Ireland is a land of leprechauns, fairies, and familial connections, a place of myth and magic, personal history and enchantment for many Americans. No wonder our Ireland Untour in County Kerry is so popular.
I am not about to do anything to burst your bubble. But here are a few myths we can debunk.
Myth 1: Ireland is poor.
For many years Irish left their homeland in search of work. But the economy of today’s Ireland is strong. Ireland consistently ranks in the top 10 economies in the EU, and they are importing labor. A recent European Commission report predicted Ireland’s GDP would grow 4% in 2019, double the average growth rate of the EU countries as a whole. While the boom days of the Celtic Tiger are gone, the economy has remained solid.
Caution: This is subject to change, especially in the case of a “no deal” Brexit. It’s a tense moment and a tender subject.
Myth 2: Ireland is a small country.
Ireland is roughly the size of Indiana. While that may sound small, getting around it takes time. Country roads are often curvy and slow, and driving (or traveling by bus or train) takes time! “As the crow flies” is very different than the reality on the ground. The drive from Dublin to Kenmare takes close to 5 hours. You cannot easily see all of Ireland in a week or even two. Likewise, each county has its own beauty, its own sights, and its own quirks and personality. Ireland is dense with history and offers a rich diversity of sights and experiences.
Takeaway: Give yourself time.
Myth 3: “I’m Irish!”
You’re of Irish descent? Cool! Your ancestral pride and deep interest in the culture are fine reasons to travel here, and they will be rewarded handsomely. Just please don’t tell the Irish that you are Irish too unless you were born here. You may bond over a shared language and your interest in the culture, but don’t presume too much. Of course in conversation, if a local asks about your heritage, you can proudly tell them about your Irish grandpa.
Takeaway: Don’t say you are Irish when you are really of Irish descent.
Myth 4: Irish food is corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.
OK, firstly, you may be shocked to hear that corned beef and cabbage is not an authentically Irish meal but rather something that emerged in the Irish American culture. You won’t find it in Ireland. And while there are plenty of traditional meat and potatoes meals, Irish cuisine has evolved. Enjoy fine dining, and look for local fish (fresh or smoked), wholesome baked goods, creative soups, artisanal cheeses, and savory salads.
Takeaway: Don’t ask for corned beef and cabbage.
Myth 5: You’ve gotta drink Guinness.
If you are a beer lover, of course you should drink Guinness in its birth nation, and you’ve no doubt heard the Irish expats say that it tastes better in Ireland. But there are lots of other fantastic beers to try, like brews from Beamish, O’Hara’s, Murphy’s, or Galway Bay for starters. And those are just the big ones; a good bartender will hook you up with the best local microbrews. Not into beer? Try a cider or whiskey. Wine and other spirits are as available here as they are in any stateside pub.
Undetermined: If Guinness does indeed taste better in Ireland than elsewhere in the world it may be for a few reasons. It travels shorter distances and kegs are emptied and changed often, so the beer is fresher. Plus, local Guinness reps travel to affiliate pubs regularly to flush out the tap lines.
Why not do your own taste test on an Ireland Untour? You can report back to us on the fairies too.