You don’t have to be Irish or have Irish roots to appreciate the world famous hospitality and humor of the Irish people. As an Irish American with family in County Mayo and Tyrone, I’ve had more opportunities than most folks to experience these cultural traits first hand. Having traveled to Ireland many times, I’m convinced that the goal of the Irish is to make their visitors feel relaxed and have good “craic” -which means to have a good time and enjoy the company of others.
This observation, which seems to be corroborated by every visitor that has returned from Ireland, is a reflection of an overall Irish attitude that wants to make things festive and share a laugh. For example, if you can get a group of people to walk up and down hills for hours and call it a festival, you must have a good sense of humor! Irish Walking Festivals are offered every month throughout Ireland. In this month of June alone, you can find at least a half of dozen Walking Festivals. The Mourne International Walking Festival, June 28–30, takes place in the Mourne Mountains, Co Down, Northern Ireland. The festival not only offers excellent walking but also a great chance to socialize with other walkers. The highlight of the weekend is the Blister Ball held in Warrenpoint. See, it’s not just ‘let’s go for a hike’ as we say in the States, it’s ‘let’s get some folks together who want to get a little exercise and see the sights, and have a FESTIVAL! If you understand, now you’ve got the Irish spirit!
Apparently, this Irish attitude of having a laugh at life and yourself has been around for at least 400 years. This can be documented through the Puck Fair, held in Killoglin in the heart of County Kerry. Ireland’s oldest festival, Puck Fair will celebrate its 400th annual event August 9-12. Unique to the world, the event revolves around locals catching a wild mountain goat and making him King of the town for 3 days and nights. There is also a parade and a crowning ceremony where the Queen of Puck, traditionally a local school girl, crowns the goat King of the town. The Town Center will be jumping with free family entertainment and will include music, dance, street vendors and a spectacular fireworks display on closing night. To commemorate their 400th anniversary, the locals have added an extra day to the normally 3 day event, to now make 4 holidays – one day for each century – and why not!
Wherever the Irish gather to walk, talk, read, ride, paint, or play, it’s about sharing a laugh and good ‘craic.’ You can be a part of the camaraderie this summer -there’s never been a better year to visit Ireland!
This year you will have more opportunities to find what interests you in Ireland than ever before. Is it genealogy, history, culture, literature, theater, music, dance, sports or spa? You can find it all and more, with opportunities to socialize with likeminded people in a festival environment. All of the resources you need and then some to design your own boutique vacation in Ireland at www.Ireland.com
Below are a just a few festivals happening in Ireland this summer, and hundreds more at Ireland.com.
Visit the peaceful River Moy during the Ballina Salmon Festival July 7-13; The Carlingford Oyster Festival takes place Aug 8 -11 in Carlingford, Co. Louth- advertisements for the extended weekend of family fun advise that a ‘sense of humor is essential.’… In preparation for the World Police and Fire Games that will be held in Belfast Aug 1-10, Dungannon, Co. Armagh will host Everyday Heroes on Jun 16, at the Argory Museum, an Irish gentry house surrounded by a 320-acre wooded riverside estate. Come dressed in your favorite hero costume – a fireman, police woman, doctor, nurse, detective or superhero; Spraoi, pronounced spree, is the Irish word for fun, exuberance and celebration, which will be on tap when Waterford hosts over 200 street theater and music performances Aug 2 -4; This year’s Taste of Donegal Food Festival, Aug 23-25, present cookery classes, exhibitors showcasing their food and products; The Rose of Tralee International Festival brings thousands of people together to celebrate Irish heritage in Tralee, Co Kerry. Aug 14-16; Time to dance polkas and slides and revel in the unique culture and heritage of Sliabh Luachra at the East Kerry Roots Festival Jul 25 Aug 28; The Life of Reilly Festival in Cavan Augt 20 -26 will focus on Celtic music and culture from around the world and activities for diaspora with Cavan roots; Dingle Tradfest, on the southwest point of Ireland, will focus on all forms of Irish and folk music with a specific interest in fusion music Sept 12 -15; Pucker your lips for the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in Clare, August 30 – Sept 30.…I’m still enjoying a piece of art on my wall that I brought back from Clifden years ago. The lovely little artisan town on the West Coast of Co. Galway will host its 36th straight Arts Festival September 19-29; Slieve Bloom Storytelling Festival meanders over the lush landscapes Co. Ofally and Co. Laois, Oct 9-12; Be a part of history Aug 11-18, when Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Festival of Music in Ireland) crosses the border for the first time to Derry~Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
There has been an enormous effort by the Irish tourism industry and Irish people to give you the opportunity to have your own unique Irish experience and lasting memory. If you’re ready for an epic good time, head to Ireland this summer. Irish hospitality and “good craic” await you.
For great vacation deals and ideas on planning your trip to Ireland, visit www.Ireland.com