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Since we're going to be talking about Ireland, it's best to start off with a traditional Irish greeting; Top of the morning to ya. For which the response would be, "and the rest of the day to yourself." You might not get the day to yourself in Ireland with so much to see and do; especially if hiking one of the country's 31 long distance trails. Or, if your out exploring many of Ireland's castles. A few things to remember about Ireland though. First, while it might be an island--the Republic of Ireland isn't the entire island. The northern part of the island of Ireland is Northern Ireland, belonging to Great Britain.
Secondly, English isn't the official language even though its spoken by just the entire 4.5 million people (with a sexy brogue, no less). No, the official language is Gaelic.
And yes, the Irish are the world's biggest consumers of beer in the world (followed quite closely with Germany). Guinness is one of the most famous exporters of good Irish beer; and the Guinness Storehouse details the beer maker's history from its start in 1759 to modern day. Make your way through the museum and you've earned yourself a free pint.
Much of Ireland's culture can be absorbed in its pubs where listening to traditional Irish music is a wonderful night out. Anyone out there who needs more, there are other nightlife activities, like the clubs and theater. The only thing that could top that would be a nightcap of either Bushmills or Jamesons. For those of you who don't know, they are some of the best names in Irish Whiskey. Just like Waterford is one of the best names for Irish crystal. That's a perfect souvenir plan, bring home a crystal decanter from Waterford to put your Bushmills in. Whatever you're drinking, chances are it'll go great with much of the fare served in Ireland. Cork is said to make the best blood pudding in the world--but for those who don't know, don't expect a sweet dessert treat. Blood pudding is really a sausage. Yeah, it might take a cast-iron stomach to try--so sign up for one of Cork's cooking classes to learn to make something else. Maybe not Crubeens--made with pig trotters, slang for pig's feet. Stick to Irish soda bread and the fish dishes--divided or not, Ireland is bordered around by the Irish Sea, so seafood is as fresh as you're gonna find it.
You know what, forget food. Ireland has too much history to see, especially in places like Dublin with its Trinity College that's seen men like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and Bram Stoker come through its doors. As exciting as that is, the real attraction at Dublin's Trinity College is its Book of Kells, created back in the 9th century. Dublin also has its own castle from the very early 1200s, built over an area used by the Vikings. Long before there were Christians in Ireland, there were these prehistoric monuments found all over (like over by the Cliffs of Moher). Many of them were found around the Dingle Peninsula (along the famous Ring of Kerry) where thousands of items were found. You'll find a 7th century St. Gallarus Church around these parts, too. Of course, if you must limit your trip to Ireland to one spot--make it Kilkenny. Not only does it have a medieval feel around its streets, but it also as quite a number of pubs and other nightlife. And hosts the Kilarney Arts Festival, too.
Some folks come to Ireland, not just for beer and whiskey, but castles too. You can stay overnight in a number of them since they're hotels. What's great about that is, even if you can't find a castle hotel for yourself, there's always country and farm houses, bed & breakfasts, and if you must--regular hotel rooms. Most people want to only stay at Bunratty Castle, the best preserved castle of its kind in the whole country. Much of it has traditional furniture, wall tapestries, and other period pieces--and it offers the chance to have a traditional medieval meal. Too bad Blarney Castle is in ruins--but you wouldn't know it the way everyone talks about the Blarney Stone. The trick to "kissing the Blarney Stone" is your lips must do it below your body. Yup, get down on the ground, lean back, and SWAK the stone.
Too much for some? Yeah, how about a chance to see the nature side of Ireland? Kilarney National Park is full of lakes, mountains, and gardens. Sitting on a beach in the areas of Rossnowlagh, Curracloe, and Caherdaniel is just as good a way as any.
A bit more adventurous are hiking around places like the Ireland's craggy coastline. But it is only one thing that needs to be seen in Ireland---watch a Gaelic Football match. And if it looks familiar, chances are because it's a blend of soccer, rugby, and American football. The rest of the day to myself? There's no way you can everything in Ireland done to have the day to yourself.
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