Posted by: Michele Erdvig | June 30, 2013

Whale Song From the Blasket Islands

 

The Blasket Islands float dreamily off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Once inhabited by hardy islanders who lived off the land and sea, they were not only farmers and fishermen but dreamers, storytellers and poets. Their literary works remember a lost way of life that existed before the dwindling population was relocated to the mainland in 1953.

The haunting Irish tune Port na bPúcaí (Music of the Fairies) is thought to be the islander’s interpretation of the songs of the whales that they heard through the thin hulls of their currachs – skin or canvas-covered boats.

Blasket Island Center

© 2013 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

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Posted by: Michele Erdvig | June 23, 2013

Fun Pronouncing Irish Place Names

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On my first trip to Ireland my husband and I butchered the pronunciations of Irish towns, counties, provinces and sightseeing venues. The locals looked at us like we were crazy till we pointed at the name on our map. To their credit, most of the Irish were pretty subtle about correcting us. “Oh, you mean Dromoland.” And then the man proceeded to direct us to the castle. 

The one that has kept me in stitches after all these decades is the way my husband pronounced Youghal, a small town in Co. Cork. Now, he is originally from Brooklyn NY so I can understand him saying, “Yo! Gulls!” as if he was greeting seagulls. We later learned it is pronounced like the name of a small boat – yawl. 

Since 1973 and with over 50 trips to Ireland under our belts we are slightly better at pronouncing Irish place names. However, each and every time I visit Ireland I learn something new and how to pronounce very obscure locations. When I learn a new pronunciation I write it down phonetically and then practice it till I get it right. I’m sure I test the patience of each kind Irish person who very patiently helps me with this process. 

I don’t claim to be an expert on pronouncing Irish place names, but I have picked up a few in my travels. After all these decades of learning I compiled a list to help visitors to Ireland navigate the country without confusing the natives or sending them into gales of laughter. You will find the phonetic list on my website: http://www.irelandyes.com/irelandplacenames.html 

Just today while surfing the web I found an online site for pronouncing words. You can actually listen to the words being pronounced. Unfortunately, some of the pronunciations on that site gave me the giggles. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Fermanagh 

Cobh 

Glendalough 

Killarney 

Killaloe 

Laois 

Sligo 

Tara 

© 2013 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

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Posted by: Michele Erdvig | March 31, 2013

Titanic Belfast Review

Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast is a distinctive silver-clad edifice perched on Belfast’s docklands near where the Titanic was built. The White Star Line insignia, ship hulls and ice crystals inspired its unique architecture. An aerial view reveals its star-shaped design, while those approaching it on foot will be impressed with its four jutting faceted aluminum prows that look like abstract sculptures. Locals have nicknamed it “the Iceberg”.

Throughout its six stories the exhibit explores the iconic doomed ship, the Titanic, from its creation in Belfast, through its launch and maiden voyage to its tragic fate and aftermath. The main focus though is the building of the behemoth ship.

Harland & Wolff Crane

 You start in boomtown Belfast with an overview of how it changed from a small town to bustling industrial city. Shipbuilding, the linen trade, ropeworks, tobacco, tea and engineering each added their own layer of enterprise. Then a ride takes you through the shipyard, showing the innards of the Titanic, how it was built and depicting the stories of the men who built the colossal ship.

James Viscount PirrieHarland & Wolff Chairman

James Viscount Pirrie
Harland & Wolff Chairman

Storyboards, photos, films, models of the ship’s interiors, interactive exhibits and the graveyard of the Titanic displayed under a glass floor flow throughout the exhibit. Every aspect is explored: Belfast City, the shipbuilders, the construction, launching and sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic to the aftermath that gave way to countless myths and legends. There is a replica of the Titanic’s staircase, which is only open periodically.

Titanic Shipyard

Titanic Shipyard

The philosophical Belfast residents sum up the catastrophic sinking with, “She was fine when she left here”. For all its razzle-dazzle the experience was a bit of a letdown. I felt it needed an infusion of heart and spirit to enliven one of history’s most fascinating tragedies.

Café, gift shop and convention rooms available. The exhibit can be extremely crowded and you may want advance tickets for prime times. Admission charge. Open daily Mon-Sat 9 am-7 pm; daily Oct-Mar 10 am-5 pm. Closed: December 24, 25, 26. Phone: 028 9076 6399 Web: titanicbelfast.com Email: groups@titanicbelfast.com

© 2013 Michele Erdvig
“Ireland Travel Expert”
Web: IrelandYes.com
Book: Ireland Dream Trip
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"Titanica" by sculptor Rowan Gillespie

“Titanica” by sculptor Rowan Gillespie

Titanic Cabin

Titanic Cabin

  Titanic Cabin

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | March 2, 2013

How to Pay Your Dublin M50 Motorway Toll

M50_motorway_IE

The M50 toll road that rings around Dublin now has barrier-free tolls. That means you will no longer stop at a toll booth to pay. In fact all the toll booths have been removed from that motorway to cut down on traffic congestion.

How it works: Car tags are photographed and you must pay the toll by 8 pm of the day after you use the road. If you do not pay you will face penalties. If payment is not made by 8 pm of the next day a €3 administrative fine is imposed. There is a fine of €41 if not paid within two weeks. After 56 days and additional fine of €102.50 is added. After that legal proceedings can start.

Car rentals: If you are a tourist renting a car you still must pay. Contact your car hire company and ask them how they handle the M50 toll. Some will add the toll to your bill along with extra administrative costs. Others require that you pay for it personally. Some will want proof of payment so keep your receipt with your car rental agreement and have it handy when you turn your car back in.

M50_motorway_(Ireland)

Toll Location: The section of the M50 that is tolled is between Junction 6 (Blanchardstown exit to N3) and Junction 7 Lucan exit to N4.

Toll Amount: The toll for cars is €3.10.

 How To Pay:

Phone 1-890-501-050 to pay with a credit or debit card. Outside Ireland call 1-800 5010-5011

Online with a credit or debit card at Eflow.

Pay with cash or debit and credit card at 2,000 Payzone outlets at newsagents, petrol stations, etc.

Paying Near Dublin Airport: There are kiosks at Dublin Airport – one in arrivals and one in departures. Nearby Payzone outlets are the Esso Service Station in the airport complex and the Texaco Service Station near Swords.  Extra time will be needed when departing if you need to pay a toll.

Note: You will need your vehicle registration number (license plate # or on key ring) to pay. Save your receipts

 © 2013 Michele Erdvig
“Ireland Travel Expert”
Web: IrelandYes.com
Book: Ireland Dream Trip
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M50_access_ramp_sign wickipedia commons

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | February 25, 2013

Ireland Forty Shades of Green?

40 Shades of Green

Soon people worldwide will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and the wearing of the green. Green beer, dying rivers green, flooding the Pyramids and Las Vegas with green spotlights – those who are Irish or Irish at heart will be partying hearty and ignoring Kermit the frog’s advice “It’s not easy being green.” On March 17th it is all too easy to be green.

Ireland is renowned as The Emerald Isle because of its spectacular green landscapes. Singer Johnny Cash was so enchanted with the small green island that he penned his famous song Forty Shades of Green on a visit to Ireland decades ago.

But are there really forty shades of green? Gaze upon a few photos I’ve taken around Ireland and make your own decision. Look at my list of 78 shades of green and see if you can come up with even more.

  1. EmeraldCong Gate Ireland
  2. Peridot
  3. Jade
  4. Grass
  5. Lime
  6. Apple
  7. Chartreuse
  8. Olive
  9. Spring
  10. Fern
  11. Mint
  12. Forest
  13. Hunter                                 Shamrock Boquet
  14. Sea
  15. Shamrock
  16. Avocado
  17. Moss
  18. Kelly
  19. Cyan
  20. Honeydew
  21. Seaweed
  22. Verdigris
  23. Viridian
  24. Parrot
  25. Leaf
  26. Asparagus
  27. Pine
  28. IvyMuckross Garden
  29. Pea
  30. Bottle
  31. Lincoln
  32. Malachite
  33. Tea
  34. Grape
  35. Wintergreen
  36. Celery
  37. Spinach
  38. Beryl
  39. Phthalo
  40. Sap
  41. Cadmium
  42. VerdeFenit Golf
  43. Electric
  44. Pistachio
  45. Teal
  46. Willow
  47. Kiwi
  48. Spruce
  49. Sage
  50. Bracken
  51. Celadon
  52. Bamboo
  53. Chromium
  54. Pickle
  55. SpinachWEXFORD COUNTRYSIDE2 afc WEB
  56. Racing
  57. Jungle
  58. Neon
  59. Camouflage
  60. Evergreen
  61. Cactus
  62. Cucumber
  63. Granny Smith
  64. Lichen
  65. Frog
  66. MallardBlarney Woods afc WEB
  67. Slime
  68. Kermit
  69. Army
  70. Citrine
  71. Paris
  72. Irish
  73. Seafoam
  74. Aquamarine
  75. Agate
  76. Dill
  77. Lawn
  78. Drab

© 2013 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Posted by: Michele Erdvig | April 13, 2012

2012 Ireland Dream Trip: 21st Edition Published

Michele Erdvig's Ireland Dream Trip GuidebookI am happy to announce the 2012 edition of my book Michele Erdvig’s Ireland Dream Trip is now available. Called “the BEST GUIDEBOOK ON THE PLANET!” by my readers, the new edition is completely up to date with the freshest info available in a published book.

I have written this very personal guide to be your best friend as you travel around the Emerald Isle. Covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Ireland Dream Trip takes you to tourist hot spots, directing you to the best places to stay, where to get a great meal on a budget, fun pubs and excellent sightseeing. Looking for quirky, off-the-beaten-path places that are well worth seeing? I describe wonderful hidden gems that only the locals know and you will not find in any other book. In over 38 years of traveling continually to Ireland I have sought out the finest and most unique things in every category just for you.

Why waste your money buying dozens of books for your trip? I have created Ireland Dream Trip so you can easily plan your perfect trip to Ireland. As another of my readers said recently:

“I’ve already invested nearly $75 in guidebooks and I can already tell from the first couple of sections in your book that I should have saved my money and spent it on the trip itself.  No glitzy color photos, no expensive paper, no exhausting and confusing entries of the blue million things you have to see or don’t even bother – you’ve given me everything I’ve hoped to find in every other book I’ve opened.”

What makes Ireland Dream Trip unique?

  • Expert, Personal Advice for the Best of Ireland
  • Step-by-Step Trip Planning
  • User Friendly
  • Simple & Easy to Use
  • Cuts Through Info Overload
  • Quick Facts at Your Fingertips
  • Exactly What You Need to Know
  • All Your Questions Answered
  • Updated Yearly
  • Specially Bound to Lay Flat & Add Pages
  • Maps
  • Sketches
  • Charts
  • Packing List

What is inside Ireland Dream Trip?

  • Ireland’s Best Lodgings
  • Restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Sightseeing
  • Day Trips
  • Itineraries
  • Scenic Drives
  • Documentation
  • Customs
  • How to Get Tax Back
  • Budgeting
  • Photography Tips
  • Shopping
  • Maps
  • Passports
  • Money
  • Airlines
  • Car Rentals
  • How to Drive on the Left
  • Discounts
  • Weather
  • Packing List
  • Toll-free Phone Numbers
  • How to Phone Ireland
  • Castles 
  • Gardens
  • Historic Houses
  • Museums
  • Folk Parks
  • Medieval Banquets

I invite you to Read an excerpt of just one of the fabulous and unique places I recommend for you to stay in Ireland. My book is full of many others and is your introduction to the real Ireland of the welcomes.

Is Ireland Dream Trip the right book for everyone? No. There is no one guidebook that is right for every person and circumstance. Those who plan on backpacking around Ireland staying in hostels or campsites will want to choose another book.

For ordering info CLICK HERE. Your book will be sent immediately via priority mail. In the lower 48 states you should receive Ireland Dream Trip in 2 – 3 days. When I am in the States I personally oversee every order. And when I am traveling in Ireland I have a quick and reliable mailing service.

Although Ireland Dream Trip will give you all the resources you need to plan your trip, if you happen to find you have another question – no matter how difficult or simple – I am always available on my Free Ireland Travel Forum to help you. We have a wonderful online community of generous and helpful people willing to share their tips and trips with you. Please consider this my personal invitation to join in the fun we have helping with the trip planning process. Who knows, perhaps you too will become addicted to the beautiful Emerald Isle.

© 2012 Michele Erdvig

Priority Postage Ireland Dream Trip

Priority Postage Ireland Dream Trip

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Posted by: Michele Erdvig | December 30, 2011

Ireland Friday Freebie: Kilmalkedar

Kilmalkedar Church, Dingle Ireland

Kilmalkedar Church is a 12th century Hiberno-Romanesque ruin not far from Gallarus Oratory on the R556. The now roofless church was founded by St. Maolcethair in the 7th century but is also associated with St. Brendan the Navigator. There are some fine carvings around the arches and on the surrounding stones. The Alphabet Stone is inscribed with Ogham and Roman alphabets. An ancient sundial contains a hole and many carvings. Legend says the tall holed Ogham stone was used to seal a bargain. Today those renewing marriage vows touch fingers through the hole in the stone. Free admission. Always open.

This is the last Ireland Friday Freebie for 2011.

Kilmalkedar Sundial, Dingle Ireland

© 2011 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Kilmalkedar Door, Co. Kerry, Dingle Ireland

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | December 16, 2011

Ireland Friday Freebie: Cong Abbey

Cong Abbey, Co. Mayo

Last Friday we strolled along the river and through Cong Woods. Since Cong Abbey is adjacent to the woods I thought another visit to Cong would compliment the area.

Cong Abbey is a serene ruin set beside the river in Cong village, Co. Mayo. Originally the site of a monastery founded by St. Feichin in the 7th century, the present structure was built in the 1120s by Turlough Mor O’Connor, High King of Ireland.  Rory O’Connor, the last High King of Ireland was buried there in 1198. Part of the cloister, several doorways and some nice carvings remain. But the most interesting building is the Monk’s Fishing House on an isle in the river. Though roofless now, it must have been warm and cozy centuries ago, for it has a tiny fireplace and a hole in the floor to fish through. Open daily. Free admission.

© 2011 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Michele’s Irish Shop: www.zazzle.com/irelandyes*

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Monk's Fishing House, Cong, Co. Mayo

Cong Abbey, Co. Mayo

King Rory O’Connor

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | December 9, 2011

Ireland Friday Freebie: Cong Woods

Cong Woods, Co. Mayo

Cong Woods Co. Mayo. There has to be a reason John Ford chose the tiny village of Cong for his epic Irish fairy tale of a movie “The Quiet Man”. The scenery, ah the scenery! The little village is picturesque, the abbey charming and Ashford Castle is grand. But wander out in back of the abbey to Cong Woods. Cross over the river by way of the old stone bridge. Enter into the enchanted glade through a pointed archway benignly watched over by the carved head of a monk. Fallen leaves carpet the pathway. A green, mossy smell permeates the still air. Is it a Monet painting? No just the trees reflected in the still waters. Is that glimpse from the corner of your eye one of the little people? If they are to be found…perhaps here?

 Cong Gate, Co. Mayo

© 2011 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Cong Arch, Co. Mayo

Cong Reflections, Co. Mayo

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | November 18, 2011

Ireland Friday Freebie: The Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges

Everyone has heard of the fabled Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and the picturesque Antrim coast. Yet hidden just a few miles inland are The Dark Hedges an ancient avenue of beech trees that looks like something from the mists of Celtic twilight. Thick gnarled limbs form an arched Druid’s tunnel where shadow and light plays through entwined branches. They twist into fantastical, wind-tortured abstract shapes. Legend tells that a gray lady haunts the thin ribbon of road snaking beneath the ancient beech trees.

The Dark Hedges – also known as Bregagh Road – can be found in Stranocum near Armoy in County Antrim. They line the avenue leading to Gracehill House, which is now a golf club. I walked the enchanting avenue on a sunny, late afternoon in October. Brilliant rays of the setting sun spotlighted the knotted trees. The leaves were not changing yet and the twined branches formed a green tunnel that is one of the most delightful and mystical I have seen in Ireland. I passed beneath the undulating, woven archway in the cool, crisp autumn air. Few tourists frequent the small country lane. But those who take the time to seek it out will find the Dark Hedges to be a place of haunting beauty that is simply breathtaking. Thick old limbs embrace like lovers, forming a natural tunnel through verdant farmlands. The timeless aura is evocative of a Tolkienesque landscape.

Dark Hedges Armoy

© 2011 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”

Web: IrelandYes.com

Book: Ireland Dream Trip

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Dark Hedges Antrim

Dark Hedges Stranocum

Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

The Dark Hedges photos are available in my Irish Shop without the watermarks.

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