The Beaches of Ireland: Inchydoney Beach

Grab the family and head to Inchydoney for an experience everyone will love. Located on the southern tip of Ireland, the destination is just outside of Clonakilty in County Cork. Inchydoney beach is often touted as one of Ireland’s most gorgeous beaches—and it’s easy to see why. Beautiful white sand and azure waters line the coast, making it the perfect spot to surf or just relax. Read on for info about where to go and what to do.

Where to Stay

The Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has high remarks as a beautiful resort-style hotel where you can take in views of the Atlantic Ocean, enjoy a spa day, or dine in one of their restaurants. A beautiful outdoor amphitheater-style venue also makes it a popular destination for weddings.

If you prefer to stay further inland, spend the night in the charming seaside town of Clonakilty. Known for its nightlife, festivals, and shopping, Clonakilty offers the best of the beach and the city. Check out The Emmet Hotel, which is not only centrally located but also highly regarded for its fresh fare.

 

What to Do

It’s no surprise that Inchydoney Beach is the area’s main attraction. You can spend your days strolling the shores, soaking in the sun, splashing in the water, playing volleyball—or any of the hundreds of other things you may enjoy at the beach.

In Clonakilty, be sure to check out the Michael Collins Heritage Centre and the Michael Collins House. If you are not familiar, Collins was a native son of the area who played a significant role in the formation of today’s Irish nation. Children will also enjoy the nearby West Cork Model Railway Village. The village is a miniature-scale model of West Cork Railway line set during the 1940s. It’s a sweet and nostalgic stop for anyone who is in the area.

Where to Eat

In Clonakilty, you’ll find a number of alluring dining options for lunch and dinner. Scannells Bar is a tasty lunch option featuring their seafood chowder and a variety of delicious sandwiches. The pub portion of the restaurant stays open late, so plan to stop in for a brew and some live music. Farm Restaurant  bills itself as a “small-scale boutique restaurant” specializing in fresh foods and traditional preparation. You’ll find such delicacies as quail alongside cod. They also have an alluring dessert menu. In addition to dinner, they serve breakfast and lunch on certain days throughout the week. Check their website for more information.

 Learn more at clonakilty.ie.

 Tell us about your favorite Ireland beach in the comments.

Gifts for IRISH Dads & Grads

 

Two groups we love dearly—dads and grads—are being honored soon. While a handwritten note or card can express your feelings, we’ve also rounded up a few gifts to commemorate the occasion. Check out these six picks fit for the world’s best dad or your top of the class grad.

 

2018 Collector’s Coin

The year holds special significance for high school and college graduates; mark it with a collector’s coin they can cherish for a lifetime. Similarly, many men enjoy carrying a commemorative coin in the pocket as a daily reminder of significant events—or in this case their Irish heritage.

 

 

Shamrock Ballpoint Pen

 

 

They’ll know he’s an Irishman when he uses this pen to signed on the dotted line. This green pen, which features a shamrock, the Claddagh, and Celtic knot work symbols, is sure to make an autograph shine. Take it one step further by purchasing a coordinating notepad or journal and then writing dad a note to tell him what he means to you or giving the graduate a few words of inspiration for the path ahead.

 

 

Simple Shamrock Hat

 

 

Want an easy, laidback gift for both boy and girl graduates as well as all the fathers on your list? Get a baseball cap—a shamrock one to be specific. They can subtly sport Irish pride with this classic cap that’s sure to become a fast favorite for Saturday mornings or lazy days on the lake.

 

 

U.S. Military Celtic Cross

 

 

We’ve found the perfect gift for active or retired military who are of Irish descent. Maybe you know a graduate who is headed off to serve or your dad is among our country’s patriots, either way this simple yet meaningful cross will keep both you and Ireland close to his heart.

 

 

Personalized Stainless Knife

 

 

Personalized gifts convey an added layer of thoughtfulness. This classic silver pocketknife with both his name and a Celtic knot is a piece that is sure to be treasured for years to come.

 

 

Slate Trinity Plaque

 

 

Girl and boy graduates, as well as dads, are sure to love this unique trinity plaque that is set on slate. Dads will find the plaque a welcome addition to display Irish heritage in the office, while graduates can take a piece of heritage off to college (or a first apartment!) as a reminder of their roots.

Irish Cream Fudge

If the word “fudge” doesn’t make your mouth water, you might not be Irish—or breathing for that matter! The sweet treat is even more alluring when you add “Irish cream” to its title. That’s why we’re sharing this easy recipe to whip up a batch in your own kitchen.

 

 

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

½ cup Irish cream (homemade or store-bought)

 

 

 

PREPARATION

Line an 8-x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a heavy-bottom, medium-size saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk, allowing butter and sugars to melt over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer in the pan and continue stirring until the mixture reaches 236 degrees F. Remove from heat when it reaches this point and stir in the morsels and Irish cream. Pour into the baking pan and transfer to the refrigerator to chill until solid. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

Want to get creative? For added flavor, try stirring in nuts or marshmallows during the last step. For presentation points, drizzle melted white chocolate morsels across the top of your fudge once it has set but before you cut it into squares.

 

Pressed for time? Try these three ready-made fudges.

Butlers Irish Whiskey Fudge offers a “bite” with each bite in the form of the distinctive taste of Irish whiskey.

This combo is a win-win: fudge and this cool tin featuring the Guinness Toucan.

 

Guinness Luxury Fudge features the taste of Guinness in each bite.

The Beaches of Ireland: Tramore

Tramore is located on the southeastern side of Ireland, approximately 20 minutes outside of Waterford city. It has become a popular destination for water sports as well as relaxation, thanks in part to its 5km stretch of sandy shoreline. You’ll find it’s a family friendly destination that’s suitable for surfing, building sandcastles, and fishing. Read on for a few tips to plan your trip to this portion of Ireland’s coast.

 Where to Stay

There’s no shortage of options for accommodations on Tramore’s coast. For a hotel bed and breakfast experience that’s family friendly, check out the Majestic Hotel. If you want to be close to the downtown area of Tramore, check out O’Shea’s Hotel by the Sea. They are located by the beach, but also offer easy access to the nightlife and activities of the town. If you don’t want to stay on the beach, consider a hotel in Waterford city, which is less than 12km away.

 What to Do

Not surprisingly, the outdoors reign in Tramore. Play golf on a local course, take surfing lessons on the beach, or go on a horseback riding tour. If you’re traveling with little ones, visit Tramore Amusements, where you’ll find both kid and adult rides along with plenty of games and activities. Of course, don’t miss out the main attraction—the beach.

 Where to Eat

For a family friendly lunch or dinner on the coast, try Brooklyn. Serving everything from sautéed prawns and salads to pasta and pizza (a crowd favorite!), there’s something on the menu for everyone.

If you’re looking for a place for a romantic dinner for two, check out The Vee Bistro and Cocktail Bar. Fish cakes, fondue, lamb, steaks, and fish are just a few of the dinner options on the menu. They also offer breakfast and lunch. Visit on a Saturday night to enjoy live music.

Finally, feed your sweet tooth any time of day at The Donut Bar, located inside The Holiday Shop complex on Strand Road. You’ll find regular donuts (as well as a melted chocolate version!), crepes, shakes, coffee, ice cream, and more.

 Learn more at tramore.ie.

 Tell us your favorite Ireland beach in the comments.

The Mother’s Day Gift Guide

It’s time to shower the moms you love with affection, attention…and a few gifts. Whether you’re shopping for your own mom, your mother-in-law, a beloved aunt, or your daughter—who is now a mom herself—find a special gift (that also has a hint of Irish flair!) with a little help from our guide.

For the Workout Queen 

She’s committed to hitting the gym and staying healthy. Make sure she can do it in style with a fleece hoodie and pant set. The jacket features a green Claddagh and can be embroidered with her name for a personalized touch.


For the Baker

She loves the Emerald Isle and she loves being in the kitchen. Surprise mom with a set of Irish-themed cookie cutters, perfect for cutting out sugar cookies or even making shamrock-shaped sandwiches. BONUS: They’re a fun way to get little hands involved in the kitchen.


For the Spiritual Mentor

Your mom, grandmother, or aunt can keep their faith and thoughts of Ireland close to her heart with this exquisite green and white heritage rosary.


For the Mom Who Has Everything

Sometimes shopping for mom can be a challenge. If you’re low on ideas, consider starting a collection of Belleek Pottery for her to enjoy. Pieces, like the pitcher shown here, can be added through the years for special occasions, giving them even more meaning.


For the Family Gardener 

Mom can plant an indoor or outdoor garden in this set of two resin containers. What’s more, the Celtic knotwork pattern will add a subtle nod to her Irish heritage.


For the Mom Who Deserves to Be Pampered

Since all moms deserved to be spoiled, this is a go-to gift for pretty much everyone you know. This thick, luxurious body butter is sure to be a treat after a long hot bath or before bedtime.


For the Jewelry Lover

If she loves bling, then shopping for her isn’t a problem. May we suggest surprising your mom with this stunning Celtic cross necklace? The necklace is made in Ireland and features a cubic zirconia stone in the center.


For Anyone & Everyone on Your List

If you need a quick and affordable gift for teachers, aunts, and special friends, consider a canister of breakfast tea. Nothing invites a moment of (much-deserved) relaxation quite like a cup of hot tea.

Celebrate May Day

What is Irish May Day?

May 1st is known as May Day in much of the Western world. However, in Ireland May Day holds more than bouquets of flowers. In fact, the holiday has two pseudonyms: Labour Day and Lá Bealtaine. Held on the first Monday of May (which may or may not fall on May 1), Labour Day is celebrated in nearly 100 countries around the world. Oftentimes, rallies and town hall meetings are held in support of fair wages and workers’ rights. It is also a bank holiday. Thirdly, Lá Bealtaine is the seasonal festival associated with the day. Its origins date back to Celtic times and include a bon fire, which was originally said to ward off evil spirits.

Celebrate with Fresh Flowers at the Front Door

The preparation for May Day starts on April 30th when the Irish gather flowers from their yards (or a local market) and place them at their door as well as the doors of their neighbors as a token of goodwill. This is a longstanding tradition and is meant to bring luck to the home. This activity is one that both children and adults alike enjoy—and one that is easy to carry out in any part of the world to create your own May Day celebration.

The Tradition of Drawing “Lucky” Water

In centuries past, the first water drawn from a well on May Day was said to bring good fortune and protection for the household. The morning dew that fell on the grass and flowers was also prized—by women especially—because it was thought to be good for the complexion. While you may not be drawing water from a well today, you can revive this practice by gathering dew from your garden in the morning.

Attend a May Day Festival

Thinking a bit more modern? Many towns and villages in Ireland host community-centric festivals with music, food, and bonfires to commemorate the spring holiday and the blossoming of the flowers. Many of these festivals feature may poles adorned with ribbons and flowers, which kids of all ages enjoying dancing around.

Check local outlets to find a festival near the area of Ireland where you will be. If you are celebrating at home, consider inviting friends and family to gather at your home.

 

Ruff, Ruff: A Look at The Dogs of Ireland

For dog lovers, Irish breeds may seem like a large group of canines. According to the Irish Kennel Club, there are nine breeds native to Ireland. Here, we take a brief look at five of the most well known.

Irish Red Setter

Chances are you’ve heard of the Irish Setter, but did you know there are actually two different types? Red Setters, as you would expect, have a solid red coat; while their counterpart, Red and White Irish Setters have a two-tone coat. The red version is thought to have evolved from breeding of the red and white dogs. Both breeds are native to Ireland. They enjoy large spaces where they can roam free and run. They also require consistent grooming to keep their longhaired coats in prime shape.

Irish Wolfhound

Gentle giants may be the term that most accurately describes this Irish breed. At a height of approximately 3 feet and weighing in at well over 100 pounds (sometimes closer to 200 pounds!), these hounds were once guard dogs of estates and were said to specialize in hunting down wolves. However they were only aggressive when action was required; otherwise they were loving friends. Today, their kind and calm spirits make them faithful companions.

Irish Water Spaniel
Many people recognize the Irish Water Spaniel by its fluffy, tightly curled coat and long tail, which the American Kennel Club’s website refers to as a “tapering ‘rat tail.’” They are known to be hardworking dogs, and also a breed that can be tolerated by those who suffer from allergies due to the nature of their short, low-maintenance coats. This happy, fun-loving dog is also an excellent swimmer, making him an enjoyable companion on the shore.

Kerry Blue Terrier

One of the only Irish dog breeds that doesn’t have “Irish” in its title, this terrier has a—you guessed it—bluish-tinted coat. The large terrier (males can weigh up to 40 pounds and be 19 inches tall) is said to be both smart and friendly. Originally a farm dwelling dog, this terrier is now a popular choice for families who live in cities as well. What’s more their slate blue coat is not only beautiful, it’s also soft to the touch.

Irish Terrier

Finally, the Irish Terrier is one of the most popular of all the Irish breeds. The long-legged dog is known to dash and flit across any landscape. His spry body keeps him chasing after toys as well as small rodents or game in country settings. Plus, his bold personality is full of energy and always ready to play with a beloved owner. These terriers are also noted to have a long life expectancy, living up to 15 years. Other Irish terrier breeds include the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

Research for this post was conducted on ikc.ie and akc.org.

Rainy Day Reads – 3 Irish Poets

 

It’s April and the familiar “April showers bring May flowers” phrase may be floating around your environment. If the rain has you longing for a good read, curl up with a tome of authentic Irish poetry. Here are a few Irish poets—which you may or may not know well—to inspire your reading.

 

William Butler Yeats

Chances are you’ve crossed paths with Yeats in a lit class in either high school or college. As a Nobel Prize winner, the Dublin born poet is one of the most well-known Irish writers of any era. What’s more, his subject matter frequently included Irish influences, settings, or symbolism. If you want to dig in to his work, start with a crowd favorite such as “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” and then move to the politically fueled “Easter, 1916.”

 

 

Eavan Boland

Born in Dublin, Boland is the author of numerous collections of poetry as well as essays and books. As one of the first Irish female poets—and chiefly still one of the most widely known and impactful—she puts words to womanhood and also explores Irish history with fresh eyes. What’s more, she has shared her love of writing by instilling it in others as a professor. While she now lives in California, the influence of the Emerald Isle can be seen in a number of Boland’s works. Check out her poetry collections, which include A Poet’s Dublin, A Woman Without a Country, and In Her Own Image.

 

 

Seamus Heaney

Revered as one of the leading poets not only in Ireland but also around the world, Heaney is likely a name you are familiar with as well. An Oxford and Harvard professor as well as a Nobel Prize and T.S. Eliot Prize winner, Heaney was not only a brilliantly skilled and articulate poet but is noted to have been popular with the general public as well. Many of his works were influenced by the past, including his youth in County Derry, Ireland. Start your reading with Selected Poems 1966-1987, and be sure to pick up his modern translation of Beowulf, released in 2000.

 

Do you have a favorite Irish poet or poem? Share your story with us in the comments.

The Spring Blooms of Ireland

Ireland is alive with the colors of spring! But what exactly is blooming in the countryside? And how do the Irish refer to these flowers? Here, we take a quick look at seven springtime beauties you’ll find across the Emerald Isle.

#1
Common name: Bitter-vetch
Irish name: Corra meille

These flowers are typically found in dry areas. They bear small flowers in groupings of two to six that start out reddish purple and then fade into a blue-green hue. They bloom throughout the spring season in Ireland.

#2
Common name: Bluebell
Irish name: Coinnle corra

In Ireland, Bluebells hit their peak each April, creating a carpet of purplish-blue across widespread areas of the countryside. They are bulbous perennials that often cover woodlands but can also be found in home gardens.

#3
Common name: Poppy
Irish name: Cailleach dhearg

The familiar faces of poppies appear during late spring and summer in Ireland. You might see their paper-like orangey-red petals blooming along roadsides. However, you’ll have to be quick as their petals quickly drop.

#4
Common name: Geranium or Crane’s Bill
Irish name: Crobh dearg

There are numerous varieties of this popular plant, which can be seen in even the rockiest regions of the Emerald Isle. It is a familiar flower in many destinations around the globe from late spring through summer. Colors range from white to pink, purple, coral, and red.

#5
Common name: Dog-Rose
Irish name: Feirdhris

From June to August, you’ll find these fragrant blooms in trees and shrubs along Irish roadsides. The native plants feature five petals that are typically a light, girlish pink or white in hue.

#6
Common name: Blackthorn
Irish name: Draighean

These white flowers with numerous stamens have a distinctive look. You’ll find them on shrubs and trees, but beware the branches come with thorns. Interestingly, the fruit—or sloe—of the plant is a key ingredient in a potent gin.

#7
Common name: Bulbous Buttercup
Irish name: Tuile thalún

A member of the ranunculus family, these native wildflowers can be found across the Ireland countryside. Their cheerful yellow faces, which feature five petals, bring a bit of sunshine to grassy knolls—and to those who pick them.

Research for this post was gathered from irishwildflowers.ie and wildflowersofireland.net. Visit them to learn more and see other varieties.

An Irish Breakfast with White Pudding

When you think of pudding, visions of dainty glass pedestal cups filled with a sweet, smooth treat most likely come to mind. However, for the Irish, pudding is in an entirely different food group: meat. White pudding is made from pork fat or beef suet, oatmeal, and onions. It’s closely related brother, black pudding, has the same ingredients but also includes fresh pig’s blood. The two dishes are often served together at breakfast. Since fresh pig’s blood is often hard to come by, we’re sharing a popular recipe for white pudding today.

Irish White Pudding

 INGREDIENTS
1 2/3 cup steel-cut oatmeal
1 cup milk
2 cups pork fat, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ginger
casings

PREPARATION

Soak the oatmeal in milk for one hour. Use a mincer with a 5mm plate to grind the pork fat and onion. Mix the onion, pork fat, and all of the spices together in a large bowl. Stuff into large pig casings and boil or steam at 170°F for approximately 1 minute per the mm in width of the sausage. For example, if you have a sausage that is 3mm in width, cook for 3 minutes. The temperature should reach 162°F for two minutes before you remove from cooking. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl of cold water. The sausage can now be consumed or you may wish to heat it on a griddle or skillet. To do so, slice the sausage into chunks and fry until brown. Serve immediately.

White pudding may traditionally be served with eggs, black pudding, Irish bacon (which is sometimes called back bacon because it is a leaner cut of meat made from the back of the pig), tomatoes, soda bread, and even beans that are sweetly flavored with molasses and rum.