Sunday, 18 December 2011

Searching Ireland.....

I’ve been living, breathing & dreaming ‘Ireland’ these last 6 months, so it will come as no surprise to many who know me, that I’ve been spending many hours searching the internet for useful websites to help me plan my Ireland itinerary.    I love travel, differing cultures, history, ancient sites & genealogy, so touring Ireland is going to be an absolute feast for me & there are many helpful websites out there to fill you up with useful tips. 

I decided that these sites are worthy of sharing with those of you contemplating spending time touring Ireland.... so here we go.

First on my list & rightly so, since my winning trip to Ireland is courtesy of Discover Ireland NZ, is their official Tourism Ireland website.  Tourism Ireland incorporates both Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Boards & pitch tourism to 20 countries around the world.  I really like their logo [below] too, which invites you to...

LonelyPlanets Ireland, is probably one of the best known global travel brands & well used by millions of travellers.   The first Ireland travel book I brought to help me get started was ironically purchased a week before I won my trip to Ireland..... ‘had I had a premonition?’.   Lonely Planet has excellent online information which is convenient & easy to use.

 The 2011 B&B brochure offers a huge list of Irish tourist board approved B&B’s throughout Ireland & Northern Ireland.    If you’re going to ‘B&B it around Ireland’, then this is a great place to start.    There is a free download of their brochure on the website

I've used TripAdvisor, a website where travellers share their candid reviews of places they've stayed in, historic sights, tourist activities and more.     This site will help you decide what to put on your list of ‘must do’s & help you to decide where the best places are to stay. 

Google Maps is one of my more exciting finds... this online ‘GPS’ is an easy way of tracking your travel route, giving you the distances & times from one destination to the next.  You can put streets & roads in your search if you know where you’re going, but it’ll search town to town too [include town & county].  It does pay to double check the info it has given you though, to make sure it has found the correct location & not taken you across the Atlantic Ocean as it did with me when I wanted to go from Ennis to Rossaveal!  I thought “wow, that’s not going to take us long!” then realized I had to swim as well!  
I suspect you have to be a little wary of the travel times too, as speed limits on Irish roads will be variable & from what I’m told, can range from a cautious crawl on wee country roads to maximum speeds on the motorways.

Over the last few months, I’ve been getting great travel tips off a couple of facebook pages administered by two lovely Irish gals.  As well as their facebook pages, they also have their own websites dedicated to spreading the word about the very best of what Ireland can offer you.

Ireland’s Hidden Gems is an independent travel website written by Susan Byron, a native of Dublin, now living in County Clare. As well, Susan is the Irish Travel Blogger for Irish Central the largest American Irish online community in the USA.    Susan also feeds you wonderful wee ‘gems’ on her facebook page Ireland's Hidden Gems about what to see & do when visiting the ‘island’ of Ireland.   Her website is chock full of ideas of where to go, stay, eat & drink, from pubs to castles to sacred places.

Madeleine O’Donnell is the owner of Peg’s Cottage, an “idyllic thatched cottage in the picturesque village of Puckane in Tipperary, which has stood the test of time for 300 years”.  Follow Madeleine on her facebook page Ireland & Peg’s Cottage for great information about what to see in & around Puckane & the rest of Ireland & Northern Ireland.   She will keep you entertained as well, on a daily basis.  Ask Madeleine about staying in her beautiful Peg’s Cottage.

I’m grateful to both Susan & Madeleine for their willingness to impart their local knowledge of their beautiful country.  Susan has even offered to feed me her famous Guinness Stew if I find myself in her neck of the woods! 

If it’s Irish History, Stone Age structures, Monastic ruins, ancient Castles & old thatched cottages you’re after, then drop by the Travelmania website where you’ll find great coverage of where to find just about every historic site in Ireland.  As well there is a very impressive gallery of stunning photographs taken of all these sites.

However, if it’s Sightseeing, Pubs, Guinness and Culture you’re after, then you’ll enjoy the blog-style website of Uisce-Beatha  

Uisce-Beatha is the Irish interpretation for Whiskey, more literally known as ’water of life’.  Suffice to say there’s tips on Pub Crawls, Whiskey & where to get the best Guinness.

There are also some really interesting & well written blogs out there on the subject of Ireland worth a read.  I’ve made a list here of my favourites.

Got Ireland
Irish Fireside 
All Ireland Travel
Hecktic Travels 

By now you might suspect I may have become a little obsessive in my quest to find out all I can about touring Ireland, rather than leaving it all to chance ... and it’s fair to say, you may be right.   However, my Irish holiday itinerary is almost complete now... with plenty of room to include the odd detour along the way.  


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