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Archive for ireland

Capitals of Culture in 2020

By Linda Tancs

Happy New Year! And you know what that means—another set of European Capitals of Culture! This year’s honorees are Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland). Croatia’s third-largest city, Rijeka is its principal seaport, with an attractive promenade along the city center (Korzo). Given its seafaring heritage, a visit to the Maritime and History Museum is a must. Housed in the former Governor’s Palace, it includes artifacts like a Titanic life jacket, picked up by a worker on the Carpathia, the ship that saved over 700 passengers. In Galway, the offerings for its celebratory year will be classically Irish yet seen through a European lens. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Galway International Arts Festival team to collaborate on a year of arts programming. Don’t miss the chance to stroll along the city’s canals, following the River Coribb, where the locale is perched.

Creature Comforts in a Park

By Linda Tancs

Like any national park, Glenveagh in County Donegal, Ireland, has its share of extraordinary vistas, like bogland, woodland, freshwater and rocky precipices. And in the center of it all is the stately elegance of Glenveagh Castle. Built by a wealthy land speculator in the 1800s, the castellated mansion was subsequently occupied by army forces during the country’s civil war and later owned by an Irish-American until it was conveyed to the nation. Enjoy the surrounding courtyards, walled garden, pleasure grounds and woodland gardens. A shuttle bus runs there daily from the park’s Visitor Centre.

Ireland’s Savage Land

By Linda Tancs

When Oliver Cromwell ordered a survey of the area surrounding Ireland’s majestic Galway Bay, The Burren was described as “a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury.” Derived from the word “Boireann” (meaning “rocky land” in Gaelic), it’s true that few trees grow there, but a unique plant environment thrives, causing Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland to grow side by side. The result is a cascade of colorful blooms from May to August that lights up the savage landscape.

Ireland’s Medieval Mile

By Linda Tancs

The colorful hues and commercial comforts along High Street in Kilkenny belie the city’s storied past as the medieval capital of Ireland. You’ll learn all about that on the Medieval Mile, a discovery trail running through the heart of the city linking St. Canice’s Cathedral (the second longest in the country) and a stunning Anglo-Norman castle. South of Dublin, Kilkenny is named after St. Canice (Cill Chainnigh – Canice’s Church), who founded a sixth century monastic settlement. The Round Tower beside the cathedral offers fantastic views over the city. At the center of it all is the new Medieval Mile Museum, located in a converted 13th century church featuring medieval sculpture and Renaissance-era tombs.

An Aircraft Enthusiast’s Heaven

By Linda Tancs

Talk about the luck of the Irish. A private collector’s extensive inventory of die-cast model aircraft is now on permanent display at Shannon Airport. Reportedly the world’s largest collection of die-cast model aircraft, the 1,500-strong collection features an array of commercial, personal and military aircraft, each at 1:200 scale. Highlights include a range of Concordes, Queen Elizabeth II’s BAE 146, Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose and the full Aer Lingus collection. The exhibit is located in a gallery off the departures lounge.

History of the Jack-O’-Lantern

By Linda Tancs

The Irish legend of Stingy Jack gave birth to the jack-o’-lantern. When Jack ran into the devil at a local pub, he tricked the devil into buying him a drink by promising him his soul in exchange for a sixpence. Well, when the devil transformed into a coin, Jack held on to it instead and covered it with crosses so the devil couldn’t change back. Eventually Jack relented but, figuring he’d have to fulfill his promise, he tried to buy more time by asking the devil to pluck him an apple to eat from a nearby tree. Then he covered the tree with crosses and trapped the evil one again. When Jack died, he was denied entrance to heaven because of his deceitful ways. Likewise, the devil turned him away, tossing him an ember to roam about the night. Stingy Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way as he scoured the earth for a final resting place. The Irish called the ghost of Stingy Jack, “Jack of the Lantern”—Jack O’ Lantern.

An Old Goat in Ireland

By Linda Tancs

In Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland, they’ve been celebrating a goat for over 400 years. Every year a wild goat gets crowned king and reigns o’er the town from August 10 to 12. Known as Puck Fair, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest festivals. A popular legend involving its origin is that a runaway he-goat (a “puck”) broke from a herd that was routed by a group of raiders, arriving in town to alert the inhabitants of Cill Orglain (Killorglin) of impending danger. A festival then arose to honor the goat’s service. In addition to the coronation ceremony, expect fireworks, parading, a horse fair, musical entertainment and family fun.

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