I lived in Ireland for 5 years. I haven’t blogged very much about it because I find it hard to be concise about a place that means so much to me. But my husband and I are over visiting his family for two weeks and I’m feeling inspired, so today, I thought I would give you a couple Irish travel tips you might not find in the guidebooks.
Find a beach.
Irish beaches are the best. Be sure to find one (not difficult considering you’re on an island), bundle up and and take a nice long walk. My personal favorite is Donabate beach, located just north of Dublin.
Drink a pint of Smithwick’s.
99% of Americans love Smithwicks. I have no idea why, especially since in Ireland it has a reputation for being an old man beer, but something about this Irish ale, pronounced “Smith-icks”, is almost always a hit with Americans. Guinness is what Ireland is known for, but after extensive research (ie wikipedia and a some taste tests) I firmly believe Guinness is the the exact same in America as it is in Ireland. You can find Smithwick’s in the States, but it never tastes the same. Have it. You’ll thank me.
Visit a country estate.
There are plenty of old manors, castles and country estates all over Ireland, most of them are several hundred years old and have been restored and turned into hotels. If you can’t afford to stay in one at least have dinner and take a walk around the grounds.
Have some brown bread.
I’m not really a bread person, but the Irish brown bread is one of my favorite things in the world. Take all you know about brown bread in the States and throw it out the window, this bread is a whole other level.
Shop at Penny’s.
Imagine a world where high fashion trends from the runways of Paris and Milan are sold for bargain basement prices. Welcome to Penny’s, a magical place where style and bargain shopping meet. It’s like a much trendier Target, but a lot cheaper. There’s a Penny’s in almost every Irish city, a stop is a must!
Eat at a chipper.
Chips are a cross between french fries and potato wedges…cooked in fat (remember! you are on vacation, this is no time to be counting calories). If you come to Ireland or the UK, visiting a “Chipper”, basically a fast-food restaurant that makes and sells homemade fried food, is a must. After a few beers, there is NOTHING better than a big bag full of chips with salt and vinegar.
Editor’s tip- Chips are a million and one times tastier dipped in mayo.
Don’t talk about being Irish.
Unless you or one of your parents, are physically in possession of an Irish passport, don’t tell anyone in Ireland you’re Irish. They don’t see it that way and find it mildly offensive. Your great-great-great-grandpa-twice-removed moving to America from Ireland doesn’t count. If you were born in America, you’re American!