Ross Castle Killarney, Co Kerry
My Home Town Area
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long
calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their
shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other
journeys. ~Charles Dickens
Let Christmas not become a thing
Merely of merchant’s trafficking,
tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to
From a Dreamer’s martyrdom.
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices
ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten
faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know. ~Ella Wheeler
A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
Then he’s thinking
more of others than he’s thought the months before,
And the laughter of his
children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at
any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the
One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an [apple] [tree]. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the [Devil] promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of [Heaven ]and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter Heaven. He then went down to [Hell].
But the Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between Heaven and Hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him a burning coal from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one.
For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern”.
Since, on all Hallow’s eve, the Irish hollowed out turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away.
The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O’Lantern to [America.] The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that [Pumpkins] were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns.
O for a summer noon, when light and breeze
Sport on the grass, like ripples o’er a lake
Alive with freshness! when the full round Sun,
With the Creator’s smile upon his face,
Walks like a prince of glory through the path
Of Heaven!—Thou vast, and ever-glorious sky,
Mantling the earth with thy majestic robe…
~Robert Montgomery, “Beautiful Influences,” A Universal Prayer; Death; A Vision of Heaven; and A Vision of Hell; &c. &c., 1829
But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~ A Life for a Life, 1859
The only sure thing about luck is that it will change. ~Wilson Mizner
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered. ~ William Shakespeare
Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit. ~R.E. Shay
Ireland is really a country where most guests desire to get out and explore the countryside. Obviously, its capital city, Dublin, is suave and cosmopolitan and provides its own brand of Irishness to visitors, as well as some in the country’s top sightseeing spots.
But several travelers picture Ireland as a place of rolling green hills, thatched roof cottages and roving sheep, and although this simplistic imagery could maybe be regarded a trifle cliché, there is a great deal to draw the visitor to Ireland’s small towns, including these top 5 fairly sweet spots that no visitor should miss.
This pretty small village in County Limerick has been designated as an “Irish Heritage Village” for its historic architecture, as it features a wonderful collection of thatched roof cottages. These traditional Irish homes employ bound reeds for roofing and have unmistakable white-washed walls. Adare can also be home to Adare Manor, a 19th century mansion that’s now an upscale hotel.
The sweet small town of Westport is County Mayo’s crown jewel along with a favorite destination among domestic and international tourists for its upmarket shops, tidy streets and colorful shop fronts. Westport’s proximity to nearby Crough Patrick, one of Ireland’s highest mountains, at the same time as various lakes and blue flag beaches further improve is draw as a base for holidaygoers. And famed 19th century travel writer, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote that it was the “most gorgeous view” he actually saw.
County Kerry is arguably Ireland’s most favorite tourist location, and heading the verdant Ring of Kerry is Killarney, the county’s capital city and one of the most charming, vibrant small towns in Ireland. It may be said that Killarney has more pubs per capita than any other city around the island, and I’d nicely believe it, with dozens of pubs, bars and restaurants to cater to just about every drinking need. Killarney is upmarket however sweet and unpretentious, includes a beautiful cathedral and is situated in the edge of the national park that provides days of hiking, fishing and boating.
County Cork’s Kinsale is a city of gourmet foods and colored doors. For a small town, it includes a hearty number of upmarket dining places and bistros, as well as playing host to an annual gourmet meals festival. On the southeast coast or Ireland, Kinsale is a coastal town with a large yachting marina, producing it an ideal destination for those interested in sea tourism and activities.
Clifden is to County Galway what Kinsale is to Cork, except instead of the sweet bay, Clifden has sweeping sea vistas from atop rocky bluffs. Set out about the tip of a peninsula inside the surreal and rugged landscape of Connemara, Clifden can be a charming city of B&Bs, cute cafes and shops where you go to buy wool sweaters not as souvenirs, but because you need to have them. Thought possibly not as easily charming being a town like Westport, Clifden is the type of location you go when all you want is often a perfectly peaceful and amazingly scenic escape.
Once upon a time Ireland was only known as the “Island of Saints and Scholars”, nowadays, fortunately, we’re known for so much more. We have A-list Hollywood actors, world-class pop rock musicians, top authors, Guinness, some of the world’s most stunning scenery and even a claim to the White House!
Famous symbols of Ireland…
The harp, also known as the national symbol of Ireland, the Celtic cross, the shamrock and the Irish wolfhound are all well known Irish symbols.
The majority of the Irish population are Roman Catholic (88%).
Gaelic is Ireland’s national language. Only in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas of Ireland will you find that Irish is used as the everyday language. In all other parts of Ireland, English is the spoken language.
Ireland’s most famous musical export would have to be U2, closely followed by The Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy and more recently Boyzone and Westlife.
The cream of the crop includes Richard Harris, Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy and Colin Farrell.
The world of literature…
To our credit, Ireland has produced Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Maeve Binchy and Celia Aherne.
Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in around 430. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland, and indeed all over the world, on March 17th.
Our capital – Dublin…
Dublin was founded by the Vikings in 988 and was originally called Dubh Linn (which means Black Pool in Irish).
First Saint Patrick’s Day parade…
Boston was the proud host with an event organised by the Charitable Irish Society in 1737.
The White House…
James Hoban, a Kilkenny born architect, won a competition to design the original White House.
Grace O’Malley (Queen of the Pirates) operated off the west coast of Ireland and Ned Kelly (son of an Irish convict) was an infamous Australian outlaw.
Killarney, County Kerry is home to the highest mountain – Carrantouhill, part of the mountain range the McGillycuddy Reeks.
The river Shannon rises in County Cavan and is approximately 240 miles long. It contains 3 lakes, Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg.
Drisheen is a type of pudding made from cow’s, pigs or sheeps blood. White pudding is a mixture of pork, cereal, bread, fat and suet. Periwinkles are sea snails boiled in salted water.
To trip to Ireland would be complete without sampling a pint of the black stuff! It’s said that no matter where you go in the world, only in Ireland will you be served the most velvety, and creamiest pint of the “black stuff”.
Bailey’s Irish Cream…
This hugely popular liquor has been around since the ’70’s.
Stumble upon a “trad night”, throw in the customary singsong, a bit of Irish dancing and you’re in for a crackin’ evening!
A sporting nation…
Irish people are very passionate about Gaelic games – football, hurling, rounders, handball and camogie. Rugby and soccer are also very well supported in Ireland.
The great outdoors…
The Cavan Way, The Dingle Way and The Kerry Way are just some of the country’s scenic walking routes that offer a great opportunity to sample Ireland’s breathtaking countryside.
Sense of humour…
There’s nothing like the Irish sense of humour, wit and play with words. Have a look at the below examples:
“not backwards in coming forwards” – means a person is not shy.
“no flies on him” – means a person is not easily deceived.
“she has a tongue that would clip a hedge” – means a person who gossips.
“come for a day and stay for a week” – means someone outstaying their welcome.
Just a few facts to ponder over – for a small island we certainly have a lot going for us!
Mairead Foley writes for the Ireland travel and accommodation website http://www.GoIreland.com
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