Grasp, Learn & Get Ready To Love Irish Culture
What it means to be Irish is a question as old as time. In this blog post we are going to launch you into the Irish culture, music, sport, dance, and food. There is a lot so prepare yourself for this journey with us. By the end of this Blog, we hope to answer this age-old question and prepare you to fully integrate yourself into Ireland on your visit.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was established in 1884 by a group of strong-spirted Irish people. The foresight of the organisation was to revive and nurture traditional, indigenous sports and pastimes. Over 400 clubs promote the activities of the GAA around the world however, Ireland will forever be the hub of the GAA. Hurling and Gaelic football are two national sports which are extremely popular nationwide. Every county has their own team, and they compete in a league and a championship. The games are broadcasted on live television and the All-Ireland finals are held in the historic Croke Park in Dublin with approximately 90,000 spectators. These games are the epitome of our national sports and are of the highest honours to win. Unlike many other sports, the players are not paid, nor can they transfer teams. Playing in these games is driven by pure passion for your county, and Ireland as a whole. The athletes have an innate passion and commitment to the sport, with many considered as true legends in Ireland.
Hurling is considered the fastest field sport in the world and one of the most dangerous too. It is a full contact sport played with a hurley (a wooden stick much like a hockey stick but with a flatter, larger head) and sliotar (a hard small ball). The hurley is used to hit the ball which can then be caught by your hands. The goal posts are a mixture between soccer goals and rugby posts. The players can score points by hitting the ball into the goal or over the bar. The female version of the sport is called camogie and the majority of the same rules apply.
County Limerick, where Adare Manor is based, is the current champions in hurling in Ireland and are strong competitors in the league at the moment.
Gaelic football is very similar to Australian rules football. In Gaelic football, the players are permitted to pick up and carry the ball for a short time before kicking it, unlike soccer. They can kick it high up into the air and across the field. It has the same scoring methods as with hurling.
In previous centuries, music and storytelling were important forms of entertainment in Ireland. On cold, dark evenings, villages would crowd together to share a warm fire, hear stories, and listen to music. A must-do experience for any visitor to Ireland, is participating in what is locally known as a ‘trad sesh’, or a session of traditional Irish music in a local pub. This usually involves a handful of musicians all playing folk songs on native instruments. It’s the modern version of the villagers crowding around the fireplace listening to the local musicians. There are many traditional Irish instruments such as the harp, tin whistle, fiddle and bodhrán which can be heard in many Irish songs.
There is a song for just about every eventuality in Irish music; laments, drinking songs, rebel songs, love songs, humorous songs, and of course, dancing songs. Today, music is ever-evolving, however traditional Irish music as we know it is still celebrated expansively across the country with bands such as The Dubliners, The Pogues and of course local trad groups keeping it alive. Ireland is and always will be famous for music. Over the years many top-class musicians have come out of Ireland such as U2, The Cranberries and Thin Lizzy. Though music will continue to evolve worldwide, Irish music will always bring people together.
Irish dancing is a very important part of the Irish culture and native ways. There are three main types of Irish dancing routines; set dancing routines, social or céilí routines and sean nós or step routines. In all cases, the style is relatively formal and regimented, with little upper body movement, precise and quick foot movement and a strict number of steps to be completed. Irish dancing is performed to Irish traditional music; they go hand in hand. Costumes are worn, along with either hard shoes, which make a sound similar to tap shoes, or soft shoes like a ballet slipper.
The best way to see Irish dancing is by attending a competition or feis (a Gaelic culture festival). In Ireland there are several levels of competition ranging from county to regional and national competitions. The annual regional championship is known as the Oireachtas. We can’t talk about Irish dancing without mentioning Riverdance. Riverdance is a worldwide performing group and helped launch Irish dancing into the limelight.
Food & Drink
Guinness is arguably the most famous Irish drink. It is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. Even though it is now sold worldwide Guinness is said to taste better in Ireland. The bar in manor will be happy to pour you a Guinness so you can see for yourself.
Whiskey from Ireland is world renowned and here at the Manor we celebrate that. Why not try out our Whiskey Tasting and let our Whiskey Ambassador teach you the ways.
Irish coffee is another classic drink homegrown here in Ireland. Who doesn’t want a coffee and alcohol mixed drink? Here at the Manor, we offer Irish coffee made in a siphon coffee maker. It is an experience you won’t forget.
Beef Stew is a rich and hearty traditional stew. It was originally made with Mutton but today it can be found all over Ireland with beef and lamb.
Bacon and cabbage consist of boiled ham potatoes and cabbage. The key to enhance the flavours is to boil the bacon and cabbage together in one big pot.
Full Irish breakfast will keep you fuelled up for a day full of St. Paddy’s Day celebrations. It’s similar to an English breakfast and is loaded with all kinds of tasty goodies, like bacon, sausage, eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, potatoes, bread, and white and black pudding.
Now that we have explored just a flavour of Irish culture, we hope that you are excited to come to Ireland to learn more and join us in celebrating our traditions. Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
By Charlie Hanrahan