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Archive for ireland

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.

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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.

Ireland’s First Waymarked Trail

By Linda Tancs

The oldest and one of the most scenic long distance walks in Ireland, Wicklow Way lies just south of Dublin and is one of the nation’s most popular trails. The 80-mile waymarked journey runs from Marlay Park in the southern suburbs of Dublin through County Wicklow and ends in the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. The traditional route is north to south, beginning at Marlay Park and ending in Clonegal. Amidst the heathery moorland and the Wicklow Mountain range is the treasured stop at Glendalough (valley of two lakes), an ancient monastic site providing respite for tourists from around the world.

The House That Beer Built

By Linda Tancs

Tucked away in the northwest section of a popular public park in Dublin, Ireland, Farmleigh House is the manor that beer built—Guinness, to be precise. The Georgian home was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness (great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the brewery) on the occasion of his marriage to his cousin. Although now an official State residence for visiting dignitaries, many of the sumptuous furnishings and artworks remain in the house courtesy of the Guinness family. The pastoral surroundings of the 78-acre gem (one of the best kept secrets in Dublin) include a sunken garden, a walled garden, a clock tower, a beautiful lake laden with water lilies and grazing cattle. Take city bus 37 to Castlerock Gate at Phoenix Park. Access to the house is by guided tour only.

Ireland’s Oldest City

By Linda Tancs

Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, tracing its origin to the arrival of the Vikings in the 9th century. Even today, Vadrefjord Vikings, a local re-enactment group, walk about the city in traditional Viking dress. Of course, the city is probably better known as the home of Waterford Crystal, conveniently located on the Mall in the heart of the Viking Triangle. This weekend the city celebrates its annual Waterford Harvest Festival, highlighting the region’s food, heritage and culture. No doubt that includes the local bread roll named blaa, introduced by the Huguenots in the 1600s.

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