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Cruise from the Emerald Isle to the Land of Fire and Ice in ultimate style

Travels with Deb

Debbie Stone | Jun 1, 2018, 6 a.m.
Photo by Debbie Stone

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Photo by Debbie Stone

There are five themes in Irish music: drinking, war, emigration, lost love and death. In most cases, musical talent runs in the family and is passed down through the generations. Many musicians learn by ear and not by reading the notes. When they get together to play in pubs, there’s typically no set list and no one really knows what piece will be played next. If you’re in the audience, don’t clap along –instead, tap your toes. It’s the Irish way, as most of the traditional music was made for dancing.

No trip to Dublin is complete, however, without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, as everyone knows that Guinness is synonymous with Ireland. The production site at the legendary St. James Gate Brewery has been home to the company since 1759. Here, you’ll discover the age-old art of brewing that makes Guinness so distinctive, learn how to pour the perfect pint in the Guinness Academy and of course, enjoy a multisensory tasting experience designed to help you appreciate the nuances of this iconic stout. Don’t leave without stopping in at the Gravity Bar, where you’ll have unparalleled panoramic views of the city.

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Photo by Debbie Stone

During the cruise, we visited two other ports in Ireland: Cork and Belfast, the latter which is actually located in Northern Ireland. Cork originated as a monastic center and then the Vikings came and left their mark. It was also influenced by the Anglo-Normans, as well as planters, landlords and industrialists, and is the only city in the country to have experienced all historical phases in its urban development. The ship docked at the port town of Cobh, where you can take a train or bus to Cork. Cobh is an interesting place in itself, as this is where the Titanic paid its final visit in 1912 before departing on its ill-fated journey. You can retrace the steps taken by the passengers prior to boarding the ship on a city walking tour, followed by a visit to the Titanic Experience, which is housed in the original White Star Line Ticket Office.

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Photo by Debbie Stone

Cobh is also the site of the famed Annie Moore statue. The seventeen-year-old local girl, along with her two younger brothers, traveled on the S.S. Nevada in 1891 bound for the U.S. The trio arrived on New Year’s Eve, and Annie was the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. A second statue of Moore and her two siblings can be found on Ellis Island.

In Cork County, there is much to see and do from scenic drives along wild beaches and jagged peninsulas to a tour of the Jameson Heritage Center, where you can learn about the history of whiskey making, and of course, have a glass or two of the renowned liquor in the distillery’s traditional Irish pub. You can also take a tour of nearby Kinsale, an historic town with quaint streets and colorfully painted houses, or get a dose of Irish maritime history at Charles Fort.

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Photo by Debbie Stone

For many folks, a visit to Blarney Castle is a must in order to kiss the Blarney Stone. The castle, which was built by the King of Munster, Cormac McCarthy, is 600 years old. And the stone that was to become the Blarney Stone, was given to McCarthy by Robert the Bruce of Scotland for helping Bruce fight and defeat England’s King Edward II. McCarthy took the piece of carboniferous limestone and placed it into the battlements of the medieval fortress. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab, which is defined as great eloquence or skill at flattery.

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