Whether it's Irish music, Irish drinks or Irish religious traditions, many festive activities are associated with Ireland. The lively Irish culture has kept these traditions alive not only in Ireland, but throughout the world, thanks to the Irish immigrants who have traveled far beyond the land of Eire.
Pubs are the heart of Ireland. A pub is not just a drinking spot but the heart of the community, where both of Ireland's national drinks, Guinness stout and Irish whiskey, also happen to flow. Pubs differ depending on the community, with Dublin pubs having a grandiose atmosphere and pubs in smaller villages having a more quaint feeling. Some pubs double as music and dance centers, and asking a local can provide a visitor with the location of some of the best music in the area -- impromptu and scheduled -- which is played down at the pub.
"Emerald Isle" isn't just a clever nickname; Ireland's landscape is very green. Its lush countryside is the result of the heavy rains and mild winters that the island experiences. The nation's climate and topography have given its people the ideal conditions for pursuing certain activities as national pastimes, including horse breeding and racing, as well as golf. Horses thrive in the rich pastures, and what better place to play a round than an Irish green?
Because of St. Patrick, or the love of the Irish for him, we have green beer and worldwide St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Although born in Britain, St. Patrick was kidnapped, taken to Ireland and held for six years. He eventually escaped, and devoted his life to the faith that he credited for helping him through his captivity. He became a priest and was sent back to Ireland, where he worked to bring Christianity to more of the Irish as well as to support the Christians already there. St. Patrick created the Celtic cross, combining a circle, which represented the sun to the nature-based pagan religion, to the Christian cross, according to History.com. Within 200 years of his death around 460 A.D., Ireland had become fully Christian, and celebrating the March 17 anniversary allowed Irish Christians to briefly pause in their Lenten sacrifices to feast on meat and dance for one day.
James Joyce. William Butler Yeats. Oscar Wilde. George Bernard Shaw. Some of the world's best writers and poets have emerged from Ireland, including four who have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. With Ireland's tradition of exchanging stories and music for entertainment, it is not hard to imagine how these skilled storytellers, putting the best of their abilities and tales to paper, would create some of the world's best writing.
- "Eyewitness Travel Guide: Europe;" Dorling Kindersley; 2001
- "1,000 Places to See Before You Die"; Patricia Schultz; 2003
- History.com: St. Patrick