Today’s is St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s all about the Emerald Isle. From Guinness to the Book of Kells to Irish Dance, there’s so much to see, do and enjoy on a visit. On Holland America Line’s cruises to Northern Europe or the British Isles, guests can explore Dublin and Cobh — the gateway to Cork — with day-trips to other locales throughout the country. We offer a wide array of tours, but these shore excursions showcase the best of Ireland and give you a true taste of Irish culture. From trying a pint of Guinness to kissing the Blarney Stone, you’ll leave the country with the gift of eloquence and a little bit more luck!
An Evening of Irish Song & Dance
Step inside Taylor’s Three Rock traditional pub in Rathfarnham — a rambling farmhouse bar with the largest thatched roof in Ireland. Your visit here will involve a rip-roaring evening of traditional Irish song and dance accompanied by a great selection of quality Irish food to delight your palate.
The enchanting evening includes a delicious four-course dinner followed by an Irish coffee. Then, your other senses will be delighted by a compelling performance of live traditional music, song and Irish dancing. The panoramic view and rural setting of Taylor’s Three Rock makes this one of the most idyllic pubs in Dublin.
The Guinness Experience
At the Guinness Storehouse Museum, The Guinness Experience tells a dramatic story that begins more than 250 years ago. Often surprising and always entertaining, the adventure starts the moment you walk through the door.
As you make your way through the Storehouse Museum, you’ll discover what goes into making the ‘black stuff’ — the ingredients, the process, the passion. The tour ends at Gravity — the sky bar, where you will be treated to a pint of Guinness.
Kiss the Blarney Stone in County Cork
Not far away, you’ll find historic Blarney Castle. While visiting the castle you can kiss the Blarney Stone set beneath the battlement wall. Legend says that the stone imparts the gift of eloquence to those who kiss it. You must lean backwards from the parapet walk (held by strong arms of a couple of Irish gentlemen) in order to do so. Blarney’s unusual 18th-century “rock close” garden is believed to be the remains of a Druid site, with huge boulders and a sacrificial altar.
Stop at the Blarney Woolen Mill (1793) to browse through a wide range of Irish clothing, crystal, linen and handicrafts. Enjoy an Irish coffee before you return to Cobh.
Tipperary is Ireland’s largest inland county, with richly varied, breathtaking scenery in its hills and mountains, its plains and river valleys. Upon arrival in Cashel, visit the Rock that bears its name. The Rock of Cashel is an impressive pre-Christian settlement and the royal seat of the Kings of Munster from the 4th century AD.
Travel to Cahir, located on the River Suir. Cahir Castle, which dates mainly from the 15th century, was a stronghold of the powerful local Anglo-Norman Butler family and the Dukes and Earls of Ormond. The huge walls enclose three separate ‘wards’ — outer, middle and inner. The inner ward is guarded by a gate with a portcullis. Rooms in the keep are whitewashed and contain armor displays and period furnishings from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Irish For a Day
Get right to the heart of Irish culture as you become a local for the day. Begin by picking up a few words of Gaelic so that you can greet your fellow countrymen appropriately, and then embark on a day of exciting activities and experiences that will prove your mettle as an honorary Irish citizen.
Visit a family farm and meet the extended family before throwing yourself into Irish country life with gusto. Help out your new family with their daily business on the farm — you can clamber aboard the tractor and head out to cut the turf, or you may prefer to milk a cow or learn how to make a sugan rope instead. You’ll even have the opportunity to work a sheepdog, meeting some of the sheep, cattle and ponies when you visit the farmyard. After working up an appetite, sit down to a hearty delicious lunch at the farmhouse.
Try the age-old sport of hurling (a bit like field hockey) and learn of its place in Irish folklore and tradition. Join in a typical Irish ceilidh dance — you can learn a few moves and step it out with the best of them or (try to) keep the rhythm with a goatskin bodhrán drum; either way, the spirited festivities will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.
How will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today?