How to be a tourist in Ireland

Skip the Irish cabarets for one thing. How many choruses of “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra” can one person stand? Personally, I would avoid the medieval banquets, too. I attended the show at Bunratty Castle Folk Park in County Clare (near Limerick) years ago, and drank the mead and watched the show along with the herd of other foreigners. And boy, did we feel like foreigners. The setting of Dunguaire Castle , right on Galway Bay in Kinvara, is fabulous, but I think I’d rather enjoy the sights from a pub in that hopping little village (although, it’s become a much posher place since the last time we visited).

Instead, ask around the town or village for good traditional music pubs. On our recent Ireland trip, many in our group went to the Kilkenny Traditional Music Trail that travel agent Brad Cilley of Northwest Travel found. They enjoyed the music and learned a bit about the instruments.

Our hotel in Kenmare hosted music one night we were there – just a local family, including their daughter who danced. We felt like we were part of the evening, not just the audience.

In Dublin, Brad booked us into the Irish House Party, held in the Lansdowne Hotel in Ballsbridge, for our tour’s farewell dinner. We had dinner and music and dancing and no one had to beg for salt or feel like they were channeling Bing Crosby. I found the entertainment was enjoyable – these people really care about their music. Yes, I was a tourist, but I have lived in Ireland, and feeling like a tourist here was OK. I wasn’t a cheesy tourist, I was a tourist who wanted to have a good time and even learn something about the country. Besides, the room was full of not just us, but the bell ringers of Somerset and an Irish hen party. We all had a great time.

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