Beer Saved Ireland and How

How Beer Saved Ireland

Beer? Seriously? As my grand daughter would say. How did that happen.

With  the history of the Great Hunger barely hundred years before, I was surprised by this trivia fact. England wrought what some would call heartless vengeance onto her own people once again.

Belfast Air Raids, WWII

Belfast Air Raids, WWII

During the Second World War, Ireland remained neutral, despite the fact Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. The mother country was deeply engaged in mortal combat with Germany.

This decision did not bode well with England. In fact, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England was furious and resented Ireland’s neutrality. In an effort to bring Ireland into the war, he implemented several strategic actions by controlling ports and shipping supplies to Ireland. These strategies had disastrous consequences, hitting the Irish population at its poorest.

Churchill at deskWith the European conflict raging, Churchill prepared to deliver several embargoes that would devastate Ireland; that is until she brought out her secret weapon to defend herself. Check out the facts below.

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Ireland Away Giveaway and The Troubles

 Ireland Away Giveaway and the Troubles

The violence of the Troubles in Northern Ireland  cannot be overlooked in Irish history so this post is dedicated to that subject.

In honor of the loyal readers of Celticthoughts.com,. There are over 900 now and the numbers grow consistently day by day, I am running a giveaway in June. I will be in Ireland in July so winners will be announced upon my return.  Gifts range from Irish books set in Ireland, Irish jewelry, gifts and a very special prize from Patrick Taylor, his newest not yet published book called Only Wounded about the Troubles in Belfast by Patrick Taylor. He has graciously agreed to donate an autographed copy of his new book. To be entered into the drawing, simply comment on any post in the month of June or subscribe on the home page to Celticthoughts.com.

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Book and 150 Facts about Irish History

BOOK ABOUT IRISH HISTORY AND MORE

TRUE FACT #1Over thirty four million Irish Americans live in the U.S alone, more than 7 times the population of Ireland.

How much do you know about Irish history?

Get a new kindle for Christmas? Why not download as may books as you can while they are on sale.

Did your ancestors emigrate to America, Austria, or Canada?

Are you planning a trip to Ireland or dreaming about one some day?

This book is for you.

100 Things You Didn’t Know About Ireland, filled with trivia, Irish achievements, culture, and Irish history, as well as 50 more facts is available at the sale price of $0.99 Dec 26th to 29th.

Over thirty four million Irish Americans live in the U.S alone, more than 7 times the population of Ireland.

Do you wish you knew more about your Irish ancestors? Do you have anyone to ask? Have your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents passed on? Were you told ‘be proud you are Irish’ but not sure of what you should be proud of?

Do you know anything else in Irish history beyond the history of the Famine,corned beef and cabbage and  St Patrick’s Day? Are your relatives dead or were you told not to ask questions about the past? Do you live in Ireland but know next to nothing about Irish history? Then 100 Things You Didn’t Know about Ireland is for you.

100 Things small 

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Proof Pope Francis should have been a Mother

Pope Francis is my hero. For years. Catholicism ruled much of Ireland and there are those who believe it still does.  Ar least, 80% of Irish schools are still Catholic and even with history dug up from the Magalene laundries .. to priest pedophiles ..  to the power the church had to take children away from single mothers and fathers .. Catholicism still thrives today. In fact, according to the viewpoints and actions of Pope Francis,  the church has more responsibility than just making an atonement for her sins.  Continue reading

How To Save For Your Travel to Ireland

Tree of Lights, DublinWill you travel to Ireland this year?

The picture above is a tree in Dublin, Ireland. Spectacular isn’t it? Picture yourself fulfilling your life-long dream, hearing Irish music, eating in a first class European restaurant while you sip on a pint of Guinness on Christmas Eave. Continue reading

It’s not a Storm. It’s a Hurricane, Ireland!

It’s rained in Ireland for over a month now. No big surprise there right? Did you know that the water is so high that the trains are underwater, storefronts and schools are closed, roofs have been torn off the tops of houses?  I saw one photo where the bricks were blown off a house from the third floor and the poor lass lost her kitchen in the street. The winds in recent weeks have been clocked at over 96 miles an hour, that’s 160 km! On my first trip to Ireland we met a local shopkeeper with five children. She said it is was nothing to have her pipes freeze and to be without water for six weeks! No wonder many of her brothers and sister emigrated to America.  The photo below was taken by  Christine Rocks. Sure looks like a hurricane to me.Ireland HurricaneIn Irish and British news, they categorize their unfortunate weather as high winds, storms, gales, flooding, anything but a hurricane. If it happened in America,  we would call it a State of Emergency.  Some of our neighbors would rally to support us. The National Guard would be called out and churches would make pilgrimages to help.  But In Ireland I doubt they have the resources, the infrastructure, nor the money to overcome adversity so easily. Someone needs to help though England, Wales and Belgium are having some of the same problems with the weather.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Brighid O’Sullivan and I write about Irish and Irish American history.. In writing my novel, The Sun Palace which takes place in the sixth century, I learned of another storm, certainly a hurricane, and the eruption soon after of a volcano nearby, probably in Iceland. (The same thing happened in 2010.) Ash  filled the air  for weeks, grounding planes for days.  They didn’t know that it was volcanic ash in the sixth century, only that the sun seemed to be covered up with something like thick clouds.  Not unusual in itself but these so-called clouds stayed on for several  weeks and all through the growing season.  I referred to this in the novel as the ‘veiling of the sun.’ The Irish had no idea what was in the air and the result of that condition was a failure of their crops. They would likely have attributed this to the displeasure of the pagan gods or even of the Christian god for that matter since both religiouns were flourishing at the time.. It affected crops all over Europe. I thought, why not Ireland? We don’t have the best records of early Irish though. Much of Irish history was written hundreds of years later by Christian monks.
Ireland Hurricane 2014Many Americans think of Ireland as a lush, green  land of fairies and castles, a magical place that only few of us allow ourselves to visit. When I started reading Ireland’s history, I learned the lakes were carved from tears, the land ravaged by wars over the last seven hundred years. The country has just started to heal economically in the last fifty years or so. I will always respect and admire Ireland for her beauty which she refused to be tainted and the perseverance of a people over huge odds to to be free. Though bloodshed and hardship made Ireland what she is, I will always marvel at her capacity for love.

How to Travel Ireland Like a Spoiled American

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a lot of Americans are still without power and I am reminded of a  young Irish woman with four children under the age of four that I met in Ireland this past month when I was traveling there.. Although they don’t usually get snow, they get what they call “frost.”  I imagine the roads can be very slippery and she told me the Irish do not salt or sand the roads as we do in America. They just stay put.  On rare occasions when they get snow, I was told there is one snow plow in the whole country and it is in Dublin. Two winters past, my Irish friend told me her pipes froze and people had to wait for the Spring thaw. Her family was without power, water, and electricity for six weeks!!!  I cannot even imagine what that must have been like but the Irish seem to take this in stride. Never knowing how bad a coming winter will be, they stock up on food, water, and make preparations beforehand. I’m in awe at their resilience and willingness to just take charge of their own situations. But that’s not really what this post is about.

 Americans like to travel but we also prefer the same luxuries we had at home. I call them luxuries because not everyone lives the way we do, with Starbucks on every corner,  a Walmart with every available item  under the sun and 1-2 cars in every garage filled to the brim with gas no less. In Ireland gas is about $9.00 a gallon so they don’t drive far.

Here are some tips to make your trip to Ireland , a bit more hassle-free and American friendly. Often these tips carry a cheaper price tag as well, so listen up!

1. Do your homework. Scope out where you want to go and how you will get there. Decide the places you want to see and make your own itinerary. Don’t rely on a tour group or scheduled itinerary from some outside source. There are several reasons for this. A.  tour packages can be as much as $1000.00  higher per person than renting a car and traveling on your own. Also, we were able to add three more days  than is often allowed in a tour package. There are other reasons such as seeing what you want, taking your time, not being on some tour operator schedule etc. The  photo of the Moone High Cross was a rare treat we stumbled upon while going from one place to the other. It was not easy to find, hidden away behind a stone wall in the back of a

Moone High Cross County Kildare

farmer’s private property. We had to squeeze through a small opening to get inside the area where it was kept, another advantage of driving on your own. What fun that was finding it!

2. Rent a car and take out the extra ins. too. ( I recently found out that many credit cards will cover collision on rental cars)  Driving in Ireland is not as scarey as you may think. Although there are few street signs and there will be places where the roads are very narrow. Everything takes twice as much time to get to than it appears on a map so allow for this. Rent your car before you leave the states and rent an automatic (if that is what you prefer) way ahead of time. Rent or buy a GPS with voice activation. I’ve driven with a map and I’ve used the GPS both. I survived both times but the GPS added so  much ease to the trip that it greatly added to my enjoyment. note: An advantage of buying  the GPS in the states and loading the European maps ahead of time, will allow you  get to know how the gizmo works before you get into a foreign country.

3. Stay at a bed and breakfast. Many tour companies stick with the few hotels available because they need to accommodate a larger group of people. B@Bs often have about four rooms  to a dwelling. The advantage of a bed and breakfast is Great Value!  and the personal attention. The last time I traveled in Oct. I payed 60 Eu which is about $75 a night  including a full Irish breakfast. (Irish Breakfast: porridge, bacon, eggs, toast, sausage, fruit, coffee, tea, juice, etc etc) We were greeted at the door and offered tea and scones, when we got there. Here’s a tip: Look for the Shamrock. Ireland has a great advantage over America when it comes to accommodations. Every place with a shamrock on the sign is guaranteed by the Irish Tourist Board to be good and I’ve never been disappointed.. One place even washed our clothes for an added fee. Another note: book your Dublin accommodation for the night you fly in and the night you fly out. (over the internet)  It also is a good idea to pay for the night before you arrive as most places won’t let you in the room before 3pm otherwise and since  you’ll have major jet lag and you’ll arrive early a.m you may want to sleep. ( the time change will mean you lose most of a nights sleep before you arrive) Its; alright to book the rest as you go as there are plenty of B@Bs all over the country at least in the off season.

4. So you’re getting your breakfast included in your b@b. Now how about lunch? Just about every pub, restaurant, tourist stop I can think of serves homemade soup and fresh baked bread. This is  your best value and nutrition. It’s cheap and healthy. No McDonalds here, lads and lasses although they are beginning to spring up.

5. Nine to twelve months ahead of your trip watch for cheap flights! Every couple of days or so pop on the internet and search flight prices on as many sights as you can find.. I’ve found May and Oct. to be pretty cheap but I’m sure if you look you could find other months as well. If possible do not fly in the summer as those flights are usually double what you would find in other months of the year. My last flight to Ireland from Roc. to DUB was under $600 round trip. If you live in NY or Boston its may be cheaper as that is the connection from where I live. Also fly in and out of Dublin. Shannon and Belfast will make you connect there any way and charge you for that connection. Besides there are lots of     things to see in Dublin.

These are the major points to make your trip to Ireland American friendly. I would add , invest in a Ireland Tour book by Frommers It can be any edition but be sure to get a paper map with it. They also have a website. This is by far the best traveling tour book out there and will help you with your itinerary.. Its also good just to flip through if you have no real destination. That’s how we found the Moone High Cross.

Another great place to find hidden gems to visit in Ireland is at a blog called RUINIreland.com (R U IN Ireland) The blog is written and updated often by a fabulously helpful woman named,  Elena Clancy. Elena  writes reviews and travel tips about some of the less traveled spots in Ireland,  some of the best, and some of the most popular, which she will be very honest in either promoting or telling you not to waist your money on. She will even answer your questions or point you in the right direction before you travel as she has lived in Ireland for over ten years and knows nearly every inch of her beautiful landscape.

I welcome any other tips on how you can save money, time and  have as much “craic” as ever while touring Ireland. For more savings tips go here! Or.

If you have any tips or stories about Irish travel, leave a comment below. You can also subscribe on the home page to read more Irish history..

 

 

 

 

Irish History and Hospitality

Bunratty Castle/ County Clare

The toy, green, double Decker bus on my desk have the Irish words, Cead Mile Failte written across it which means One Hundred Thousand Welcomes. It’s how I feel every time  I travel to Ireland. I love Irish history and Iove that bus!

Ever wonder why the Irish are considered one of the  friendliest  people on the planet? Talk to any  American who has traveled  there or who  have Irish relatives, and see what they tell you about it. Comments I’ve heard are: “they leave their doors open, they get upset if they know you are in the neighborhood and didn’t stop by for tea, if you don’t initiate a conversation while visiting  a pub you are considered rude. I can ‘t get in the last word, everyone knows his neighbors, stop anywhere for directions and you may get invited in for dinner, the bed and breakfast  locals greet us with tea and scones and those flight attendants never stop serving us food!” Continue reading