The world knows that a leap year occurs every 4 years when an extra day is added to the calendar to make up for the fact that a solar year is longer than 365 days, but in Ireland it is not that simple!
According to Irish tradition, February 29 is also known as “Ladies Privilege Day”.
On this day, women have the opportunity to propose marriage. It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. St. Patrick agreed to allow “Ladies Privilege” once every four years and the tradition was established.
If you're here looking for an answer to the question "What is the Irish national dish?", the short answer is probably, "Sorry, there really isn't one..."
Irish love to eat, ask any person living here what they love most about home. Sure bet they’ll answer with something related to food, usually an Irish breakfast or bowl of stew. In both city and country heavy meat-and-potatoes meals appear most known of which are "The old styles of meats": bacon joints, beef steaks and stewing beef, legs of lamb, Irish "black pudding" and "white pudding".
But sadly, what the Irish mostly eat today is continental cuisine straigh from Marks & Spencer's, Dunnes Stores and their belowed Superquinn's.
If you are hungry for traditional Irish recipies check out my "Restaurants" tips which I trasformed into Foods section!
There’s nothing like a good kick of the feet, in other words, a spot of Irish dancing!
This tradition of step dancing in Ireland grew and was developed alongside traditional Irish music.
Today there are many opportunities to watch and enjoy Irish dancing as it is a regular part of social functions. Dancing sessions are held in Pubs and Green's, sometimes initial steps are shown to the public. During the summer months, these events are held in many Irish towns. Visitors are always welcome to join in and with on the spot, informal instruction, anyone can quickly master the first steps and soon share the Irish enthusiasm for Irish dance!
Music is essential in everyday irish life, something I dare say the Irish can't live without. And one of the noticeable things about a lot of Irish people is their musical talent.
Irish traditional music was largely meant for dancing at celebrations for weddings, saint's days or other social events. Today it takes a form of - Pub sessions that, are now the home for much of Irish traditional music, which takes place at informal gatherings in country and urban pubs.
Over the years Ireland has produced some great musical talents - Traditional music played a major part in Irish popular music with Van Morrison, Hothouse Flowers and Sinéad O'Connor using traditional elements in popular songs. Enya achieved enormous international success with New Age/Celtic fusions. The Pogues, led by Shane MacGowan, helped fuse Irish folk with punk rock and U2 had became music icons for many fans worldwide.
The old traditions, every country has them but what makes Irish traditions different from others?
Is it from the ancient age of the Celts? Many traditions in Ireland have died out and are long forgotten but other common ones are lived on a daily basis. Irish blessings would be a perfect example of traditions dying out in Ireland but thankfully more and more people around the world are always interested in remembering them.
Irish people like to talk, better yet tell a story. Always ready entertain us with a fascinating story about Leprechauns, banshees and Claddagh, stories like that are passed from generation to generation within families. They usually vary depending on the town the storyteller is from - which only makes listening to them more interesting!
While I was in Galway, I noticed that guys and girls come to bars together and really don't talk to each other much at all unless they already know each other.. It's definitely not like the sexually charged American bar scene.. Anyway, I made an Irish friend in Dublin and he told me why...
Apparently, Ireland is such an alcohol-based society that girls and guys never learn how to properly talk to each other. So they go out and get plastered and then just end up randomly making out! No small talk, no dancing (because the Irish are TERRIBLE dancers!), no buying of drinks.. Just making out!
He also said its funny to watch guys try to go up to American girls and kiss them, because they get a nice slap.
The bodhrán is an Irish frame drum. A goatskin head covers one side, the other side is open ended for one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control the pitch.
The drum is usually played in a seated position, held vertically on the player's thigh and supported by his or her upper body and arm. The drum is struck with the other arm and is played either with the bare hand or with a lathe-turned piece of wood called a "bone", "tipper", "beater", or "cipín".
Bodhrán played as an accompaniment to Irish music sounds very melodically expressive a with naturally occuring tonal variations and sophisticated pitch changes.
The harp is among the chief symbols of Ireland. The Celtic harp, seen on Irish coinage and used by Guinness, was played as long ago as the 10th century. In ancient times, the harpers were greatly respected, considered to have near-magical powers and assigned a high place amongst the most significant retainers of the Irish lords and chieftains.
The native Irish harping tradition was an aristocratic art but associated with the folkloric music of the common people. The harp a solid background in genuine Irish traditional music, and continues to occupy a place on the fringe of Irish traditional music.
Irish Folk music is a window to soul. Vivid, tuneful, melodic, brisk and simple it is well known around the world as pleasurable to listen and easy to dance to.
Like all traditional music, Irish folk music has changed slowly. Most folk songs are less than two hundred years old. One measure of its age is the language used. Only modern Irish songs are written in English, with few exceptions. The rest are in Irish. Most of the oldest songs and tunes are rural in origin. Modern songs and tunes often come from cities and towns.
One of the most important instruments are the traditional repertoire, the fiddle (violin) and flute both instruments have been an integral part of Irish traditional music, but what seems to be well known today is the tin whistle along with the national symbol the Harp ..
One of the instrument hardest to manage is said to be the Uilleann pipes (pronounced ill-in or ill-yun depending upon local dialect) they are socomplex that is said to take years to learn to play. It was common to have learning to play the pipes said to be 7 years learning, 7 years practicing and 7 years playing before a piper could be said to have mastered his instrument.
Pub sessions are now the home for much of Irish traditional music, which takes place at informal gatherings in urban pubs. It seems a great place to hear traditional Irish music as part of a living and evolving tradition.
We were in Galway during the famous Galway Races and met a lot of punters in a pub - one fellow particularly stays in my memory - he was dressed finely but did not have two pennies to rub together. He tried to bum cigarettes from us and drinks, we did buy him a drink. The poor soul was obviously down on his luck having nearly lost his shirt on the horsesTHIS LINK IS DEDICATED TO YOU DEAR GENT Irish people have a knack at being able to laugh at themselves then turn the joke on you. Join in the Craic & have fun with the locals truely uplifting
William Butler Yeats, one of Irelands most important poets and dramatists was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923.
William Butler Yeats was born in Sandymount, County Dublin, in June 13th, 1865 and he died in Menton, France on January 28th, 1939.
Yeats is buried in Drumcliff, just about 7 km north of the town of Sligo. The inscription on his grave-stone was taken out of one of his poems :
Cast a cold eye
on life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
In Ireland the catholic religion plays an important role all over the country and obviously it was quite easy to "transform" the old celtic folks into good and faithful christians, simply because the christian monks did not forbid to pray to the traditional celtic gods, but rather mixed local celtic gods with christian saints...
I found this very special place on my way from Donegal to Glencombcille. It is just a well under a bridge, with a small sculpture of a celtic "water-god" with a christian rosary and donations by faithful pilgrims and locals.
You may enlarge my picture and see the well on the right
Kissing the "Blarney-Stone" is an old tradition in Ireland and lots of tourists spread the word about it to all parts of the world, so this crazy custom is still going on ! May I tell you a secret ? Its much more fun to watch it than to do it !!!
According to an old ledgends there is a magic stone on top of the castle, and who-ever kisses it, will get the gift of eloquence.
"Blarney" is also an expression used for words that are used by someone in order to achieve something, without really meaning to do what he had promised.
Queen Elisabeth I tried to force Lord Blarney to acknowledge her officially but Lord Blarney used a thousands words in order to avoid that...
The Queen finally shouted : "That is all Blarney, what he says, he does not mean!!".
Kissing the Blarney-stone is in fact not really easy : At first you have to step up to the very top of the castle, lay back, while a strong man will hold your feet. You have to bend backwards and kiss the stone that is a part of the stone-fence outside of the castle-brim. There is an iron-fence in order to make sure, you will not fall down, but of course you belongings - glasses, hat ect. may do so - see my pictures !!
I have not done it myself, and psst, don't tell anyone : watching that scenery is a lot better than doing it yourself !!
James Joyce was born 1882 in Dublin and died in Zurich in 1941.Joyce is certainly the best-known of all Irish novelists and you will see this great sculpture in Earl-street in Dublin, not far from O'Connelstreet (b.t.w. the local people call this monument the "Hick with the Stick" . His most famous books are Ulysses and Finnegan's wake.
Close to the sculpture there is a museum about James Joyce.
As you may see on my picture, it is quite usual for people in Ireland to sit on the basement of such monuments in the street and take a rest or a picknick, so it is hard to get a picture of just the sculpture :-((
Every year at "Bloomsday", (june 16th) fans of James Joyce meet in order to visit all the places that Leopold Bloom, main character of the novel Ulysses had visited in that book.
Guiness is NOT my taste for a great beer, BUT of course I also tasted it a few times, also because it is very hard to find any beer in GB and IRL that is similar to the kind of beer I am used to from Austria, Germany, Belgium, Russia and a lot more. In Dublin you can see their brewery and take a guided tour through the Guinness-brewery.
I made the tour many years ago and payed around 10 Irish pounds back in 1990, today the tours are around 13 Euros and you will get a souvenir-glass and may taste a pint of Guinness.
I know many people who liked that tour through the Guinness-brewery and still talk about their "Great day in Bear-heaven".
The Guiness-brewery is in just a short distance from the city centre of Dublin.You may take the bus 123 from O'Connell Street or bus 51B & 78A from Aston Quay.
The adress is : Dublin 8 / St James's Gate
This typical breakfast to offer in most of B&B's and restaurants. Breakfast consists of eggs, hams, sausages and the famous Irish soda bread, with optional tea or coffee for drink. Although in long time travel, this breakfast option is not really waist-friendly, but It's yummy and fulfilling kick start :). Don't worry, lighter option such as cereal, muesli, fruits and toast are also usually available.
More Regions in Ireland