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Travel April 27, 2019

YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST OF WHAT IRELAND HAS TO OFFER THIS SUMMER By Mal Rogers

BLOOMING TERRIFIC Exploring Ireland’s glorious gardens

ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR A rundown of the best festivals around the country

CAPITAL DELIGHTS

GOING WILD

Wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way

NORTHERN DELIGHTS

Seven magnificent sights to check out in Dublin

Ten unmissable attractions in Northern Ireland

RIVERDANCE RETURNS

A GLASS ACT

The show is back in Ireland to mark its 25th anniversary

Crystal and craic in Waterford Cover image shows Dunmore Head and Blasket Islands by Chris Hill / Tourism Ireland. All images courtesy of Getty, Rolling News, Tourism Ireland, Unsplash


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

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ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR, FESTIVAL, FLEADH AND FEIS CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS FESTIVAL

MAY 2 – MAY 12 cqaf.com Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is held in the city’s old commercial quarter, in the shadow of the imposing St Anne’s Cathedral. Now in its 20th year, the event has established itself as one of the most dynamic arts festivals on these islands with a broad-ranging programme — music, comedy, cinema, theatre, poetry and literature. Headliners this year include writer Bernard MacLaverty, comedians Kevin McAleer and Jerry Sadowitz, puppeteer Nina Conti and singer Rufus Wainwright. A film on the life of Rory Gallagher will also be a huge attraction at the festival.

KILKENNY ROOTS FESTIVAL 2019 MAY 3 – MAY 6 kilkennyroots.com Held in romantic and gallant Kilkenny, the Roots Festival presents a wide range of music. Taking place in the city’s tight tangle of mediaeval streets, over 40 Irish and international acts will perform at ticketed and free concerts from afternoon until late into the night. Almost every musical taste is catered for — from swing to bluegrass, rockabilly to cajun, folk, blues and beyond.

MUSIC CORK

MAY 1 – MAY 3 musiccork.com Attendance at this festival is almost obligatory should you wish to get ahead in the music biz. As well as presenting the best of new musical talent, Music Cork features music industry professionals talking about their work and experiences, and giving hints about how to best make it in this competitive world. Speakers this year include Lucy Dickins, Senior Agent ITB, James Whitting, Agent & Partner, Coda Agency, Sarah Desmond, SVP, Strategic Marketing & Partnerships, Universal Music and Cesar Andion, PR & Talent, Live Nation Spain.

LISTOWEL WRITERS’ WEEK

Nina Conti will be appearing at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

MAY 29 – JUNE 2 www.writersweek.ie One of the great literary festivals proceedings are held in the friendly environs of the little town of Listowel in north Kerry. Fiction, philosophy and football are just some of the topics covered this year, with guest speakers including Colm Tóibín, Joseph O’Connor, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Donal Ryan, Eilís Ní Dhuibhne and Roddy Doyle. Pop-up drama and informal literary readings are part of the festival, alongside the awards ceremonies, workshops, literary trails, plays, poetry, songwriting, choral music and traditional music sessions.

Time was, the festival season in Ireland was the Rose of Tralee and a couple of fairs. These were usually based round horse-dealing or racing of one sort or another — and that was your lot. Today, festivals have sprung up in every corner of Ireland, featuring everything from oysters to opera, rock to baroque, and comedy to literature. The main festival season, of course, occupies the summer months and early autumn, but there are plenty of festivals taking place the year round… Ubiquitous musical tastes are catered for at the Kilkenny Roots Festival

The Irish Post


The Irish Post

IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

April 27, 2019 | 3 The Puck Fair in Kerry (see page 6) has been going for over 400 years

RORY GALLAGHER TRIBUTE FESTIVAL

MAY 30 — JUNE 2 www.rorygallagherfestival.com Hey, big Fender! This is an essential festival for all guitar aficionados. Dedicated to one of Ireland’s great rock superstars, Roy Gallagher, held in his birthplace, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, the line-up this year includes renowned axe-men from all over the world.

KILKENNY CAT LAUGHS COMEDY FESTIVAL, KILKENNY

JUNE 2 – JUNE 6 www.thecatlaughs.com To paraphrase Bob Monkhouse, when somebody first mentioned having an international comedy festival in Kilkenny, everybody laughed. Well they’re not laughing now. Well, actually they are laughing, and have been since 1994. The comedy festival this year features Tommy Tiernan, Rose Matafeo, Alison Spittle, Dara Ó Briain, Lou Sanders, Sally Phillips, Rich Hall, Neil

Rory Gallagher — one of Ireland’s major rock superstars

Delamere and many more.

THE BLOOMSDAY FESTIVAL

JUNE 11 – JUNE 16 bloomsdayfestival.ie “Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked their giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crust crumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of scented urine.” Yes, that’s Leopold Bloom enjoying breakfast, according to a book regarded as one of the pinnacles of world literature. Bloomsday, June 16, honours the walk Leopold Bloom made in Dublin as per the bewilderingly comprehensive epic novel Ulysses. Joyce’s book romps through Dublin and various literary forms: parody, fantasy, realism, as well as stream-of consciousness. The festival will feature talks, walks, pub crawls, celebratory meals, theatrical presentations, readings and events such as the Footsteps of Leopold Bloom Walking Tour.

Plus the odd gorgonzola sandwich and glass of claret at Davey Byrne’s.

THE FASTNET MARITIME AND FOLK FESTIVAL JUNE 14-17 fastnetmaritime.com Heave ho me hearties, splice the main brace and head for Ballydehob in west Cork — if you’ve any interest in matters nautical or musical. The Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival features sea songs, shanties, dance and craft displays, workshops, sea songwriting competition, busking — plus sessions in the pubs and main stage on Ballydehob pier. Guests this year include Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, Rosie Stewart, Róisín White and Colleen’s Fancy

DUBLIN PRIDE

JUNE 20 – JUNE 30 www.dublinpride.ie Celebrations, partying and extravaganzas promoting and celebrating LGBTQ diversity. The highlight is the annual Pride Parade and post parade celebrations in Merrion Square on Saturday, June 29.


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CORK MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL

JUNE 14 – JUNE 23 www.corkmidsummer.com Music, opera, circus, theatre, dance, dance opera visual arts, festival trails and workshops are all included in Cork’s summer bash. Artists include The Blades and Saint Sister. Celebrated Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery, writer Ursula Rani Sarma and director Annabelle Comyn will transform Flannery’s acclaimed concept album, Evening Train, into a stunning new musical.

The Irish Post

The world’s top golfers, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (inset), will be heading for Royal Portrush this summer

CLONMEL JUNCTION FESTIVAL

JULY 1 – JULY 7 www.junctionfestival.com Featuring a week of events in the town centre, everything from street theatre, comedy, food, visual arts and free live music events will be on show in the Tipperary town.

FOREVER YOUNG FESTIVAL JULY 5 – JULY 7 foreveryoungfestival.ie

Hazel O’Connor will perform at Forever Young The Human League, Level 42, Andrew Strong and the Commitments, The Christians, Kim Wilde, Midge Ure, Hazel O’Connor, Bagatelle, Hothouse Flowers and many more will be bringing nostalgia to Naas, Co. Kildare. The cracking 1970s, ’80s and ’90s acts will be performing at Palmerstown House Estate in Kildare, helping to help raise money for animal welfare.

BALLINA SALMON FESTIVAL

JULY 7 – JULY 13 ballinasalmonfestival.ie Now in its 55th year, Ballina Salmon Festival is one of the West of Ireland’s longest running family festivals. Originally called the Moy Salmon Festival, due to the fact that the Mayo capital is on the banks of one Europe’s great salmon rivers, today the festival has a diverse programme. One third of the festival’s programme is dedicated solely to children, and local artists, musicians, comedians, street entertainers and bands guarantee a fantastic time for everyone.

THE 148TH OPEN AT ROYAL PORTRUSH

JULY 14 – JULY 21 www.theopen.com Tiger Woods 9-1, Rory McIlroy 10-1, Francesco Molinari 16-1 — yes the odds are now being calculated on the some of the greatest players ever to have graced a golf course. They’ll be teeing off on July 14 in one of the great sporting occasions of the year, the Open Championship. Portrush has held the Open once before, in 1951. Surprising, in some ways, that it’s been so long in coming back as the Dunluce Links (there are two courses) is considered to be one of the best in the world. It was ranked at number 4 by Golf World in their list of their 100 greatest courses in Britain and Ireland, Golf Magazine ranked it at number 12 in their list of the Top 100 Courses in the World, and

in 2007 Golf Digest ranked it as the fourth best course outside the United States. Should you wish to play the Dunluce course they’ll want to see your handicap certificate before they allow you to get your niblocks out. And they’ll not allow you to play over the Open weekend. All the tickets for the main event are sold out, but you can soak up the atmosphere and see the players in action on the practice days which run from Sunday, 14 – Wednesday, 17. All day tickets are between £15-£40

beat venues, from theatres and galleries to village halls, forests and beaches. Everything from Irish dance workshops, concerts, and drama will be on offer.

FIDDLER’S GREEN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL JULY 21 – JULY 28 fiddlersgreenfestival.eu Set in the beautiful village of Rostrevor,

GALWAY ARTS FESTIVAL

JULY 15 – JULY 28 www.galwayartsfestival.com Galway Arts Festival is one of Ireland’s largest and most prestigious annual arts celebrations. This year’s event features over 400 writers, artists, performers and musicians from across the globe. Tours, talks, concerts and workshops are all part of the fun. Highlights include a presentation of Dead Dog in a Suitcase from the redoubtable Kneehigh theatre company. The raucous live score plunders the sound of our times; trip hop combines with folk, ska with grime and dubstep to create a gorgeous and powerful musical mix. Written by Carl Grose with original score by Charles Hazlewood and directed by Mike Shepherd, this is one of the great theatrical happenings of the year.

EARAGAIL ARTS FESTIVAL

JULY 10 - JULY 28 www.eaf.ie A bilingual arts festival which aims to create unique cultural experiences in a variety of off-

Tommy Sands, whose family run the Fiddler’s Green International Festival

overlooking Carlingford Lough, and nestling in the shadow of the Mountains of Mourne, this has one of the most spectacular settings of any festival in Ireland. It also has the reputation for being one of the friendliest. The festival is run by the Sands Family folk music dynasty so hugely prestigious artists are guaranteed. This year guests include Clannad, Peggy Seeger, Kieran & Annie Goss and Declan O’Rourke.


The Irish Post

IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL There’ll be fashion on show as well as racing at the Galway Races

YEATS INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL, SLIGO

JULY 25 — AUGUST 2 www.yeats-sligo.com/summer_school This is the 60th annual Yeats Summer School, making it the longest running summer school in Ireland. It provides a unique blend of learning, art and craic featuring lectures, workshops, open mic poetry happenings and guided Yeats walks.

MARY FROM DUNGLOE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

JULY 27 - AUGUST 5 www.maryfromdungloe.com Music, sport, beauty contests, carnival parades, dancing, céilís and of course the crowning of Mary from Dungloe are all part of the proceedings at this long-running Donegal festival.

THE GALWAY RACES

JULY 29 – AUGUST 4 www.galwayraces.com A week of soaking up the atmosphere, studying form, and hurling torn-up betting slips into the bin. Racing tips and tipple, fairground amusements and music, nags and naggins, plus busking, hawking and a kneesup of gigantic proportions.

Turlough O’Carolan, who died in the town and is buried there. O’Carolan was born in Nobber, Co. Meath, which, like Ratass, usually raises a chuckle among the more immature. But great harpist and composer though he was, even O’Carolan couldn’t manage to crow-bar Nobber into a song. Despite the fine Irish tradition of wedging the most unpromising place-names into lyrics — Ballyjamesduff and Carrickfergus spring to mind — no place has ever been found for Nobber. Nothing along the lines of “Oh Nobber boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,” nor any “My lovely rose of Nobber”. Dana would surely never have succeeded in the Eurovision if her song had been “All kinds of everything remind me of Nobber.” The festival in O’Carolan’s honour features a harp competition, as well as céilís, sessions and theatre. There will be a lecture in Kilronan Castle entitled ‘Roderic O’Conor — a Roscommon born artist of international fame’ given by Jody Moylan. This year the festival also features a staging of the Beezneez Theatre Company’s production of An Ordinary Man. The festival parade is led by Raheen Pipe Band from Elphin. There will be a laying of wreath at O’Carolan’s grave at Kilronan Cemetery. Apparently after he died his wake went on four days. Even by the standards of musicians, that was caning it.

FÉILE AN PHOBAIL (WEST BELFAST FESTIVAL)

AUGUST 1 – AUGUST 11 www.feilebelfast.com Belfast is home to any number of festivals from literary celebrations to gay pride demonstrations — with all stops in between. The West Belfast do is one of the longestestablished, featuring music, comedy, talks, tours, theatre, debate, family, poetry in one of Europe’s largest community arts festivals.

SPRAOI WATERFORD INTERNATIONAL STREET FESTIVAL

AUGUST 2 - AUGUST 4 www.spraoi.com Waterford’s international street festival erupts in a riot of colour, music and craic. One of the centrepieces of the festival is the Spraoi parade featuring hundreds of performers, flamboyant costumes, spectacular floats, incredible puppets, original live music and special effects. All events are free, so all you have to do is get there.

O’CAROLAN HARP & TRADITIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL

AUGUST 2 – AUGUST 5 Held in Keadue, Co. Roscommon, the festival celebrates the great harpist and composer

Celebrate famous Irish harpist and composer Turlough O’Carolan

DUBLIN HORSE SHOW

AUGUST 7 — AUGUST 11 dublinhorseshow.com Nags, equestrian WAGs, show-jumping, and all things equine — held in one of Dublin’s most venerable institutions, the RDS. Live music and entertainment, award winning crafts and art exhibitions, children’s entertainment, fashion, shopping village with 300 stands, restaurants, bars and snacks — and of course the best in national

April 27, 2019 | 5 and International show jumping.

KILKENNY ARTS FESTIVAL

AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 18 www.kilkennyarts.ie Kilkenny Arts Festival features classical music at its core. But rock gigs, opera, traditional music and drama fill a host of venues on the ancient streets of Kilkenny.

The Dublin Horse Show takes place at the RDS


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FEAKLE MUSIC FESTIVAL

AUGUST 7 – AUGUST 12 www.feaklefestival.ie Feakle, in Co. Clare, is the epicentre of a traditional music superpower, so expect the very cream of Irish players at this festival. Guests include the Kilfenora Céilí Band.

The Irish Post

The Kilfenora Céilí Band will be appearing at the Feakle Music Festival

BOYNE MUSIC FESTIVAL

AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 11 boynemusicfestival.com With the emphasis on classical music, poetry, literature, talks and workshops.

THE BIG GRILL FESTIVAL, DUBLIN AUGUST 15 – AUGUST 18 www.biggrillfestival.com Dublin is the place to head for BBQ fans

Then, of course, there is the main business of the festival – the seafood celebration. Carlingford oysters are famous throughout Europe, and you’ll have a chance to sample them at leisure. The craic, you can be sure, will go on until carouse o’clock.

PUCK FAIR This is the festival that goes the whole hog — everything that can be barbecued will be. Billed as Europe’s biggest BBQ festival, country music will accompany your hamburgers, beer and pulled pork.

STILL VOICES FILM FESTIVAL AUGUST 15 – AUGUST 18 stillvoicesfilmfestival.com The international short film festival at Ballymahon, Co. Longford, where some of the most arresting and riveting short films from across the world will enjoy an airing.

FLEADH CHEOIL NA HÉIREANN 2019

AUGUST 11 – AUGUST 18 fleadhcheoil.ie History your sort of thing? Ancient, contemporary, seminal, terrible — it’s all here in Drogheda, the big capital of the Wee County. The place echoes with pivotal names from Ireland’s past: Oliver Plunkett, Edward Poynings, Oliver Cromwell, the Boyne. Equally historic, time-darkened buildings survive everywhere in the town. This year the all-Ireland fleadh, run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, is being held here. Concerts, competitions, sessions, craic and roll — this is just about the biggest celebration of Irish music in the world. A bonus is all that history, as well as the fact that this ancient town is surrounded by breathtaking sights — Brú na Bóinne, Monasterboice Round Tower, and the beautiful Boyne Valley.

CARLINGFORD OYSTER FESTIVAL

AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 12 www.carlingfordoysterfestival.com The Carlingford Oyster Festival is where bivalve-eating collides with music, dance, live theatre, and breathtaking scenery. The old mediaeval village is overlooked by the Cooley Mountains, and to the north, just across the lough stand the Mountains of Mourne. The perfect place for a festival. For the kids there’s a magic show, face painting, teddy bear’s picnic, free kayaking in the harbour and a children’s funfair.

AUGUST 10 – AUGUST 12 www.puckfair.ie Puck Fair in Killorglin, Kerry, has been going strong for over 400 years. It’s a pretty much a traditional affair, with hours of free family street entertainment.

King Puck, in case you’re unaware, is a goat. How a billy-goat managed to take a starring role in a festival is not clearly remembered. Records of the Killorglin festival date back to 1613, yet Irish legend claims it dates back to the pagan festival of Lughnasa. The most widely accepted version of the event’s origins relates to Oliver Cromwell. Apparently while the Roundheads were pillaging the Kerry countryside, they came across a herd of goats grazing on the uplands. The animals took flight, and the billy-goat, or Puck, broke away and headed towards Killorglin. His arrival alerted the townsfolk of the approaching danger. Today a male goat is persuaded to come into town for three days. Then three days after his capture, King Puck is back in his home in the mountains, presumably Carlingford, Clarenbridge and Galway all have oyster festivals, the latter proving popular with these former Rose of Tralee entrants

wondering what on earth that was all about. At midnight, fireworks conclude the final day of Puck Fair.

THE BELMULLET FESTIVAL AUGUST 15 – AUGUST 24 belmulletfestival.ie The Co. Mayo festival features locally produced food, live music, arts and crafts stalls and seafront funfair.

THE ROSE OF TRALEE

AUGUST 23 — AUGUST 27 www.roseoftralee.ie The annual Kerry bash, when Tralee plays host to the world. The centrepiece is the Rose Competition, now in its 60th year, where ‘The Rose’ from Ireland or the Diaspora is chosen. The Festival is themed on the love song The Rose of Tralee, by William Mulchinock, a nineteenth century wealthy merchant who was in love with Mary O’Connor, his family’s maid.

THE OULD LAMMAS FAIR

AUGUST 24 – AUGUST 27 Ballycastle has been holding this event for some 400 years. A cross between a large village fête, a country fair and a gigantic car boot sale, the narrow streets of the Co. Antrim seaside town are crammed with stalls selling everything from farm produce to toys and bric-a-brac.

ELECTRIC PICNIC

AUGUST 30 — SEPTEMBER 1 www.electricpicnic.ie Ireland’s premier rock festival, held in Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois.

LISDOONVARNA MATCHMAKING FESTIVAL

AUGUST 30 – SEPTEMBER 29 www.matchmakerireland.com The festival of romance takes place in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. Matchmaking maestro Willie Daly presides over all matters matrimonial: he’ll tell you the, er, rules of engagement. Even if you’re not looking for a life partner, the entertainment is top class.

A TASTE OF WEST CORK

SEPTEMBER 6 – SEPTEMBER 15 www.atasteofwestcork.com Food demos, chefs’ lectures, tasting menus, cookery, food markets, brunches, food producers, farmers’ markets, snacks, restaurant dining, cuisine, talks, walks and celebrating the best of food in west Cork.


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

The Irish Post

CLARENBRIDGE OYSTER FESTIVAL

SEPTEMBER 9 – SEPTEMBER 19 www.clarenbridge.com The Clarenbridge Oyster Festival first began in 1954. Kicking off on September 9, the event promises an extravaganza of seafood and culinary treats, as well as art exhibitions, yacht races, fine wine and gourmet evenings, traditional music and dancing.

CLONAKILTY INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FESTIVAL

SEPTEMBER 16 – SEPTEMBER 22 clonguitarfest.com Everything from classical guitar to punky crash chord merchants will feature at this Co. Cork festival. Guitarists from across the globe will strum their stuff — Canada’s Kalyna Rakel, South Africa’s Qadasi & Maqhinga and Northern Ireland’s George Lowden and many other masters of the guitar will be fetching up in west Cork.

NATIONAL PLOUGHING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Jools Holland will be heading for Sligo

SEPTEMBER 17 – SEPTEMBER 19 www.npa.ie Held in Tullamore, this is the very pinnacle event of the farming year in Ireland – a sort of Glastonbury of agriculture or the Woodstock of animal husbandry. Aside from the ploughing competition, this year’s shindig will feature sheep-shearing, a food fair, a motor show, livestock, fashion shows, sheepdog trials, the latest agricultural machinery and the national brown-bread baking competition.

GALWAY INTERNATIONAL OYSTER AND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

SEPTEMBER 27 – SEPTEMBER 29 www.galwayoysterfest.com A feast of fine food, stout and Guinness awaits those who make the journey to Galway for the oyster season — and not forgetting the World Oyster Opening Championships, a masquerade ball, live cooking demos and much more.

SLIGO LIVE

OCTOBER 18 – OCTOBER 28 www.sligolive.ie Folk, roots and indie festival with more than 100 performances from folk, roots and indie musicians. Over six days the cafes, pubs, hotels, clubs, shopping centres and theatres of Sligo stage intimate performances by top Irish and international acts. Acts this year include The Delines, Indigo Girls, John Bishop and Jools Holland.

CORK GUINNESS JAZZ FESTIVAL The National Ploughing Championships is the pinnacle of the farming year

April 27, 2019 | 7

OCTOBER 24 – OCTOBER 28 www.guinnessjazzfestival.com Ireland’s longest-established jazz festival held

in a variety of venues throughout the city now attracts names of huge international stature.

DERRY HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 25 – NOVEMBER 1 derryhalloween.com Reckoned to be the biggest Halloween festival in the world, Derry’s spooktacular, ethereal goings-on are a knees-up of gigantic proportions. The Awakening the Walls celebrations takes place on the ancient ramparts of the city, a extravagant celebration of the supernatural, featuring light show, dramatic music and storytelling. There’s a Monster Halloween Fair, a Carnival Parade and the famous Samhain Traditional Sessions.

BRAM STOKER FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 25 – OCTOBER 28 www.bramstokerfestival.com Just in time for Halloween, Dublin has a weekend devoted to the life and legacy of the creator of the world’s favourite, extravagantly-fanged count, Dracula.

WEXFORD OPERA FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 28 – NOVEMBER 3 www.wexfordopera.com Since the 1950s the annual Wexford Opera Festival has been a fixture in the international opera calendar, renowned as one of the world’s finest. This year’s festival feature operas from Massenet, Vivaldi and Rossini. Even if you haven’t got tickets for the main events, there’s street opera, stand-up opera, pub opera, and even operaoke.

Are you free? So are we! Free admission to the greatest collections of Irish heritage, culture and history in the world.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Merrion Street, Dublin 2. Benburb Street, Dublin 7. Turlough Park, Co. Mayo.

Outreach Events, Guided Tours & Lectures. Museum Shops & Cafés.

Open: Sunday & Monday 1pm to 5pm. Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Closed: Christmas Day & Good Friday.

For further information: Tel: +353 (0) 1 6777 444 Email: info@museum.ie Visit: www.museum.ie


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

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The Irish Post

Seven capital sights We look at the magnificent seven sights Dublin has to offer GRAVE UNDERTAKING We start with a cemetery — yes, a little bit dark and mysterious, but fascinating all the same. Bit like Dublin itself, really. Leaders of the 1916 Rising were put to death in Kilmainham Gaol

At Glasnevin Cemetery in north Dublin, literature, rebellion, music and politics mingle with ordinary lives and tragic stories to produce a tapestry of Ireland’s turbulent history. Michael Collins’s resting

place is the most visited in the cemetery — his simple Celtic cross is covered in bunches of flowers; Glasnevin also holds the remains of Éamon de Valera, Maud Gonne MacBride, Roger Casement, Constance

Markievicz, Kevin Barry and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. One plot is dedicated simply to “Cholera Victims”, another commemorates the Famine, plus one small grave bears the bleak message “Air India child” — a reference to the Air India 747 which crashed off the coast of Ireland. Writers such as Brendan Behan and Gerald Manley Hopkins are buried here, as well as singer Luke Kelly and Manchester United footballer Bill Whelan, who died in the Munich air disaster. To get the best out of Glasnevin, short of being buried there yourself, you’d be well advised to go on a guided tour. Brimming with banter and charm, each guide is passionate about sharing their love of heritage and history. With a careful balance of passion, sensitivity and even fun, they use the cemetery to take you on a journey across Ireland’s history, one that has rarely lever been less than interesting.

MUSEUM CENTRAL Victorian Dublin, Georgian Dublin, artistic Dublin — for the expert historian and vaguely interested alike, Dublin is a goldmine. Take your pick from: the Natural History Museum in Merrion Square, the National Museum of Ireland (ditto), the National Museum of Archeology in Kildare Street (dig it!) and the National Gallery of Ireland (which includes treasures from Vermeer and Caravaggio) plus all stops in between. Irish and international treasures can be admired at leisure, and for free in these great institutions. In the National Museum, pride of place in the

No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse

museum is the Ardagh Chalice. Ireland’s foremost art treasure is considered the Jewel in the Crown of the museum, and indeed the nation. The beautifully proportioned chalice is the finest example of early mediaeval metalwork ever to have come to light. Some six inches high it is made of silver, bronze and gold; the design and decoration indicates that the people (or person) who made it knew their art as well as any craftsman in the world at the time. Stand back and marvel at this ancient Irish art treasure. Although Dublin is now the only capital city in the world completely run by the Celts, it was originally a Viking town. That intriguing history can be unravelled at the Dvblinia heritage centre, just beside Christchurch Cathedral.

LONELY PRISON CELLS Kilmainham Gaol opened for business in 1796 and was operational until 1924. Many of the leaders of rebellions and uprisings over those centuries were incarcerated and executed here. Most

famously, the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were put to death here — with consequences that are still felt today. Many ordinary citizens, including children, were jailed here as well. A tour of Kilmainham Gaol is a poignant and at times harrowing experience.

STOUT WORK AT THE STOREHOUSE No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse at St James’s Gate. Dubs initially turned their noses up at the drink when it first came on the market in the mid 18th century — because of Arthur Guinness’s opposition to the United Irishmen (politics are never far away). However the attractions of the new drink soon overcame political considerations. Up the rebels, and down the hatch. You can see where Sir Arthur’s brewing process began in the former fermentation plant, helpfully remodelled in the shape of a giant pint glass. The secrets of stout, how roast barley gives Guinness its deep ruby colour, and how


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

The Irish Post

The visitors centre at Glasnevin Cemetery

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timeline — your first port of call is a traditional drawing room that commemorates 1900s Dublin. After having your fill of the rare ould times, you segue into the modern history section, which includes everything from clips of The Dubliners to letters from Samuel Beckett.

DADA WOULDN’T BUY ME A BAUHAUS

a perfect pint is pulled are gone into in some detail. The tour ends in the Gravity Bar — a drinking establishment with a 360 degree panoramic view across the city, and the perfect place to contemplate Ireland’s capital, have a few more pints, ponder the meaning of life, have a few

more pints, discuss with your friends whether this is the best day you’ve ever had in your life, and so on.

QUIRKY AND QUAINT The Little Museum of Dublin is an eccentric exhibition of life in the capital, quirks, warts and all. Set in a

Georgian townhouse on the edge of Stephen’s Green, this museum will take you on an idiosyncratic cultural path through the last century. The collection of 5,000 pieces on show range from U2 memorabilia to a set of bullets given to Ben Dunne by his IRA kidnappers. The exhibition follows a

The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin houses one of Ireland’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art. 2000 works are on display, ranging from the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading international contemporary artists — and yes, examples of Bauhaus and Dadaism. The museum has a wing dedicated to Dublin-born artist Francis Bacon, the man who said, “I should have been, I don’t know, a conman, a robber or a prostitute. But it was vanity that made me choose painting, vanity and chance.” Mrs Thatcher called the Dubliner “that man who paints those dreadful pictures’’, so he’s worth checking out.

tables stacked with pints of Guinness and golden drams. Tucked into a dimly lit corner at the back, huddled in a circle, musicians playing flutes, bodhráns, banjos and fiddles. You can still find such places in Dublin like O’Donohue’s, while Doheny & Nesbit, complete with Victorian snugs and mirrors, and creaking with carved timber floors, is as good a pub as you’ll find anywhere. But our top choice is The Palace Bar, Fleet Street,

without doubt one of the great bars of Dublin, a gem of Victorian splendour. Still a vital part of the city’s everyday life, The Palace is something of a theme pub — the theme being drink and conversation. A top mixture of locals, visitors, workers and hipsters all quenching their thirst. You can get your traditional music fix upstairs of an evening. They serve an exceptional pint too: “like a candlelit procession down your throat,” as the barman had it.

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The Palace is one of the great bars of Dublin

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IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

10 | April 27, 2019

Riverdance celebrates 25 years on the road U

P until 1994, anytime before the Eurovision Song Contest of that year, had you predicted that a show featuring Irish step dancing would become the Next Big Thing in showbiz, playing to sell out crowds across the world, you’d have been ushered into a darkened room and told to get as much rest as possible. But we now know Riverdance, which started life as a sevenminute live interval during the Eurovision, catapulted Irish dancing from parish halls onto the world stage. The idea itself was simple enough — a chorus line of Irish dancers, but with music, dancing skill, choreography and dress elevating simple step dancing to a riveting spectacle. Before Riverdance, Irish dancing was considered stuffy and constricting by most of the younger generation in Ireland, a hangover from the parochialism of de Valera’s Ireland. Abroad, Irish dance had failed to capture the hearts of the world in the way traditional Irish music had. The music of The Dubliners, Planxty, Moving Hearts, The Bothy Band, was raw, sexy, exciting; Irish dance on the other hand was seen as a provincial pursuit, if it was ever thought about at all. It was famous for encouraging those who practised it not to express themselves Straight-armed and straightfaced. But those seven minutes in late April 1994 changed all that forever. The electrifying spectacle of the dancers and the breathtaking music riveted audiences across Europe. Youngsters from every corner of the Irish Diaspora and beyond soon wanted to get on stage and dance, and the world, it seemed wanted to watch. Millions of satisfied customers world-wide — in five different continents — have been made aware of the splendours of Irish music and dance, and the profile of Irish dancing in Ireland, Britain and the rest of the world has continued to grow. They say that the 1994 Eurovision song contest is the

only time an American dancer has won a contest for European singers, but in reality the real winners have been anyone with a love for Irish music.

THE SHOW Husband and wife production team John McColgan and Moya Doherty along with composer Bill Whelan expanded the Eurovision slot into a full show. For over two decades the show has been staged at over 500 venues worldwide and been seen by over 25 million people, making it one of the most successful dance productions in the world. Today Riverdance has several companies which tour the world.

TOUR DATES Riverdance returns home to The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin from June 11 to September 15 for the summer season.

Riverdance has been seen by more than 25 million people, making it one of the most successful dance productions in the world

The Irish Post

RIVERDANCE VITAL STATISTICS There have been… • 2,000 performers from 29 countries • 22,000 dance shoes worn • 17,500 costumes worn • 500,000 gallons of water consumed • 6,000,000 pounds of dry ice used on stage • 62 marriages between company members • 93 Riverdance babies born (with more on the way!) • 34,000 cumulative years of study in step-dancing • 50,000 rolls of self-grip tape used by company physiotherapists • 20,500 hours of rehearsals on tour • 1,000,000 pounds of ice in post show ice buckets used by the dancers to aid muscle recovery • 80,000 pounds of chocolate consumed (for energy) by the cast.


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PRO D U CED BY

D I R E CT E D BY

B I L L W HE L A N

MOYA DO H E RT Y

J OH N Mc COL G A N

“The Original…The Best”

RETURNS HOME 11 June - 15 September

DUBLIN

www.riverdance.com Ticketmaster.ie/Riverdance Box Office: +353 (0)1456 9569 Groups: groups@gaietytheatre.com In Person at the Gaiety Theatre Box Office

18 - 22 September - One week only Box Office: + 353 (0) 646671555 www.ticketmaster.ie inec.ie/riverdance

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IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

12 | April 27, 2019

The Irish Post

BLOOMING TERRIFIC

Powerscourt: A spectacular filmset for many a movie

A

LONGSIDE Ireland’s dramatic scenery — the Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher the ancient rocks of Brú na Bóinne — there lies an alternative Ireland. This road less travelled boasts hidden byways, tranquil boreens and secret gardens. Or rather it doesn’t ‘boast’ at all – it keeps positively quiet about them. They make up a hidden Ireland, gentle, tranquil, and a world apart. Ireland’s benign climate has made it a paradise for shrubs. Few places in the world have such an extraordinary mix, from sub-Arctic plants on the Burren in Co. Clare — check out their Alpine gentians and edelweiss — to sub-tropical specimens such as the strawberry trees of south west Kerry.

POWERSCOURT GARDENS AND ESTATE, CO. WICKLOW Powerscourt gardens in Co. Wicklow, at the foot of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, has one of the greatest collections of ornamental trees and flowers in Europe. This horticultural spectacle is the product of some 250 years of planning, planting, pruning, coppicing, shaping, hoeing and weeding. The end result is a fascinating collection of ornamental gardens and lakeside walks. Giant sequoias, dwarf copper chestnuts and a bewildering array of shrubs jostle for space amongst azaleas, magnolia and rhododendrons. All are overlooked by the ballroom where Princess Grace famously danced the night away.

Powerscourt is beautiful, dramatic and impressive, stretching over 47 acres. Formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows and rambling walks. With looks like this, it’s not surprise to hear that the whole estate features regularly in the movies. These include Barry Lyndon, The Count of Monte Cristo and The League of Gentlemen. Powerscourt Waterfall and its surrounding valley is also part of Powerscourt estate. At 121 metres, it is the highest waterfall in Ireland. In 2014, National Geographic listed Powerscourt as No. 3 in the World’s Top Ten Gardens.

attractions. You’ll even hear places like Carrickfergus Castle referred to as such — although it’s hard to see how a massive Norman castle can in any way be described as ‘hidden’. But Helen Dillon’s garden at the seaside in Monkstown truly qualifies. The gardener and broadcaster has covered the gardens in exotic flowers and shrubs including rare specimens such as Chinese

BRIGIT’S GARDEN, ROSCAHILL, CO. GALWAY Brigit’s Garden is set out to reflect the ancient Celtic calendar that marked the seasons with the festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa. The gardens are full of ancient motifs such as a preChristian ring fort, ogham stones, a sundial which shows which not only shows the time but date, month, solstices and equinoxes. Native wild flowers are scattered through 11 acres of woodland and meadows. The Celtic Gardens, set round a lake, are a botanist’s delight.

HELEN DILLON’S SEASIDE GARDEN, MONKSTOWN, CO. DUBLIN The description ‘hidden gem’ is often used with tourist

yellow banana plants, alliums, Marlborough rock daisies and lady’s slipper orchids.

MOUNT CONGREVE GARDENS, CO. WATERFORD OK, here are Congreve’s statistics: over 3,000 different trees and shrubs, more than 2,000 rhododendrons, 600 camellias, 300 Acer cultivars (maple), 600 conifers,

250 climbers and 1,500 herbaceous plants. This is all set in 70 acres of woodland garden that includes a four-acre walled garden. It’s internationally recognised for its rare species of plants and also its plant nurseries — and the birdsong alone makes it one of the great days out in Ireland.

MOUNT STEWART HOUSE, CO. DOWN Mount Stewart House, standing on the western shores of Strangford Lough, boasts a subtle beauty. These beguiling gardens are generally acknowledged as one of the great horticultural collections of Europe. Seventy-eight acres comprising formal areas, terracing, pergolas, pavilions, woodland and a water garden encircle a large lake — as well as quirky, mythical, animal sculptures. This sheltered habitat has the serendipity to enjoy a subtropical local micro-climate. If you planted a walking stick here it would grow. This is the least-visited of the National Trust’s many houses, solely, we must assume, because of its remote location.

KILRUDDERY GARDENS, CO. WICKLOW

Mount Congreve Gardens: internationally recognised for its rare species of plants

In the middle of the country, Kilruddery House has been the home of the Earls of Meath for 350 years — somewhat confusingly, it’s in Co. Wicklow. Situated in a postcard-grade valley between Bray Head and the Little Sugar Loaf, the gardens have changed little in 300 years, and the

sense of history is palpable. Small wonder that painters, writers and poets have all been moved to express their admiration of this lovely place.

MOUNT USHER GARDENS, CO. WICKLOW Mount Usher Gardens offers ever-changing scenes as the seasons steal through its bucolic acres, which boast some 5,000 species. Magnificent magnolia trees are worth the trip alone, and anyone here could take the risk of promising you a rose garden — for Mount Usher’s rosaceae exhibition is truly a classic of the form.

KYLEMORE ABBEY WALLED GARDEN, CO. GALWAY This six acre Victorian walled garden was built between 1867 and 1871 and boast some 5,000 species. It is particularly noted for its fuchsia — but if for some inexplicable reason fuchsia doesn’t grab you, you’ve another 4,999 species to keep you interested. Guided tours of the grounds, the abbey and a gothic church are all part of the deal

ALTAMONT GARDENS, CO. CARLOW Co. Carlow is, you might feel, somewhat unfairly endowed with beautiful gardens. It may be the second smallest county in Ireland — but it knows how to do flowers. Its mild climate has made it a veritable heaven for gardens and gardeners. The great behemoths of


The Irish Post

IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

the tree world, the redwoods, thrive here. Dawn Redwood, although sounding like a Nashville country singer, is a sequoia from Manchuria in China. This Chinese takeaway is a thing of wonder to behold, as the sun glints through its wafer thin, multicoloured needles.

palm trees gives the place the ambience of a Moorish palace rather than an Irish fortress. Think Alhambra rather than Anglo-Normans. The manicured lawns of Huntingdon are marked out by the dark green hulks of Irish yew, a hybrid developed in Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh.

HUNTINGTON CASTLE, CO. CARLOW

GARINISH ISLAND, CO. CORK

In the south of Carlow lies Clonegal, and the splendour of Huntington Castle. Packed full of peculiarities, its magnificent stand of

The warm waters of the Gulf Stream first wash Ireland’s coastline on its south-westerly shores. Garinish (sometimes spelled

April 27, 2019 | 13

Garnish) Island, off the coast of west Cork, takes full benefit of it. For a few months each year the island can lay claim to being one of the most stunning garden destinations. Home to an extraordinarily exotic display of horticulture, Garinish lies in the sheltered waters of Bantry Bay. The Gardens are home to sub-tropical plants and shrubs — thanks to the mildest of climates — with the added bonus of soft focus views across the last bit of Europe before it plunges into the Atlantic. The palm trees at Huntington give the place the ambience of a Moorish palace

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IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

14 | April 27, 2019

Surveying the Atlantic from the Slieve League Cliffs

WILD ATLANTIC WAY T

HE WILD ATLANTIC WAY is a 1,500-mile trail stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale, Co. Cork. This is Ireland’s very own Route 66, its Great Ocean Road, its Highland Way. Europe’s finest longdistance touring route stretches along the western seaboard, along a coast so gnarled and indented that even a Norwegian pining for his fjords will have his homesickness allayed. With the intoxicating tang of sea-salt in the air, it takes in some of the country’s most spectacular coastal sights providing Discovery Points allowing the visitor to make the very best of the area. Prosaically speaking the route passes through or skirts along the margins of nine counties and three provinces, with attractions from culinary to cultural, and from moonlit kayaking to coasteering. But it’s more than that. This is an odyssey through Ireland’s history, its stories, and its heritage. The route, which hugs a snarling coastline of raw beauty, passes great sea cliffs, pastel-painted villages, traditional music pubs, misty islands and ancient monasteries. The Wild Atlantic Way weaves its way past the peaks of the Blue Stack Mountains, on to the Slieve League Cliffs, with a drop of almost 2,000 feet into the sea, and then south west to Sligo Bay. Discovery Points here include the Streedagh Spanish Armada Walk. A fascinating slice of Irish (and Anglo-Spanish history) is vividly brought alive here — with spectacular scenery as a rugged backdrop to the story. Mayo just about has something for everybody: the Knock shrine and Croagh Patrick for contemplation, The Quiet Man industry at Cong for film buffs, and of course Clew Bay itself, with the formidable crags of the Nephin Beg range nudging the Atlantic. Nowhere in Ireland resonates with more unchanging tradition than here in the West. Galway remains one of the

most culturally aware cities in these islands, with art festivals, music recitals, local food festivals and traditional sessions. Its rugged coastline, craggy mountains and lonely moorlands are perfect places to escape the hubbub of modern life. In Clare the Wild Atlantic Way threads its way along a coastline that has inspired songs, poetry and great art. Small wonder. The Cliffs of Moher are where Europe comes to an abrupt end in spectacular fashion. Clare is also home to that other geological wonder, the Burren. Heavy duty weather has been battering this limestone escarpment for a million belligerent years, producing a landscape which is dramatic, uncanny and at time downright improbable. As shadows lengthen of an evening, crazy geometric patterns in the rock formations dance in the twilight. That’s even before having partaken of any hospitality in the area’s world famous pubs. The Loop Head Drive is one of the many spectacular parts of the Wild Atlantic Way. Huge Atlantic rollers, which have had three thousand miles to pick up speed, smash into miles of sheer granite cliffs. A natural Discovery Point is Loop Head Lighthouse. One of Europe’s most westerly navigational beacons, from here you’ll get stupendous 360 degree views. The Ring of Kerry is naturally an integral part of the route. Voted one of the top scenic drives in the world by the National Geographic, the road circumnavigates 110 spectacular miles around the Iveragh Peninsula. Just round the coast, the Beara Peninsula and the Lakes of Killarney are a truly awe-inspiring part of the Wild Atlantic Way. The final leg of the route is through Cork. The landscape of West Cork, where Europe slips serenely into the Atlantic, is mild, not so wild, and full of rolling hills clumpy trees and subtle greens. Every headland is dotted with scenic harbours and fishing villages done out in pastel shades.

The Irish Post

THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY 1. Fanad Head, Donegal was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world recently. Mostly for the scenery not the balmy climate. 2. Ashford Castle is an essential stop along the Wild Atlantic Way. In the heart of Quiet Man country in Cong, this is one of the country’s most majestic castles with dramatic views over Lough Corrib. Originally built over 700 years ago, much of what is now occupied dates back to Victorian times. Expect vaulted roofs, stone-flagged floors, and mediaeval armour all over the place. Oh, and the odd ghost. The castle is, of course, haunted. 3. The Cliffs of Moher are where the Old World plunges dramatically into the sea. The Great Wall of Thomond has a drop of some 700 feet into the Fanad Lighthouse at Fanad Head in Co. Donegal

Atlantic Ocean in dramatic. Star of postcards, adverts, selfies, and countless films, the Cliff of Moher are still the dog’s bollards when it comes to cliff hangers. For the best views walk up to O’Brien’s tower and look south. Some guide books record that “on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands”. Listen. On a clear, if you stand on your tiptoes you’ll just about see Boston. 4. The isle of Valentia attracts visitors for myriad reasons — the views, the fishing, the hiking, the trans-Atlantic cable, and the craic. 5. Drumcliffe Cemetery is the last resting place of one of the English language’s greatest poets, William Butler Yeats (pictured above). Even his name sounds like a piece of poetry. But the Sligo scenery is enough to wake the muse in anyone.

6. To get to Dursey Island, lying at the southwestern tip of the Beara Peninsula, you need to take the cable car — Ireland’s only cable car, and the only one in Europe which crosses sea. Each cable-car takes six people — or one cow. 7. The small archipelago known as the Blasket Islands is renowned for its storytellers. The islands were vacated by the indigenous population in 1953. Today you can visit the Blasket Centre, hear the poignant story of the people. As the native author Tomás Ó Criomhthain said: “I have written minutely of much that we did, for it was my wish that somewhere there should be a memorial of it all, and I have done my best to set down the character of the people about me so that some record of us might live after us, for the like of us will never be again.”


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

16 | April 27, 2019

NORTHERN IRELAND’S TOP TEN N

ORTHERN IRELAND is today firmly on the international tourist map. Game of Thrones is filmed extensively in the North, making places such as Dark Hedges in Co. Antrim, Downhill Beach in Co. Derry, the Cushendun Caves and Tollymore Forest in Co. Down have become well known to millions of viewers worldwide. In what has become the most successful television series of all time, the mythical lands of Westeros, Lordsport, King’s Landing and the Dothraki Grasslands are all set in the Six Counties. The attractions of the North will be underlined in July when the Open Championship attracts the world’s finest golfers to the Royal Portrush.

The Irish Post

The Mountains of Mourne overlooking Dundrum Bay

Aside from games of golf and Game of Thrones, Northern Ireland has much to offer. We pick out our top ten unmissables:

1. SLIEVE DONARD Wander along the four mile long strand of Newcastle, Co. Down, dominated by Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard standing at 2,790ft. This is where “the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea”, and a spectacular sight it is. The path that leads to the top of the highest peak in Ulster’s nine counties begins at the southerly end of the strand, in Mourne Park. It’s about a foot above sea level, so you’ve only another 2,789 feet to go.

2. DEVENISH ISLAND This island in Lough Erne, some 4km from Enniskillen, has the most extensive

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remains in Northern Ireland of early Christian settlement, complete with round tower, monastery and shrines.

3. THE CAUSEWAY COASTAL ROUTE The Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast Lough, along the Antrim coast to Lough Foyle in Co. Derry is Mother Nature in one of her wilder moods. Natural wonders, great seascapes, elemental and empty land. Reckoned today to be one of the most spectacular routes in the world, the road is regularly put in the same company as the San Bernardino Pass in the Alps or the MontereyCarmel coast road. Today it has been made even more famous because of locations associated with Game of

Devenish Island - home to the remains of an early Christian settlement

Thrones, notably Ballintoy Harbour and Dunluce Castle.

4. TITANIC BELFAST Titanic Belfast is an eyecatching monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage. On the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in

the city’s Titanic Quarter, this is where the Titanic was built. The story is explored from every angle —hitting the iceberg required a rigorous application of Sod’s Law; everything that might have gone wrong with this floating Downton Abbey proceeded to do so. Dunluce Castle - on the Causeway Coastal Route

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IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

The Irish Post

April 27, 2019 | 17

Down Cathedral is reputedly the resting place of Ireland’s three patron saints

Learn about Derry’s history by travelling along the city’s walls

6. BELFAST MURALS Impressive and thoughtprovoking, the republican murals in West Belfast have been 40 years in the making. In a spirit of evenhandedness, see if you prefer the loyalist murals in East Belfast. Keep the verdict to yourself, mind.

5. ST PATRICK’S GRAVE You get three saints for the price of one at St Patrick’s

Grave at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. According to legend, Ireland’s other two patron saints — Brigid and Colmcille — also lie here.

7. BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY Whiskey is a Gaelic word, so no surprise about its long

history in Ireland. Treat yourself to a dram in the world’s oldest distillery in Bushmills. Bushmills has been making the ‘cratur’ officially since 1608, unofficially much longer, and in the hillsides round about, even longer. Outlets for the silky, smooth drink are easy to find, most notably the Bushmills Inn. In the centre of the famous whiskeymaking village, this inn dates from the 17th century – so old world charm is guaranteed – as well as open

turf fireplaces, gas lamps, and antique furnishings.

9. THE WALLS OF DERRY

8. THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

Enclosing the ancient city of Derry, the tumultuous history of this haunting city is etched in these old walls, amongst the most complete anywhere in Europe. The route begins at the Guildhall with its fine stained glasswork illustrating the city’s history past the Harbour Museum, and on to St Columb’s Cathedral, Derry’s oldest building.

For centuries a geological wonder known only to kelp gatherers and shepherds, the 40,000 columns of basalt are today one of Ireland’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tallest columns, collectively known as the Giant’s Organ, are 12metres high. Other formations are known as the Giant’s Granny, the King and the Nobles, and the Chimney Pots. A small bus will take you from the visitors’ centre to the main area of rocks where, once your mind has been deboggled, you can contemplate on its origins at length.

10. TYRONE’S STANDING STONES Stop off at the Creggan Visitor Centre and ask for directions to the 44 monuments “of prehistoric significance” within a five mile radius of the centre. Neolithic tombs, cairns, and standing stones,.

22ND - 28TH JULY CASTLEWELLAN, CO.DOWN


IRISH POST TRAVEL SPECIAL

18 | April 27, 2019

The Irish Post

A GLASS ACT The House of Waterford Crystal has been named as the ‘Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience (Large)’ at the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) Awards. We have a quick look at the experience, as well as enjoying a wander round the city

W

ATERFORD is the oldest centre of continuous urban settlement in Ireland — as early as 795AD Viking raiders were mounting attacks on monasteries and settlements in the neighbourhood — these were mostly young Norsemen, basically on their gap year wreaking havoc. But after a while, as the raiders matured and the fruits of their raiding were fully appreciated, they realised that actually settling in Waterford – with its sheltered harbour and mild climate – made a lot of sense. Consequently the area became their new home — as well as a centre of excellence for buccaneers, pirates and general ne’erdo-wells. The men from the North knew it as Vedrarfjord, meaning “haven from the windswept sea” or “fjord of the rams” — depending on which Dane you ask. From Vedrarfjord it was a small step — etymologically speaking — to Waterford. Before long, in 914 to be exact, the great Viking adventurer and pirate Ragnall made his base here, and the future of Waterford was assured.

The main feature at the House of Waterford Crystal Is a centre dining table, with 12 Waterford Crystal chandeliers

Tourists visit the Marking Department at the House of Waterford Crystal

Ragnall was the grandson of Ivor the Boneless. Apparently the grandfather was impotent, hence the name — this was back in the time when that sort of thing was bandied about in public. A cruel era indeed. Today Ragnall’s Tower — now known as Reginald’s Tower — still stands, and the distinct Viking street plan which survives until today, developed round it. So, this area of Ireland’s Ancient East has seen its fair share of history. A walk along the quayside of Waterford, or down Reginald’s Tower

by the river will give you a breath of a very ancient back-story. You might imagine — if you listen carefully — the sound the long ships pounding upriver to the sound of a beating drum; or on the breeze you might just be able to catch the shouts and roars of the Cromwellian troops as they besieged the city in 1649. The hills, streets and alleyways of Waterford saw the Dominicans founding their friary, gangs of labourers dragging rough hewn stones across the Suir to build the city’s walls, and the pretenders to the British throne, Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel, massing with their forces outside the city gates. Both bids for become King across the Irish Sea ultimately proved unsuccessful. Still, nobody wants a King Lambert or a Prince Perkin, do they? Today Waterford’s name is known throughout the world. Connoisseurs of the finer things in life on every continent know that Waterford Crystal is the premium

glassware available. To be fair, unlike the Vikings, many of these are probably hazy about where in Ireland Waterford is; some are even surprised to find that it is in Ireland. At the House of Waterford Crystal in the heart of the Viking Triangle you can take a guided factory tour — which takes approximately one hour — during which you’ll get to understand each stage of production. You’ll hear the entire story of Waterford Crystal from its beginnings in the 18th century to its current position as the brand leaders in the glass world. You’ll also learn about the whole production of glass making — the craftsmen in front of roaring furnaces transforming molten crystal into elegant, intricate shapes. The raw materials — potash, enamel, silica and lead — are heated, blown, shaped and engraved by an army of craftsmen. You’ll see how Waterford Crystal pieces are crafted from initial design right up to the final engraving of the piece. Every year the House of Waterford Crystal melts more than 750 tonnes of crystal, using traditional and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques. On completion of the tour, visitors can experience over 12,000 sq. ft. of crystal heaven in the largest retail and brand showcase of Waterford Crystal in the world. The retail store represents everything the company makes in crystal, including a showcase on golf and other sports, a major part of their international business. The main feature in the retail store is a centre dining table, with 12 Waterford Crystal Chandeliers on display. There’s a piece for every budget, from candelabras to sleek, contemporary-designed wine glasses For further details on the tours available all year round visit www.waterfordvisitorcentre. com or call 051 317000.


See Exquisite Pieces of Crystal manufactured before your eyes

Guided Factory Tours Daily Waterford Brand & Visitor Experience

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