All you need to know about Irish culture to get you ready for your trip.
Our travel specialists explain the different walking trails and what makes them special; highlighting the places not to miss during your cycling or hiking adventure.
We have also prepared a calendar of the country’s most interesting festivals and we’ll also introduce you to Irish language, Gaelic, so you can learn a few useful words and phrases.
There are many different trails when hiking in Ireland, each one with its own history and uniqueness:
Walking trails in the West coast of Ireland:
The Kerry Way
Starting and finishing in the town of Killarney, following the famous Ring of Kerry.
The Beara Way
A stunning trail in the rugged Beara Peninsula, in West Cork.
The Western Way
Discover the beautiful wilderness of Connemara and finish at the foot of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain.
The Dingle Way
Get acquainted with Fungi, Dingle’s famous resident dolphin, before exploring the wonderful Dingle Peninsula and finishing in Tralee, famous for the Rose of Tralee festival.
The Aran Islands
Island hopping from Galway to the Aran Islands, where you will admire its impressive sea cliffs and forts.
The Burren Way
This walking trail takes you across the heart of The Burren, one of Ireland’s most iconic landscapes; as well as the Cliffs of Moher, one of the highest in Europe.
The Sheep’s Head Way
Follow mountain tracks and rural roads in the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, reaching Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point and home to spectacular cliffs.
Bluestack & Slí Cholmcille Way
We have combined trails along the Bluestack Mountains and the way of St Cholmcille, traditionally followed by pilgrims.
Walking trails in Ireland’s Ancient East and Northern Ireland:
The Wicklow Way
Ireland’s classic mountain trail from the heart of the Wicklow Mountains to the bright lights of Dublin city.
The Causeway Coast Way
Explore the glens of Antrim, visiting the impressive UNESCO-listed Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
The Barrow Way
A 70km-long trail following the Barrow River across lush countryside, dotted with impressive abbeys.
The Yellow Walker will be your best companion during your time hiking in Ireland. Most hiking trails across Ireland are marked at regular intervals with this symbol. Most of the time, the Yellow Walker is also supported by a yellow arrow (see image), and in many cases they can be followed both ways.
However, bear in mind if you are walking in an area with looped walks intersecting the trail there might be more than one arrow so keep an eye for other colour-coded arrows and walking signs.
Another popular marking in Ireland, particularly in classic and well established trails, is the brown heritage trail sign (pictured) for each specific walk including its name in English and in Irish.
You will find these on the The Barrow Way, The Beara Way, The Wicklow Way, etc…
If you are following the Wild Atlantic Way by bike, you will encounter the blue Wild Atlantic Way markings.
You will also encounter those entering/leaving towns if you are walking on the Wild Atlantic Way.
However, walking trails organised by IrelandWays.com will be mainly off-road so you will be following for most part the yellow man (our best friend!) and yellow arrow, as well as brown heritage markings.
Saint Patrick’s Day, on 17th March, is Ireland’s biggest and most international holiday, celebrated across the world. However, there are many wonderful local festivals taking place across Ireland, particularly in the Summer months: Galway Arts Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival, Puck Fair, Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, Reek Sunday in Croagh Patrick, as well as music and foodie festivals in many towns and villages.
To discover the country’s famous Irish ‘craic’ (fun), check out our monthly calendar of festivals. From food to arts and even a leprechaun hunt, there is something for everybody:
Listen to the best traditional Irish music at Dublin‘s TradFest.
St Patrick’s Day on 17th March is celebrated in villages and towns, big and small across the country.
The National Leprechaun Hunt takes place on the slopes of Slieve Foy Mountain, in Carlingford (on the Tain Way) which is a special protected area and leprechaun haven. Carlingford is also home to an annual oyster festival in August.
Easter usually doesn’t involve many activities in Ireland, Good Friday is actually the only day of the year (along with Christmas Day) when pubs across the country are closed. However, Easter promises to be a very memorable and special one in 2016, as it marks the first centenary of the historic Easter Rising of 1916. Many events are expected to take place throughout the country but particularly in Dublin.
Taste the Wild Atlantic Way Street Food Festival in Kinsale is one of the latest foodie festivals hosted by Ireland’s gourmet capital.
Foodies can also head to Galway Food Festival this month.
Feile na Bealtaine Music and Arts Festival in Dingle celebrates the Dingle Peninsula rich music tradition.
Kenmare Irish Music Festival: Feile Neidin also in Kerry takes place this month.
May is a busy festival month on the Barrow Way with the Barrow River Arts Festival taking place in the village of Borris and the Carlow Arts Festival (Eigse) at the end of May/beginning of June.
Letterfrack in County Galway, hosts Conamara Bog Week, a festival for all the family.
The Connemara Mussel Festival is celebrated on the May bank holiday weekend every year. It brings together seafood lovers, culture enthusiasts and community spirit.
Further North along the Wild Atlantic Way, the town of Westport is home to the Festival of the Pirate Queen, celebrating the life of Ireland’s most famous queen and pirate: Grace O’Malley.
Westport also hosts its Folk and Bluegrass Festival in June.
Só Sligo Food Festival is a great time to visit Yeats’ county.
Both food and music are the main ingredients of Killarney Festival of Music and Food this month.
In mid-June, the village of Doolin on the Burren Way hosts its annual Folk Festival.
Bloomsday on 16th June is a must-see festival for James Joyce and literature fans: you will be recreating James Joyce’s Ulysses across the streets of Dublin in period costumes to match Mr Bloom’s.
Both the Galway International Arts Festival and Film Fleadh, the biggest festivals in the city, take place in July.
Feile na Mara – Achill Island festival of the Sea celebrates Achill’s maritime traditions and its a great opportunity to experience the island like a local.
The last Sunday in July is Reek Sunday, when thousands of pilgrims climb Ireland’s Holy Mountain: Croagh Patrick in Westport. Magnificent views of Clew Bay will be your reward from the summit.
Rose of Tralee International Festival is an Irish institution with ‘Roses’ (or lovely ladies) from different counties and overseas looking for the coveted prize: being crowned Ireland’s ‘Rose’ for the year.
Horse and pony fans should head to the Clifden Connemara Pony Show – Festival of the Connemara Pony which dates back to 1924.
Taste of Donegal takes place at the end of August in Donegal town while Doolin hosts its craft beer festival.
Puck Fair in Killorglin in County Kerry is one of the most unusual festivals in the country and one of the oldest: it has been celebrated for over 400 years and pays homage to King Puck, which is actually a wild goat.
Carlingford, on the Tain Way, hosts its annual Oyster Festival this month.
Dingle Tradfest is the latest addition to Dingle’s music celebrations.
Treat yourself to the best local seafood after a day cycling the Wild Atlantic Way at the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
September is also time to celebrate the tastiest of Westport’s produce at the Westport Food Festival and Taste of West Cork the first two weeks of the month.
Clifden Arts Festival in Connemara is one of the oldest in the country.
Head for Lisdooonvarna Matchmaking Festival: where love is in the air and you might find your perfect other half.
Cork Jazz Festival at end of October has been attracting music fans for many years. It is one of the best loved festivals in Cork. You can easily spend a night in Cork before starting your Wild Atlantic Way adventure.
Conamara Sea Week in Letterfrack on the Wild Atlantic Way, has been taking place for over 30 years and is packed with music, workshops and other events honouring the region’s maritime heritage.
Take a detour to Lisdoonvarna, very close to The Burren Way, is home to delicious treats during the Burren Food Fayre.
Bram Stoker Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival also take place in Dublin this month.
The mighty Cliffs of Moher on the Burren Way, the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, Glendalough’s ancient monastic city on the Wicklow Way, Croagh Patrick in Westport… there are many spots you shouldn’t miss while visiting Ireland. Our cycling and walking in Ireland tours will take you to some of these fantastic places of interest and we will be writing about these must-see places in Ireland every week.
Make sure you read the latest IrelandWays.com blog posts about Must-See Places in Ireland.
The Irish language, or Gaelic as it’s known worldwide is an integral part of Irish culture. Nowadays, everybody speaks English as their first language but you will still encounter Irish on your visit to the Island. All of our road signs are in both English and Irish, there are radio stations and television channels conducted entirely through Irish. There are also a number of areas in which Irish is still spoken as a first language and even outside these pockets you are likely to hear people throwing the odd Irish word into English.
To find out more about the Irish language, have a read of our blog posts: