What Is Irish Turf?

When most Americans hear the word “turf”, an image of green grass immediately comes to mind, like the lush green turf of a golf course.  For Irish people the word conjures up dreams of lapping flames, and the distinctive smells of a turf fire.

And so today I thought I might introduce my American readers to Irish turf.


© Copyright Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

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Known as peat in other parts of the world, the Irish prefer the term turf, unless referring to hard, compressed fuel blocks known as peat briquettes.

But whatever you call these brown earthen blocks, I think most Irish people appreciate the warmth and comfort of a turf fire.


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 Turf is dried peat and was a primary fuel source for Irish people for thousands of years.


© Copyright Derek Mayes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

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Upon hearing the word ‘turf’ my husband immediately recalls days of back breaking summer toil, cutting, stacking, drying and bagging winter’s fuel supply. 

When he reached his teenage years, his poor father had to peel him off the bed to come help him in their Donegal bog.  Somehow the lure of an ice cream cone at the end of the day had lost its appeal for a cool teenager.


© Copyright Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

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In the past, Irish people used turf to heat their homes and cook their food.  Turf was harvested from a bog.  Cutting turf by hand is a laborious task.

A two-sided spade called a sleán is used to slice blocks of peat from the bog.


© Copyright Jeremy Durrance and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

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So much work was involved entire families, in years gone by, took part in the summer turf cutting expeditions to the bog.  Everyone’s effort was necessary to save enough fuel to sustain the family throughout the cold winter season.

Preparing turf requires drying it out so that it will ignite when lighted. 

Sods of newly cut turf are laid out in the sun and turned to allow them to dry.


© Copyright Pamela Norrington and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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The turf blocks or sods are then stacked into small ‘stooks’ as shown in the photo above.

These little towers of peat allow the wind to blow through the sods and help with the drying process.

Standing the sods of turf upright and leaning them against each other is no easy task. This process is called ‘footing’ the turf.


© Copyright Liz McCabe and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Stacking turf is back breaking work.

Very few people cut turf these days, but in some western counties turf stacks can still be seen in the summer months, balancing precariously against each other to dry out in the wind and the sun.

The sods of turf in the picture above are almost ready for the fire.  However, they probably wouldn’t see a match until the cold days of winter.


Connemara Turf Pile – © Copyright Chris N Illingworth and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.

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Once the turf is deemed dry enough it is gathered together into a great mound or rick for storing.

In the summer months of 1846, at the time of the Great Irish Famine (1845 – 1850) many Irish people were too hungry and weak to work in the bog. 

Cutting turf and saving it was exhausting work. A day at the bog was a daunting prospect on an empty stomach.

As a result the poorest Irish folk had an inadequate fuel supply stored for the winter months of 1846-1847. And to make matters even worse, that winter was cruel, with bitterly cold temperatures. 

I have read that people took to drying cow dung to burn in their fires for heating, since they had no turf saved.

Such sad, sad times.

  © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

© Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

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Today turf cutting is primarily completed by machinery in the vast bogs of Ireland’s inland counties. But you’ll still see turf stacks in unusual places along the coast.

In the photo above a rick of turf has been gathered on top of the high cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal.

Turf Fire in an old Irish hearth

Turf cut from peat bogs may be the traditional fuel in the west of Ireland, but unfortunately it is a smoky fuel. It has been  banned in smokeless urban zones.

In my granny’s cottage kitchen in rural Ireland turf was the fuel of choice. I still remember the bright, lapping flames of the turf fire, and the sweet aromatic scent that permeated her kitchen.

Cozy Fireside - Irish Thatched Cottage

Turf brings back lovely childhood memories.

Let us know in the comment section below if you have ever had the pleasure of warming your toes in front of a glowing turf fire, or perhaps you endured days on end of back breaking labor to save the precious turf when you were a child. I’m looking forward to reading all your stories.

Many Irish pubs in the west of Ireland still burn turf in open fires, helping tourists and locals experience a little bit of the olden ways of Ireland.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Ireland’s Arched Bridges

Arched stone bridges remind me of Ireland. Dotted around the countryside, they span Ireland’s many streams and rivers.

I love these old bridges. They seem to tell stories of days long gone, and the many generations who passed over their arches in centuries past.

Bennett's Bridge

Bennett’s Bridge, County Kilkenny – © Copyright Kevin Higgins and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.

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Enduring testaments to the skills of Irish and English engineers from bygone days, these bridges continue to carry their heavy loads, largely ignored by travelers and locals alike.

Shank Bridge, Kells

Shank Bridge, Near Kells and Connor, County Antrim – © Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.

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These ancient arches have spanned the centuries, with most of Ireland’s stone bridges dating back over 150 years.

Some have stood the test of time through many hundreds of years.

Arched Bridge near Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

Arched Bridge near Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

I was surprised to learn over 18,000 masonry bridges support roads in Ireland to this very day.

That’s a long history of bridge building, and these stony masterpieces have demonstrated amazing durability.

Bridge over the Funcheon River, near Marshallstown, County Cork

Bridge over the Funcheon River, near Marshallstown, County Cork

Initially designed to carry horses, carts and carriages, these bridges display formidable inherent strength by carrying heavy traffic loads each and every day.

Droichead na Gabhair, Kildorrery, County Cork

Droichead na Gabhair, Kildorrery, County Cork

Don’t worry. I’m not going to launch into arch theories with intricate diagrams of thrust lines, compression points, or inversion and loading configurations.

My brain aches just typing these mathematical terms.

Abbeytown Bridge, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

“Abbeytown Bridge” by Chris55 at en.wikipedia

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In this post I simply wish to draw attention to these beautiful architectural gems.

Driving around Ireland you might be crossing ancient arches without even knowing it.

Abbeytown Bridge in Boyle, Co. Roscommon dates back to the late 12th century.

This 5-arch bridge could well be the oldest surviving stone bridge in Ireland, with over 800 years of labor under its belt, or above its incredible arches, however you like to look at it.

This ancient bridge has been widened but traffic continues to flow across its span on a daily basis. Simply amazing.

Old Arched Bridge, County Donegal, Ireland

Old Arched Bridge, County Donegal, Ireland

The stone walls bordering this small road are a clue to a hidden gem beneath.

Ramelton, County Donegal, Arched Bridge by Salmon Weir

Ramelton, Co. Donegal

In Ireland, the landscape, the buildings, and even the bridges connect us to the past.

To tell you the truth I’m a bit of a pain as a car passenger. Whenever I see a bridge with rustic looking stone walls, I immediately sense a little bit of history around me.  I never hesitate to interrupt our journey.

Arched bridge near Ramelton, County Donegal

Salmon Weir, County Donegal

“Whoa,” I call out at the sight of a river with old stone walls edging the road.

“What is it now,” asks my husband, pulling over to the side.

“Let’s check out that bridge.”

Before you know it I’ve climbed over the bridge wall and am down in a field with camera in hand.

Multi-arched bridge in County Donegal

Castle Bridge, Buncrana, County Donegal

These stone arches are part of Ireland’s infrastructural heritage, having served us well over the centuries.

I hope the powers that be will choose to conserve these structures for the future.

Bridge in Ramelton, Donegal

Ramelton, Co. Donegal at Christmas

As custodians of history, I hope today’s generations will honor the symbolic importance of these bridges. They are part of our cultural inheritance.

And so, as you travel around Ireland, keep an eye out for her beautiful bridges.  You never know when you may cross one of these architectural masterpieces.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Knockalla or Port Salon Beach, County Donegal – One Of Ireland’s Most Beautiful Beaches

Ireland’s beaches are spectacular, and one of the most stunning of all is Knockalla Strand, also known as Portsalon Beach, in County Donegal.

And so, as everyone head’s back to work on this Monday morning,I thought why not start the week off with some beautiful scenery.

Hopefully, these peaceful views of Ireland’s shoreline will set the tone for the rest of your week.


Ireland may be a small country, but as an island, she boasts a long and varied coastline.  The actual length of this coastline is debatable, and any statistic for said length is totally dependent on how much detail was used when measuring.

There may always be a hidden cove not traversed or measured.  However, the Ordnance Survey of Ireland estimates the total length of Ireland’s shoreline at 3171 kilometers (approx 1981 miles).

Beaches of Donegal

And Knockalla is no hidden cove. It is approached from an elevated cliff side road, with amazing viewing points along the way. 

Donegal’s coast is festooned (I love that word) with sandy beaches, and Knockalla is probably the most breath taking of all.

Beautiful beaches of Ireland and Donegal

 This is Ireland at its best – the Ireland made famous in poetry, song, legend and film.

Beautiful Donegal

Knockalla lies on the western shores of Lough Swilly, with commanding views of the Inishowen peninsula across the waves.

Beaches like this are why Ireland’s coastline is described as dramatic.

Donegal Coastline

 When designing Ireland, God spared no extravagance.


Donegal is an untamed landscape, with three-quarters of its borders formed by the Atlantic Ocean.   The sea has shaped this land.

Ireland's Shoreline

This magnificent beach is a photographer’s paradise.

This is Ireland, at her best – a place of tranquility and great natural beauty.

Most beautiful beach in the world

Portsalon was named the second most beautiful beach in the world by “The Guardian”, or maybe it was “The Observer” newspaper.

I’m not quite sure who awarded this beach the runner-up prize in the world beach beauty pageant, but let’s face it, who cares.

Port Salon Beach

Portsalon’s beauty may be much appreciated around the world, but luckily, the Donegal climate means it can be enjoyed without having to deal with crowds similar to those found on sunny Mediterranean shores.  

These photos were taken on a bright, sunny day, and not a soul can be seen on the strand below…… Only in Ireland……

Sandy beach in Donegal

Even on a cold winter’s day, a run on this beach is perfect for getting rid of excess energy, and clearing the cobwebs from the brain.

Top Ten Beaches in the world

And so, to start my week off on a positive note, I am imagining myself going for a leisurely stroll along a sandy beach in Donegal.

You’re welcome to join me on my mindful morning walk.


View from Port Salon

For me, the wind is blowing a soft gentle mist across my face, cleansing my spirit and strengthening me for a busy week ahead.

Stiff breezes feature in all my Irish imaginings – I wonder why?

Donegal Beach

Wishing you all a wonderful week, full of promise and accomplishments.

I hope this little tour of Knockalla Strand has stirred your Irish dreams, and lifted your spirits on this Monday morning.

Remember, ocean blues are the only Monday morning blues allowed in my little corner of the web.


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.


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.

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’.



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