Silly McGilly Giveaway – Ireland’s Magical Leprechaun

Silly McGilly is a friendly little leprechaun who loves nothing more than playing tricks on children.

Silly McGilly's AirplaneSt. Patrick’s Day may be a long way away, but since today is September 17th, and our big Irish celebration is 6 months from today, why not seize the opportunity to introduce you to a little leprechaun, and host a giveaway to mark the day.

I suppose we can treat September 17th like St. Patrick’s half birthday. My eldest boy celebrates a summer birthday, so I thought he would miss marking the occasion with his school classmates. Not in America!

Half-birthdays have now been invented to create a little razzmatazz for summer birthday kids, midway through their year.

“Wow!” is all this Irish-born mother could say, upon seeing a colorfully decorated, half-birthday hat, sported home from school one winter’s afternoon. Somehow, I don’t think Sr. Mary or any of the other Irish nuns who taught me, were ever worried about half birthdays.

Even so, dear St. Patrick, Irish American Mom is getting on board with this “we’re half-way-there” celebration thing, and introducing everyone to none other than Silly McGilly, on this the mid-way point to your Big Day.

Who Is Silly McGilly?

 

Silly McGillySilly McGilly is a friendly, Irish leprechaun.  When March arrives each year, all leprechauns love to take a break from shoe-making. Silly loves to travel all over the world from Ireland in the weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, to play fun little tricks on children.

His story is told in a rhythmical, rhyming book, which lets little ones know to place Silly’s doll by a window each evening.  When  Silly sees the leprechaun doll he knows he’s welcome to come and play tricks.

That’s when the high jinx and leprechaun magic begin. Sometimes he leaves treats. He loves to write jokes or limericks. He’s even been known to turn food or even toilet water green.  His antics are as limitless as your imagination, but the creators of this fun little toy have many suggestions to help you create excitement in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day.

 

“I’ll work my shenanigans while you are snug asleep,

don’t worry that I’ll wake you, I will not make a peep.  

When you wake up, find the trick that I’ve done.  

I hope your whole family will join in the fun.”

- Excerpt from Silly McGilly’s book.

 

Silly McGilly In The WindowSilly can even be used in the classroom to add some green sparkle to those dark, cold mornings in early March. In schools he sometimes leaves materials for making a St. Patrick’s Day craft, and he’s even been so daring as to change pupils’ names. Everyone’s Irish with an “O’ or a Mc” before their name.  The possibilities for leprechaun school fun are endless.

Silly McGilly has his very own website, and there, parents and teachers can find ideas for leprechaun fun and games. Silly has even created downloadable learning templates, including Shamrock Rhymes, Letters to McGilly, and Silly McGilly Scrapbook templates.

 

Who Created Silly McGilly?

 

Silly McGilly is the brain child of three Irish American sisters from New Jersey. Michelle Dougherty, Eileen Cowley, and Victoria Coffey have always enjoyed celebrating their Irish heritage, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. Their own children inspired them to create Silly McGilly, the perfect little leprechaun to add family magic to March days and nights. You don’t even need to be Irish to join in the fun.

 

Title page of Silly McGilly

Charlotte Cheng beautifully illustrated Silly’s story.  When she is not creating art on walls, sidewalks and paper, she’s usually dreaming of Ireland.

 

How To Purchase Silly McGilly:

 

Silly McGilly can be purchased online for $34.95.  From 9/10/14 through 10/17/14 in celebration of 1/2 way to St. Patrick’s Day, autographed copies of the book are being offered.

Silly even has his very own Facebook page.

 

The Giveaway:

 

The creators of Silly McGilly contacted me to see if I would help spread the word about their magical creation. I love to support Irish American entrepreneurs,  so I’m delighted to share a little leprechaun fun with you through this giveaway.

The prize is a Silly McGilly giftpack, which includes one 8″ Silly McGilly plush doll, and one beautifully illustrated hardcover copy of the 8.5″x 8.5″ Silly McGilly book.  The set is beautifully packaged in a keepsake box.

Silly McGilly Giftpack

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post, or for an additional entry you can follow Irish American Mom on Pinterest. Then simply complete your entry on the following Rafflecopter widget.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 24th. Just check the widget below to learn who is the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A big thank you to Big Treasure Publications for providing this wonderful prize, and best of luck to all who enter. I’m looking forward to reading all your leprechaun inspired magical comments.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

And now a little bit of legalize through a quick disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have any financial connection with Big Treasure Publications and did not receive any cash payment for publishing this post and giveaway. I did however receive a giftpack including Silly McGilly’s book for review purposes.  This in no way influenced my review.  Thank you to all who support the wonderful Irish and Irish American enterprises who sponsor giveaways on my site.

Slow Cooker or Crockpot Chicken Stock

Chicken stock lends a robust flavor to all kinds of soups, and can be made inexpensively using the left-over carcass from a roast chicken. Many chicken stock recipes involve simmering a whole chicken, but growing up in Ireland we always used left-over “skeletons” for our stocks.

“Waste not, want not” was the motto of my childhood days, and no chicken carcass was cast into the rubbish bin before it yielded the nutritional goodness buried within its bones.

Chicken Stock

When I was young, stock simmering was done on the stove top in a large pot. Since coming to America I’ve discovered the wonders of a crock pot for creating delicious stock, and for cooking soups and stews.

When stock is slowly simmering over an open flame or electric burner, I never feel safe leaving the house. One of the glories of a crock pot is the ability to set it and forget it.

My roast chicken left overs spend a day in my crock pot before finally being discarded.

And so, to kick off my soup making recipe season, I thought the best place to start is with a good basic chicken stock.

Here’s my recipe for slow cooker chicken stock.

Ingredients for Chicken Stock

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken carcass
  • 1 onion cut in quarters
  • 2 carrots cut in 2 inch chunks
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 to 8 parsley stalks
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 cups cold water
  • pinch of salt

Chicken Stock Ingredients in a Crockpot or Slow Cooker

Cooking Directions:

 

  • Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a large slow cooker. I use a 5-quart size. Make sure the water level is at least 1/2″ below the top of the bowl.
  • Set the crock pot on low. It will slowly heat. Allow the stock to simmer for 8 to 10 hours.  If the liquid level goes down as the stock cooks, top it up with more water after 4 hours of cooking.
  • Turn the heat off and allow the stock to cool slightly before passing it through a fine strainer. I remove the larger bones and vegetable pieces before straining the stock. Discard the left-over vegetables and chicken bones.
  • Refrigerate the stock for up to 3 to 4 days before using or freeze it for up to 3 months.

 

And there you have it – simple, easy-to-make, budget-friendly chicken stock using this girl’s best kitchen friend, her crock pot.

As I share more and more of my soup recipes in the coming months, I’ll link back to this basic recipe whenever I recommend chicken stock for a particular soup.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

The Irish Cuppa Tea Plus A Giveaway From Dolmen County Retailers

Believe it or not, Ireland is one of the leading consumers of tea per capita on the planet. Now I would have assumed India or China might receive this honor, but no, the people of Turkey, Morocco and Ireland love their cuppa the most.

And I for one, am a tea-loving, Irish woman. I love to start my day with a nice, warm cup of tea, or should I say pot of tea, because one cup is never enough.

And so today, let’s explore this phenomenon of Irish tea drinking, followed by a wonderful “Tea for Two” giveaway, sponsored by Dolmen County Retailers.

Before I share the details of this giveaway, let’s first enjoy a little ramble about the Irish cuppa tea ……

Cup of Tea and Biscuits

The Introduction of Tea To Ireland:

 

Tea was introduced to the Emerald Isle by the Anglo Irish aristocracy in the nineteenth century. This new Indian import was way too expensive for regular Irish laborers to enjoy in the early years of that century.

Before the Great Hunger, tea was reserved for guests of honor only, likely the doctor or the priest. However, once Ireland’s economy improved in the latter half of the 1800’s, the nation’s affinity for this hot brew just grew and grew.

Vintage China Teacup, Saucer and Plate

Rules of Irish Tea Making:

 

By the turn of the twentieth century every Irish mother was an expert tea maker. Or perhaps I should say “tay maker”.

In the Irish language the word for tea is “tae”, and is pronounced “tay”, which explains why so many cups of “tay” are poured in Ireland every day.

And believe me, every Irish mother knows exactly how SHE makes her tea.

God forbid you forget to scald the pot before adding the leaves or the tea bags. This scalding process involves adding a small amount of boiling water to the empty pot, swishing it around for at least 10 seconds to remove any residue from previous brews, then discarding the hot water.

When I was a little girl in the 1970’s I only remember tea being made with loose tea leaves. In the 1980’s the popularity of tea bags grew. Irish tea drinkers quickly discovered the ease of clean up with this wonderful invention.

But now, back to the rules …..

Only boiling water is acceptable to “wet the tay.” None of this tepid, warm water found in so many American hotels for dunking tea bags hiding weak, tasteless tea leaves.

A boldly flavored, black leaf is imperative for proper Irish tea.

Irish tea is brewed in a teapot rather than directly in a cup.

This facilitates the process of properly “drawing the tay.” Exactly how long the pot must linger over a low heat to produce the perfect shade of brown varies from family to family, and even from person to person within a family.

And for some Irish mothers, the pot must be swaddled in a homemade, knitted, tea cozy to achieve perfection.

http://www.irishamericanmom.com/2014/06/21/blueberry-scones

How The Irish Drink Their Tea:

 

Some like it weak, some like it strong, but nearly all Irish people like it hot. No ice tea for most true Irish men and women.

And don’t get me started on sweet tea. Just like coffee, it’s not for this Irish gal. Even after living in the southern United States for the best part of eighteen years, I still can’t drink this southern favorite.

But I digress. Back to the Irish hot brew ……

Some Irish like their tea as dark as porter when it’s finally poured from the pot, and nine times out of ten milk is added.

No fancy lemons or flavorings.

Just a drop or two or ten of milk, and for some a spoonful of sugar helps the tay go down.

Tea and Scone

Hmmm Yummy

The Famous Irish “Cuppa”:

 

In Ireland a “cuppa” always refers to tea. No “cup a joe” is associated with the term “cuppa”.

We’ll stick to ordering “a cup of coffee”, and reserve the highly honored title of cuppa for none other than our favorite beverage.

In fact, having a “cuppa and a chat”, may be Ireland’s favorite pastime.

Of course there are a few superstitions surrounding your cuppa, with floating tea leaves and rising bubbles predicting the arrival of strangers, letters and riches. If bubbles rise to the top money is on the way. But in some parts, to receive your fortune you need to lift the bubbles onto a spoon before they burst on the edges of the cup.

In my granny’s house floating tea leaves indicated a letter was on its way, but alack and alas there are no more letters in our tea with the adoption of tea bags. E-mails and tea bags must have ensured the demise of letters in the mail. In some parts, floating leaves meant a stranger would soon arrive at your door.

I remember rescuing a floating leaf, placing it on the back of my left hand beneath my thumb, then thumping it with the side of the other hand. The number of hits it took to get the leaf to stick to the other hand told how many days you had to wait for your letter. Perhaps others counted the days to wait for the stranger to arrive in this same manner, and I believe some counted the years till they wed in the same way.

Green and gold china teacup

Irish Pubs Must Serve Tea:

 

No respectable Irish household would be found without tea, and believe it or not, Irish pubs are legally required to provide tea.

I was so surprised to discover this little intricacy of Irish law, but perhaps that’s how those who abstain from alcoholic drinks came to be known as “tea totallers”

 

Irish Customs When Offering A Cuppa:

 

Now when offered a cup of tea in Ireland it is customary to first decline, and to await a second offering of refreshment. In a previous post, I explored this little Irish cultural nuance. One reader, Milly explained this Irish habit beautifully in the comments section of that post:

 

“During the famine, a host, to be polite, would offer their guest some refreshments.

The guest would understand that it was likely there were no refreshments to be had,

and would politely decline.  If the host had nothing to offer,

no further offer would be made, and both parties would understand the situation.

If a second offer was made, it would mean that the host was in fact

in a position to provide their guests food/drink,

and at this point the guest may accept.”

 

Thanks for this wonderful insight, Milly.

A Cuppa Tea In The Hand

 A Cuppa Tea In The Hand:

 

Another peculiar Irish tradition is the offer of a “cuppa tea in the hand.”  When a hostess doesn’t want to put too much pressure on a guest to indulge in a cuppa, the invitation is worded as follows:

 

“Ah sure, you’ll just have a quick cuppa tea in the hand.”

 

The simple sentence is full of innuendo and hidden intent. The hostess is telling her guest she understands what a busy person her guest just happens to be. There is no pressure to have a cuppa, but if the guest does decide to imbibe, a quick departure will be totally understood. There isn’t even an expectation that the guest would have time to sit down.  A cup of tea can always be gulped down standing up if the world is calling.

Oh, the nuances of Irish tea drinking ….

 

Tea for Two from Dolmen Retaileers

The Prize – A “Tea for Two” Giveaway Sponsored By Dolmen County Retailers:

 

Customized gift card from Dolment County Retailers

To celebrate the importance of tea drinking in Irish culture, Des Lee from Dolmen County Retailers has graciously sponsored a prize for a giveaway for readers of Irish American Mom.

One lucky winner will receive a Tea for Two Giftpack containing a box of Barry’s Gold Blend Teabags, 2 packets of Ireland’s favorite chips or crisps – Tayto cheese and onion flavor, and 4 Jacob’s Club Milk chocolate biscuits, a perfect treat with a cuppa tea.

Dolmen County Retailers is a new business whose goal is to bring you a taste of Ireland, even when you are far away from home.  Irish people living abroad often long for a taste of home. Sometimes it’s Irish tea they crave, or biscuits or a special chocolate bar or crisps, or a favorite treat from childhood. Dolmen County Retailers aim to provide a full range of these items which are easy to order with a few clicks of a mouse. Des Lee and his team take care of the rest, shipping your favorites to wherever you are in the world!

They even include customized message cards at no extra charge.

 

The Giveaway:

 

I’m making just a slight change in the giveaway entry process this time around. With more and more entries for each little competition on my blog, manually writing out tickets is beginning to take quite a bit of time. 

There’s something about paper cutting and pens that attracts little ones. Whenever I heard a little voice ask: “What you doing, Mom?”, I started to reflexively respond with “Don’t touch anything.”

So I thought I would give Rafflecopter a try, to see how well it works. I’m hoping it will make the whole process of running raffles smooth and easy.

Extra entries can be obtained by following along on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Just log in to the widget below with your name and e-mail address and you should be guided through the steps for entering.

I hope it isn’t too difficult, and thanks to all who comment and enter this little giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thank you to Dolmen County Retailers for providing this lovely prize. Feel free to leave a comment, even if you choose not to enter the giveaway.  I look forward to hearing your stories about tea.  

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

And now a little bit of legalize through a quick disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have any financial connection with Dolmen County Retailers and did not receive payment for publishing this post and giveaway. I simply wish to help spread the word about this new Irish business venture. Thank you to all who support the wonderful Irish and Irish American enterprises who sponsor giveaways on my site.

Soup Making Tips For Fall Or Autumn

Once Labor Day has passed, and fall is in the air, it’s time to start thinking about soup. There’s nothing like a bowl of chunky, satisfying soup on a nippy day, to warm the cockles of your heart.

Soups come in all colors, textures, and tastes. In fact, I think it’s safe to say there’s probably a soup to to suit every palate.

Bowl Of Carrot And Coriander Soup

In Ireland, we describe a chunky soup by saying:

 

“There’s eating and drinking in that.”

 

Remember, in this case, the word “eating” is usually pronounced in a manner similar to “eightin”, as in the number 8.

But whether you prefer drinking a clear, soothing broth, or eating a thick, substantial stew, I’m quite certain there is an Irish soup for you.

In the next few weeks and months I plan to share some of my favorite soup and stew recipes.

I know some people feel a recipe is unnecessary for concocting a perfect soup, sticking to the motto:

 

“You can’t go wrong with soup.”

 

Truthfully, you can and you can’t go wrong with soup. For some all-in-the-pot, mix-it-all-together kind of soups, they taste delicious no matter what. But on the other hand, you can go very, very wrong with more delicate, puréed soups, that require the perfectly flavored stock, the right amount of seasoning, or a dash of cream or milk to add depth, and an underlying richness.

An Old Famine Soup Pot

To prepare for the “soup making season” I thought a post on some basic tips for soup success is in order.

 

1. Fresh is Best:

 

Any soup is only as good as the ingredients used to make it, and with that in mind, my motto is “fresh is best”. Fresh vegetables and good quality stock are keys to tasty soup.

Now don’t think I’m not known for opening a bag of frozen peas for a quick soup. I do use frozen vegetables frequently, since they are flash frozen at peak freshness, but I tend to steer clear of canned ingredients in my soups. The canning process adds way too much sodium for my taste buds.

2. A good stock:

 

Stock dictates the underlying flavor and ultimate taste of each and every soup. Choosing between vegetable based stock, chicken, beef or fish stock is the most important decision for any soup.

I often use store bought stock, but truly they don’t come close to the flavor of a good home-made stock. Recently, I have been paying quite a bit of attention to food labels and try to steer clear of any ingredients I can’t pronounce. Some cheaper stocks are full of preservatives, and are laden with salt.  Organic stocks are twice the price, but worth it for flavor and goodness. However, the budget friendly decision is to make homemade stock.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll share my stock making tips with a few basic stock recipes. With a crockpot you can simmer a good stock even while you’re out and about.

 

3. Herbs and spices:

 

Herbs and spices can lift a soup from ordinary to extraordinary. They’re my soup pot heroes. They add flavor, working away busily spreading their magic in the pot. Fresh or dried herbs work well, but the general rule for dried herbs is to use one third of the quantity of fresh.

Saute leeks, potato and onion

4. Make sure the vegetables do the sweating, not you! 

 

Many soup recipes start out be telling you to ‘sweat’ the vegetables. The term does sound a little gross for those not used to culinary lingo, but to tell you the truth, it’s a very accurate description of what is going on in the soup pot.

When “sweating” vegetables, they are gently cooked in a tiny bit of fat, to get their juices to leak out, and to release their inner flavors.  You get their juices flowing, so to speak.

To promote this process, the pot is covered to trap steam, which helps soften the veggies. It’s important to keep the steam trapped in, so lifting the lid is not recommended. Instead, lift the whole pot and give the veggies a good, old shake to stop them sticking.

This “sweating” usually takes about 10 minutes. The ingredients shouldn’t be browned or caramelized, but slightly pale after their time in the pot sauna.

Iron Viking Soup pot over open flame

5. Simmer, don’t boil:

 

Simmering is vital for good soup. When vegetables are boiled they end up tumbling all over the pot, hitting off the sides, damaging their texture and spilling all their flavor into the stock. So simmer, to avoid somersaulting peas and carrots.

Similarly, when reheating a soup it’s important to simmer without boiling. This is especially true for soups with added cream. When the cream boils it separates and creates a fatty film on top of the soup. So, my rule of thumb is, gentle heat for luscious soup.

Using Immersion Blender To Puree Soup

6. In praise of hand held blenders:

 

In my granny’s day smooth soups were achieved by mushing and sieving the cooked vegetables. No such work for today’s cook. Liquidisers or blenders do a fine job of puréeing soup, but ladeling the liquid in batches is slow, not to mind the risk of splattering hot liquid all over the place if the jug is overfilled.

My best soup-making friend is my hand-held blender. I take great satisfaction in blitzing a soup with a quick dunk of its all-powerful blades. There’s nothing like a quick whizz with a hand held blender for a perfectly textured soup. I highly recommend one of these gadgets.

Potato and Leek Soup

And so there you have it! A few good soup-making tips, to whet your appetites for some delicious soups over the coming months. As I type this blog post, a tasty chicken stock is simmering away in my crock pot. I’ll share my recipe in the next few days.

Stay tuned for plenty of stock and soup recipes in my upcoming recipe posts.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Top Ten Reasons Why Tourists Love Ireland

I count amongst the millions of people worldwide, who simply love Ireland.  My deep feelings of connection are understandable, since I was born in Dublin.

However, after living in America for over twenty years, I have come to realize, many who have never even set foot on Irish soil, feel the same affinity for our little island.

Irish Scenery Collage

Many reasons explain why we love Ireland.  I suppose every tourist holds in their heart a very personal and special reason why they make the journey across the miles to visit the Emerald Isle.

And I am quite certain some visitors leave Ireland perplexed, unable to figure out what all this Irish, nostalgic hoopla is all about.

And so, in today’s post I thought I would explore the great big WHY.

 

Why do so many hold Ireland dear to their hearts?

 

I have browsed through numerous posts on the internet where reasons to love Ireland are eloquently listed.  I found some focused too much, on what I consider superficial reasons, such as the pubs and the Guinness.

Now don’t get me wrong, Guinness is a fine Irish product and its invention is plenty reason to admire Ireland and the Irish, but in my book, Ireland’s magic springs from a deeper, more spiritual place.

And so, without further ado, here are my top ten reasons, why I think tourists love Ireland.

Irish Animals Collage

 

1. Our Own Unique Music

 

I must confess Irish music makes my heart swell with joy.  Every time I hear the rhythmic beat of a reel or a jig, I take a deep breath, my insides do a little somersault, and my foot inevitably begins to tap.  I don’t know if this is a reflexive expression of my Irish genes, or just sheer appreciation for the vitality of this passionate music form. I truly believe Irish music is a deeply resonant and beautiful expression of our unique culture.

For a country as small as Ireland, it’s amazing how far and wide our music has reached.  Irish dancing classes are taught as far afield as China, which for me is evidence of the uplifting qualities of our tunes.

Most tourists to Ireland take time to enjoy at least one traditional Irish music session at some point on their itinerary.  The moment a listener makes the vital decision to join in, magic happens.

By clapping those hands and tapping those toes, visitors experience the rich and intricate combinations of notes and rhythms, at a spiritual level. Irish music can simply stir the soul.

 

2. Festivals:

 

Ireland is a land of festivals especially during the summer months. With a little planning tourists are sure to find a festival of interest celebrating everything from the arts, architecture, fashion, film, food, literature, music, theatre, and much, much more.

I know you think I’ve lost my marbles by including festivals in this list. At first glance these festivals may appear to be tourist traps. But that is far from the case.

Festivals are part of who we are as a people, part of the tapestry of our wonderful, cultural history. Our Celtic forefathers celebrated the seasons with four distinct festivals. Their social lives revolved around fairs and markets held during these carnivals.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries fairs and marts were held at regular intervals throughout the year, and were highly anticipated by native Irish people. Dancing, drinking and revelry accompanied the more mundane tasks of paying the rent and selling farm animals and produce.  Coming together to connect and to celebrate is part of who we are as a people.

Irish festivals are all about interaction, where the depth and uniqueness of individual Irish characters are waiting to be discovered. Irish people seldom strive for commonality, but revel in the diversity of their individuality. At an Irish festival you meet a cohort of characters unmatched anywhere in the world. Festival goers possess a love of stories, talk and music, a deep-seated wildness, and above all else, an affinity for fun, or what we Irish call ‘divilment’.

http://www.irishamericanmom.com/2013/01/11/why-are-irish-americans-so-captivated-by-ireland/

 

3. A Hundred Thousand Welcomes:

 

“Céad míle fáilte” is one of the most loved Irish expressions worldwide, and it literally means a hundred thousand welcomes. Irish people are very proud of the welcome they extend to visitors.  Now I hope I’m not painting a picture of smiling leprechauns greeting you with a canned “Top of the Morning” salutation at the airport.

No!  Ireland’s welcome is more subtle.  It revolves around a chat, a friendly nod, a reserved inquisitiveness. A lady I met on a plane when I was returning to America once told me:

 

“Ireland feels like a dear old friend.”

 

 

I love this description, and I truly hope visitors feel welcomed home by their dear friend, Ireland.

 

4. Peace and Tranquility:

 

The moment I set foot on Irish soil, an overwhelming sense of calm and peace, overcomes me. I always think of Yeats’ poem The Lake Isle of Inishfree.

 

“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.”

 

 

Ireland offers true quietness for those who seek tranquility. I believe it is one of the best countries in the world to relax and unwind. Remote and romantic, Ireland offers a laid-back charm, with a unique sense of place.

The sound of silence in rural Ireland is unparalleled. For me, it is a hymn to the surrounding landscape and magnificent scenery.

Even when the rain falls in bucketfuls, as is so apt to happen, it simply takes an evening sitting by an open fire for real warmth and peace to transform the soul. The scent of a turf fire, appreciated from the comfort of a welcoming chair, is simply magic.

History All Around in Ireland

 

5. History All Around:

 

In Ireland, the old and the new co-mingle with grace. Our ancient past is evident nearly everywhere through our history, music, art, and architecture.

In America 100 years is considered “old”. But in Ireland one hundred year old buildings are considered modern additions.  In every small town and village visitors encounter sites much older than historical landmarks found in America

To sum it up, Ireland is steeped in history, and that history is evident everywhere you go. Ireland’s first known settlement began way back in 8,000 BC.  Newgrange, is older than the pyramids. The land boasts ancient castles, dolmens, burial tombs, arched bridges, round towers, and monastic ruins, dotted here and there throughout the countryside.

Preservation of our history is no accident. Reverence for ancient sites is inherent in some Irish souls.  Farmers plough in circles around ancient monuments, afraid to disturb the memory of long lost ancestors. Museums are frequented by both young and old, eager and willing to learn and preserve our country’s fascinating past.

 

6. Folklore and Stories:

 

Rest assured a story awaits you in Ireland. From tour guides to barmen, shop keepers to farmers, everyone treasures stories of our recent history and distant past.  Ireland’s charm is wrapped in myths and legends.

Our stories are filled with heroic warriors, deadly goddesses and trouble-making supernatural creatures. Folk tales from mainland Europe focus more on fairy godmothers, talking animals and, of course, wicked stepmothers. A few colleens with a severe lack of maternal instinct also feature in Irish myths, but in contrast to the Hans Christian Anderson variety of fairy tale, the Irish ones are filled with romance and tragedy, ghosts and other worldly beings. To tell you the truth, some of these tales would frighten the life out of a child today. But these stories are part of who we are, and feature regularly on tourist trails.

Once when we visited Donegal, we took a boat cruise on Dunlewey Lake. The tour guide told stories of all the mythical creatures and ghosts surrounding the lake. My American children were enthralled.

No banal, politically correct tales to be heard in Ireland, but in their stead thrilling sagas of ancient warriors, saints, sinners, and lingering spirits.

Who cannot love this superstitious land?

The Beauty of Ireland's Coastline

 

7. The Coast And The Islands:

 

Ireland may be a small country, but as an island, she boasts a great expanse of rugged beauty along her winding, and sometimes treacherous coastline.  I grew up on the coast, with views of Dublin Bay at the end of our road. The sound of waves and howling winds are part of my childhood. Living in Kentucky, I miss the sea, wind swept gales, Atlantic sunsets, and the sheer beauty of Ireland’s coastline.

From Howth to the Giant’s Causeway, Malin Head to Mizen Head, the Cliffs of Moher and all the wonderful spots along the Wild Atlantic Way, I truly believe this island’s magnificent coastline, is one of its finest attributes.

 

8. The Scenery:

 

During the many years I have lived in America, I have often been asked:

 

“Is Ireland as beautiful as it seems in photos?”

 

And the answer to this question is a simple and resounding “yes”.

To be honest, Ireland’s scenery must be seen to be believed. It is even more beautiful than it appears in any photo or postcard. No image does Ireland justice. Even cloudy skies coordinate magnificently with mythical stones and ancient ruins.

When the sun doesn’t cooperate, Ireland’s beauty still shines.  Around every twist and turn of Ireland’s winding roads, awaits yet another new reason to smile.

 

Irish Food Collage 2

9. Irish Food:

 

In previous posts, I have waxed poetically about the glories of Irish food, and I still make no apologies for Irish food.  Traditional Irish food is hearty and wholesome, comforting and filling.

Irish dishes provide healthy helpings of meat, oodles of veggies and, of course, the pride of every Irish mother’s table, potatoes.  After a spoonful of Irish stew, or a warming bowl of potato and leek soup, it will be easy to understand why I rate Irish food so highly

My advice for tourists is to dig into a plate of bacon and cabbage, savor our brown bread, and treat yourself to a full Irish breakfast. You’ll leave Ireland understanding how simple, wholesome food feeds the soul.

 

10. Irish Pride:

 

And last, but not least, comes Irish pride. We Irish live and breathe our heritage.  From a very young age, we learn our history through myth and legend.  For centuries we clung to our culture, even when our conquerors tried to strip us of our heritage. This Irish pride has been carried by generations to the four corners of the world.

But when you visit Ireland you will learn the subtle differences in our heritage and how our cultural inheritance changes from county to county. A tourist’s experience in the Burren in County Clare is vastly different from the memories created in County Donegal, but everywhere you go on this little island, you will be enthralled by the pride people feel in their local village, town, and county. History and heritage survive, because Irish people choose not only to remember the past but to practice old traditions with pride.

 

And so I hope this little list, will help you understand why you may already love Ireland, or if you plan to visit the Emerald Isle in the near future, it will help you understand you too may be at risk of falling in love with Ireland.  If you think of another reason to love Ireland, why not join in our discussion in the comment section below.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom