The Magic of IrelandPosted on 03/16/2021
This Magical Land is home to centuries of the strong and proud people of the tiny island in the North Atlantic Ocean. The stories of their land have been passed through the generations by the Seanchais, the storytellers.
An adventure to Ireland will not only introduce you to the beautiful landscapes and rainbows, but also you will step into the land of leprechauns, fairies, banshees, and puca of the ancient Celtic folklore.
You will travel through many well-known places, as well as some lesser known treasure of the land. You will hear the Voices of Ireland.
Dublin is the lively, famous city of Guinness, Temple Bar, Trinity College, and the ancient Book of Kells from the 9th Century, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Jonathan Swift, the River Liffey, and the home of Bono. You will find the music and pubs and people charming and you will begin your introduction to Erin, but you will want to venture out of this hub and visit some of the great little villages and meet the people of Ireland.
Glendalough, just south of Dublin, in the Avoca Valley, sits in the Wicklow Mountains and lakes, and is a 6th century Monastic site of St. Kevin. You can walk or cycle through the National Park at leisure and enjoy the beautiful serene scenery, shop for some woven goods, and linger through the ancients cemeteries.
Cobh, formerly know as Queenstown, is a village perched on the cliffs of the south coast. Not only is it a picturesque site, but it also the port where the Irish departed their homeland during the Famine in the 1850s, as well as the last port of the Titanic before its fateful voyage to the New Lands.
Connemara is the rugged and wild Ireland, west of Galway. Many locals still speak Gaelic, the Irish tongue. This gorgeous landscape is dotted with the Twelve Bens Mountains and many loughs (lakes). Known for the marble in the land, these various colors of marble were formed over 600 million years ago from the limestone in the land and are considered the rarest in the world. The area is home to the famous Kylemore Abbey, the Benedictine chapel, which was originally built as a private home by a wealthy English Doctor. The Quiet Man Bridge, from the well-known John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara movie is located in the tiny town of Ballynahinch, and the only true fjord of Ireland is close by in Killary Harbour. Your drive through Connemara will be a step back in time to the more rural areas with the smell of the bogs and peat drifting in the air.
The Northwest countryside introduces the poets of the land, the greatest being W.B. Yeats, who is buried in Drumcliffe in County Sligo. His poetry along with the works of Irish artists influenced all who have come after him throughout the world. “I am of Ireland, And the Holy Land of Ireland, And time runs on, cried she. Come out of charity, Come dance with me in Ireland.” This seaport area of Ireland is known as the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way.
In the far North of the isle lies Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, which is an area of interlocking columns in the sea which were formed by volcanic eruptions centuries ago, but you will also learn the story of the causeway being built by the Irish Giant, Finn MacCool. He was challenged by the Scottish giant and built the causeway in the North Channel so that the two could meet. Finn, the Irish hero with supernatural powers, defeated the much larger giant to save the land.
Newgrange and Knowth in the Boinne Valley on the eastern coast, just north of Dublin, dates back to the Neolithic Period and pre-dates Stonehenge. This megalithic architecture functioned as the celestial observances of the summer and winter solstices as well as an ancient burial place. You can first hand relive the time of solstice.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention visiting the Northern Ireland town of Downpatrick in County Down, where the Patron Saint, Padraig (Patrick) lived. Here on the ancient Mound of Down, are the graves of St. Patrick, St. Brigit, and St. Columba. A visit to the St. Patrick Centre will build the story of the beginning of religion in Ireland, which was preceded by years of Pagan rituals and customs.
This touch of the magic of the ancient land of Ireland will have you yearning for a return, but until then…….
May the road rise to meet you, The wind be always at your back, May the sun shine be warm upon your face, May the rains fall soft upon your fields and May God hold you in the Hallow of His Hands.
- Altair Agent and Ireland Expert, Mary O'Toole