The culmination of six weeks of activities throughout the county of Clare! Willie & Son
The biggest ’singles’ event in Europe and one of the oldest festivals in Ireland. Located in the Spa town of Lisdoonvama, with its Spa wells Health centre and the only working Spa in Ireland, the sulphur baths, famous for their therapeutic treatments are an excellent way to relax after the rigours of the matchmaking festival. The cosy bars of Lisdoonvarna have live music (and dancing!) daily, and according to www.matchmakerireland.com ‘romance and craic are to be had in abundance’!
The Final Weekend of the Matchmaker Festival, featuring the grand finale when the best-matched couple are picked and awarded the coveted titles of ‘Mr Lisdoonvarna’ and ‘Queen of the Burren
Are you planning to head to Belfast for spending your valuable weekend here? Then you are on the right destination where there is no end to scenic beauty, excellent nightlife, fantastic shopping places and other tourist places as well. Those interested in exploring facts about Belfast’s history can visit the famous landmarks of the city for detailed information. There are many good hotels in Belfast with best accommodation facilities. You can check the city’s hotel guide to find out Belfast hotels and facilities provided by them. The one that suits to your budget and interest can be booked by any good online hotel booking website.
The city of Belfast is full of life and glamour, devoid of any violence. Belfast tourism have been in the upswing as increased number of tourists around the globe are exploring this city. Although the tourism industry is still in developing phase, but slowly and steadily the things are looking better for Belfast tourism industry. Places to see was earlier shadowed due to negative publicity but now the publicity is being done in the right manner. The credit goes to the present government who have very well identified the natural resources of the city, developed it so that it draws tourism it is worth for.
Belfast hotels are becoming talk of the town as there is major development in the area of tourism with great enthusiasm and vitality. For film lovers, the Belfast film festival is organized where small as well as big productions from all over the globe is shown. You can take a tour of this mesmerizing city by means of boat, taxi, bus or by walking. Reaching to Belfast has become very convenient with budget airlines giving regular access to the city of Belfast. People here are very warmly, social, co-operative and have a zest for life.
As far as hotel accommodation goes, hotels as available in all ranges to suit your budget and interest. Right from low budget to medium and high budget hotels, you can find all sorts of Belfast accommodation. Just log on to a reputed and reliable Belfast hotel booking website and select based on your preferences and requirements. Hotels in Belfast are build in main marketplace to secluded destinations in the lap of the nature.
Whether you are planning to go with your family or friends Belfast has something unique and interesting to offer to all people. Doing booking of accommodation in Belfast ensures well-organized and peaceful stay at this spectacular tourist location.
For more details of hotels in Belfast visit http://belfasthotels.ebookireland.com/
Distillation is the process by which water is separated from alcohol, made possible because their boiling points differ. Scottish whisky – usually spelled without the e – has traditionally been distilled once or twice. Irish whiskey – traditionally spelled with the e – is usually distilled three times. However, Jameson Irish Whiskey is of unique provenance as a single distillery Irish whiskey, originally manufactured by a Scot. In 1780, John Jameson established the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin but the whiskey is today distilled in Cork (the vatting still takes place in Dublin).
Since before Victorian times, Jameson has been a popular international brand as a smooth single distilled whiskey with (some say) just a mild hint of vanilla. Unique features of Jameson include the distillation process: Jameson combines malted barley with unmalted or green barley. It also uses a “Pure Pot Still” method in its manufacture – even stubbornly retaining this through periods when, due to competition with cheaper Scottish brands, it was far less economically viable to do so. Indeed, litigation regarding what could be marketed or branded as whiskey was brought against the Scottish whisky makers, but they won their case in the end.
A steam museum located in Straffan, County Kildare, houses among its various contraptions and locomotives a number of engines that served purely industrial rather than transport purposes. A large beam engine is on display that was used in the Midleton whiskey distillery in County Cork. The steam museum also has a pumping engine that was used at the Jameson distillery in Dublin.
However, the steam museum in Straffan is not the only place in Ireland to learn about the production and history of Jameson Whiskey. The Old Jameson Distillery, in Smithfield, a market area of Dublin of near ancient origins, is home to a museum on the site where the whiskey was once produced. You will first watch a video presentation before taking a guided tour through the distillation and maturation processes of this significant Irish spirit brand. Provided you’re of age, you can then enjoy a glass of the whiskey in the pub above the museum. The tours can begin early, so if you’re on a tour in the early afternoon, just be sure to pace yourself in the pub afterwards.
Jameson Whiskey Heritage Centre in Midleton, County Cork, has restored its old distillery too, to further showcase the manufacturing process. Whiskey has been distilled on this site since 1825, and the modern distillery is nearby. The heritage centre is home to the world’s largest pot still. Visitors are also free to examine the old corn stores, still houses, warehouses and maltings. Artefacts and displays, demonstrations and working models, all combine for an enjoyable cultural experience.
The Dublin Theatre Festival was founded in 1957 with the intention of showcasing the best in international theatre while also bringing attention to new Irish productions. It’s the oldest festival of its kind in Europe.
The Dublin Theatre Festival, sponsored by Ulster Bank, this year runs from September 24 until October 11. The Dublin Fringe Festival, sponsored by Absolut, takes place between the 05 and 20 September. While the main theatre festival features mostly mainstream dramatic works, the alternative festival showcases dance, comedy and theatre in various other guises.
Many of the shows at the Dublin Theatre Festival are family friendly, with several shows aimed at children. A cultural centre aimed at this age group, The Ark, will host a number of shows through the course of the festival for kids of various ages, including four productions from Denmark. The Danes, who count Hans Christian Andersen among their number, know a thing or two about children’s entertainment and have a strong tradition in the field. The theatre festival includes an adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. There is also a musical specifically aimed at toddlers.
More adult themed fare can be found elsewhere at the festival, although some of it deals with the education system. For those living or staying outside of the city, an adaptation of Pat McCabe’s The Dead School goes on tour, playing in Blanchardstown, Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire. Central to the play is the clash between traditionalism and modernity, with an older school teacher critical of a younger teacher’s techniques.
Tradition and modernity also feature in Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, with a wilting class of privilege being supplanted by the search for meaning in modern life. Chekhov has a high profile in Ireland, thanks in part to acclaimed Irish playwright Brian Friel’s recent adaptations of his work. A Russian production of Three Sisters – featuring a renowned cast and an award winning director – runs at the Gaiety Theatre between 29 September and 3 October. The play will be performed in Russian, so you may want to hear Chekhov’s lyricism in his native tongue (or ascertain whether the great playwright had a poetic ear at all). English surtitles are provided.
An adaptation of The Birds – the short story by Daphne DuMaurier, made famous by the Hitchcock film, also based on it – can be seen at the Gate Theatre. The adaptation is written by award winning Conor McPherson and features a strong cast.
Meanwhile, the Dublin Fringe Festival, which precedes the main festival, has a less conventional format, and the tickets are in general less expensive too. It features a more widespread selection of performance art. Some of the pieces are site specific. For example, “Basin” is performed at Blessington Street Basin in Dublin 7. It is an examination, through multimedia and more conventional live theatre, of the history of Blessington Street Basin. In keeping with the non-conformist expectations of the fringe festival, it has some magical elements, and includes a ninja duck poacher, ghost children and a trip through Narnia.
Die Roten Punkte at the Metro Bosco Theatre ably parody Germany’s industrial music scene, with some very strong musical numbers that would fit into any 80s top ten chart, alongside great comedy. The name of their “hit single” says it all: “Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am A Lion)”. Reviews for this mock concert show have all been extremely favourable.
Dublin Theatre Festival Box Office: 01 677 8899
Dublin Fringe Box Office: 1850 374 643
If you’re on the east coast of Ireland (and chances are high that you will be, as the capital of Dublin is situated there), you can find many places to fish. Just north of Dublin in County Meath, for example, you will find Clarke’s Sports Den, where you can obtain both advice and a permit to fish.
Angling is regulated in the Republic of Ireland by the Central Fisheries Board, which focuses primarily on the provision of advice to the government on protection and conservation of fish stocks in Ireland. Regulation of the fishing industry is important in Ireland, given its reputation as a haven for nature and its rural identity on the international stage. Although endowed with a moist and changeable climate, Ireland prides itself on its outdoor pursuits, fishing being among them. So you will need to check if the kind of fishing you intend to enjoy while in Ireland requires a permit from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards located around the country. Note too that in 2010, the seven regions and the CFB are expected to be amalgamated into one body – the Inland Fisheries Ireland organisation. Sea trout and salmon fishing require permits. These are game fish. Irish salmon has a world class reputation, and scientists have expressed alarm in recent years at the decline in the return of wild salmon to Irish waters. As a result, there is now a national quota on the number of salmon that can be fished in Ireland which must be adhered to by anglers and other fishermen.
Coarse fishing is the term used to describe fishing for other kinds of fish such as bream and eels. However, there are species from both categories protected in Ireland; indeed, all freshwater fish fall under some kind of protection, so make sure you do your research before you set out and make sure you’re not breaking any laws. You’ll need to get a state licence to fish for salmon or sea trout anywhere in Ireland.
So where to go fishing? County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland and on the other side of the island of Ireland to Dublin, is known as one of the most watery of the counties of Ireland, and both fishing and boating can be done on Lough Erne. Lower Lough Erne has more than ninety islands, Upper Lough Erne more than 150, and there are guided cruises on offer as well as boat rental from angling centres such as the one in Belleek.
Meanwhile County Down offers trout fishing along the Shimna River on the Mourne Mountains. You’ll get permits on Newcastle’s Main Street in the Four Seasons.
Lough Ree in Athlone is one place from where you can strike out along the Shannon, and there are boats of various kinds to rent, as well as cruises that may take as long as half a day to complete. If you rent your own boat, make sure to bring a rod along if you want to enjoy the fishing.
County Leitrim with its loughs and rivers is an oft overlooked part of the west of Ireland. Boaters can go out on cruises and the fish are plentiful along the Leitrim waterways.
Controversial tax breaks in recent years in Ireland have encouraged stud farmers and others with an interest in horse racing to develop the sport here, although there was never any real need for the government incentives. The Irish have always had a fondness for horse racing, and the fact that Irish jockeys and horses frequently win races at big UK events is testament to this fact.
The Galway Races is the big summer event. With celebrities, politicians and successful entrepreneurs in attendance in their droves, you can be sure that you’ll be rubbing shoulders with a higher class of sports fan. Some of them have been known to arrive at the races by helicopter, an extravagance that is now balked at in the media because of the state of the world economy. However, the Champagne Tent at the Galway races is one venue worth a visit if you’re looking to develop business contacts.
The summer festival at the Galway Races runs for an entire seven day week, and local businesses and offices have been known to shut up shop early so that employees can attend. On Ladies’ Day, the best turned out member of the fairer gender is awarded a prize, and there are various other events – other than horse racing – that take place over the course of the week. The festival in Galway runs from the last Monday of July each year. If you’re looking for local accommodation during the festival, you’d be advised to book early to guarantee a place to stay. Although there has been a dip in the popularity of the races due to the economic downturn, hotels and other accommodations in the area have been known to be booked out during festivals.
The Autumn Racing Festival is another Galway Races event, a little quieter than the summer event. The Autumn festival has been moved forward to the end of August this year.
On Ireland’s east coast you will find the Leopardstown Race Track in Dublin. It holds a festival over Christmas and it also houses a golf centre.
You will find all of the expected facilities at all of the racetracks in Ireland. Both Galway and Leopardstown offer car parking facilities. Screens both big and small feature, with the races being broadcast over them in case you’re off in the bar ordering booze while the race you’ve bet your house on is taking place. Betting stalls are located on the grounds, with various betting shops competing for your custom. Because horse racing is the sport of kings, you won’t be surprised to learn that the bars and restaurants at the race tracks are usually of a high standard, although the prices aren’t too prohibitive. Outdoor seating is not unusual, so you can view the races live while you drink or eat. If shivering in the cold Irish weather at Christmas time nursing a pint of cold beer isn’t your idea of a good time, patio heaters will keep you warm if the weather has taken a turn for the worse.
Croke Park on Dublin’s north side is the home of the Gaelic games in Ireland’s capital. A brisk twenty minute walk from O’Connell Street, one of Europe’s widest main thoroughfares, will take you to the stadium. The games traditionally played in Croker, as its known, are Gaelic football and hurling. However, recently, other sports played there include soccer and rugby due to the ongoing redevelopment of Lansdowne Road, Dublin’s other main stadium on its south side. The decision to allow sports of foreign origin to be played at the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association was controversial for some members of the GAA. The Gaelic Athletic Association is the Irish and international sporting body responsible for the promotion of Gaelic games, including camogie, hurling, Gaelic football, handball and rounders, with a heavy emphasis placed on hurling and football. The popularity of both sports among the Irish is high. Principally because of this, out of the population of about six million in Ireland, the GAA boasts 800,000 members – the largest organisation in terms of membership in Ireland. When you consider this alongside the fact that GAA players are amateur status athletes, and the sporting body relies on a good degree of good will and volunteerism, you can appreciate how important Gaelic games are to the Irish populace.
The foundation of the association in 1884 was a reaction to the decline in the popularity of Irish sports. The association also actively encourages other aspects of Irish culture, such as Irish dancing and the Irish language. However, since the late 1800s, there has frequently been a chauvinism displayed when it comes to Gaelic games – members of the British armed forces and the police were not permitted to join the association in its early days, and even children who played Gaelic football were often not allowed to play soccer or rugby if they wanted to retain their place on the Gaelic team. The decisions of school teacher-coaches to deny teenagers the right to play more than Gaelic and hurling in days gone by may well have scuppered more than one professional football career in the English Leagues. Croke Park has been used to host Gaelic Games for decades, and even today some traditionalists took exception to the recent rugby and soccer internationals that have been played there because of Landsdowne Road’s refurbishments.
However, the GAA had some basic tenets outlined in its foundation that were less controversial, including the desire to encourage native games among all social classes.
Croke Park itself has seen some redevelopment in recent years, making it among the largest world class stadiums in Europe. In keeping with the changing times in Ireland, it can also lay on impressive corporate hospitality functions both during matches and at other times.
When it comes to GAA games, the All Ireland football final is one of the two main events, the other being the hurling final. Held at Croke Park every year on the third or fourth Sunday of September, the football final is the culmination of a games series among the counties from all four corners of Ireland – currently with the exception of County Kilkenny, whose strength lies in its hurling team – for the Sam Maguire Cup. The game is faster than soccer and a joy to watch, so if you have an opportunity to see a match, whether it’s the All Ireland Final or not, check it out.
At more than two hundred metres in height, the Cliffs of Moher, comprising layers of flagstone and shale facing into the Atlantic, is an impressive attraction when you’re at the top. Crowning the cliffs is a Victorian structure called O’Brien’s Tower, from which the site has been used to view the area since the 1830s.
O’Brien’s Tower is named after a local Member of Parliament, Sir Cornelius O’Brien, who in the 1830s and 1840s was said to have built practically everything in County Clare at the time, with the exception of the cliffs themselves. The O’Brien clan can be traced back to Brien Boru and before that to early Christian Ireland. The clan O’Brien still retains a leader as the head of the house, and at various times in the family history, the O’Briens have been either pro or anti-British, and either Protestant or Catholic.
At any rate, Cornelius O’Brien served as a member of parliament at Westminster in London, representing Clare. An early advocate for tourism, he saw the value in marketing the Cliffs of Moher as a spot for sightseers.
If you don’t want to use the tower, unanticipated gusts of wind make it less dangerous for visitors to simply crawl on all fours or on one’s belly in order to peer over the edge, than to simply stand at the height and look down on the Atlantic below.
More sophisticated than O’Brien’s Tower is the new interpretive centre, Atlantic Edge, also located at the Cliffs. The centre houses this interactive experience underground – after entering via a viewing ramp providing access to the main dome shaped area, the domed cave itself is then revealed, where exhibits and images are displayed.
There are four themes for the exhibit: Nature, Man, Rock and Nature.
Visitors are led post-exhibit via a tunnel to give the visitor a taste of the caves that the area also has in abundance. Through the tunnel, they arrive at a theatre where a virtual reality adventure takes place. The Atlantic Edge exhibition wraps up half an hour before the visitor’s centre’s closing time, so if you reach the site late in the day, you can visit the centre to see if the exhibit is still running immediately, just in case you’re disappointed.
If that all seems a little bit gimmicky, the Cliffs of Moher stretch for some eight kilometres along the coastline, so they are more than just a tourist resort. A Refuge for Fauna since 1988 and a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) under the EU Birds’ Directive since 1989, the Cliffs are the chosen residence of one of the largest colonies of nesting seabirds in Ireland. The area around the cliffs has grasslands and heath that are worthy of special attention, given the importance that conservationists and bird lovers give the area. Indeed, the special designation attributed to the site comprises an area of some 200 hectares.
The Cliffs of Moher have reached a shortlist for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. “New7Wonders of Nature” is an endeavour to bring such a list – which has never been definitively compiled – up to date. The Cliffs are now on a list of nearly thirty that includes the Amazon Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
More beer is imbibed in Ireland from the Guinness Brewery in Dublin than from any other source. St James’s Gate on the south side of the Liffey is a centrally located sprawl not far from Dublin’s Phoenix Park, and this is where the creamy stout is made. Arthur Guinness established the plant on this site in 1759. The date when the lease began is significant: Guinness celebrates 250 years on the site in 2009.
A Web friendly campaign has begun in earnest to mark the occasion, with Guinness running, inter alia, a questionnaire at one of its domains. The campaign is also marked with television advertising and a host of “Global Toasts” and the establishment of the Arthur Guinness Fund, in keeping with its namesake’s philanthropic disposition. The Fund’s chief aim is to enable those with the skills to do so to better their communities.
So is Guinness, as a marketing campaign in the 1930s and 40s claimed: “good for you”? Diageo, the international company that has taken over the Guinness brand, today refuses to make health claims for any of its beverages. However, studies have shown that the antioxidant compounds in Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. These are not found in lighter beers, and the claim is similar to those made for red wine over white. The antioxidant properties are said to help prevent arteries and other blood vessels from becoming clogged with cholesterol. However, the health benefits of Guinness have been known for generations by Irish parents. Many Irish family anecdotes will relate how the weakest children in the family were often fed a bottle of Guinness – perhaps once a week – in order that they gain a little weight.
The black roasting of malt still takes place within the walls of the large property, and the brewery (now owned by Diageo) also produces international beers today for the Irish market. However, a visit to the Guinness Storehouse attraction does not include a visit to the brewery itself (not surprising given modern health and safety regulations). The black stuff, as it is known, has been brilliantly marketed through the centuries. From the creamy white head with a smiley face that pre-dates its yellow counterculture cousin by decades, to the toucan, to the waves and horses surfing towards the shore, to the dancing maniac; each Guinness marketing campaign has contained an advertising gem or three. The Guinness Storehouse itself is no different. The 1904 building provides a history lesson through a tour, with a massive atrium shaped like a pint glass as the centrepiece. The six storey exhibit shows visitors exactly what goes into a glass of stout.
On display you’ll see a huge copper fermentation vat, you’ll learn about ingredients, the malting process, how hops are grown, and you’ll also see photographs from the nineteenth century of long dead employees –in their prime at the time – hauling large kegs of the black stuff as it was being prepared for shipment. Also, you’ll find an exhibit of the barrel maker’s craft. Until the end of World War II, the cooper handmade the kegs that were used to store the stout.
The Gravity Bar on the top floor of the Storehouse is a great vantage point from which to view the city at the end of the tour, and to enjoy a pint of the very stuff you’ve just learned a lot more about!
- Queen of the Burren Festival, 2nd – 4th October
- Belfast Hotel Accommodation Made Easier with Online Bookings
- Jameson Irish Whiskey
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- Dublin Theatre Festival
- Fishing in Ireland
- Horse Racing in Ireland
- All Ireland GAA Football Final
- The Cliffs of Moher
- Guinness – 250 year anniversary celebrations on Sept 24