Anam Croí Ireland Tours

Packing for Ireland

Credit cards Ireland, packing for travel to Ireland

Your Ireland vacation packing list – let us help – after all, we live here all year round

Your trip to Ireland is booked (hopefully with Anam Croí Ireland Tours). Now it’s time to test the attic or basement ladders, pick a case from your collection, and practice packing for Ireland 2022.

But, before you make that ascent or descent, hang tough for a few minutes and read on, as we outline some suggestions on packing for Ireland. Use this article to reconcile your own list. You have made one, haven’t you?

Remember – it’s an Ireland vacation, you’ll be returning home, so the golden rule is don’t overdo it. Only take what you need for your time in Ireland. So let’s split it in two – your main luggage and your carry-on that’s going into the aircraft cabin with you.

Carry-on Luggage for your flight to Ireland

Your cabin bag should contain what you need to get you through a day or two in the event of your main bag going astray. So we suggest:

What to pack for travelling to Ireland

Toiletries – it’s personal to your own needs, but make sure you follow your airline’s advice to ease your passage through security. In addition to toothbrush and your normal washbag contents, consider adding these: Facecloth – if you use one. Irish hotels generally don’t provide them. Small pack of wet wipes (eco-friendly ones please). Lipbalm and suncream. Though your trip to Ireland may not align with our annual two-day heatwave, you can still get sun or wind burn- especially along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Medicines – if you’re on regular medication make sure you’ve enough for your trip. Apart from that, something for tummy upsets is always handy to have. We carry a first aid kit on our luxury Mercedes mini-coach, so don’t overdo it on plasters and such like.

Clothing – Just enough to get by for a couple of days. But if you forget, don’t despair. You can pop into Irish clothing store PENNEYS, where 50 bucks will outfit you top to toe for a couple of days (Ask any Irish person you know to explain this one😊).

Ireland Trip Essentials

Passport (check that it’s in date well in advance of your Ireland trip). Other travel documents, such as travel tickets, booking reference numbers, contact details for your tour/hotels, etc.

Adapter and charging cable for you phone or other device. In Ireland we use a three square-pin type. Btw, you don’t need to bring your hairdryer. All hotels used by Anam Croí Ireland Tours have them in bedrooms. In fact, we sometimes play a little game of hunt the hairdryer! We also have USB charge points on our mini-coach.
Emergency information – Set up ICE (In Case of Emergency) details and contacts on your phone. This willl also help reunite you with your phone should you lose it. Here’s a ‘how to’ for both Android and Iphone.

You probably don't need a visa for travel to Ireland but check your passport

How long is your Ireland trip?

Packing for travel to Ireland

Why do we ask? It’s simply to get you thinking – do you actually need to bring more than will fit into a carry-on? Again, it’s subjective and personal – you may be buying Irish gifts for your loved ones (or yourself). If so, you’ll need to leave enough room. Have you read your tour information? Is there a size restriction? Anam Croí Ireland tours, like most small-group tour operators, does have a maximum bag size (30″ long).

Clothing – In the main, casual smart is the dress code for dining out in Ireland. When you hear Irish people say we get four seasons in one day, we’re not joking (find out more here). You do need to pack accordingly.

Comfort is key

As we tour around the byways of Ireland, we’re hopping in and out of our luxury Mercedes mini-coach. Whether standing at the majestic Cliffs of Moher, strolling or taking a jaunting car through Killarney National Park, or simply taking a photo of some breathtaking views, comfort is the name of the game. This is key when it comes to your feet. We know how attached some can be to their footwear, and we’re not brave or foolish enough to dare suggest how many pairs to bring, but…….🤔
In Summer, some form of sturdy sandals may suffice, or trainers. Even if you do get wet, it won’t be too cold and they should dry out quickly.

Pants – In Ireland, a term to describe underclothing! Trousers, as we say here – along with boot (trunk), bonnet (hood) and more. Whatever the terminology, comfort again is key. Hiking style that can zip into shorts, or a light comfy dress. Synthetic materials work better than cotton. Cotton absorbs and holds moisture, no matter which of the two ‘p’s – (perspiration or precipitation) are the cause. In Spring or Fall tee or long sleeve base layer, and for summer, tees/polos. Denim jeans should really be kept for the visit to the pub in the evening.

Jacket – Simple rule – Waterproof – end of story!

What clothing you should pack for your Ireland tour

Top tips for Ireland Trips

Essentials for packing for your Ireland vacation

If you’re using public transport to and from the airport or meeting point for your tour, you’re the one lugging the luggage. Also, no matter what sort of Ireland tour you’re doing, (unless porterage is specifically included ) you’re also toting your bag to and from your room. Of course, your Anam Croí Tour guide will always endeavour to assist with this when needed. Don’t forget to label it securely – if it goes a different direction to you – the more info on it, the easier it’ll be to get it back.
Emergencies: Ensure you’ve access to sufficient funds to cover delays or the unexpected. And please do take out suitable travel insurance.
Credit cards: Most outlets in Ireland do not accept American Express. Mastercard or Visa are your friends here.
Currency exchange: Shop around for the best rate. Don’t change at airport currency desks. Banks in Ireland no longer carry Foreign Exchange. You should be able to use your ATM card (but check out what charges your bank may impose).

Accessories for Ireland Travel

Handbags/Manbags/Backpacks – whatever you are comfortable with. In our luxury Mercedes mini-coach, we do have overhead shelving – but it’s not airline overhead bin size. Many people also carry a journal. When you finally get around to sorting the hundreds of amazing Irish photos to a location or day, this will really help you remember.

Luxury travel Ireland. Guided tours in Mercedes mini-coach

Six Reasons to Visit Ireland in 2022

Celebrate with a trip to Ireland in 2022

Looking for a reason to visit Ireland? Here are six – plus a quickie on early 20th century Irish History

1. It’s Ireland’s Centenary

Tour Ireland centenary celebration

Ireland celebrates a BIG birthday in 2022. It’s our centenary and we’ll be commemorating 100 years of independence, feting sovereignty that was achieved following more than seven centuries of British rule. Below we give you a (very) brief overview of the immediate prelude to that hard-won independence. Of course for the unabbreviated version, you’ll have to take an Ireland tour with us!

20th century Ireland in a Nutshell

Tour Ireland centenary celebration

The aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rebellion and the bloody War of Independence from 1919-1921 led to treaty negotiations, which the people of Ireland voted to accept. This saw six counties in the northeast remaining part of the United Kingdom.
Of course, there were many who chose not accept the treaty – citing that Britain had broken most treaties brokered over previous centuries. This in turn led to a short but horrific civil war which saw the family fabric of many households rent asunder.

You’re guaranteed to learn more about Ireland’s troubled history on an Anam Croí Ireland Tour. And if you’re interested in a movie that (we think) most closely reflects that early 20th century period in Ireland, try The Wind that Shakes the Barley (official trailer). On our 6 day Sojourn of Southwest Ireland tour, we travel through areas which gained notoriety from the time of Irish independence.

Thankfully, the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ of 1969-1998 are also behind us and Northern Ireland can now proudly showcase its beauty to the world. It is home not just to The Giant’s Causeway – one of just three UNESCO world heritage sites on the island of Ireland – but stunning coastline, the Titanic exhibition, Game of Thrones filming sites and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. You can read more on our take on the creation of the Giants Causeway here. Or better still, come see it for yourself on our Northern Ireland and Best of the West 7 day tour.

2. Celebrate with a tour of Ireland

Special occasion Ireland trip

Sure, where better could you celebrate your special occasion than Ireland. Whether it be honeymoon, anniversary, special birthday, graduation or just life itself. No matter the occasion – we’ll give you a big Céad Míle Fáilte to make it a truly memorable experience.
And, if you are coming with family or friends, then why not take a look at our Private Tours.

3. Someday is NOW – for an Ireland Vacation

making Irish dance part of an Ireland vacation

It’s been a tough couple of years – which is why we say to you – ‘SOMEDAY’ is NOW! A few years ago the Irish tourism board conducted a survey to ascertain interest in, and intentions of, travelling to Ireland. Many responded that they would love to visit Ireland ‘Someday’. If there’s one major takeaway from the past two years, it’s that Someday is NOW. So come on, join us for a simply great tour of Ireland in 2022. Dust down that list of Irish sights (and sites) to see, and experiences that await.
Discover whether all Irish people have kissed the Blarney Stone or if we’re just naturally graced with ‘the gift of eloquent speech’. Expose yourself to the Irish credo that you don’t actually need dulcet tones to sing an Irish song. Meet the people of Ireland and have the ‘craic’. Check off your Ireland bucket list on our great fully guided tours of Ireland Southwest or Northern Ireland and Best of the west. If you’ve a group of family or friends you can always try one of our Private Ireland tours.

4. Ireland tour offers and flights to Ireland

Direct flights to Ireland from USA and Canada

We’ve some great offers for you – especially if you’ve been a frontline worker during the pandemic. Many airlines are also offering or about to offer reduced airfares to Ireland – especially for travel up to the end of May. Don’t forget our 10% reduction for March, April and October tours of Ireland.

You can fly direct to Ireland from these cities*: New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, Dallas and Charlotte from the United States. From Canada you have the choice of Toronto, Calgary and Halifax

(*some are seasonal)

5. College football is back in Ireland

College football Ireland 2022

Yup, end of summer sees college football return to Dublin when the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on Northwestern Wildcats at the Aviva Stadium.
If you’re planning on coming over to Dublin for the game, why not make a holiday of it. Take an extended Ireland vacation on one of our great tours either the week before or after the big game. You can come over the weekend before and be back in Dublin for the Saturday game.

6. While we still have room for you in Ireland

Galway Ireland, home of the Claddagh ring

We’re joking. Of course we’ll always make room for you. The reason for our quip is that our most recent census figures revealed the population of Ireland has topped 5m for the first time since the Great Famine (An Gorta Mór) of the mid-19th century.
With Anam Croí Ireland tours you can experience an Ireland vacation even better than you imagined. Take a journey around Ireland away from the crowds. See the beauty of the Irish countryside, fill your lungs with fresh air. Surprise yourself with tasty and seasonal Irish food. Feel the heartbeat of our Celtic ancestors as you listen to Irish music, songs and poems. It’s all part of Irish heritage and culture, where you touch the very soul of Ireland.

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Happy Christmas Ladies- no we’re not late!

Great food on an Ireland trip

An Irish Tradition – Nollaig na mBan – Women’s Christmas

Travel Ireland Women's Christmas

Traditionally in Ireland, the 6th January was a day when the menfolk would pay homage to their better 90% for the work they had done to make Christmas a success for all. In acknowledgement and appreciation, traditional roles would be reversed. The ladies would leave the housework to the men and head off to visit friends and neighbours. Or, daringly, they might even invade the domain normally reserved for their menfolk – the pub!

This burst of housework would of course, leave the menfolk not only exhausted, but in total awe and astonishment at the day’s end. Left trying to figure out how the ladies managed this everyday. But then, that’s Irish women for ya (or maybe Irish men!!).

An trip to Ireland is just the reward you deserve

Changing with the times in Ireland

relax with an Ireland vacation

The tradition tended to die off towards the middle of the last century. Was it the invention of the vacuum cleaner – or ‘hoover’ as it’s ubiquitously called in Ireland? Or maybe it’s that modern Irishmen lean towards the notion that they do sooo much more around the house than their forefathers anyway. Whichever, it seems to be coming full circle again. In 21st century Ireland, rather than go to the neighbours, the good women of Ireland might indulge themselves by cashing in that gift card for the spa treatment. The men being left bewildered by the pure co-incidence of so many girl friends getting similar partial Christmas gifts.

Switch off in Ireland

So, from Anam Croí Ireland tours, a very Happy Nollaig na mBan to all women, wherever you are. But a couple of words of advice- firstly mind the weather out there. It was on this day in 1839 that the worst storm ever was recorded in Ireland. Known as Oíche na Gaoíthe Móire (the Night of the Big Wind), it’s said that the waves of the Atlantic were so high, they crashed above the mighty Cliffs of Moher.

You deserve a boutique Ireland Vacation

Also, we think you deserve far more than a spa treatment. In fact, you deserve a trip to Ireland for one of our great fully escorted tours. Just saying….

PS- you know that job(s) that he said he’d do (tomorrow) weeks ago? Don’t worry, he’ll do it. You really don’t need to remind him every three months😊☘️.

Winter Solstice dawns on Ireland’s Heritage

Visit World Heritage sites on our Ireland tours

We shine a light on an Irish wonder that is testament to our Celtic ancestors

In Ancient Ireland, long before the arrival of St. Patrick or the Irish monks who were to save civilisation, our pagan Celtic ancestors afforded the greatest importance to the seasons. This was reflected in their major days of celebration – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lúnasa and Samhain (which we’ve written about in our Halloween blog). The link between ancient and contemporary Ireland has endured. Gaeilge, our native Irish language, invokes the ancestors in the naming of May (Bealtaine), August (Lúnasa) and November (Samhain).

Visit UNESCO sites on small group escorted Ireland vacations

An Ireland older than the Pyramids

Visit World Heritage sites on our Ireland tours

Those same stone age ancestors were the ones who engineered and constructed many homages to seasonal changes. But none more impressive that the great passage tomb at Newgrange, built in the stone age era, before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza. The uniqueness of this Irish Neolithic structure is that at Winter Solstice, the rising sun fires a narrow spear of rays through a light box in the roof. For just those three brief morning moments the main burial chamber is illuminated.

A Unique Irish Winter Solstice Spectacle

Naturally, there is huge demand to partake in this memorable experience. Each year, a lottery decides entry – with some 30,000 applicants on average. Sixty lucky winners (from as far away as the the US and Australia) earn the right to potentially witness the spectacle. ‘Potentially’, because nature makes the rules, and it’s Ireland, so sunlight is never guaranteed. From just before 9am (GMT) from December 20th -22nd, for about 15 minutes, the lucky lottery winners just might witness this striking display.

Visit this unique Ireland heritage site where winter solstice lights up the internal chambers

UNESCO Heritage on your Ireland Tour

Giants Causeway on your small group Ireland tour

The three UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island of Ireland are an ingrained piece of our heart (Croí) and soul (Anam). Anam Croí Ireland Tours visits the Giants Causeway on our 7 Day Northern Ireland and Best of the West tour. On an Ireland vacation with us, our 6 day Sojourn of South West Ireland tour, presents an opportunity* to visit the third – Skellig Islands. If you plan to visit Ireland with family, friends, co-workers or others, we can always arrange a visit as part of our customised Private Ireland Vacations tours. Reach out to us at anytime to enquire about the very best of small-group Ireland tours. *landing very limited

In the meantime, whatever the weather, don’t forget to let the sun shine into your heart on this winter solstice. Slán go foill.

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From Ireland to America – some Major Contributors

Irish Heroes of History Ireland South West Guided Tour

A few weeks back we featured some great heroines of ancient and contemporary Ireland. In the interests of balance and fairness we now present to you some notable Irish men of historical note. While many people are aware of JFK and other presidential Irish connections, we thought it only right to reveal some less famous, but noteworthy Irishmen.

John Dunlap – Declaration of Independence

John Dunlap, Irishman who printed Declaration of Independence

…all men are created equal….with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These words in the US declaration of Independence may have been written by Thomas Jefferson, but it was Irishman John Dunlap who printed them, at his printing works in Philadelphia.
Born in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Dunlap had taken part in the War of Independence and served as bodyguard to Washington at the battles of Princeton and Trent. However, we’re not sure if we’re too proud of his role in leading the militia to help put down the ‘Whiskey Rebellion’ in western Pennsylvania in 1794!
He evolved from being a printer to publisher, to property developer, buying cheap land seized from colonists who refused to recognise the newly independent State.
Apparently poor John developed a fondness for the whiskey himself in middle age, and he died in 1812, aged 65 years, and is buried at Christ Church, Philadelphia.

Gen. Phil Sheridan – Irishman yay or neigh?

Irishm-American General Philip Sheridan

‘Little Phil’ – all 5’ 5” of him, was born in…. who knows where really? Where he first saw the light of day is the subject of some debate. Officially he’s noted as being from Albany, New York, of Irish parentage. Many claim his birthplace is County Cavan in Ireland.
So why the controversy? Well, if the latter birthplace is correct, it’s rumoured that he changed it, as he had aspirations of becoming US President. This he would not have been able to achieve without being US born.

He is quoted in one interview as stating he thought his parents were from Co. Westmeath, but unlike many past (and present) Irish Americans, he tended to completely play down his Irishness. It is also speculated that he may have been born aboard ship en route to the United States from Ireland.
Wherever his place of birth may have been – and it does seem rather strange that he wouldn’t know his own heritage – he is remembered in US history for his Civil War role and rising to become commander of the entire US army.

He and his trusty steed Winchester are immortalised in Sheridan’s Ride – a poetic account of the Battle of Cedar Creek. “Here is the steed that saved the day, By carrying Sheridan into the fight, From Winchester–twenty miles away”

Under Atlantic Waves

Submarine Inventor John Holland from Ireland

“I’d like to be, under the sea, in an Octopus’s garden in the shade”. Whatever about the Beatles underwater wants, it was thanks to the West of Ireland that underwater exploration became a reality.

Many Irish people, as they stand on the west coast looking out over the Atlantic, have notions of sailing across the oceans. But John Holland didn’t want to sail over seas – he wanted to sail under them.

Holland was born in the tiny village of Liscannor, Co. Clare, just minutes from the famous Cliffs of Moher.
In 1873, Holland went to the US where he found employment as a teacher in Paterson, New Jersey. But he never let go of his dreams and worked continuously to realise them – work that culminated in the invention of the modern submarine. Unbelievably, he was so ahead of his time that his diving principle used in the first submarine he sold (at a loss) to the US Navy, still applies to today’s vessels.
John Holland died in 1914, just around the outbreak of WWI. He never lived to see how effectively his invention would evolve (for better or worse).

P.S.- we know all knowledgeable US Naval people will claim the civil war era Hunley as being the first – but in fairness, its one engagement did see it sink with all hands, off Charleston, SC.

Ireland's Argentina link
The Irishman who founded the Argentine Navy

Anyone from, or who has visited, Argentina, may be struck by numerous school, streets and squares named after Admiral Guillermo Browne. He was in fact – William Brown, from Foxford in Co. Mayo, who emigrated to Philadelphia as a boy in 1778. Starting his sea-faring career as a cabin boy, he was later press-ganged by the British and forced to fight in the Napoleonic wars. It is said he scuttled his ship, but ‘malheureusement’ – the French didn’t believe him. He was imprisoned but escaped at the second attempt. After marrying, he went to Argentina via Uruguay and Chile, becoming a successful businessman with his own ship. He was appointed to lead the fledgling Argentine Navy which had been hastily formed to counter Spanish blockades of parts of the Argentine coast. Brown died in Buenos Aires in 1857, and is honoured not just with place names, but a succession of ships named after him and statues in his home town and Dublin

Irish father of the US Navy

We also lay claim to the father of the US Navy – Commodore John Barry, from County Wexford, the son of a poor tenant farmer who was evicted by his British landlord.
Arriving in Philadelphia aged 17, he eventually became senior commander of the entire United States fleet. Barry’s war contributions are unparalleled. During the American Revolution he captured over 20 British ships, and fought the last naval battle of the American Revolution aboard the frigate Alliance in 1783. He remained head of the American Navy until his death in 1803, and is buried in Philadelphia’s Old St. Mary’s Churchyard.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some possibly lesser know Irish historical figures. And we hope it gives you some flavour of the historical side of our 6 day Sojourn of Southwest Ireland and 7 Day Northern Ireland and Best of the West. And check out our Special Offers page for some great bargains for Frontline workers, shoulder season and more.

Thanksgiving – an Irish Turkey, and Riverdance

Wishing everyone a happy thanksgiving from Ireland

We are often asked whether Thanksgiving is celebrated in Ireland. You may be surprised to learn – especially if you think we Irish will borrow any excuse to party – the answer is NO. We’ll keep St. Patrick’s Day as the big one! Speaking of which, did you know that, unlike its Caribbean neighbour St. Lucia, Monserrat doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday.

Anyway, we digress. Perhaps we’ll return to matters Montserrat when we’re writing about that great Welshman (St. Patrick – not Tom Jones!) early next year. In the heading of this piece, we suggested a link between Thanksgiving and Riverdance. So, bear with us while we perform the usual Irish trick of making a short story long.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual event in which up to 43 nations have pitted their song writing and performing talents against one another since the 1950s. You may never have heard of it, but it was the launch pad to global stardom of ABBA. For it was at Eurovision, watched annually by over 150 million viewers, we first heard the catchy melody of ‘Waterloo’.

Fast forward to 2008, when Ireland, already in the record books as the most prodigious winners of the contest with seven victories, chose its entry to that year’s contest by public vote. And we decided – kid you not – to send a turkey to represent us at the contest.

Ireland’s Favourite Turkey

Ireland, Thanksgiving, an Irish Turkey and Riverdance

Dustin the Turkey is a ‘fowl’ mouthed puppet who made his children’s TV debut in Ireland in 1989 and is still going strong, having graduated to a more mature audience. His Eurovision song, ‘Irelande Douze Pointe’ contained lyrics such as “Give us another chance – we’re sorry for Riverdance”.

Riverdance and Anam Croí Tours – 100% Irish

Yet Riverdance, like ABBA (and unlike Dustin), is a global phenomenon that owes its origins to Eurovision, which Dublin hosted in 1994. The host country is obliged to conceive and present an interval act that reflects aspects of its culture and this is where Riverdance was conceived and delivered. It was a five minute intermission performance subservient to the main event. This unleashed a stunning spectacle, succinctly summed up by BBC presenter, Irishman Terry Wogan, whose immediate comment to millions of TV viewers was “…hairs rising on the back of every Irishman’s neck”. Here’s a clip of the original performance. It’s about five minutes long but well worth watching to the end.

Forget the Calories

So remember, as you enjoy your ‘no calorie counting’ Thanksgiving feast, please spare a thought for the Irish turkey, and celebrate Riverdance by dancing a wee jig around the festive table. We wish you all a very happy, safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving from us all at Anam Croí Ireland Tours. Lá an Altaithe sona daoibh go léir.

P.S. Do you think Dustin might qualify for a Presidential Pardon ( he actually ran in an Irish presidential election and, because one had to have a first and family name on the ballot, used the surname Hoffman!)?

If you enjoy reading our blogs about Ireland and things Irish, imagine what it would be like listening to similar tales (some of them even true). All while soaking up the scenery and atmosphere of Ireland and her people. Check out our offers page for some great discounts and our special thank you to Covid-19 Frontline Workers.

Halloween – an Irish Tradition now global

Halloween Ireland

By now the costumes and masks are bought (does anyone make them anymore?). The kids here in Ireland are on their mid-term break. Suitable sites for bonfires have been identified and all sorts of fuel scavenging is underway. Teenagers -mostly boys – summon from within their visceral hunter gatherer instincts, as they strut through urban and rural landscapes in search of discarded timber and tyres. Even old couches are sought, enabling a relatively comfortable seat of repose before being added to the flames of a chilly Halloween night bonfire.

Halloween - as Irish as it gets.

Many of you reading this will have an inkling that Halloween has its roots in ancient Celtic Pagan tradition. It was one of four seminal dates in the Celtic calendar which generally marked the turning of seasons or the end of a period of work such as the final crop of potatoes being harvested. It was also a time to mark the passing to the next world of souls from the year past.

Masks, Costumes and Bonfires – the Irish Origins of Halloween

Samhain (sow-an (use porcine pronunciation for the first bit!)) is November in the Irish language, Gaeilge (or Gaelic). Oíche Shamhna (eeha- howna) is November night. This was when traditionally the Celts crossed the seasonal threshold – leaving behind the light of Summer to enter darkness of Winter. A time when spirits and the souls of the dead – good and bad – were said to roam the countryside. Of course it had to be countryside, as two thousand years ago there were no towns in Ireland. People hung scary contraptions around the homesteads to keep evil spirits at bay. They wore masks if they had to move around, so that they could hide in plain sight and would not be recognised by potentially harmful spirits.

Halloween characters of Ireland
Halloween mask National Museum of Ireland Anam Croí Ireland Tours

These masks took many forms. As you may well imagine, pumpkins tend to like a bit of sun, so aren’t terribly suited to the Irish climate. But, what you never have you never miss, so the humble turnip was commonly used – right up the the early 20th century. The turnip pictured here is displayed in Ireland’s National Museum of Country Life, which we visit on our Anam Croí Northern Ireland and Best of the West Tour.

Oíche Shamhna was also a time of celebration – fires were lit and the bones of slaughtered livestock fed the flames. As this tradition passed through the generations, household fires would be extinguished and relit with embers from this fire – hence the term ‘bonfire’.

From Celts to Monks – the transformation of beliefs in Irish Heritage

When the 5th century monks began converting the Celts to Christianity, they didn’t force them into a ‘my way or the highway’ adjustment of their beliefs. Rather, they merged ancient pagan ways into new religious dates. In modern parlance they would be termed excellent ‘change managers’! The Oíche Shamhna practices and traditions found themselves being enveloped in the cloak of All Saints Day of 1st November – with the eve of the day being celebrated. This is also where the name took a turn from Oíche Shamhna and moved towards Halloween. A saintly ‘halo’ becoming ‘hallow’ and Hallows Eve morphing into Halloween.

Bringing Ireland Global

The Irish who first emigrated to North America never lost their sense of home – be that in sadness or happiness. And so, they brought their music, song and traditions with them. Okay, we do realise and accept that Halloween isn’t quite ‘global’ (yet). But hey, if North America can lay claim to a ‘World Series’ in baseball, then sure who’d begrudge the poor oul’ Irish for taking a small bit of licence with Halloween. One has to remember, as you may have seen from our recent blogs on Irish mythology, that in Ireland we ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’.

An Irish Halloween Recipe

We leave you with a recipe for this delicious traditional Barm Brack, from Irish chef Donal Skehan. Our favourite way of eating it is, of course, slathered with good old Irish creamery butter and a cup of tea. Remember, you can enjoy and experience all the best of Ireland on one of our great 6 and 7 day small-group fully guided tours. Now, we’re off to watch Hocus Pocus – again!

Oíche Shamhna shona daoibh go léir (Happy Halloween to you all)

A Giant Bridge too Far for Ireland?

Giants Causeway on your small group Ireland tour

In Ireland, the best way to introduce a story is through our native language, so here we go….

Fadó, fadó (a long long time ago), Ireland was a land of giant forests, fearless warriors and giant people.  The most famous of these was Fionn McCumhail (or Finn McCool). 

Finn was not just a giant, a leader of men, a fearless warrior and poet, but he also happened to be involved in construction and was one of the most forward-looking leaders of his time.

Building Bridges between Communities

In 2018, (now) U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made public his support for a project which mooted construction of a bridge to link Northern Ireland to Scotland. More recently the idea appears to have been abandoned as being both expensive and impractical.

However, Boris’ detractors may not be aware that a crossing had already been constructed many thousands of years ago, by the one and only Fionn. The ancient method he, and his Scottish counterpart Bennandonner, used was quite similar to modern bridge-building – building simultaneously from each side of the span.  Bennandonner toiled  from the Scottish side and Fionn from the County Antrim coast, in the north eastern corner of Ireland.  

How this joint project came about, was that one day Fionn was sitting on a cliff edge, just being mindful and breathing in the fresh sea air. Then, through his dream-like relaxed state he heard what he first perceived to be rumbling thunder. “But surely that couldn’t be” he thought, as he scanned the skies around him, all of which were clear and reflected in a sea of azure blue.  He raised himself from his sitting position to his full enormous height, and scanned the horizon. Some twelve miles east, across the sea, he spotted what looked to be a tartan sheet, which seemed to be the source of these thunderous bellows.  Using his big hand to shade the sun’s glare, what he saw flipped his previously zen state to the opposite end of the scale. Some big ugly fella in a ‘skirt’, roaring at him and flipping him the bird!

The Fightin’ Irish (kinda)

Well, Fionn never shirked a challenge and he started pulling tons of rock from the soil and began making a path through the sea towards his foe (no bureaucratic building delays in those days!). His big fists pounded the rock into the seabed. He toiled all day and noticed Bennandonner doing likewise from his side. As he got closer, Fionn realised that Bennandonner wasn’t as small as he first  thought. Somewhat frighteningly, he was actually much bigger than Fionn. 

Being a pragmatic sort, Fionn took the ‘discretion being the better part of valour’ approach. He turned tail and headed home, alerting his wife to the situation.

Irish Woman saves her Man (as usual)

Now Oonagh (you’ll have to come on tour to learn the pronunciation), being the brains of the relationship (of course), hatched a plan. She quickly put a bonnet on Fionn’s head and put him into bed, where he lay with eyes closed, sucking his thumb.  Soon after, the ground shook and the door was almost taken off its hinges, as the big ugly oul’ visage of Bennandonner appeared, looking for Fionn.  Oonagh quickly kicked him in the ankle and pointed to the corner where Fionn lay in the bed.  Putting a finger to her lips, she whispered –  “Shush – you’ll wake the baby”.

Giant's causeway guided tour northern Ireland

Well, Bennandonner took one look and realised if that was the baby, what was the size of the father going to be! He spun around, lifted his kilt clear of his knees and hightailed it fast as his legs would carry him back across the newly built causeway, only pausing to rip the rocks from the seabed to prevent Fionn from following.  His getaway was so quick that as he pivoted his foot became caught in the causeway. The only way he could free himself was by abandoning the boot, which remains there to this day in a calcified state.

So never mind that geologists might tell you different, e.g., volcanic activity from 50 million years ago and so on.  We Irish know the true story of how the Giants Causeway came to be.  You can relive this and other great stories of myth, legend and history on your Anam Croí Ireland Tour.

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy lays out Anam Croí Ireland Tours policy in relation to personal information. It outlines who the policy applies to, how data is gathered, used and secured, and the subject’s rights regarding their data..  

  1. Persons to whom this policy applies
    1. Anam Croí clients
    2. Anam Croí suppliers
    3. Personal data gathered on Anam Croí website and by other digital means
  1. Purpose and Legal Basis
    1. To fully perform contracts (current or pending) 
    2. To provide requested services and contacts in connection with enquiries, bookings or to respond to communications 
    3. For legit business interests, such as marketing communications.
  1. Information collected
    1. Name and Address
    2. Email address and Telephone number 
    3. Billing & Payment information.
    4. Gender and age range (where applicable)
    5. Anonymised data required for technical performance such as
      1. IP addresses
      2. Browser/device type
      3. Other anonymous website statistical data
      4. Cookie consent is requested when a user accesses Anam Croí’s website
  1. Collection Methods
    1. Website and other digital Contact forms
    2. Email or telephone
    3. Client/supplier contract or form
  1. Data Recipient(s)
    1. Staff of Anam Croí Ireland Tours
    2. Third party entities with whom we are contracted (such as accommodation suppliers), subject to their compliance with relevant data protection legislation
    3. As required by any legal, statutory or regulatory requirement or court order
  1. Retention of Data
    1. Personal data will be retained by us only for as long as necessary to be used for purposes outlined in this policy, to comply with legal obligations, and in the event of any dispute or claim that may arise between the Anam Croí Tours and a relevant party
    2. For other legitimate business reasons as alluded to in this policy
  1. Data Subject’s Rights
    1. A person who has personal data held by Anam Croí Tours retains the following legal rights:
      1. Access to their personal data
      2. Request rectification /and or erasure of personal data (except in circumstances where a legal obligation falls on Anam Croí Tours)
      3. Restriction of use of personal data
      4. Object to processing or use of personal data
      5. To transfer (to another data controller) or receive personal data in a  structured, commonly used and machine-readable format
    2. Requests in line with the foregoing must be in writing and may be sent by email or postal to the contact details given at the foot of this policy. Requests may be subject to the appropriate fee. On receipt of the request and appropriate identification, the request will be processed within 30 days.
    3. Any complaints regarding the manner in which Anam Croí Tours deals with personal data should be address to the Data Protection Commissioner: https://www.dataprotection.ie/

Identity and contact details: 

Anam Croí Ireland Tours

33 Corbally Avenue,


Co. Dublin

Email:  Enquiries@anamcroitours.com

Tel: +353 860351812

Statues of South West Ireland

Did you manage to guess whose shadow we previously posted on Facebook from our 6 day Sojourn of South West Ireland tour?  It was the great luminary of the silent screen, Charlie Chaplin.

Ireland Guided tours, Ring of Kerry

In this blog, we take a look at why this, and other statues on the Ring of Kerry, are sculpted and sited here along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.

In common with many other nations, we Irish tend to have a penchant for statues. Of course, the vast majority are local heroes of history and mythology – or native sons and daughters who ‘done good’ in far flung lands.  But, apart from such historic figures, recognition also tends to be given to visitors who make an impression on local or national communities.

Chaplin first visited Waterville, County Kerry, in 1959 and for the next ten years he returned annually with wife Oona O’Neill and their eight children. She, of course, was the daughter of Nobel Laureate and multi-Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Eugene O’ Neill, whose father hailed from County Kilkenny. It is said that Chaplin was enamoured with the fishing and veritable anonymity that Waterville afforded.   He also claimed to be the grandson of an Irish gypsy.

The Irishman who Discovered America before Columbus

Ring of Kerry Irish heroes, Anam Croí Ireland small-group guided tours South West Ireland

This simple but evocative monument to St. Brendan the Navigator and his crew, is also located on the Ring of Kerry. 

Brendan was a native of Kerry and (we in Ireland reckon), was the man who discovered America long before Columbus.  Most (non-Irish) tend to debunk this as being  typical Irish guff and blarney, i.e., never let the truth get in the way of a good story! However,  in the mid-1970s English explorer, the late Tim Severin, proved it could have been done. 

Using a boat built with materials and technology from ancient times, he and his small crew set sail from Brandon Creek, near Dingle in Co. Kerry.  Having wintered in Iceland, they reached North America when they landed at Peckford Island, Newfoundland in Canada, some thirteen months later.  

St. Brendan is the patron saint of navigators and a stained glass window dedicated to him is sited in St. Andrew’s Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  You too can capture this image on our Anam Croí Ireland Tours 6 Day Sojourn of South West Ireland tour. In the meantime, why not take the voyage by proxy and see just how tough it was on The Brendan Voyage .

American Golfing Royalty

Famous people on the Ring of Kerry with Anam Croí Ireland Tours

Being afforded relative anonymity and that we Irish don’t seem to take celebrities too seriously is why another Waterville visitor finds himself immortalised by the Wild Atlantic Way.

Waterville is one of the top golf courses in Ireland, with similar qualities to many of the links courses on which The British Open is played. That most colourful of golfers, the late Payne Stewart, visited here in 1998 and ‘99 as part of his preparation for the Major tournament. The locals took him to their hearts and he fully reciprocated. He not only sang and played the harmonica in local hostelries, but even got behind the bar to pull pints!  His statue stands overlooking the course, having been unveiled by his widow Tracey, at a ceremony attended by many of the world’s top golfers, including Tiger Woods.

“An Ordinary Man who did so many Extraordinary Things”

Irish Heroes of History Ireland South West Guided Tour

Staying in Kerry, we turn to one our own. Despite having been part of no less than three Antarctic expeditions, including the ill-fated race to the pole by Scott, Tom Crean was relatively unknown outside of his own village and county for decades.

Thankfully, that has now been rectified and the ‘ordinary man who did so many extraordinary things’ is now rightly honoured with this bronze statue that captures his qualities. On our 6 day Sojourn of the South West, we take lunch in the South Pole Inn, the pub he established. It’s a place where the walls are festooned with photographs of many of his Antarctic adventures – so jaw-dropping that it’s difficult to eat with one’s mouth closed!

A Presidential Wave from the Ancestral Homestead

Presidential connections to touring  Ireland

Finally, on the main artery to the south and south west from Dublin, stands another son of Erin, waving cheerily with his First Lady wife to passers-by.  Yes, you read it right, for President Barack Obama once briefly visited the parish of his great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney, who emigrated in 1850.  The Obamas stayed just long enough to have a pint of Guinness in the local pub and meet relatives. Give him a wave on our 6 day Sojourn of the South West tour!