Tag Archives: IRELAND

Those Islands at the End of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening weekend and I have mixed feelings about the repetition of the movie (mostly unoriginality, to be vented later), but besides seeing that Han Solo smile again, one of the favorite parts for us was the Skellig Islands at the end when … whoops, no spoilers here! The Skelligs are isolated, majestic, magnificent – and we’ve been there! On our first trip back to Ireland after living there for a few years, the Skelligs were the only place we wanted to see a second – or third – time around.  They’re off the coast of County Kerry (the southwest corner of Ireland) and always a risky part of the itinerary. The weather has to be just right.  Rough-ish seas wouldn’t bother the ferry boats on open water, but the waves have to be pretty calm to land at the jetty.  Don’t want to drop any tourists against the … Continue reading

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St Patrick’s Day Flash Mobs

In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve got three videos to make you smile.  First, though, a word from our sponsor: Jennifer’s Pet Patrick’s Day Peeve. The advertising world doesn’t have a clue about Irish names, and insists on referring to St. Patrick’s Day as St. Patty’s Day.  WRONG!  Patrick, in Irish, is Padraig (with a few accents thrown in that WordPress won’t let me include.)  If you shorten Patrick the Irish way, you get Paddy, never the girl’s name Patty!  So now you know, and you’ll never make the same mistake as Madison Avenue, right?  RIGHT?  And now, back to our show . . . First up is in Australia – a country almost as popular with Irish emigrants as the US! Here’s another that becomes great fun.  People stand in a designated spot to try Irish Dancing, with a holo-image of an Irish dancer beside them.  But … Continue reading

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Forget Hotels – Stay in an Irish Castle!

Skip the cozy Irish Bed-and-Breakfasts. Skip the Maldron and Jury’s Inn hotels.  Spend a night in a castle instead! During our three weeks in Ireland, my search for a reasonably-priced hotel in Sligo brought up an unexpected surprise: the Markree Castle Hotel. It’s more a large manor house than a true castle and it hasn’t been turned into a 5-star spa resort, but it was delightful. (And we couldn’t afford a 5-star resort anyway.)  The long entrance drive made me feel like I was coming up to Pemberly, or Netherfield at least. Stained glass windows in the great hall show the family’s genealogy and connections to royalty – that’s King John, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I along the top. Fireplaces abound in the main areas, and the staircases put you smack into Downton Abbey. The other downstairs rooms have been restored to Victorian times, if not earlier. Upstairs, bedrooms are … Continue reading

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Blarney Castle and Kissing the Blarney Stone

In one of my first All Things Irish posts, I asked what you might like to read about.  One of the requests was for any and all castles.  So here’s the first – the quintessential Irish (at least to Americans) Blarney Castle, in my own County Cork. We lived only about 20 miles from the village of Blarney, though the drive took about 40 minutes.  A very pretty drive, but if you go, check GoogleMaps for basic directions first.  You’re on main roads all the way, so if your GPS says to take a side road (which ours did the first time), DO NOT LISTEN TO HER!  We left the main road, wound for miles on a tiny back lane, and then came out onto the same main road! The other fun thing about getting there, from Kinsale at least, is that one of the roads is painted with messages … Continue reading

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St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! But first, please save me from American advertising!  Whoever started the change from Paddy to Patty should be taken behind the barn and pelted with cooked cabbage.  Patty is a girl’s name, for heaven’s sake, and nothing to do with the venerated Irish saint. Patrick, in Irish, is Pádraig.  Pronounced something along the lines of pah-drig or poh-rig, depending on which part of Ireland you’re from (and how much this American can mis-interpret Irish pronunciation).  Pádraig is no doubt where the nickname Paddy comes from, so please don’t say Patty.  Madison Avenue, are you listening?  More to the point, local PR firms putting ads in local newspapers and TV stations, are you listening?? OK, rant over.  I promise.  Maybe. One more comment about St. Patrick’s name.  If the Irish shorten it to anything, it’s St. Pat’s, or just Patrick.  That seems to go for anything from … Continue reading

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