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Ireland is famous for many reasons. It’s the land of the Celts, home of Guinness, renowned for its friendly, welcoming people and has a rich, unique culture steeped in ancient history. With such a large Irish diaspora around the world, almost everyone can trace their roots back to Ireland in some way – even Barack O’Bama!
If ancient castles and ruins, mystical stories and legends, rolling green hills, crashing waves and quaint rural villages are your thing, Ireland is for you. This country has something for everyone however, from party animals and music aficionados to fans of literature, history, arts and architecture, outdoor enthusiasts or those who just love to have a chat (or a pint) with friendly, interesting people. Get back to your roots and enjoy the unique scenery and special atmosphere this little island has with an Exploring Vacations tour.
Ireland has ancient structures that are older than the Pyramids, so naturally it has a long, turbulent history. The first inhabitants arrived around 10,000 years ago by boat from Britain and Scandinavia, eventually introducing agricultural practices, tools and the beginnings of culture and religion. By around 4000 BC these people had developed into the society that we now call the Celts. Celtic people had their own language, alphabet, traditions, customs, laws, religion, festivals, and way of life. They built stone monuments to honour their dead, wore beautiful hand crafted gold and silver jewellery, had their own societal hierarchy and successfully won several wars.
By the middle ages, the Celts suffered several Norman and English invasions, leading to a mixing and integration of different societies and cultures. The relationship between Britain and Ireland became more and more complicated as the centuries wore on, with Britain taking control over the island and the Irish people becoming more and more rebellious in the face of British control. After civil and international wars, tensions were so high that the only solution was the split the country in two, the northern part staying with Britain and the rest becoming its own independent nation.
The conflict didn’t end there however, with decades of fighting and atrocities on both sides of the new border. Finally, a precarious peace was reached and although still not a united nation, the island of Ireland is now once again a welcoming place with people successfully working together to maintain a lasting peace.
Throughout the many conflicts Ireland has endured, the passion its people has for traditions and culture has stayed alive and well, even to this day. Music, dancing and storytelling is a huge part of Irish life. Ireland has many world famous writers and musicians – James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, U2 and Van Morrisson to name just a few.
Traditional Irish dancing is now recognised by the whole world thanks to the spectacular Riverdance show, and traditional music is lively experience not be missed by any visitor to the country. Sports like Gaelic Football and Hurling have massive followings at home and abroad and the Gaelic language is still given equal importance in education as well as in daily life.
The people are known for their friendly personalities and warm welcomes offered to visitors and family alike. Animated, talkative and lots of fun are just some words you could use to describe the average Irish person. A visit to Ireland will charm even the most steadfast of people with the warm hospitality, colourful culture and traditions, and breathtaking scenery.
The best time to visit Ireland is any time! No matter what season you choose to visit, you will receive an equally friendly welcome. That said, certain types of year are even more fun than others. March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, the national holiday honouring the country’s patron saint when the whole island celebrates in a whirlwind of music, dancing, parades and festivities.
During the summer there are several other festivals such as the Galway Arts Festival, Cork Jazz Festival, and Rose of Tralee festival in Kerry. Autumn is often a great time to plan a trip, with not quite as many crowds as the summer months and sometimes surprisingly good weather.
Visitors from the UK, European Union, Australia, Canada, the United States and a handful of other countries do not require a visit to enter Ireland, only a passport is required. Outside of these countries visa requirements vary, and it is best to check with the Department of Foreign Affairs before planning your trip.
Unfortunately, Ireland is one of Europe’s more expensive destinations, so the more cash you can bring the better. The country has had some economic woes in the past few years which means that prices are becoming much more competitive however, so a little shopping around can result in an incredible bargain. Taxis and restaurants will expect a 10% tip where service charge isn’t included; everything else is at your own discretion. All of the biggest credit cards are accepted in the majority of locations, and VAT refunds are granted for visitors from outside the EU.
No vaccinations are required to visit Ireland and the country is generally safer than most places. Obviously, the usual precautions apply such as keeping your valuables secure when leaving them behind in a car or hotel room, watching your bags in busy areas and crowds, only bringing what you need when touring for the day, etc.
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