Ireland Vacations: Best secrets, Irish culture and local food
Add more to your trip with details only the locals know.
In a nation of storytellers, it might be hard to ever truly keep a secret. But, we’ve always got a few surprises up our sleeves - and some great insider sourcing to help!
Our very own Sarah Hamilton gave us the scoop (or in one case – the cone) on a few “Ireland Only” hidden gems to visit, try, taste and experience – but shhhhh! Don’t “Gab” it all around.
What's the key to unlocking hidden details of a trip to Ireland? Any local would say: bring an appetite for exploration, curious places and of course – favorite foods.
From Emerald Island magic, to friendly rivalries, to sweet treats and comforting foods, here’s some local advice to add into your next excursion to Ireland.
The Magic Hill
Call it mystery, call it gravity, call it a strange magnetism – whatever it is, the Magic Hill of Dundalk is a geographic oddity you must experience to believe. Out in County Louth things roll uphill, after they’ve already come down.
Park a car at the bottom of the hill, put it in neutral and take your foot off the brakes – then enjoy the ride up to the top, courtesy of the hill’s inexplicable pull.
When you’re done with the mystery, take to Ireland’s other hills. They’re all full of magic, no matter where you go, so get ready to roam!
The Champagne of breakfast rolls: The Blaa
We will gladly have a case of “The Blaa” when it’s this delicious.
Waterford is famous for more than its world-renowned crystal glassware’s: The region was once a refuge for fleeing French Huguenots, and they’re responsible for introducing the iconic, soft and white Blaa bread roll that changed Irish breakfasts entirely.
This fluffy and light carb is so particular to the region that, much like how true champagne is local to Champagne, France, you can only claim to have a real Blaa if you’re in Waterford.
Team Barry’s or Team Lyons – You decide
Want to start the friendliest fight you’ll ever have? Pick a tea team and see what happens. The most popular drink in Ireland (topping even our beloved Guinness) is a hot cup and the debate as to which everyday tea is best is fierce.
Brew it strong, brew it weak, cover in cream or sweetened to taste – there’s not a wrong (or perfectly right) way to take your tea.
Almost every hotel offers an afternoon tea service from high tea to an afternoon pick-me-up, so take a seat, pour a cup and cast your vote.
We've got "99 Cone" and ice cream has won
The humble “99 Cone” is an absolute staple of Irish ice cream treats, but you may never find it mentioned in a guide. Its Matterhorn-like white peak is topped with a jaunty Cadbury flake chocolate bar tipped off to the side.
The joy of a perfect little soft serve is no secret to anyone in Ireland, but because it’s such a common part of the sweets life, it might get overlooked in a guide. But don’t let its commonly found stature fool you – it’s something special.
Treat yourself to a sweet at the end of any roaming adventure.
Cashel Palace: Legend Has It
While the water for Guinness comes from the Wicklow Mountains, there’s an elegant legend circling the grounds of the Cashel Palace Hotel, care to know?
The rumor is that the humble, original spring for Ireland’s most famous brew (other than the tea we spilled earlier) was somewhere on this majestic property. Like we said, Ireland’s a nation of storytellers and some secrets are too good to be kept – but you can’t find out until 2021 when the Cashel Palace reopens its gates.
Only Brendan Vacations can book your stay there and help you find out if there’s merit to this last of the local secrets.