Things to do in Ireland
OPW Heritage Card - Any visitor can purchase one of these cards for admission to any of the Heritage Sites in Ireland which is funded by the Office of Public Works. This card can be used to see many historic castles throughout Ireland
Blarney Castle - Located in County Cork , this historic castle is known for its "Blarney Stone." Tradition is that if the Blarney Stone is kissed, one will be blessed with great eloquence, better known as the "gift of the gab." One kisses the stone by laying back and being held by an employee of the castle. Photographers are there to capture the moment!
Cliffs of Moher located in County Clare - One of Ireland's Biggest and Most Visited Tourist Attraction. The Cliffs are 230 meters in height and tower over the Atlantic Ocean. There is a souvenir shop. Safety is at visitor's discretion, there are no safety barriers, because it would ruin the natural tourist attraction. The Cliffs are an absolute site to see
Kilkenny, one of Ireland's favourite tourist spots, the Medieval Capital just 1 hour 40 minutes train out of Dublin City is a must see. Its beautiful buildings and of course imposing Norman Castle - not to mention the numerous festivals including the Arts Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival - make Kilkenny a most desirable location.
Food is expensive in Ireland, although quality has improved enormously in the last ten years. Most small towns will have a supermarket and many have a weekly farmers' market. The cheapest option for eating out is either fast food or pubs. Many pubs offer a carvery lunch consisting of roasted meat, vegetables and the ubiquitous potatoes, which is usually good value. Selection for vegetarians is limited outside the main cities. The small town of Kinsale near Cork has become internationally famous for its many excellent restaurants, especially fish restaurants.
Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty : virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper. Classic Irish dishes include:
- Boxty , potato pancakes
- Champ , mashed potatoes with spring onions
- Coddle , a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality of Dublin
- Colcannon , mashed potatoes and cabbage
- Irish breakfast , a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, sausages and white and/or black pudding , a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white). Irish Breakfast is often just refered to as a "fry", and is usually available well past normal breakfast times in restaurants.
- Mixed Grill . Similar to the Irish Breakfast, but with added lamb chop, chips, and peas.
- Irish stew , a stew of potatoes and lamb
- Bacon and Cabbage , popular and traditional meal in rural Ireland, found on many menus
Note that the first four listed dishes (and their names) vary regionally, and are not common throughout the entire country.
But the days when potatoes were the only thing on the menu are long past, and modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented (sometimes with some Mediterranean-style twists). Meat (especially lamb), seafood and dairy produce can be of a very high quality.
Try some soda bread, made with buttermilk and leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast. It is heavy, tasty and almost a meal in itself!
Only basic table manners are considered necessary when eating out, unless you're with company that has a more specific definition of what is appropriate. As a general rule, so long as you don't make a show of yourself by disturbing other diners there's little else to worry about. It's common to see other customers using their mobile phones - this sometimes attracts the odd frown or two but goes largely ignored. If you do need to take a call, keep it short and try not to raise your voice. The only other issue to be concerned about is noise - a baby crying might be forgivable if it's resolved fairly quickly, a contingent of adults laughing very loudly every couple of minutes or continuously talking out loud may attract negative attention. However, these rules are largely ignored in fast-food restaurants, pubs and some more informal restaurants.
Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity and was entirely optional. However, recently it has become common to tip up to 10% of the bill total. Some establishments will add a 10-15% service charge on top of the obligatory 13.5% Government VAT charge, especially for larger groups. If a service charge is levied, a tip would not normally be left, unless to reward exceptional service.
Alcohol is very expensive in the republic. Pints of Guinness start at ˆ3.60 per pint, can get as high as ˆ7.50 in Dublin, and does not become less expensive until you reach Northern Ireland. While in the North, pints of Guinness instantly become cheaper by ˆ1.50 euro on average. Ireland is the home of some of the world's greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years. With around fifty popular brands today these are exported around the world and symbolise everything that is pure about Ireland and where a visit to an Irish distillery is considered very worthwhile.
Another one of Ireland's most famous exports is stout, a dark, dry beer. The strong taste can be initially off-putting but perseverance is well-rewarded! The most famous variety is Guinness, brewed in Dublin and available throughout the country. Murphy's and Beamish stout are brewed in Cork and available mainly in the south of the country. Murphy's is slightly sweeter and creamier-tasting than Guinness, while Beamish has a strong, almost burnt taste. Several micro-breweries are now producing their own interesting varieties of stout, including O'Hara's in Carlow, the Porter House in Dublin and the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. Ales such as Smithwick's are also popular, particularly in rural areas. Bulmers Cider (known outside the Republic as 'Magners Cider') is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
It is important to note that it is illegal to smoke in all pubs and indeed places of work in Ireland. Many pubs and restaurants have provided 'smoking areas' outside their premises where space has allowed them to.
The other competitor for national drink of Ireland is tea. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other people in the world. Cork, Dublin and Galway abound with slick, stylish coffee bars, but if you visit any Irish home you will probably be offered a cup of tea (usually served with milk, unless you explicitly state otherwise!). Coffee is also widely drunk in Ireland. (If you don't drink tea, you drink coffee!)Source: Wikitravel.org