Throughout the ages, there have been some great Irish men and women. Some of these past legends are particularly interesting to Irish Experience Tours, so let us tell you a little bit about the real fantastic four – St. Brendan the Navigator, Francis Crozier, Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean.

BRENDAN THE NAVIGATOR

St. Brendan the Navigator embarked on a legendary voyage that some believe took him to North America nearly 500 years before the Vikings and 1,000 years before Christopher Columbus (circa 500AD). For 40 days, St. Brendan fasted and prayed atop a mountain on the rugged Dingle Peninsula. Before he set off with 14 monks, three latecomers joined the group which interfered with Brendan’s sacred numbers. Perhaps that explains the amazing things they saw and the downright crazy stuff that happened on the way. They find an island with a dog and an Ethiopian devil. One latecomer admits to stealing from the mysterious island. Brendan exorcised the Ethiopian devil from the latecomer, and the latecomer died and was buried. They found an island, but when they lit a fire the island sank – it turned out that it was a whale!

FRANCIS CROZIER

Francis Crozier was a Northern Ireland-born explorer. Crozier was a major figure in the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the middle of the 19th century and was a central figure in the three great endeavours of the age – navigating the North West Passage, reaching the North Pole and mapping the unknown Antarctic. Crozier was the 11th of 13 children, he commanded a ship named Terror, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for outstanding work on magnetism. Cape Crozier in Antarctica is names after him, as is our 7-day epic adventure tour.

ERNEST SHACKLETON

One Ireland’s most famous polar explorer’s, Ernest Shackleton, led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and is recognised as one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. No stranger to adventure, Shackleton climbed Mount Erebus (the most active Antarctic volcano), and he took part took part in an experimental balloon flight in 1902 in Antarctica. He also commanded the next great explorer on our list.

TOM CREAN

The famous Irish explorer Tom Crean, left the family farm in Annascaul, Co. Kerry aged 15 to join the British Navy, and lied about his age to get in. Crean was a squadron on Robert Scott’s ship Discovery on its way to Antarctica. By 1914, he was back in Antarctica on an ill-fated Endurance expedition with Ernest Shackleton that ended with one of the most remarkable stories of survival against all the odds. He was awarded the Albert Medal (for lifesaving, now called the George Cross), after he saved the life of a fellow colleague following an incredible journey leaping across the polar ice floes for 56km. Crean opened The South Pole Inn, Annascaul with his wife in 1920 which is still in business, and there is today a beer brewed after the great man.

In honour of these four legendary Irish explorers, Irish Experience Tours is proud to launch our brand-new range of epic adventure tours which are named after each of these trailblazers. Now, you can make your own discoveries and experience unforgettable adventures with us as you travel across our beautiful island and find the inner explorer in you that you never knew existed.

Follow in St Brendan’s footsteps and spend 5 days exploring the Southwest of Ireland, taking in the diverse and stunning landscapes, and seeing all the highlights. Like Crozier, you’ll also be navigating your way through the varied terrain of the Antrim coast with fellow like-minded travellers on the 7-day tour. As Shackleton did years ago, you’ll be able to make your own mark on Ireland, discovering hidden trails, lakes and peaks over 8 days, but the weather won’t be as cold as Antarctica (we hope!). Just like Crean, you’ll become an explorer too, getting off the beaten track and charting your own territories on our 10-day jam-packed adventure!

You’ll travel in a small group with an experienced local guide, exploring unique destinations and immersing yourself in local culture and Ireland’s beautiful environment. Trek along the Cliffs of Moher, bike through amazing national parks, go horse-riding in Dingle, discover the ancient sport of hurling, sample a taste of Irish whiskey in local distilleries (exploring is thirsty work), and come stargazing with us as we plot a course directly for adventure, jaw-dropping scenery, fun (craic) and unforgettable experiences.

So, if adventure is in your DNA and you live to explore new things, come and experience the real Ireland with Irish Experience Tours. Check out our brand-new tours here and find your inner explorer today. Go Further with Irish Experience Tours.

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2018.

Hello and welcome to Irish Experience Tours’ brand new travel blog! Right here you will find all the latest travel news, views and tips for exploring our great land, as well as all the information you need on the biggest and best adventure tours across the country.

From the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, through the rolling glens and valleys of our ancient lands, to the mountainous peaks that sweep down to the blue seas surrounding our little green island – we will take you on an unforgettable journey.

Over the next few months we will bring you a selection of the very best that Ireland has to offer. Whether you are experienced explorers, adventure seekers, casual visitors, or a group of friends and family looking for an authentic Irish experience, we will take you by the hand and show you the real Ireland on a custom tour to suit your every need.

Like our tours, our blog will bring you off the beaten track and down the road less travelled, so you can get the true Irish experience. We go where the locals go. Stick with Irish Experience Tours and you will never lose your way.

With Halloween just around the corner, we at Irish Experience Tours want to share a peculiar, and completely true, story with our travel-loving friends. Before the date of 31st October was hijacked and commercialised to within an inch of its life, the beginning of November was traditionally an important part of the year.

In the Irish language, November is called Samhain (pronounced Sow-Win), which traditionally marked the end of the harvests and the start of winter. The hours of daylight dwindled and the long, dark nights beckoned. Originally a pagan festival, people believed that it was this changing of the seasons that made it easier for people, and other beings, to pass between the lands of the living and the dead.

The Kylter Inn, Kilkenny, Established by the notorious Dame Alice de Kyteler in the 13th Century

One such story begins in the ancient city of Kilkenny. There, a lady named Dame Alice Kyteler got into a wee bit of trouble. She was the first person in Ireland to be condemned for practising witchcraft. A variety of reasons conspired to convince the locals that she was a witch. Firstly, she was an outsider born to wealthy Flemish parents. The family was involved in money-lending, which may have been cause for jealousy and suspicion.

She also had four husbands, two of whom died in mysterious circumstances. She and her second husband were accused of killing the first. The death of her fourth husband led to accusations of sorcery, and worse. It was said she had a sexual affair with a demon, sacrificed animals, and concocted foul potions involving boiling cockerels, spiders and worms in a pot with the head of a beheaded thief.

All this was enough to suspect Dame Alice of witchcraft, and she was hunted…. but she escaped and fled Ireland. Unfortunately for her maid, a young lady named Petronilla de Meath, she was found to be guilty by association and was flogged and burned at the stake in the month of November 1324. Scary stuff indeed!

You can learn more about Dame Alice, witchcraft in Ireland, and the ancient city of Kilkenny on our new small group adventure tours coming up in early 2018. Subscribe to our newsletter/blog to stay informed and we will keep you posted on the best tours Ireland has to offer. Experience the real Ireland and learn about real Irish history with Irish Experience Tours.

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2017.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

In the age of computer-generated imagery (CGI), green screens, robotic actors and virtual sets; it is plain to see that the movie and TV industry is undergoing a technological and digital revolution. However, some real-life locations are so rugged, beautiful and breath-taking that they cannot be replicated digitally or fabricated on a movie set.

Our beautiful island of Ireland is home to some spectacular locations highly favoured by movie-makers and location scouts for the entertainment industry. Our unique perch at the edge of Western Europe means our land has been battered by the wild Atlantic and several glaciers over the millennia, giving us unmistakable geographical landscapes. Irish Experience Tours brings you to some of the finest spots in the land which the movie and TV buffs amongst you may recognise.

Dark Hedges, County Antrim

Beginning with the sci-fi genre, Skellig Michael is a little rocky island off the coast of County Kerry. It has featured in two movies from the Star Wars franchise: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site that doubles as the planet Ahch-To, where hero Rey tracks down Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens (2015). The idyllic location also features in the latest installation, The Last Jedi (2017), proving that huge budgets cannot substitute nature’s best efforts.

Sticking with the theme of fantasy movies, the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare feature in a number of box-office hits. Probably the most famous is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). The striking cliffs appear in a scene where Harry and Professor Dumbledore are fighting the evil horcruxes. Another fantasy movie featured the spectacular cliffs 22 years before Harry. In 1987, scenes from The Princess Bride included the Cliffs of Insanity aka the Cliffs of Moher.

trim castle

Trim Castle, County Meath

Moving into the historical action genre, the landscapes of Ireland feature heavily throughout some notable Hollywood blockbusters, including several Oscar winners. In 1995, Mel Gibson directed and starred in the historical epic, Braveheart, which centred on the life of William Wallace, a hero Scot who defied the mighty English army. The Battle of Sterling Bridge was shot in The Curragh, Co Kildare, and scenes depicting York were actually filmed in Trim Castle, Co. Meath. A few years later, the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan (1998) was shot on Irish soil. Ballinesker Beach on Curracloe Strand, Co. Wexford provided the setting for the shocking opening scene when the Allied forces landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day 1944.

Other unmistakable Irish sites have featured in some gripping action movies. Kilmainham Gaol featured in all the jail scenes in The Italian Job (1969) with Michael Caine. This is a hugely significant place in Irish history as that is where many Irish leaders during the failed 1916 Easter Rising against the British were executed. Kilmainham Gaol also featured in the factual political thriller, In The Name of The Father directed by Jim Sheridan in 1993, which starred our own Daniel Day Lewis. Picturesque parts of County Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way can be seen in older movies like Far and Away (1992), The Field (1990), Ryan’s Daughter (1970) and The Quiet Man (1952).

 

Like Hollywood movies, many TV series also features stunning locations across the Irish countryside. George RR Martin’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, perhaps the biggest and best-known TV show in the world, is shot almost entirely in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges in County Antrim became The King’s Road. Tollymore Forest Park, County Down is The Haunted Forest where the White Walkers began their journey to the Wall. Psychopath Ramsey Bolton also hunted his prey – animal and human – in these woods. Pollnagollum Cave in Co. Fermanagh was home to the Brotherhood Without Banners where Arya Stark disguised herself as a boy. Shillanavogy, County Antrim was the Dothraki’s Great Grass Sea and the entrance to Vaes Dothrak was in The Mountains of Mourne in Co. Down. Downhil Strand is a 7-mile stretch of beach overlooked by Mussenden Temple, often visited by Stannis Baratheon and Lady Melisandre as part of Dragonstone. Castle Ward in County Down became Winterfell, the home of the Starks.

Remember, when the cameras have stopped rolling, Irish Experience Tours will craft small group tours so you too can experience the magic first-hand. So, if you and your mates are “die-hard” film and TV fans, why not take a small group adventure tour with us and relive the action yourselves. Our experienced guides (none of whom who have won any Oscars, yet) will bring you to the biggest and best locations across the land.

 

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2017.