Ireland is a country often overlooked when it comes to culture but in fact its ties with literature, music, art, and education may be a lot more noteworthy than you think. This article gives anyone hoping to travel somewhere new a few good reasons why Ireland could be exactly what they’re looking for, and also acts as a comprehensive event guide for anyone who has already made up their mind about going.
It leaves out any well-known landmarks that are sometimes called “tourist traps” and mentions the most rewarding points of interest which travellers from abroad might not know about. Most of all, it outlines why Ireland is overflowing with culture and why people of all tastes can find something that excites and fascinates them when vacationing in the Emerald Isle.
Don’t be fooled by its small size or sparse population – Ireland is a destination full of life and opportunity that never fails to leave the adventure-seeking holiday-goer wanting more. While it is perhaps best known for its generous and ongoing contributions to the stout and whiskey industries, the island’s true charm comes from both its bold history and its strong connection to education and the arts, a combination which anyone with an interest in culture will be unable to resist. If you’re looking to travel someplace vivacious, happening, and at the same time picturesque, here are a few reasons why Ireland might be the next item to check off your list.
The past, present and future are harmoniously brought together in Ireland’s urban areas – integrating beautiful architecture from the Georgian period and earlier; a modern, metropolitan vibe that is the main attraction of many other European cities; and just the right amount of enterprise to move forward in the technological age. As Dublin is usually the first (and sometimes only) stop for visitors to Ireland, you’ll find it brimming with inspiring events and points of interest all year round. Young people travelling alone or in small groups can always keep busy at one of Dublin’s many annual festivals, such as the Jameson International Film Festival in February, the Bloomsday Festival in June, and the Samhain or Halloween celebrations at the end of October.
Those looking to get away from more touristy spots can come and support local small businesses at the farmer’s market that takes place every Saturday at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, where you can buy artisan sweets, fresh Irish produce and authentic foreign cuisine at affordable prices. In Galway, explore the sights and sounds of the Latin Quarter where new events and fairs spring up every month, and in Cork, pay a visit to one of the city’s elegant theatres and cultural centres such as the Everyman Palace and the Cork Opera House. Of course, the real heart of any city is captured in its nightlife, so if you’re hoping to spend an evening in the company of some colourful Irish characters, you are always welcome to enjoy a drink or two in one of the thousands of bustling pubs that communities up and down the country have to offer.
Granted that the Emerald Isle gave the world groups like U2 and My Bloody Valentine and is often the first stop on a band’s European tour, music buffs will never be short of things to do while vacationing in Ireland. There are venues designated for every genre under the sun in all corners of the island: Belfast’s Odyssey Arena for rock legends and chart-topping pop stars, the Academy in Dublin for rising indie and hip hop acts, and the University Concert Hall in Limerick for orchestral works, ballets and operas. People looking to experience the excitement of a music festival will be spoiled for choice as every year music enthusiasts get out the Wellington boots for open-air events like Oxegen, Slane, and Electric Picnic, while those less interested in getting mud on their legs keep an eye on the lineups for the Cork Jazz Festival and Belfast Music Week. Traditional Irish music isn’t neglected either – Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is held annually and showcases the talents of singers, dancers, and musicians from all over Ireland. If you’re interested you can take a gander at the performances and competitions, and even pick up a tin whistle at a gift shop to try and learn a few folk tunes yourself!
Ireland is also rich in resources for budding scholars, as the deep-rooted affiliation with literature, art, and education it has manifests itself in the scores of museums and galleries to be found everywhere you look. Examples of these include the Dublin Writer’s Museum, the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Natural History Museum (all of which are located in the nation’s capital), as well as the Vanda Luddy Art Gallery in Galway City and Athlone Castle in County Westmeath. If you wish to learn about Irish history away from the turbulence of the inner city, there are many centres hidden in rural parts of the land, including Turlough House near Castlebar, which has all the facilities and exhibitions of an urban museum but in a much more peaceful, secluded setting.
To fully immerse yourself in Ireland’s ancient history, check out the ruins of monasteries like Clonmacnoise and burial grounds like Newgrange; or, to discover the reality of the more recent past, visit Kilmainham Gaol or the General Post Office for a closer look at Ireland’s fight for independence during the 20th century. Trinity College Dublin is also continuously open to the public and is a shrine to Ireland’s ties with education, both in the present day and in times gone by.
There is no doubt that Ireland is a country overflowing with culture and can accommodate people of all tastes, talents and backgrounds. From its scenic natural landscape to its charismatic population, every characteristic is an asset – its small land mass, too, can come in handy as it means you can cram everything into the space of a week, even if the two places you’d most like to see are on opposite sides of the country.
So now that you have an incentive to go, what are you waiting for? It’s time for you to go and have the vacation of a lifetime – see for yourself exactly why Ireland is a haven for culture-lovers.