40 Shades Of Green
By Linda McClain, CTA
When it comes to destinations, it’s no surprise that Ireland is one of the most visited countries from the Capital Region. Is it because of the large Irish population that settled in the Northeast or the many Irish festivals and concerts? Regardless of your perceptions, you can expect to find mystical magic, timeless discoveries, favorite melodies, even evidence of fairies and leprechauns in beautiful Eire.
How do I get there?
Ireland has four international airports: Dublin, Shannon, Belfast and Cork. From Albany, you can fly into all but Cork, with just one connection. Non-stop air service to Dublin and Shannon operate from JFK and Boston on Aer Lingus. Just under six hours in flight, Ireland is one of the easiest destinations to reach from the Albany area. The most popular itinerary for first-timers is to arrive in Shannon and leave from Dublin, or vice versa.
Ireland is 304 miles long and 172 miles wide. There are over four million people living in the Republic of Ireland and under two million in Northern Ireland. Did you know there are over 70 million people worldwide who claim Irish ancestry?
Weather conditions are temperate and mild.
Winter: High 45-Low 39F. (Snow is rare.)
Fall and Spring – between 54 and 43F
Summer between 75-57F.
It is said that if you don’t like the weather, you can expect it to change in a few minutes. You may want to remember these annual guidelines: December is the wettest, January is the coldest, April is the driest and July is the warmest.
There are so many unique and creative ways to see Ireland that your itinerary is virtually limited only by your imagination. Themed itineraries include Irish heritage tours, pub and folk tours, castle and garden tours and faith-based tours.
Escorted coach tours – Select from a variety of pre-packaged tours based on your regional interests. Relax and enjoy the Irish countryside while your professional driver and tour director take helm. With a narrated tour, you can expect to learn about the history of the country, as well as legends and folklore. Choose a tour that features a castle stay, medieval banquet, day cruise or a variety of other inclusive options.
Go as you please – Bed & Breakfast and Farm Stay packages: This method of travel includes open vouchers with the car type of your choice. Once you have purchased your preferred length of stay, choose your lodging from over 1,700 locations throughout Ireland. It is advisable to secure your first night’s accommodation before leaving the US. You can select additional lodging in advance or just refer to your location guide as you travel.
Arrange your vacation by confirming hotel or castle reservations well in advance. Depending on location and length of stay, a car rental may not be a requirement for the entire vacation.
Custom group travel
• Want to trace your Irish roots? Organize an Irish genealogy tour to visit your ancestors’ birthplace and search your family tree.
• Are you a skilled equestrian? Arrange your tour by horseback.
• Is golf your niche? With over 300 golf courses to choose from, Ireland has the right green waiting for you and your golf organization.
• Walking and bike tours are numerous in Ireland. Mix it up with an interest in flora and fauna, music and folklore or archeology and culture.
With such an assortment of festivals, it could take years to attend them all.
Are you single? You may want to attend the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival to find your soulmate.
Have you read the story of the “Rose of Tralee” or hummed the heartbroken words of this famous melody? If so, be sure to appreciate the Rose of Tralee annual Festival. For more information visit www.roseoftralee.ie.
Want to immerse yourself in Ireland’s theater, music, dance and literature? Attend the Kilkenny Arts Festival, an annual highlight in this spectacular medieval city.
What to see & do
• Dublin – This Capital city of the Irish republic will inspire you with its Celtic pulse and cosmopolitan environment.
• View the 8th century Book of Kells – Located at Trinity College, it’s over 1,000 years old.
• If you kiss the Blarney Stone (at Blarney Castle-1446 AD), “the gift of gab” is said to
Belfast – Capital city of Northern Ireland.
• Walled city of Londonderry – Take a walking tour and explore captivating history from the 6th century. Observe ancient, medieval structures and the River Foyle merge into today’s 21st century lifestyle.
• Ring of Kerry – Ireland’s most popular scenic drive. The 100-mile stretch of cliffs, beaches and coastal scenery is best viewed by using a professional driver.
• Cliffs of Moher – A mammoth wall of limestone that rises almost 700-feet above the Atlantic Ocean.
• Dingle Peninsula – One of the most magical and charming vistas in all of Ireland.
• Visit the last port of call for the “Titanic” in Cobh – Take a walking tour with a local historian to see places relating to Titanic’s passengers who visited there.
• Tour the replica of an immigrant ship in the town of New Ross – Step aboard the Dunbrody, where character actors portray courageous Irish immigrants who struggled to survive the great potato famine from 1845-1851, and sail to America. Discover their sacrifice and the faith that was necessary to leave home to settle in a new country. If you have ancestors who immigrated from Europe, you won’t want to miss the Dunbrody (www.dunbrody.com).
• Ireland has 10,000 pubs
• There are no snakes in Ireland
• Over 40% of US presidents had Irish ancesto
• Gaelic is also spoken on the Isle of Man, Scotland
• The harp, not the shamrock, is the national emblem of Ireland
Ready to visit Ireland? One visit may not be enough. The Irish have a saying: “Cead miele failte,” gaelic for “100,000 welcomes”. For more information visit www.shamrock.org.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region–based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net. I invite you to contact me for travel assistance to your favorite travel destination.