2013 is fast approaching, and for any of you that are tuned in to events going on in Ireland, you will already know that next year is expected to be a big one for Irish tourism. You see, we’re going to have this fine, year long, get-together of everybody and anybody. Anyone who has ever claimed a connection to Ireland is welcome. So too, are Ireland’s exiled sons and daughters who have made a home for themselves in other parts of the world. And even better still, the welcome is extended to anyone who wants to join in the party that is known as, The Gathering.
Newbridge 200 Festival
A quick browse around the website for The Gathering, and you will see what a crafty, yet simple, idea this is. Basically the folks running that website have facilitated the creation of events, called ‘gatherings’, whereby you can invite people to your town, place of business, home etc. It has really got people talking, and created quite a stir. Already, there are hundreds of gatherings set up, which you can browse by county, category and month. Looking for an agricultural gathering in Co. Cork? A heritage gathering in Dublin? They’ve got you covered. You can get in touch with the organizer of a gathering, find maps and info, see how many people are attending, and let people know if you’ll be there to join in the fun.
So there’s your starting point. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Ireland in 2013 on their website, but surely it’s good to get a look at a few more options. After all, if you’re making the long trip across the Atlantic, or up from the southern hemisphere, you’ll be wanting to get your money’s worth, right?
Well let me help.
This past year of blogging has opened my eyes to so many resources for finding things to do in Ireland. I’m going to share some of the better ones with you now. I’m sure they’ll help you plan a great trip to Ireland.
Some of the best Irish travel resources
One of the more exciting Irish travel websites that I’ve seen (and been lucky enough to contribute to) over the past year is the Ireland Travel Kit. The ITK gives you just the right amount of information about off-track destinations in Ireland to whet your travel appetite. A large group of Irish travel enthusiasts have compiled dozens of places for you, that you won’t normally find in a tour book, and posted them, complete with descriptions, photos, maps etc. What makes it even more special is that the authors have described their own personal experience of many of the destinations. Take a look…
Next up, Discover Ireland. The official voice of tourism of almost any country will be a decent place to glean information from before a visit, but Discover Ireland provides that information in a very easy-to-find, visually pleasing way. Find places to go, browse things to see and do, explore accommodation options and vacation deals, and do it all with ease with their very easy-to-use website.
Be sure to check out the explore by video section, and give the trip planner a try, where you can create, save and share your trip details. Cool!
Video by Discover Ireland
Recently relaunched, Infinite Ireland is described as “a first timer’s guide to planning a trip to Ireland”. Stephanie and Joe give their first hand account of everything from planning your trip, to where you should go and what you should see. If you are researching costs, you may want to read one of their recent articles It Costs a Million Dollars to Travel to Ireland, where they break down the cost of everything they bought on a recent trip. From tickets to cups of tea, car rental to castle entrance fees, you will not find a more thorough breakdown of what a trip to Ireland may cost you.
Taking the little ones? Keeping the kids entertained while on holiday isn’t easy. Trust me, I know! Without going into too much detail (too many age groups to try to tackle) I do have some suggestions for you, on where to get started, so your kids don’t drive you crazy while you’re trying to soak up as much Irish culture as you can. Try DayOut.ie, FunDays.ie and Mummy Pages. You’re sure to find a museum, go-karting venue, cinema, amusement center, or other kiddy related activities to keep your pride and joy entertained for hours. If the little ones ain’t happy, nobody’s happy
Festivals of all kinds make up a large part of the Irish entertainment calendar. Food & drink, culture, music, arts and so many other themed festivals will be taking place all throughout the year. Entertainment.ie lists dozens of these festivals. Click through to the event details for more info, website links, related festivals and more. There are dedicated websites out there too that work within a particular niche. Try musicfestivalsireland.ie for over 300 annual music festivals, and 100festivals.ie for a long list of festivals happening around Cork city and county.
Maybe Northern Ireland is on your itineary. You’ll definitely want to pay discovernorthernireland.com a visit, to help you plan your trip. Download brochures, maps and more, figure out transportation & accommodation, and browse tons of activities and things to do, all in one place. Want my opinion? Read my top 5 favorite Northern Ireland attractions.
The Heritage Card and the Dublin Pass provide entry into numerous attractions around Ireland. These combo cards aren’t for everyone. I suggest comparing a-la-carte prices before buying the cards, to find out if you’ll save money by having them. At the very least, browse their websites, for a list of memorable places to visit.
Mount Errigal, Donegal
Outdoorsey people – this one’s for you! The Walking & Hiking Ireland website, is a fantastic resource for planning your hiking route. Climbing an Irish mountain is a great way to burn off those tasty Irish breakfasts! Stephanie & Joe, mentioned above, from Infinite Ireland, recently documented their hike of Errigal Mountain in Donegal. Read their experience here on the Walking & Hiking Ireland website.
If shopping is your thing (certainly not mine ) then you won’t have to go too far without stumbling on a mall. You’ll find plenty of places to swipe your credit card in Dublin. The Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, the Blanchardstown Centre, St Stephen’s Green, Dundrum and so many others, will be more than happy to cast you a welcoming smile as you come through their doorways. Heading to Killarney? You’ll have the Killarney Outlet Centre nearby. Cork offer’s up some decent retail therapy at Mahon Point. And if you’re over in the West, you’ll have the lively Eyre Square Centre in Galway, to spend some of your hard earned cash at.
Travel ideas on this blog
If you’ve been keeping in touch with this blog over the past number of months, you’ll know that I always try to show off a few beautiful and special places from around Ireland in my tourism section. A few of my favorites include the Round Towers, Kells Priory and, The Shandon Tower in Cork.
New tour website
Browse tours of Ireland
In addition to my blog posts on this site, I recently launched a dedicated Irish tours section to the site. I think you’ll like the layout, and you may even like the tours too. You can browse by county/category, view maps, find contact info and more. And if you have a tour of your own that you’d like to list on there, either get in touch, or use the site to submit your details.
Where to eat
You’re going to have to eat at some stage while in Ireland, right? If you want to find somewhere special before you go, then I suggest you spend some time on TasteofIreland.com first. There, you’ll find a long list of honest reviews of restaurants all around the country.
Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin
Where to stay
When I’m back home in Ireland I like to eat most of my meals, and catch most of my sleep, in my parents house. If I could give you the keys I would, but I’m afraid my mother wouldn’t be too happy with me.
So what are you left with? Hotels in Ireland aren’t a bad option. Many have entertainment, some have food included etc. There’s campsites and camper vans for the adventurous crowd, and hostels for the folk on a lower budget. My own personal preference when I’m anywhere other than close to home is an Irish B&B. See why here.
Ireland has gotten a pretty bad reputation in recent times for being a little expensive. Don’t bring it up with the locals unless you want to hear a rant! There are ways to save on expenses though. This previous post of mine will give you some good pointers on where can you save a few Euro. Be sure to check the comments section too.
Something else you may want to check out is the website at this link, which has a downloadable discount card. The card is good at dozens of museums and heritage centers, and you’ll find deals such as 2 for 1, free admission, kids free etc. The link above is to the 2012 card, but I’m really hoping they add one for 2013 too. Let me know if it worked for you.
Do not forget to bring something special back from your trip for your mammy, granny or the buddy looking after your cat! I ran an article a while back on some unique Irish gifts you can pick up while in Ireland. You’ll find it here.
Well…that’s it! I hope I’ve given you plenty of food for thought, and that you have more than enough ideas to create a busy itinerary for yourself. The Gathering 2013 should be a very memorable year for Ireland, and I’m glad you will be a part of it. I will be too – maybe I’ll see you there.
Now it’s your turn…
Got any great travel resources that you can share with us? Leave a comment below with the details. Thanks!