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Legends of Ireland

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As a Nation of Storytellers, we’re happy to share some of Ireland’s most beloved legends with you. Read on to see these ancient secrets be revealed.

Legends The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

#1: The Giant's Causeway

We’re kicking off with one of the most iconic legends – Finn McCool who brought us Giant’s Causeway.

Picture this: Scottish giant, Benandonner was threatening Ireland which enraged Irish giant Finn McCool. To battle with Benandonner, Finn McCool grabbed chunks of the Antrim coastline and threw them into the sea to form a path to Scotland. Bad idea Finn. Benandonner was much bigger than Finn. Thinking quickly, Finn’s wife dressed him as a baby. Imagine seeing a baby the size of a giant, how big would the father be? Benandonner didn’t want to find out. A little trickery saved our beloved country.

Brendan Vacations Legends St Brendan

#2: St. Brendan

We take this legend personally - it’s none other than St. Brendan.

We couldn’t highlight these legends without talking about this Saint, but then again, we might be a little biased. He’s famous for his legendary voyages across the Atlantic Ocean and is the subject of an Irish epic written about his crazy adventures that include encountering mysterious islands, fighting off scary sea monsters and discovering unbelievable magic. It’s quite the story. Known as the Navigator, this explorer made such a splash that we simply had to name ourselves after him.

Brendan Vacations Legends Seans Bar

#3: Sean's Bar

Grab a pint because today we’re highlighting Sean’s Bar - the oldest pub in Ireland.

If you love our friendly locals and thirst for Irish ale, then this legend is for you. Being the oldest pub is no small feat, but it all started with humble beginnings and one of our very own ancestors. Luain Mac Luighdeach built an inn so weary travelers had a place to escape the waters of the Shannon River. With a wee bit of Irish hospitality and cheery craic, he made it a welcoming place for all, and nothing’s changed over the years. One could only guess how many “a guy walked into a bar” jokes were told over the years at this local joint.

Brendan Vacations Legends Titanic Belfast Museum

#4: The Titanic

What sunken ship got its start in Ireland? You guessed it - the Titanic.

You’re sure to have heard of this ill-fated boat, but it’s more than just a movie. Its hopeful beginnings have roots in our very own Emerald Isle. It was the early 1900’s and there was no better place to construct a ship than in Belfast. It was something special and was created in the Harland and Wolff shipyard at a time when maritime work was really booming. While its story is tragic, this ship will always have a special place in our history and now Titanic Belfast is a place where visitors come to learn and pay their respects.

Brendan Vacations Legends Shamrock

#5: The Shamrock

Keep calm and shamrock on…this legend is one worth searching for.

Ireland and shamrocks? They just go together. But why’s that so? The word shamrock comes from the Gaelic word Seamrog, meaning “little clover.” This plant gained popularity due to St. Patrick and once he was named patron saint of Ireland, they began popping up everywhere – from flags and fashion to songs and stories. St. Patrick’s Day is where this icon really shines, as it is used in celebrations all around the Emerald Isle. As for its closely-related cousin, the four-leaf clover-while many search for these lucky leaves, shamrocks are Ireland’s true symbol and what we locals appreciate most.

Brendan Vacations Legends Book of Kells

#6: The Book of Kells

Our legend of choice today is one of our most beloved- it’s the Book of Kells

One of the oldest books in the world? Now that’s what we call an Irish icon. This illuminated gospel manuscript was created by our very own Celtic monks around 800 AD and it’s certainly not your average paperback. It contains beautiful works of calligraphy and its illustrations would make even the best artists jealous. Stored in one of our favorite landmarks, Trinity College Library, many come from across the world to view this good-looking legend in its home.

Brendan Vacations Legends The Guinness Family

#7: The Guinness Family

Serving up the legend of the Guinness family, the people behind the “black stuff.”

We bet you’ve sampled some of our best and most famous liquid, but just how did Guinness get so good? Well, it’s all due to one special family. In 1759, Arthur Guinness bought a brewery and developed a delicious black porter that had never been seen before. It was the new brew in town. Over the years, other family members helped turn this dark drink into a cultural icon, while they became wealthy and dabbled in banking, politics and philanthropy along the way. There’s nothing like the power of a good pint.

Brendan Vacations Legends Catherine Reilly

#8: Catherine Reilly

This International Women’s Day, it’s only fitting to highlight our very own legend- Catherine Reilly herself.

As the head of our Dublin team and a true Celtic expert, Catherine’s the epitome of a legendary woman. She’s been making friends within the Irish hospitality community for more than 35 years and uses her passion to help create Brendan’s handcrafted itineraries. In fact, she’s so amazing that we’ve even made Catherine’s Collection- castles and sightseeing experiences selected based on her very own connections. She’s always waiting to welcome guests with a smile and warm cup of tea. As the special leader of our team, she’s one powerful woman and a legend.

Brendan Vacations Legends Leprechauns

#9: Leprechauns

No need to follow the rainbow- the legend of Leprechauns is below.

These wee fellas are familiar all over the world, but they are close cousins with one of our other favorite folklores. That’s right…the fairy family. Their name comes from the word “luchorpán,” meaning small body- no surprise there. They are also said to be shoemakers. Now those are some tiny feet. While magical, you might want to think twice before trying to capture them, as they are known to be quite the little tricksters. Is the gold worth the risk? That’s for you to decide.

Brendan Vacations Legends Jameson Irish Whiskey

#10: Jameson Irish Whiskey

Sláinte! Today’s legend is a spirit you’ll love to savor- Jameson Irish Whiskey

Chances are you’ve probably sipped a wee dram of Jameson before and we can’t blame you. It’s our most beloved whiskey. While there were many other distilleries starting up in Dublin during the 1700’s, Jameson’s specially made spirit reinvented the distillation game and captured the hearts of locals, making it one of our most famous legacies. Now, it’s the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world and what we call liquid sunshine.

Brendan Vacations Legends Fairies

#11: Fairies

Ready to be lured into Irish mythology? Believe it or not, we’re uncovering the tale of the tiniest of legends today…fairies.

Winged and whimsical, these mystical creatures are thought to be members of one of the first tribes to arrive in Ireland and represent the connection between humans and angels. No wonder we cherish them so much. Do you possess the gift to spot them? It is said that only a few lucky ones do. But don’t worry, you can still participate in the fairy fun by looking for forts, trees, gardens and pools. A bit of magic awaits.

Brendan Vacations Legends Molly Mallone

#12: Molly Malone

The mystery of Molly Malone- now that’s a legend worth talking about

The famous subject of our capital’s official anthem, she even has her own statue. Yet, her identity remains unknown. As the Dublin ditty goes, she was a fishmonger who sold her goods on the streets and eventually passed on to haunt the town. But don’t worry, this story isn’t all spooky. While many suggest she was a real person, others claim she’s just a lady of lore and celebrate her holiday with joy. What do you believe? You have to come see her statue to make up your mind.

Brendan Vacations Legends Ashford Castle

#13: Ashford Castle

This legend is fit for queens and kings…Ashford Castle

Over the years many Irish icons have called this place home. Originally built by the Anglo-Normans, this medieval monument is not only one to see to believe, but stay in. Full of grand greenery, epic activities and unmatched luxury, it’s no wonder this old legend has become a modern-day favorite. Now owned by our sister company and part of the Red Carnation Collection, it’s one of the world’s most-renowned castle hotels. Rest here and be regal.

Brendan Vacations Legends Irish Harp

#14: The Irish Harp

Our song-making symbol is on display today- it’s the legend of the Harp.

While the shamrock is known as our most famous icon, it is actually more formally the Irish Harp. We don’t want to harp on it, but this legend’s strings represent the arms of the king. Although its origins are up for debate, many believe High King Brian Boru was a player of this instrument, an admired quality, and it became popular for royalty to keep players around. Even brands like Guinness have adapted this symbol into their logos and it can be seen everywhere around the Emerald Isle, including in our Coat of Arms. Sounds like we’ve uncovered another Irish legend.

Brendan Vacations Legends Blarney Stone

#15: The Blarney Stone

Most likely not your first kiss, but a memorable one…the legend of The Blarney Stone.

Is this the one you’ve been waiting for? This legend lives within another legend, the epic Blarney Castle itself. While the stone was put into the castle in 1446 by a king of Munster, not much else is known about this magical mystery. Yet, many come here hoping to gain the gift of gab- not an easy task. You must lean backwards to kiss this beauty. Oh, and did we mention, you’re also high atop the castle? Fear of heights or not, most still seek to set their lips on this stone every day.

Game of thrones Door

#16: The Game of Thrones Doors

Today’s legend is one the North remembers- it’s the Game of Thrones Doors.

Set-Jetting at its finest. It’s no secret that The Game of Thrones is an important part of Northern Ireland, as many iconic scenes were filmed here. And one of our favorite places is the magical Dark Hedges. So, when this site was hit with a storm that knocked down many of its grand trees, it was our door of opportunity… 10 doors to be exact. Master carvers used the fallen trunks to create works of art commemorating scenes from season six of this epic show. Now visitors and locals alike search for these unique treasures across Northern Ireland.

Brendan Vacations Legends St Patrick

#17: St. Patrick

On our national St. Patrick’s Day, we will not be raising a green glass (or blue as traditions have it), we will not be celebrating in the streets, but rest assured that when this all passes, our 100 thousand welcomes will be more heightened than ever welcoming you back into our homelands with open arms. In the meantime, we are toasting to your good health.

Legends of Ireland

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