5 tips on how to experience Ireland

Get off the beaten track: Travel the road less traveled, get out of the city, don’t spend all your holiday in the tourist hot spots, a more authentic Ireland is waiting for you. Start your vacation in Donegal, in the Northwest, next stop Iceland its literally on the edge of Europe, at the very top of country, its also where the Wild Atlantic Way begins. Irish is the everyday spoken language in many parts, and we're known for Irelands best Irish traditional music sessions, international super stars like Clannad and Enya hail from Donegal. If its an authentic experience you are looking for you will find it here in abundance. Its the perfect place to start your journey. There is a magic to this storied landscape that will leave you wanting more. Mythology, legends, lore and archaeological sites as old as 800BC. People visit here and never want to leave, some never leave. Donegal is off the beaten track here and no better place to immerse in the culture of rural Ireland and soul nourishing air. 

Immerse in the culture and learn a little Irish: In many parts of Ireland Irish is the everyday spoken language, its beautiful and wildly unique. There is a real romance to the expressions, like “I love you”, in Irish is "Tá mo chroí istigh ionat” – translates to “my heart is in you” – try – "Thank you” – Go raibh (row) maith (muy) agat (ugud) and Goodbye – Slán – (Slen) Thanks – Le (lay) do (daw) thoil (hawl) – You’ll be doing something positive to preserve our culture. Our language is under threat even though it is one of the worlds most indigenous languages and there are are pockets of Irish speaking areas all over the country. Join the global Gaeltacht, and try a few words, this is one sure way to impress any locals you meet.

Live local – try a home stay or a local B&B. This is really where the unique experience is and how to immerse in Irish culture and our way of life. In Donegal you can stay in cottages, castles, cabins, gypsey caravans and all sorts of wildly unique places with a boutique edge, check out airbnb for loads to choose from. Plenty with vegan menus. This is also a great way to try traditional Irish food dishes as many places offer evening meals. Stunning locations with the warmest people to host you and make you feel at home. Think open fires, fresh scones, stories, walks, legends and fairies, walks that you would never find, and walks to the local pub. Get to know the lesser known places and stay with a local host. Our tours use all local accommodation, and our guests love the experience. 

Hidden gems and thin places. You must check out the Archaeology in rural Ireland is spectacular, with sites literally everywhere, in Donegal there are thousands, in one area there is more per square mile than anywhere else in Ireland. I don't mean the ones that you'll find hundreds of other tourists at, I'm talking secret places like the tallest and oldest ringed high cross in Ireland, Ray Cross. This work of art is connected with the legendary Saint Colmcille, ever notice how many schools and churches around the world are named Colmcille? Follow the sign post for Ray Church, outside Falcarragh, Donegal and you will find the cross erected inside a 7th century monastic site, its own open air museum. This cross has been described the same what the Mona Lisa is to the art world. Its a must see and only locals know of its existence. Sacred sites in Donegal are older than Stonehenge, ancient stone circles, dolmens and standing stones everywhere. If you really want to experience the ancientness of this amazing country, and learn about the Celtic Gods and Kingdoms, check out the Colmcille Tour its an incredible mix of learning, insight, spirituality, and a feast of culture.  

When to come? In my experience, no matter what month you travel to the Emerald Isle you will have an amazing experience. April to October is best weather wise and for services, but there is a real beauty when in Winter and you're sitting in front of an open turf fire sipping on hot toddy or an Irish coffee, listening to the most authentic Irish traditional music you have ever heard, wearing that gorgeous Aran jumper you picked up that day. Crisp clear nights where you feel like your standing in the middle of the universe when you look up at the starry night sky - especially in Donegal you'll have every chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. For sure there are more services in April through October, but there is a magic and beauty waiting for you any time you visit. 

I specialise in helping people plan their dream holiday in Ireland, when people work with me they get all my local knowledge, a unique range of customised tours that give back to the community, nurture the culture, and offer incredible value for money. 

Get your Ireland holiday from the bucket list to the lasting memory list. Email Moira@mng.ie and arrange a complimentary consultation today.