Ireland, a land of scenic wonders and cosy pubs, often evokes images of rolling hills, Guinness pints and the warmth of the Irish charm. However, beneath the surface lies a wealth of history and culture dating back millennia, complete with a rich and diverse heritage that might surprise you. Delve into the fascinating and lesser-known traditions that have been cherished by the Irish for generations and add a unique flavour to this enchanting country.
Did you know that the Irish possess their own ancient language known as Gaelic or Irish? This Celtic language stands as one of the oldest written languages in the world. Though its usage has dwindled over the years, being largely replaced by English, Gaelic remains a vital part of Ireland's cultural tapestry. Taught in schools and preserved in local customs, it's a testament to the country's rich linguistic history.
Tucked within the heart of Ireland's cultural heritage is hurling, a sport originally played by the ancient Celts and today considered the fastest field sport in the world. In days of old, it was played between neighbouring clans or rival parishes with unlimited numbers of players on either side, but matches today consist of two teams with 15 players, who use a wooden stick called a hurl to hit a small ball called a sliotar between the opponents' goalposts. The women’s version of the game is called camogie.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
While St. Patrick's Day might be a globally recognised Irish celebration, another event takes the spotlight in Ireland - welcome to the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Established over 160 years ago, this festival holds the prestigious title of Europe's largest matchmaking event. Each September, this rural Irish town becomes a bustling hub of hope and romance, attracting over 40,000 hopeful singles in search of love. In a time when finding love in Lisdoonvarna was challenging due to its rural setting, young farmers would flock to the town in September for this romantic opportunity. Today, the festival has it all from lively dances to music and, of course, matchmaking.
While Australians have a lot of slang and short forms when speaking, conversing with an Irish person takes it to a whole new level! Every other word can be something entirely different and you might have no idea what they're saying - it's almost like a foreign language. One of the most famous Irish phrases is ‘craic’, which means having a good time and a fun experience. You might also be greeted with ‘yes’ at a restaurant, which actually means ‘hello’. Another unique saying is ‘haven’t a baldy notion’, which translates to 'I have no idea’. So, when you're in Ireland, use this slang to fit in like a local.
Did you know that Ireland is the birthplace of Halloween? It originated from the ancient Festival of Samhain, signifying the end of summer and the start of a new year. This tradition dates back over 2,000 years, where it was believed that the souls of the departed would return to their former homes on 31 October. To deter these spirits, people would light massive bonfires. The tradition of wearing costumes or fancy dress, can be traced back to Celtic customs. They would dress up in outfits resembling evil spirits, aiming to either appease or frighten them away.
The Late Late Toy Show
This television show is a special yearly edition of The Late Late Show. Airing in the gift-buying weeks leading up to Christmas, The Late Late Toy Show showcases the year's most popular toys with live demonstrations by children as well as interviews with notable figures and musical performances. While the concept of a grown man discussing toys for children might seem a bit strange, the Toy Show is a cultural institution in Ireland - undeniably contributing to the nation's joyful spirit in the lead-up to Christmas and often the most-watched program of the year on Irish television.
These quirky traditions offer a glimpse into a culture that cherishes its history while embracing the present. It's time to experience them first hand. Reach out to your local Travellers Choice agent
and to book your next trip to Ireland to discover the magic.