-search-for-amergin-and-droghedas.html

New supernova discovered in Delphinus


New supernova discovered in Delphinus
This new star in Delphinus has been Nova Delphini 2013. Click image for large version.

This is a quick shot of the new nova in the constellation Delphinus which I shot from the front driveway a few minutes ago between gaps in the clouds. The “star” (it’s really an exploding star) is easy to spot in this four-second exposure which was taken with my Nikon D7000. Read more about the nova here.

Authors: Aran Islander…

Read more http://blog.mythicalireland.com/2013/08/new-supernova-discovered-in-delphinus.html

Aran islands – the Atlantic islands

Aran islands - the Atlantic islands

Aran islands are located in county Clare in the west coast of Ireland.There is so much to do in here that you can stay here at least for a night. You will definitely enjoy!
There are three Atlantic islands called the Aran Islands -Inishere, Inishmoore and Inishmaan. Accommodation is very easy to book – hostels, hotel and lots of bed & breakfast so you don’t have to worry about where to stay. You have to take a ferry to Aran islands – there are two points where you can take the ferry from – Doolin a village which is situated underneath the Cliffs of Moher or from Ros a’Mhíl which is situated in the heart of Galway bay. You can also take a plane from Connemara airport, make sure you book your flight in advance because the flights are very busy. Just one more little reminder don’t forget to check the weather because the ferries and planes only operate in good weather.

Inishmore island is the biggest of the three. It offers great possibilities for hiking, cycling or just a nice drive.  The hike or cycle is moderate and is about 22 km long but you can just adjust it for yourself. After my arrival to Inishmore island I rented a bike for €10/per day and I cycled all around the island. If you want to see a lot and enjoy the atmosphere the bike trip is the best. To get to Dun Aengus by bike takes about 30 minutes but with all the beauty around it might take you longer. Dun Aengus of Inishmore have uncovered the remains of huts and bones which suggests to the archeologists that the land was already occupied between 500 – 800 BC, several centuries before the fort was build. The fort is situated on the rim of a 200 m high cliff on the island’s southern coast. It’s simply stunning and definitely worth visiting. On the way back you can visit one more attraction called Dun Duchanthair. There is plenty of  craft shops, pubs, bars or restaurants on Inishmore if you want to stay overnight and make the most of your visit.

Inisheere is a smaller island but as beautiful as Inishmore full of nice spots.You can rent a bike again or just walk round the island. For going around the whole island I recommend a car or a bike, for hiking just choose the highlights – this is a map. I enjoyed the part of thewalk where Lough More is, you also get to see the wreck of Plassy over there. The beach is situated on the way back.Whether you stay overnight or just one day enjoy the Aran Islands and don’t forget to check local crafs.

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Literary Ireland, some personal favourites, by Sarah Kenny, Tourism Ireland Amsterdam daughter of the legendary Kenny Clann of Kenny’s Book Shop in Galway


 3 of Ireland’s top literary spots

While the Ireland map is dotted and peppered with literary gems too many to mention, I’ve picked out some of my favourite spots to give you a taster..

John B Keans pub
Kerry
During a recent visit to Listowel, one of Ireland’s great literary towns, I immediately sensed the town’s respect and celebration of its writers, past and present. The writer’s centre there is an affordable must see, appropriately called ‘Seanchaí’, the Irish for storyteller. A statue of John B. Keane keeps everyone company in the main street. Sitting in John B.Keane’s pub surrounded by celebrations of his works, we sat at the bar as the locals told us of the amateur plays of his stories which the townspeople put on in the pub or writer’s centre several evenings a week.Blasket Islands

The renowned stories of Peig Sayers and the other islanders of the Blasket Islands come to life when you step on The Great Blasket off West Kerry. To make the experience most worthwhile, visit the Writer’s Centre in Dún Chaoin in advance, where you will receive a ceád míle fáilte and see the celebration of the native language which produced these literary achievements.

Dublin Writers Museum
Dublin
It’s no wonder that the capital is a UNESCO city of literature – ask a local about McDaid’s pub and they will tell you it’s where Brendan Behan used to drink. Walk down the canal and you can sit beside a musing Patrick Kavanagh. Step into Sweny’s Pharmacy in Merrion Square, and you step right into the pages of Joyce’s Ulysses, where the book’s description of the pharmacy stands to this day. Dublin satisfies every literary desire.
For a good natter, visit the Dublin Writer’s Centre where you can sit and have a coffee with the staff who will talk about anything literary. If museums are your thing, pop next door to Dublin Writers Museum where portraits, possessions and rare editions of the likes of Stoker or Synge bring you into the the lives of Dublin’s great authors. The Long Room library in Trinity College has a wow factor that really lives up to expectations, after which you can wander into the Book of Kells. And for that quiet corner where you can read with your coffee that we all wonder about, The Winding Stair on the Quays houses the perfect nook.Patrick Kavanagh

Maeve Binchy and me
Galway
Kenny’s Bookshop celebrates Irish writers past and present with old photographs throughout the store of many who have clearly passed through the shop, like McCourt, Binchy or Dahl. Be sure to go to the back and see the antique cabinets filled with rare editions and bindings, amidst the thousands of books make it a browser’s paradise where the family still run the shop. Within the city, the nooks, crannies and creaky floorboards in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop make for hours of happy browsing – this shop is a great place to pick up secondhand paperbacks.Neachtains

If you are going to Galway, try and plan it around what is arguably the country’s best literary festival – Cúirt. Every April, new and upcoming writers from around the world come to Galway to read in theatres, centres, museums and shops.

Kennys
As a final tip, a pint of Guinness with your book outside Neachtains in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter, is one of the best ways to spend some idle hours.


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The Wicklow mountains – Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall


The Wicklow mountains - Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall
Lough Tan from above

Sally Gap is a beautiful part of the Wicklow mountains. I call this lake “Guinness lake” because it looks like a pint of Guinness to me. This is a map of the area.  I want to point out two places – Lough Tan and  secret waterfall. Both places are really enjoyable and you can have nice picnic here. From the lough Tan view point you can walk up the Wicklow way up to Cronewood where you could be picked up or walk a bit further to Knockree and take public bus back to town.

The Wicklow mountains - Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall
The secret waterfall valley

 There is no real public transport to these areas. The Wicklow way is public transport accessible from Roundwood or Knockree.  Use my map if you want to drive. The waterfall is not in the maps but worth seeing, that’s why I call this place a secret waterfall. You will enjoy looking down the valley or just the sheep around. The whole drive takes about half a day, you can connect it with visiting Glendalough which is nearby. The forested area around the waterfall offers a nice area for a short walk along the river. The roads might be narrow so watch out for other drivers passing you & enjoy!

The Wicklow mountains - Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall
Don’t be sheepish
The Wicklow mountains - Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall
Overlooking the waterfall
The Wicklow mountains - Lough Tan Guinness lake the waterfall
Lough Tan view

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The Cliffs of Moher – the incredible beauty in county Clare

The Cliffs of Moher - the incredible beauty in county Clare
The Cliffs from above

When you do a research about what to do in Ireland one of the top 10 results will be the Cliffs of Moher in county Clare. Right after the Burren national park  you get to this stunning place on mother Earth. There are days during the year, when this attraction is so busy that you won’t be able to take a picture like this. My recommendation is if you have the option – don’t go at the weekend, leave it for the weekdays. The cliffs and the area around offer lots to do – hiking, cycling and road trips.

Depends on what you like but my suggestion is to stay at least for three days in this area. 
I stayed in the Doolin hostel for a base and had so much fun over there.  Doolin is a small village where you have a good acces to the Burren area and the Cliffs of Moher.
Use your car to get the there or public bus from Galway.
The Cliffs of Moher - the incredible beauty in county Clare
Doolin cliff walk
  I took a public bus  from Doolin up to the Visitor’s center of the Cliffs. Walked around, of course took lots of pictures and than I decided to walk back to Doolin. This walk is called Doolin cliff walk, you need to have good shoes and be ready for rain. The hike down is just perfect, 8 km to Doolin village which took me around 2 hrs. I really enjoyed this hike. As I took a morning bus I got back to Doolin by 2pm and still had a half a day left.  I was on time and able to catch the last boat which brings you underneath the cliffs, if you are lucky you might see the puffins hatching or fishing. It takes about one hour and it is worth it. 
After you come back to Doolin have delicious Irish coffee in the local bar and enjoy the atmosphere of this village on the west coast of Ireland. O’connors pub is the right place for traditional Irish music and the best fish and chips in the west coast. You’ll find lots more to do around – the Doolin cave, scuba diving, cruise ships to Aran islands, local craft shops and plenty of cycling and hiking possibilities in the Burren area.  Enjoy!

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Dingle peninsula

Dingle peninsula
Connor pass from above

Dingle peninsula is situated in county Kerry. Make sure you won’t miss it when discovering Ireland.

Dingle peninsula
Dingle peninsula coastline
Dingle is well known for its stunning panoramic views. Dingle town itself is full of little craft shops, lots of bars, supermarkets and restaurants. Accommodation should not be a problem because there is lots of B&Bs, hostels or hotels around. You can get to Dingle by car or public transport. There is even a public bus operating on the peninsula, which gets you where you need.  It is possible to rent bikes in Dingle town and enjoy the beauty of this place on the bike. Hiking is great, because the Dingle mountains are full of great hiking spots. You can also take a drive around the ring of Dingle.               
Dingle peninsula
Blasket island beach
Another possibility how to spend a day around is to take a ferry to the Blasket islands and enjoy a day there. Remember there is no shelter so make sure you are ready for rain. The ferry takes about 45 minutes to get there and I am sure you will be surprised.

Dingle peninsula
Wild seals running back to the sea

 Your ferry will probably be accompanied by the local dolphin called Fungi. Once you get to the island , you might get lucky and see sunbathing seals on the sand. The islands have a beautiful coastline which is worth seeing. I am sure everybody who loves wild nature will love this place. You can hike around the island or just enjoy the beach or have a picnic over there. You will be told what time does the boat leave so don’t miss it and enjoy!
My last tip for what to see around is Connor pass – an amazing part of Dingle peniscula. Just a little map in a case you will have trouble finding it. Just drive up the road and view the stunning panoramas.

Dingle peninsula
Connor pass

You can  walk up there as well, the hike is quite demanding but worth climbing the hill. I am sure you will fall in love with this piece of Ireland because it is very magic. 

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Donegal – Aranmore island


Donegal - Aranmore island
View on Aranmore islands on the way back to the port

County Donegal is a very special place on Mother Earth, I could easily imagine a part of Lord of the rings being filmed there.
Donegal - Aranmore island
Walking about 15 min from the cottage along the lakes

 First time I went to this area It was to Dungloe town and we were warmly  welcomed by the owner of this lovely cottage. The place is just groovy cottage with a lovely kitchen, which is fully equipped for cooking. The shower & bath are nice as well. Bedrooms fit four to five people and are very comfortable. Christina’s hospitality is amazing so I fully recommend her services.
Dungloe town is a cute little place which has brilliant bars,good restaurant, shops and supermarkets. You can get to Dungloe town by public transport or by car. Check Bus Eirann for connection.

Donegal - Aranmore island
Aranmore island cliffs

Aranmore island is a really nice place to visit. Take the ferry from Burtonport and enjoy the amazing atmosphere of The Aranmore island. There is plenty of accommodation possibilities. The local night club provides fun till very late.

Donegal - Aranmore island
Beach by the bar

Great hiking or cycling possibilities. Unfortunately it is impossible to rent bicycles in this area, so bring your own. You can also hike or rent a local taxi driver. The hike is amazing & so must be the cycle. Just walk up the hill, pass the village & all you need is great weather. The island is full of glacial lakes, sheep and the coastline is stunning. Enjoy the beautiful panoramas and don’t forget to try the local bar with a view on the ocean. (more…)

Killary fjord – Sleepzone Connemara hostel

Killary fjord - Sleepzone Connemara hostel
Killary fjord view on the way from the road

Killary fjord is situated  in Connemara county Galway. The hostel is placed on the fjord about 1,5 km off the main road and gives you beautiful views.
 SLEEPZONE hostel is a very friendly environment with support of Irish tourism. You can bring a car down or ask your bus driver to drop you off at the adventure centre and just walk down. These are the local buses from Galway  Timetable.  
Otherwise just follow the coast road from Galway to Leenane and look for the Killary adventure centre. Take it left and you are there. Map just to make sure

Killary fjord - Sleepzone Connemara hostel
View from the hostel

Once you get to the hostel, you’ll love it from the first time because the whole area just overviews the Killary fjord. The hostel itself is very well maintained and the rooms are bright and spacious. The showers are ensuite and the kitchen and dining room area are very well placed. You can have breakfast and overview the Killary fjord.  I recommend an early booking. This hostel is very busy. There is plenty of things to see and do around for more than three days. So stay as long as possible.

Killary fjord - Sleepzone Connemara hostel
Western way

 Connemara is great for hiking just ask for detailed map and get on the top of one of the surrounding turf hills and enjoy the stunning views around Connemara. This is a link to some hikes around.

Killary fjord - Sleepzone Connemara hostel
Killary fjord on a boat

Take the Killary adventure centre offers bikes to rent, kayaking and more to do including mud fights and clay pigeon shooting.
You can also take a boat trip on the Killary fjord. If you are lucky you even get to see the local dolphins. The trip takes about 90 minutes, the boat has a lovely lounge bar where you can refresh yourself.
There is lots more to do on the Killary fjord, let me know if you enjoyed it.

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Quick summer tip – all the beaches you can go to around Dublin

Are you in Dublin during these hot days?
It’s just great when you can go to the beach any time during the summer.
These are my tips :

Quick summer tip - all the beaches you can go to around Dublin
Rush village beach

 There is a lot of nice beaches in the north direction from Dublin. Rush village beach is one of them. It only takes 30 minutes to drive from Dublin or you can use public transport
http://www.dublinbus.ie/en/Your-Journey1/Timetables/All-Timetables/33/. Really nice beach and all within walking distance.

Quick summer tip - all the beaches you can go to around Dublin
Skerries port

There is more options to get off the bus or the motorway and go to Donabate or Skerries. Skerries town is full of life, bars, port and the beach is spacious.
If you want to head south from Dublin the best way is to take dart (train) http://www.irishrail.ie/

Quick summer tip - all the beaches you can go to around Dublin
Dun Laoghaire pier

Dun Laoghaire is a cute town with a few small beaches around. Just take the Dart  and get of the train at the Dun Laoghaire station, just turn right and walk straight down and you’ll find lots of spots. Can be busy but you will enjoy it because the ambiance of Dun Laoghaire is just amazing.

Quick summer tip - all the beaches you can go to around Dublin
Dublin coast taken from Bray head

The further on the coast you go the better Bray, Dalkey and Greystones follow the coast line on the dart. For sure you’ll find amazing spots over there. Bray is the biggest town with lots of bars and shops around. Make sure you have some food and drink supplies for Greystones and Dalkey beaches.

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Johnnie Foxe’s walk

                   The best pub in Dublin (nearly)

Johnnie Foxe's walk
Johnie Foxes pub panorama

This is the best pub around, great food as well….special atmosphere,
you get a chance to meet locals, tourists or immigrants of any nationality which have settled  here in Ireland. The menu is excellent & affordable. The walk is medium & it’s worth doing it.
You have several options what way to do the walk. There is a public bus to this place n.44b but it only works during the weekdays.

  • Dublin – Wicklow way – Glencullen, public bus back or take the official to town
  • Dublin public bus – walk back …..over three rock 

I prefer to walk the Wickow way, because it’s much nicer but both walks have something….
The way back..follow the map Way back.
Enjoy the pints! (more…)

The Wicklow mountains

Wicklow mountains are called the garden of Ireland so if you ever come to Dublin. You should discover this area. 

The first tip for a nice trip is the Sugarloaf hill. How to get there if you have no car?
There are several other ways how to get there…
The easiest first
This bus takes you from town …..take this bus to Kilmacanogue and the bus will drop you off just under the hill of Sugarloaf. Make sure you ask the driver.  You can just climb up the hill and enjoy the spectacular view.
This is link the map of the walk
map
After you get to the top you can walk down to Kilamacanogue village, just follow the tracks.
You can take bus n. 145 back….Timetable
Very easy to do
Make sure you have good shoes.

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Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo


Michelle Duffy is the multitasking writer behind the brilliant Wander Mom blog, where she writes about the joys of travelling with children. Born in Dublin and living in Seattle, she recently brought her children to Ireland for a holiday lesson about their heritage.

This is their story.

Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo

Michelle and her family

Growing up in Ireland I didn’t think about my family’s history or roots at all. It just wasn’t important. My parents regularly took my siblings and me to visit our grandparents in Sligo and Galway and I knew in a background, “who cares?” kind of way that my family had probably been living in those same places for generations.

Roll forward to 2010. I’m a Mum with two boys, living in Seattle USA and in a very American way my children are more interested in learning about their “roots” than I ever was. My husband is also Irish so my children have visited Ireland regularly but they call themselves (proudly) “Irish-American”. They are fans of Taytos and love Father Ted but at school they’ve learned about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower and Benedict Arnold. They’d never heard of Home Rule or the Famine. We talked about taking some time on our next trip to Ireland to introduce them to some Irish history – and maybe some family history too.

Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo

Michelle in front of her grandmother’s house

Thanks to an exploding Icelandic volcano, the opportunity for a combined history lesson presented itself unexpectedly. We were in Ireland for a family wedding but with all aircraft grounded we found ourselves with time on our hands. Like good Americans we decided to do a road trip: Sligo via Belfast and the Antrim coast.

My mother is from Sligo. The row house in the photo (left) was my grandmother’s home. I have a photo of me at two years old sitting in her arms outside that window. Sensing that I might be about to get soppy on them, my kids dashed across the street (of course looking the wrong way for traffic) to check out the river, as the house faces the Garravogue.

Before I could drag them even further down memory lane with stories of feeding swans with my grandparents, Brendan, my younger son noticed the Famine Memorial sculpture.

Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo

Famine memorial scuplture

“What’s that for?”

“Read the sign, it’s a memorial for the 30,000 people who left Ireland from Sligo during the Famine”

“What Famine?”

Even if I swore to you that my kids had heard about the Famine before then it wouldn’t matter. This was the first time they’d really thought about it. I could tell that Brendan was having a hard time reconciling what I was telling him with his mental image of Ireland. For him, Ireland is about family and fun; cousins and grandparents; music and laughter. This picture of people dying and fleeing – from right where we were standing – was just too much.

We walked on towards the Town Hall.

Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo

Mr Bernard Collery, Mayor of Sligo 1882

Meet Mr Bernard Collery, Mayor of Sligo 1882, MP for North Sligo from 1891 to 1900, my children’s great-great-great-grandfather – and an anti-Parnellite to boot. My poor kids got a bit of a crash course in Irish history in the early 20th century looking at this photo.

I think our guide took pity on them: “Would the boys like to see the council chamber?”

Sensing a way to escape the history lesson, they nodded enthusiastically.

With their new best friend leading the way, my boys followed into the bright chamber. Cillian looked around, and settled himself on the best seat in the room.

Seattlites Find Family History in Sligo

Cillian goes for the chair

Maybe it was genes kicking in, or maybe it was just coincidence, but he was sitting in the mayor’s chair.

Michelle Duffy blogs at WanderMom where she provides inspiration on where to travel with children and tips and information on traveling around the world with kids.


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Kilkenny – Where To Eat, Drink, And Be Seen


Dublin holds the honour these days, but did you know Kilkenny was once the capital of Ireland? Ok, that was back in the 1600s but, as Alexandra Murphy finds out, the city still retains its medieval magic.

Kilkenny is the perfect hybrid of old and new, city and town, culture and clubbing. So when visiting the old capital, where are the hotspots to hang in?

EAT

Modern invention meets new and old Irish flavours and a hint of global at Zuni Restaurant on Patrick Street. Fancy the sirloin of a Kilkenny-reared Angus? This is the place.

The Marble City Bar on High Street is one of the oldest public houses in Kilkenny, and, thankfully for our eyes, has kept many of its original features. If you’re in the mood for cake then pop into their Tea Rooms, where you can stuff yourself with coffees and pastries. Or the other way round…

Another High Street gem is Café Mocha. Along with their homemade bites and huge selection of teas, the café is also a real treasure trove for gifts such as handmade chocolates. Yum!

Rinuccini's Restaurant in Kilkenny

Rinuccini’s Restaurant in Kilkenny

If you like a little Italian with your Irish, then you’ll love Ristorante Rinuccini. Located in the heart of the city right beside Kilkenny Castle, it’s been around for over twenty years and is one of Ireland’s finest Italian/Irish restaurants. Run by Antonio and Marion Cavaliere, Rinuccini specialises in Irish seafood. Food aside, custom-built wine cellar is an absolute winner. Guests are welcome to explore it, too.

DRINK

Kilkenny – Where To Eat, Drink, And Be Seen

The world’s largest hurley at The Field Bar in Kilkenny

Want to check out the world’s largest hurley? The stick (which is over twenty feet long!) has been signed by generations of hurling legends and can be found at The Field Bar on High Street. The bar also exhibits sports memorabilia from all over the globe including Muhammed Ali’s glove, and jerseys worn by none other than Pele and Maradonna. Those two wouldn’t have needed a hurley. They could have just soloed a sliotar into the net.

 

Those who appreciate aesthetics as they sup should visit The Left Bank Pub overlooking Kilkenny Castle. Dating back to 1870, the building originally housed a bank. The many remaining period features make this place an absolute gem.

Did you know Smithwick’s has been crafted in Kilkenny city since 1710? The golden ale is made at St. Francis Abbey Brewery on Parliament Street. Go on a guided tour and have some history with your pint.

Finish off your night on the dancefloor of Langton’s on John Street. One of the most popular spots in the South East, it houses several bars under the one roof with live acts, trad music and DJ’s every night of the week. They’ve even won ‘National Pub of the Year’ a record four times in a row, so they must be doing something right!

BE SEEN

The Irish weather (usually) gets warmer come the start of June. And the hottest county to be in that weekend has to be Kilkenny – it’s also the funniest. The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival brings together the best Irish and international comedians and prides itself on being the biggest comedy event of the year – not to be missed.

Kilkenny City

Kilkenny City

Kilkenny likes to get creative, too. Artists and craftspeople including renowned potter Nicholas Mosse work in studios all around the city.

When it comes to Irish handcrafted gifts you’re spoiled for choice at Kilkenny Design Centre. Overlooking the castle, the centre contains a wealth of knitwear, jewellery, pottery, china, crystal and celtic souvenirs.

The National Craft Gallery is also well worth a visit. The building was once used as the stables of Kilkenny Castle, and is a leading centre for contemporary design. You can watch clay workers in action or even have a go yourself – ah go on!

A castle and craftwork to marvel at, comedians to amuse, and fine food to savour – Kilkenny, you’re spoiling us.


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The first US President to visit Ireland


History tells us that Ulysses S. Grant was commander of the Union armies during the American Civil War. Director Steven Speilberg most recently told us he was quite the confidante of Abrabham Lincoln.

He was also the first President of the United States to visit Ireland.

Ulysses S Grant

Ulysses S Grant. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Decades before John F Kennedy motorcade was greeted with streamers, screamers and mild hysteria, President Ulysses S. Grant spent five days in Ireland. Just like the statesmen who followed, including Reagan, Nixon and Clinton, Grant would have been aware of the huge number of Irish in America who were entitled to vote. But this visit wasn’t about canvasing – it was a homecoming.

 

 

 

 

Farmer Boy

Grant’s great-grandfather was a man named John Simpson. He was born in a farmhouse in Ballygawley (near Dungannon), County Tyrone in 1738. That same farmhouse stayed in the Simpson family for centuries. Imagine, this is a house that was owned by Simpsons from as far as the 1600s right up until the 1970s.

John Simpson, however, emigrated to Ohio at the age of 22.

From Ballygawley to Point Pleasant

In Point Pleasant, Ohio in 1833, a son was born to John Simpson. His name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.

The eldest of six children, when Hiram entered West Point Military Academy as a recruit he was erroneously called Ulysses Simpson Grant, and the name stuck.

Grant went on to be one of the biggest players in the Civil War – as General, he accepted the surrender from Confederate General Lee. In 1869, he became America’s 18th President. At the age of 46, he was the youngest man ever to hold the office.

After two terms as president, Grant decided a world trip was in order. By then, Grant would been among the most famous Americans in the world, so the two-year journey would have been a huge deal. After a leg of the trip that included Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Paris and London, Grant reached Ireland.

A visit home. Sort of…

The Shelbourne Hotel

The VIP’s favourite: The Shelbourne Hotel Dublin. Image Courtesy of the Shelbourne Hotel

Grant landed in Dublin on 3 January 1879 and began his five day visit to the island. He stayed at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, which continues and continued to be the hotel of choice for visiting VIPs (hence the Grace Kelly, John F. Kennedy, and Peter O’ Toole rooms). When he visited The Bank of Ireland on College Green (which still stands today), apparently Grant asked numerous questions about banking and monetary policy. Imagine what he’d have to ask today?!

Later that evening, Grant was made an honorary citizen of Dublin – a title that would be offered to Presidents Kennedy and Clinton many years later.

Grant was given a “tumultuous reception” in County Londonderry where he received another honorary citizenship. In Belfast he visited the Harland & Wolff shipyard, before returning to Dublin and making for  the Far East.

The first US President to visit Ireland

Strangely enough, Grant did not visit his ancestral home. You can, though, as the homestead has been restored to its 19th-century glory with mud walls and mud floors. In the farmyard stands a horse-plough and a flat-bed trailer, clues to the pastoral roots of one of America’s most vaunted leaders.

Make some time, too, for the exhibition and video about Grant that brings to life the story of emigration in which John Simpson was just one actor in millions.

The first US President to visit Ireland

The ancestral home of Ulysses S. Grant near Dungannon, County Tyrone. Image courtesy of Dungannon Borough Council

The Presidential trail

Ireland’s presidential connections don’t end there. There are two further ancestral homesteads in Northern Ireland that represent the roots of family trees from which US presidents have sprouted.

The families of both President Andrew Jackson and Chester A. Arthur hail from County Antrim, and their family homes have also been restored to their original condition. The ‘Milhouses’ of Richard Milhous Nixon (who visited in 1970) were also originally from the area.

On Ireland’s south coast, Kennedy’s County Wexford ancestral homestead was visited by the young president months before his death.

As far as presidential stories go, that might even impress Mr Spielberg.

The first US President to visit Ireland

Grant’s ancestral home in Tyrone. Image Courtesy of Dungannon Borough Council


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The Aran Islands are  located in the center of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is Accessible from Rossavel (Connemara & Galway). The Aran Islands are also accessible from Doolin which is close to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Learn More about The Wild Atlantic Way