I just returned from a week-long stay in Ireland as luckily had got an opportunity to be a part of the FAM/Trade trip organized by the Ireland Tourism Board.
As with many Indians, I too had many misconceptions initially in my mind which as I experienced the destination, became more vivid and got to understand the lifestyle much better than ever making me erase of those typical nuances.
To start with, the island is about 486 km long and 275 km wide and covers approximately 84,500 square Km. Ireland has 32 counties. There are 26 in the Republic of Ireland and 6 in Northern Ireland.
With these figures, can you believe the fact that the best part is the entire country is easily navigable, being compact in not more than say maximum 4-5 hours and moreover has diverse landscapes rivalling to those found in New Zealand, Norway and maybe any other European countries.
To beginners, of course apart from the regular touristy cliches the island has to offer to range from the world-famous Guinness, the Bailey’s, the Irish coffee and lot more interspersed with magnificent landscapes and countryside found throughout the island, there’s definitely a lot further inside to be known and cherished which luckily, I was able to identify and experience.
The island abounds in rich dairy products, artisan cuisine, fresh seafood and organic vegetable & fruit options so for any vegetarian or vegan person he doesn’t have to be really worried for as you get a really nice variety in the set menu as well. There are quite a lot of Indian and Chinese restaurants in cities like Dublin and Belfast which offer really unique menus and taste as required so this initial misconception I had was washed of. Also If you are a Bakery lover, this is the place to be. With really perfect scones, puffs, doughnuts, buns and a whole lot of cheeses and butter, the country excels in Agro and Dairy products which are being exported in many other countries.
I was lucky enough to indulge in the best of the ice cream experiences till date at the popular Mammy Johnston’s ice cream parlour in a typical Irish seaside town of Strand hill in County Sligo. The flavours are really unique and fresh and were one of the best places to see the Irish families and children coming in large numbers and enjoying their scoops being Summer. Such of experience really makes you more enriched I feel.
Indians always think of this country as exorbitant or exotic in terms of pricing. But believe me, pals, if you plan well in advance and focus on a specified travel itinerary depending on your interest & preferences, it is far more economical than maybe say 6-7 days Rajasthan and Kerala itinerary options as well. So this misconception too became more clear when we checked out with the pricing options.
Also, Ireland Tourism website is very informative and covers almost all topics you wish to know about the country be it of any subject ranging from museums to gardens to music to hotel listings and lot more. So it is always a good source of information to all those interested in knowing and getting first-hand details at one go before you fly to this ‘Emerald Isle’.
Apart from the most popular highlights which we visited be it the Cliffs of Moher with its gorgeous boat ride (certainly not to be missed out) to the Game of Thrones Exhibition Site in Belfast to the rich landscapes of Connemara region; it is no doubt that at every corner and turn you will be allured to take in as many selfies and pictures as you prefer as the island really attracts all Travelers and any others interested.
For culture buffs like me, there are places as tempting as Cnoc Suain in Connemara region where Culture meets Tradition. Beautifully done houses, landscapes along with living interactions. Rooted in Irish culture, nature and heritage, this attraction promotes creativity, innovation, learning and mindfulness of the earth’s and humankind’s precious resources. A really mesmerizing place where we had an opportunity to learn to some foot-tapping Irish dance with the live Irish music being played in the session. A lifetime experience surely not to be missed out.
People who are horticulturists or love botany and want some tranquillity, nothing can beat the famous Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens both in the same campus. I really felt at these places, I wish the time would have stopped by as the mere presence in the lush landscaped gardens transforms you into a different world.
The Irish National Stud and Gardens symbolizes all that is great about County Kildare, the beating heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred horse industry. It is the home of equine royalty, immaculately-bred stallions who can be seen and admired alongside protective mares, frolicking foals and athletic yearlings. Come to the stud and watch them at close quarters, marvel at their grace and splendour. I was lucky enough to have seen both of these highlights of the country.
For a non alcoholic person like me, Ireland did greet me really well as was stunned to know that being the pioneers in Pub culture, the place is known as ‘PUB’, acts more so as a cultural institution wherein people from all backgrounds and age groups mingle up and become acquainted with Irish country music and live Ceili sessions which further boosts the ambience and makes it more rewarding. Of course, I had ample non-alcoholic juices and desserts at these so-called ‘PUBS’ which again cleared my second misconception.
For a taste of an Imperial and royal feel we went to the lavish Estates of Kylemore Abbey, Adare Manor and Harvey’s Point which all make you feel as if you are part of any Royal Family involved in any movie Shoot. Really mesmerizing and out of the world experience.
The most unforgettable aspect of this wonderful country is its people. Blessed with the so-called “Gift of the Gab” they leave no chance to make you feel not lost or uncomfortable. Don’t go by there super cool looks as with those typical Irish eyes, people like me initially get the feeling that they may be too reserved and conservative which totally was opposite. So here again I had my 3rd misconception clarified and I was lucky enough to make more Irish friends of which I feel really nice.
In the entire tour, we got to know about the turbulent history the island had to face with and the pride Which its citizens have. You can feel the traces of the many popular museums throughout the country.
I really wish and hope that time should have come to a halt and we would have never returned back but in order to make people understand about these experiences & what the destination has in store, I had to return back in full swing as I’m sure as I saw the 40 shades of Green , people too will get an opportunity to see, feel and witness them as much as I did and return back with memorable experiences which will make them plan more and more trips to this Emerald Isle.
This land of Poets, Myths, Game of Thrones, Bodhrans, Hurling, Irish jigs, reels, Titanic, Derry Girls, Danny boy, Butlers, Guinness, Tartans, rolling pastures, Ring of Kerry, the list will never be getting complete has certainly created a deep impact in my mind and I’m sure as with my experiences more and more people from around the world will visit this ‘Emerald Isle’ and return with their nouvelle experiences as well.