If you’ve purchased one of the new homes in VA, or anywhere near Washington, DC, you’re in the fortunate position of having easy access to flights to Europe, including Dublin, Ireland. According to Irish Central, nearly five million visitors arrived to the Emerald Isle in the first half of 2018, breaking tourism records, which means you’ll really need to know where to go, and where not to go, if you hope to avoid bumping elbows with them all.
One of the best ways to make your vacation in Ireland more interesting, is to travel like a local, avoiding big bus tours, renting a car and venturing beyond the tourist hotspots like the Guinness Factory and Blarney Castle.
Avoid the Temple Bar Area in Dublin
No self-respecting local will be found hanging out in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. The district is home to the most touristy pubs there are, and at the highest prices in the city. There are endless buses that drop off American tourists here, and musicians playing outdated pop rock music rather than traditional Irish tunes. Instead, go to one of the local hangouts like Toners Pub, which has been serving perfect pints of Guinness without pretentiousness since the early 19th-century. O’Donoghue’s Bar is one of the top spots for live traditional music and a fun crowd.
What to Talk About
While you’re at any one of the local pubs, the topic at hand is almost always about the weather, which is usually too “something,” too chilly, too wet, too hot or too dry. It’s almost never just right, though you’ll often here, “When the sun shines, there’s no place in the world you’d rather be.”
Another key to traveling like a local is knowing at least some random quotes from the popular Irish television series that ran in the 1990s, “Father Ted.” You might want to watch a few episodes before you go to catch the flavor of it. Whenever something surprises you on your journey, just say, “That’s mad, Ted” – and, just like the show, if you’re asked if you’d like a cup of tea, don’t ever refuse it.
Stay Until After Closing
At many pubs, once the front door is locked and the shutters have closed, it’s time for the locals to enjoy the real party. If you’ve managed to blend in with them, taking part in this experience is sure to be the highlight of your trip. You may even be able to raise your pint and sing “The Parting Glass,” with the crowd around the bar.
Discover a True Hidden Gem
While it may seem as if there are few truly hidden gems in Ireland, one place that’s still not overrun by tourists and has the feel of Old World Ireland is Inisheer Island, the smallest of the Aran Islands which lie off the western coast of County Galway. Don’t just make a day trip, spend a few days on this little, two-square-mile island, walking the maze of stone fences, sitting on the postcard-perfect white sand beach keeping an eye out for Sandy the local dolphin, and you’ll understand the true magic of Ireland.