Best of 2011 from the Irish Fireside

Best of 2011It was a big year for Ireland.

Well-known visitors, a bump in tourism numbers, new travel apps, great deals for travel, and a renewed interest in Irish heritage filled the plus side

Rough economic times, an increase in taxes (not for Irish tourism products though), and the passing of Ireland Expert Pat Preston on the negative end.

As we look back on the year, we celebrate the many wonderful posts published last year by highlighting our favorite Irish-interest stories of 2011.

{slide=MAKING IRELAND HOME}A few websites standout this year for dedicating a large part of their content to experiences in Ireland. Rather than point to one or two articles, we’re giving you a direct link to their websites for you to enjoy… and trust me, they are all worth it.


Hecktic Travels: Ireland
by Dalene and Peter Heck
The Canadian couple spent their summer in Ireland and filled their blog with accounts of their time on the Emerald Isle.
From China Village
by Emily Westbrooks
She moved to Dublin with her Irish husband in 2008, and Emily Westbrooks fills her blog with all her favorite things. For a primer, start with her posts on Dublin.
Irish History Podcast
by Fin Dwyer
Fin Dwyer takes us on a trip through Ireland’s past… and thankfully, gives enough facts to keep it smart and enough excitement to keep it interesting. Both his podcast and blog are worth regular visits.
Irish Jaunt
by Megan Eaves and Bill Lehane
They were a bit quiet for part of the year, but their features were worth the wait as they continue to bring us tips and inspiration for Irish travel.
Where the Mood Takes Me
by Alan Bennett
This summer Alan Bennett zigzagged around Ireland by bus and blogged about his adventures… from sand castles to concerts to tall ships to funny costumes.
Pol O Conghaile
by Pol O Conghaile
His articles about places and trends in Irish travel appear in a variety of publications, but you can always count on travel writer and journalist Pol O Conghaile to showcase his best here.
Married an Irish Farmer
by Imen McDonnell
With a new crop of posts about Irish farm cooking and stories from her life as an American raising a family in the Limerick countryside, Imen McDonnell has a way of making readers feel good… and it’s not just her gorgeous photos of food.
Writer’s Wanderings in Ireland
by Karen Robbins
With a rich collection of tales from her recent travels of the Emerald Isle, Karen Robbins visits every corner of Ireland in this series of posts.
Travel Curious Often: Ireland
by the Curious crew
September was Ireland month over at TCO (hats off to them for not choosing March when we were suffering shamrock overload). It was a pleasure reading their collection of articles.
Ireland with Kids
by Jody Halsted
Don’t let the name fool you, Jody Halsted’s contributions to helping plan a great trip don’t require children.
Discover Ireland Blog
by Multiple Authors
It’s all Irish travel all the time over at the Discover Ireland Blog, and they continue to offer unexpected articles that get us dreaming about Ireland.
History at the Irish Fireside
by Cindy Thomson
Cindy Thomson started sharing bits of Irish history with us earlier this year, and her posts have quickly become some of our most-shared items.


What’s Happening in Ireland in 2012
by Got Ireland
We just love the month-by-month festival and event listing in this post. No, it doesn’t have everything, but it does offer a great mix of things to do that would be of special interest to visitors.
Emerald Isle – A Beautiful and Historical Treat
by Chris Hale
Chris Hale shares the highlights of his trip with his daughter.
Travelling on Poetic Licence
by Peter Calder
The most memorable route in Northern Ireland isn’t necessarily a straight line… especially with a scribe aboard.
26 Stunning Ireland Photos
by Kaeli Conforti
Budget Traveler asked their readers to submit their favorite Ireland pics, and the submission give us a vibrant tour of the Emerald Isle.
Richard Bangs in Ireland
by Richard Bangs
Richard Bangs continues his travel legacy with some charming video stops in Ireland. He’s got a knack for finding the slightly offbeat and interesting.


Getting to Know Dublin, One Village at a Time
by Megan Eaves
Anyone who has spent time in the Fair City knows the city reveals a different side of itself around every corner. Megan Eaves introduces us to a few.
Northern Ireland Wins You Over
by Pauline Frommer
Three current events shaped Pauline Frommer’s visit to Northern Ireland… and she gives the country a big thumbs up.
My Own Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick – Climbing the Reek
by Michael Mullin
Everyone who has climbed to the top of St Patrick’s holy mountain has a different story to tell. Michael Mullin offers his in this installment of his series about Croagh Patrick.
Travel Postcard: 48 Hours Well-Spent in Ireland’s Capital
by Naomi O’Leary
Naomi O’Leary gives us a wonderful snapshot of a charming trip to Dublin.
A Mountain and a Lost Ship
by Steve
It’s always a pleasure when I read about someone exploring a lesser-known, but extraordinarily gorgeous region of Ireland and getting an interesting history lesson in the process.
Blasket Island Memories
by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
The moment I read that people “don’t go to the island, they’re going into it,” I was hooked.
Artists’ Retreat Proves to be an Unexpected Success story
by Frank McDonald
Despite what the locals believed twenty years ago, a stand of ruined pre-famine Irish cottages have been transformed into an International artists’ retreat.
20 Great Things to Do in Dublin
by Time Out editors and Sulakshana Gupta
I was happy to see a few “extras” on this Dublin to-do list.
Through the Gaeltacht and to the Sea
by Bob Montgomery
A fascinating history of the sea and Ireland’s insurrections unfolds along the Dungarven coast… and the views to sea are exciting too.
Hunting for U2 in Dublin
by Kristen Luna
We all have our must-sees in Ireland… Kristen Luna’s quest to find U2 gives her some memorable moments in the Fair City.
Explore History in County Kerry
by Dr. Jessica Voigts
A story of great change in Ireland can be told in the life of Daniel O’Connell and Derrynane House.
Dublin a Great Walking City
by Mitchell Smyth
While most tourists spend their time walking Grafton Street and Temple Bar, Mitchell Smyth gives us a few other prime locations in Dublin to explore on foot.
History’s Harbour
by Glenn A Baker
Glenn A. Baker drops anchor in Cobh, a port known for migrants, celebrities, and shipping tragedies.
Cork City: My Kind of Town
by Ciara Hegarty
The people of Cork wowed Queen Elizabeth this year, but they endeared themselves to Ciara Hegarty much earlier.
Dublin, 50 Years Apart
by Paul Walsh
For this online exhibition, Paul Walsh revisited sites that were photographed by Charles W. Cushman in June 1961. He snapped contemporary photos for all to compare.
Worth Their Salt: Ireland’s Saltee Islands
by Leah Carri
Leah Carri came home to Ireland with her Australian hubby to explore sites like the Saltee Islands.

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Family and Friends: Seven Irish Music CDs
by Kerry Dexter
Irish music has a way of touching emotions and reaching hearts across time and place and language. That seems to be true, too, whether you hear the music at a big stage show, at a lively pub, in a living room. or through a recording.
Thin Places Impacting Creativity
by Mindie Burgoyne
In this video essay, Mindie Burgoyne talks with Dingle artist Carol Cronin about the impact a place can have on creativity.
Representing the Past
by Gemma Tipton
It seems fitting that amidst all the talk of Ireland’s recession that the country would go back to its roots and name 2011 the Year of Craft.


Irish Folklore and Mythology
by the National Leprechaun Museum
Ireland’s National Leprechaun Museum opened in Dublin, and they’ve kept themselves off the tourist trap list by focusing their efforts on information like folklore and legend.
Once again, Ireland’s young prepare to leave
by Tracy McVeigh
Ireland has a long history of seeing it’s young leave the island. Today there’s a new generation of Irish diaspora.
A Party for the Departing
With emigration once again a fact of life in rural Irish communities, the rituals and traditions associated with leaving home are being revived.
People of the Passage Tombs
by Dick Ahlstrom
The builders of Ireland’s ancient monuments such as Newgrange are elusive, but evidence suggests a complex society.
Samhain – The Spirit of Meath Hallowe’en Festival
by Jenny Foxe
Breaking away from the consumerism overtaking Halloween, Jenny Foxe goes to the Irish origins of the popular holiday.
Irish-Australian Stories
by the National Museum of Australia
Australians talk about their Irish heritage in several videos from the National Museum of Australia.
Descent from Glamour to Grime
by Maev Kennedy
An interesting glimpse into the world of Irish emigrants in London.
Queen in Ireland: Chequered History Behind Visit
by Nicholas Witchell
With a visit from Queen Elizabeth pending, Nicholas Witchell looks at how the relationship between the Crown and Ireland has been one of the longest and most difficult in the history of Britain’s monarchy.
The View from Inside: A Day on the Halting Site
by Rosita Boland
Rosita Boland visits an Irish traveler community and finds tales of social ostracism, tradition, and a reluctance to talk.
Romantic Ireland lives on for One Matchmaker
by Nick Bramhill
Sinead O’Connor’s recent divorce after 16 days of marriage might not be the best advertisement for Willie Daly’s matchmaking service (yes, she was a customer this year), but the third-generation matchmaker keeps the traditional alive.
A Yank in Ireland Remembers September 11, 2001
by Michele Erdvig
In a day that changed the modern world, Michele Erdvig reflects on her time spent with the Irish when her thoughts were of home.
Traditional Music’s Boom in the Gloom
by Siobhan Long
Music lovers may have less money to spend on gigs and concerts these days, but that hasn’t stopped trad fans from breathing new life into sessions across Ireland.
The Irish Language has Dialects, Here’s Why it Won’t Stop You
by Eoin Ó Conchúir
If learning a new language isn’t intimidating enough, Irish has three distinct dialects. But Eoin Ó Conchúir assures us it’s not a problem.
The Day the Irish Brigade Saved the 9th Massachusetts
by Robert J. Bateman
You may not have heard of the Battle at Gaines Mill (it happened in 1862), but the story of the Irish Brigade tells one of many stories of the Irish diaspora.
When Irish Eyes Are Crying
by Michael Lewis
This lengthy piece in Vanity Fair offers some insight into the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger.
Old Irish Dance Footage
by Shelly Hathaway
While most of us have seen the flash and dazzle of Riverdance, Shelly Hathaway has dug up some interesting archival footage of Irish dance.
The Vikings in Ireland: “From the Fury of the Northmen, O Lord Deliver Us”
by G. Beaverson
In this look at Irish history G. Beaverson takes us through Ireland’s Viking history.


The Boy from Ballyfinnane
by Gerry Britt
You’ll want to have the Kleenex handy as Gerry Britt takes you on the emotional story of researching his ancestry in Ireland.
Griffith’s Valuation as a Source for Irish Family History
by Rachel Murphy
As more Irish diaspora dive into their family histories, it’s always exciting to discover a potential source that may open another chapter in family history.
Orphan Heirloom Rescue: 1870 Diary of an Irish Immigrant
by Megan Smolenyak
We simply can’t resist a little genealogical history mystery… especially when there’s a happy ending (oops, did I give it away?).


A Taste of the Best of Ireland
by Aoife O’Riordain
The visits of the British and US heads of state are big news, but you don’t have to be a VIP to enjoy some hidden Irish gems.
Best Day Trips from Dublin
by K.C. Dermody
The city of Dublin has some wonderful museums, pubs and lots of great shopping, but you’ll miss some of the best things about Ireland if you don’t wander outside the city.
Catching Donegal’s Best Pub Grub
by Adam Alexander
A new gastronomic trail in Donegal aims to put locally produced food firmly on the foodie map.
5 Best Independent [Irish] Podcast[er]s
by Peter Donegan
Confession, we’re thrilled the Irish Fireside made the cut. Confession #2, I don’t have a garden, but I still listen to The SodShow.
6 Lessons Learned from 6 Visits to Ireland in 6 Years
by Erin Halvey
Being married to an Irish man means Erin Halvey has gotten to know Ireland from both the tourist and local perspective.
How to Have an Irish Wedding (a real one)…
by Megan Eaves
Before making it to the altar in Ireland, Megan Eaves lets you know how to do it yourself.
IRE 201: Advanced Paddywhackery
by Maryann, Views from an Irish Backyard
Her original Non-Irish Irish Speaking tutorial got her on last year’s list, and now we can all enjoy Maryann’s upper level course.
Best Irish Travel Apps
by Corey Taratuta
Mobile technology is creeping into the Irish travel sphere, and here’s where you’ll find a few of the best.


Ireland’s Most Off-Beat Festivals
by Oda O’Carroll
Even in strainened times, Ireland has never needed an excuse to celebrate. If the more eccentric end of the cultural spectrum is to your liking, here are a few of its more unusual events to whet your appetite.
B&B Ireland Launches Categorisation of Irish Bed and Breakfasts
by Joy Harron
With the addition of an iPhone app and a new category listing for Bed and Breakfasts, B&B Ireland has added a few new ways to help choose the perfect place to stay.
Travel to The Ring of Kerry in Ireland
by Chris Christensen
Combine the bubbly personality of Jessie Voigts, the inquisitive nature of Chris Christensen, and the joys of the Ring of Kerry and Episode 304 of the Amateur Traveler Podcast delivers a delightful 30-minute Ireland fix.
Mystery and Magic in Megalithic Ireland
by Sheila Ryan
Rural Ireland is peppered with Megalithic sites, and Sheila Ryan explores a few that might not have the notoriety of Newgrange, but offer a deeply rewarding experience.
Take a Tour of Ireland’s Most Haunted Spots
by Susan Daly
Spooky castles… eerie pubs… Susan Daly gives us a dose of ghostly Ireland.
Ghosts of the Faithful Departed
by Michael Freeman
Looking at a new exhibition by David Creedon, Michael Freeman gives us a look at the forgotten homes of Ireland.
Erin Go Bragh: Chasing a giant swell in Ireland
by Rusty Long
Ireland’s popularity as a surfing destination surprises many, but for wave-chaser Rusty Long, it was the size of the surf that caught his attention.
Irish Magic, Complete with Leprechauns and Great Golf
by David Brice
Golfers don’t ‘need’ great scenery to enjoy their sport, but boy oh boy does Ireland offer an added bonus, as David Brice reveals.
Camera, Lights, Action!
by Shelley Marsden
Amp up your Netflix queue with a full list of films with direct connections to Ireland.
A Marvellous Surprise in Ireland
by Rosemary Allen
Many senior travellers view independent travel with trepidation and so they are more likely to choose whistle-stop guided tours or cruises, but that wasn’t the case for Rosemary Allen and her husband.
Stay with Royalty
by Bruno Maddox
Travel and Leisure takes up residence at Crom Castle, in Northern Ireland, for a perfectly charming weekend.


Have We Forgotten Our Roots?
by John McKenna
Are the Irish turning their back on the spud? John McKenna tells us more about the Irish and their potatoes.
Love, Bacon, and a Bit of Ireland
by Dan Saltzstein
There’s a wee bit of Ireland in Queens.
A Night Down the Pub in Dublin by the Numbers
by Eva Sandoval
Even solo, one can enjoy a stop in a Dublin pub.
Does Guinness Really Taste Better in Ireland
by Piers Fawkes
Just about anyone who’s downed a pint of the black stuff in Ireland says it tastes better there. Now there’s scientific evidence to back it up!
Irish Farmhouse Cheese in Spotlight
by Shelley Marsden
Do you know your Gubbeen Cheese from your Cashel Blue? You will once you’ve read this!
This is Irish Food!
by Clare Kleinedler
Clare Kleinedler introduces us to the new generation of Irish foodies who will turn your idea of Irish food on its end.
Whiskey and Cheese Diplomacy
by Irish Whiskey Notes
Forget about when to serve red or white wine — pairing Irish whiskey to your menu is a lot more fun.
Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream
by Sasha Martin
Guinness! Bailey’s! Chocolate! Decadence!
Maple Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops
by Sarah Benton-Kenney
Inspired by the delicious seafood living off Ireland’s coast, Sarah from the Snippets of Thyme blog makes me hungry and long for Ireland at the same time.
On the Good Food Trail in Waterford
by Alex Meehan
There’s a new heaven for foodies in west Waterford. And this article gives us a taste that leaves us wanting to go back for seconds
The Oat Man
by Ella McSweeney
Ella McSweeney highlights one entrepreneurial farmer who has turned his passion into one of Ireland’s newest ‘farm to fork’ products.


Author: Corey

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  1. Corey,

    Thanks! I wasn’t expecting that my article about being in Ireland on 9-11 would make the list. I’ve been in Ireland at other exciting times too:

    1981 Air Traffic Control Strike
    Assassination attempt on Pres. Reagan
    Irish petrol strike
    Troubles in No. Ireland

    I guess I’m in Ireland so often that something is bound to happen. 😉


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  2. Thanks for the including our post on festivals and events in Ireland in 2012. Like you say it doesn’t have everything, so we’re hoping people will add to it with comments, and we will add to it where possible to enhance peoples visit to Ireland.

    Happy New Year for 2012 Irish Fireside.


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  3. So happy to hear you enjoyed my posts on Ireland. It was truly a wonderful trip. Someday we hope to return. Thanks for including me on your list. I love sharing our travel adventures and always hope the stories are enjoyed by all.


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  4. Thanks for the inclusion 🙂 The Samhain festival was really special.

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  5. Delighted to be in the “Best of”! Hope you all have a wonderful 2012!

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  6. The Irish Stories videos from the National Museum of Australia are especially wonderful. Wish I could have seen the exhibition.

    Thanks for the link. Looking forward to reading/viewing much more from you in 2012.

    Post a Reply
  7. lots of good reading here, and I’m sure more to come as this year goes on. Ireland is a never ending well of music — thanks for including a story I did about that.

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  8. Thank you so much for including my article on Best Day Trips from Dublin. Much appreciated! This is a wonderful site. Can’t wait to get back “home” to Ireland soon.

    K.C. Dermody

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  9. Hi Corey

    Thank you very much for including B&B Ireland on your list. It is much appreciated. We wish you all the very best for 2012!

    Joy Harron

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  10. I lived in Ireland for the first half of 2011, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I got back to the United States. This is a great collection of resources for scheming my return and rummaging through the internet, wishing I had could be walking through Galway. Thank you!

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  11. Hi guys,

    amazing article, thanks! I am living in Ireland (but am German) and have traveled quite a bit. Wanted to mention the Greenway in the West of Ireland, which I thought was absolutely beautiful and just what you have in your mind when thinking of Ireland. Stayed in Westport ( which I found is such a welcoming little town, a must-see, and brilliant for access to the Greenway.

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