The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Ireland

If the sum of what you know about Ireland is “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” and kissing the Blarney Stone, then you’re in for a surprise when you arrive in Ireland.

But it’s a pleasant surprise. Here are some tips for finding the authentic Ireland.

Jive to the Music and the Dance

There’s simply no way to separate the country from its music and dance, so just give in to it when you have a chance. And chances are, you’ll have plenty of opportunities. It doesn’t matter if your voice doesn’t match the quality of a noted Irish tenor. It’s the spirit of it, after all. Dublin is a great place to experience Irish music and dance — and don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming those haunting tunes as you fall asleep at night!

Head for the Country

Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Waterford, and Limerick are all worth seeing, but it’s the wilder, “less traveled” parts of Ireland that will capture your heart and leave a lasting impression on your soul. Spend some time, if at all possible, just walking the hills, exploring the craggy seaside cliffs, and wandering the back roads. Surf in the cool water of the Atlantic, or follow a dirt path until the road ends. Pull on your boots and follow a muddy riverbed until you find the headwaters, then stop for a picnic lunch. This is the “real” Ireland.

Book a Stay in a Cozy B&B

Forego the chain hotels, and seek out an off-the-beaten-track, small, family-owned pension or bed and breakfast in a small town. Settle in for a few days of peace and an adventure that will score a “10” on the pleasure index. Rent a bicycle, or walk. Strike up conversations with locals. You won’t regret it!

Put Aside the “Normal”

Embrace “wellness” in Ireland — a renaissance is currently underway. Visit a spa to tailor a treatment regimen to your personal preferences — indulge yourself with a sauna experience, aromatherapy, a steam room and whole-body workout, a dip in a natural hot spring followed by an invigorating massage, or a treatment with essential oils. It’s just another way to immerse yourself in local culture and “go Irish,” no matter how long or short your visit may be.

Indulge Your Inner Foodie

If you’ve ever thought that Irish food is bland and tasteless, a visit to the country should change your mind after just a couple of meals. Contemporary Irish chefs have rewritten the rules and the recipes. You’ll discover a new tradition that has its roots in organically grown, eco-friendly production — savor the taste of fresh beef and poultry, locally sourced, organically grown produce, cheeses, and breads that offer a new twist on tradition, and innovative dishes and menus that will have you clamoring for more!

Then, of course, there’s the beer and Irish Whiskey — be sure to visit a traditional Irish Pub — not for the spirits alone, but for the spirit that is sure to draw you in!























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