Easy ways to soak up the culture of Ireland
Ireland is a contemporary, inventive and bustling place to visit year-round.
Between the art, history, music, and literature, there's no better place to broaden your cultural horizons.
Fall is the perfect time to embrace cultural experiences in Ireland. With its abundance of energetic cities and history around every corner, here are 5 ways to explore the Emerald Isle this season.
Take a Walking Tour to Really Understand the Local History
Located in Belfast, the defunct Crumlin Road Gaol is the only Victorian-era prison remaining in Northern Ireland.
Stretching your legs is a great way to investigate the nooks and crannies of Ireland's walkable cities in any weather. Follow in the footsteps of some of its most famous Irish authors with the Dublin Literary Crawl, hosted by actors who bring the works of Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats, and Flann O'Brien to life. In Belfast, sign on for Taste and Tour's comprehensive four-hour deep dive into local markets and hidden gourmet gems.
The walled city of Derry/Londonderry has fifteen centuries of history to stroll through. An experienced guide from Derry City Tours will open your eyes to the city's troubled past and subsequent road to peace.
Or, for something more macabre, brush up on your history with a ghost tour. Leap Castle in County Offaly was built on top of an ancient druidic site and is said to be one of the most haunted places in Ireland. Both the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast and the Cork Gaol offer intriguing historical prison tours that will raise your hackles with tales of vengeful spirits.
Attend a Festival to Experience Cultural Celebrations Firsthand
The annual Cork Jazz Festival is Ireland’s biggest jazz event.
Samhain is the ancient Irish celebration that marked the end of harvest time and the origin of Halloween as we know it today. It’s no surprise then that Ireland does Halloween better than anywhere else in the world. Check out Derry/Londonderry's annual Halloween Festival, a week-long mix of ghoulish costumes, festive parades, and performances by local and international artists. At the same time in Dublin, the Bram Stoker Festival celebrates Ireland's most famous gothic author with pop-up parks, theatre, and live music throughout the city.
The fall and winter seasons aren't all ghost stories, however. The Cork Jazz Festival in late October is one of Ireland's largest music festivals and brings thousands of people to what Cork residents insist is the prettiest city on the island. The Dublin Theatre Festival is Europe's longest-running celebration of theatre, and runs for three weeks between September and October. And don't miss out on Culture Night on September 20th—no matter where you are, coordinated special events have the whole island celebrating as one.
Stay in a Castle to Discover How Famous Families Used to Live
Built in the early 19th century, Adare Manor is a manor house located on the banks of the River Maigue in the picturesque village of Adare, Ireland.
Surrounding yourself with history is never difficult in Ireland, and for an especially immersive touch, why not stay in part of it? The likes of the Castlemartyr Resort in Cork put you in the middle of 220 acres of lands that used to belong to Sir Walter Raleigh. The castle itself dates back to the Knights Templar, and the newer manor house is a 17th century work of art.
Spread over eight islands in Fermanagh's lake district, the Belle Isle Castle grounds are even larger—walking trails, private gardens, and a state-of-the-art cooking schools are all yours to enjoy. Adare Manor in Limerick boasts luxurious accommodations with a world-class golf course as well as fishing, falconry, and archery. It makes a great home base for excursions to the Cliffs of Moher or the Dingle Peninsula, too.
Visit a Museum to See Tangible Examples of the Past
The Titanic Visitor Experience in Belfast explores Northern Ireland’s most famous nautical export and its tragic story told through nine immersive galleries.
Dublin is known for a boisterous and youthful nightlife, but there are any number of educational ways to spend your days. Get a better sense of the modern history of this fascinating city with a guided tour of The Little Museum of Dublin, situated right in the heart of Dublin city in a Georgian townhouse, then visit the National Museum of Archaeology to see ancient Bronze Age treasures.
Another highlight of Dublin is the Dublin Writer's Museum, home to letters and artifacts from Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce. The nearby EPIC Irish Emigration Museum uses cutting-edge technology to tell the story of Ireland, its people, and its impact around the world. It also happens to be the first fully-digital museum in the world.
A trip to Belfast wouldn't be complete without visiting Titanic Belfast for an interactive experience. Come away with a better understanding of Northern Ireland's most famous nautical export and its tragic story told through nine immersive galleries. Then, stop by the lesser-known Tower Museum in Derry/Londonderry, with artifacts recovered from the wreck of La Trinidad Valencera, a Spanish Armada galleon that foundered off the north coast in 1588.