It’s safe to say the Emerald Isle’s most beloved attributes are well-known around the world: The dramatically green landscape is stunning, stout is a meal in a glass, a traditional music session is the perfect end to the day, and the Irish are as hospitable as ever. Saint Paddy’s Day is around the corner, but we like to celebrate this magical country year-round. With that in mind, here are our ten favorite things about Ireland:
1. The Music
Ireland’s rollicking traditional music dates back 2,000 years. These days, experience it at one of the many folk music festivals in County Clare, or just order a pint and listen to a nightly session at a pub in Galway or Dublin (there’s usually dancing, too—and you’re definitely invited to join!).
2. The Natural Beauty
Ireland is home to some pretty mind-blowing scenery: The misty magnificence of the Cliffs of Moher, the remote Aran Islands, and the glens, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls of Killarney National Park, just to name a few. It’s no wonder so many TV shows and movies are filmed here—we’re looking at you, Star Wars and Game of Thrones!
3. The Craic
You may be wondering why the Irish are always talking about crack. Craic, that is, is an Irish word meaning fun times, news, or enjoyable conversation. Let’s just say you’ll know it when you find it—which is often at the nearest pub.
4. The Guinness
Need we say more? If you’re in Dublin, a pint upstairs at the heavily-touristed Guinness Storehouse is a fun stop for the devoted stout drinkers—but you’ll find the delicious brew poured (and yes, added to the food) just about everywhere.
5. The Literature
Ireland has gifted us with some of the best authors and playwrights in the world, including (but definitely not limited to) Edna O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, and Seamus Heaney.
6. The People
At the risk of stereotyping all Irish people, there is a certain generosity and geniality to the Irish that makes you feel welcomed—you’ll almost always be greeted with a smile, a cheers, and a story.
7. The History
The Book of Kells at Trinity College’s Old Library, passage tombs older than Stonehenge in Brú na Bóinne, and the dramatically-perched Rock of Cashel: Ireland’s deep history permeates every inch of the country.
8. The Outdoor Adventures
From surfing in County Sligo and kayaking through a fjord to cycling the Ring of Kerry and climbing the sea cliffs at Slieve League, there’s plenty of thrill-seeking in Ireland.
9. The Food
Traditional Irish dishes like colcannon, boxty, and lamb stew are comfort food at its finest.
10. The Whiskey
Fun fact: the word “whiskey” actually comes from the first word in the Gaelic phrase “uisce breatha,” meaning “water of life.” The Irish mean business when it comes to whiskey. If you only have time for one tipple tour in Dublin, head to the Old Jameson Distillery: the guided tour is worthwhile, and the price of admission includes a shot of whiskey.