Irish Travel Destinations – Irish Culture for kids

Ireland is a pretty small country, but there are plenty of amazing places to go. It would be easy to spend days just driving around the winding farm roads that go all over the country, but there are some great cities and sights to see.

Dublin is by far the biggest city in Ireland, and is a great place to start any trip. It’s right on the coast, so it has beautiful views and feels very coastal. Even though it has over a million people living there, it feels very easy to get around in, and easy to get to know. From it’s cobble-stone winding streets filled with small cottages to it’s impressive churches and statues downtown, there is a lot to see. O’Connell street is the heart of Dublin. It is right next to the River Liffy and always has a lot going on. In the middle of town is the Spire, a tall, smooth tower that reaches toward the sky. This area is home to countless great shops and places to eat, so it is easy to spend days here.

Dublin also is home to one of the largest walled-in parks in all of Europe. So if you need a break from the pavement, Phoenix park is a great location to visit. It has a population of deer that live there, a zoo, gardens, walking paths, and lots of green grass.

It would be pretty easy to spend all of a vacation in Dublin, but Ireland has a lot of beauty to be seen. If Dublin and the east coast has the mild, green, rolling hills of Ireland, the Northwest coast has the craggy, rocky, moon-like landscapes. Up in County Donegal, near Gweedore you can find some of the most remote and beautiful coastlines in all of Ireland. This area isn’t filled with hotels or glamorous shops, but shows a very interesting part of Ireland. There are many Irish speaking areas in Donegal, and the pace of life is much slowed down from Dublin or other big cities. The tall grass grows slowly on the coast, and out in the misty distance a few old washed-up ships have settled on the beaches. Also, County Donegal is home to Mt. Errigal, the tallest peak in the county. It is a beautiful mountain, and great place to spend a day.

Much farther south in County Cork, there is a lot to do and see as well. Cork is a lively little town and is the home of the English Market. The English Market is a collection of vendors and sellers of some of the best and freshest food in Ireland. It’s easy to spend a few hours wandering from stall to stall enjoy the smells that waft through the open-air corridors: Indian curries, fresh local coffees and pastries, daily picked vegetables, and just about anything you could ask for.

Outside Cork there is a lot to explore nearby. Killarney is just a short trip away, which is the home to some really great traditional Irish music sessions, and beautiful parks. Taking a walk through Killarny National Park is a great way to spend the day, and worthwhile just to go see Ross Castle, an impressive stone tower on the edge of a lake.

It’s hard to give advise on the places to visit when visiting Ireland. There are castles and objects of beauty, but what really makes Ireland so great are the people that live there. Some of the best places to visit are the small towns that dot the countryside. People are eager to talk and tell you about their lives, so make sure to enjoy the great people of a great country.

Irish Common Words and Phrases – Irish Culture for kids

If you find yourself traveling in Ireland, it will be no problem if you only speak English. However, there are still some areas called “Gaeltacht” where Irish is still spoken. Even if it is not necessary, a good way to impress a few Irish folks would be to learn some basic phrases and words. What follows are a few useful words and phrases, what they mean, and how to pronounce them!

One

A haon

(ah hay-un)

Two

A dó

(ah doh)

Three

A trí

(ah tree)

Four

A ceathair

(ah cah-hir)

Five

A cúig

(ah coo-ig)

Hello

Dia dhuit

(Djee-ah gwitch)

Welcome

Fáilte

(fall-sha)

Thank you

Go raibh maith agat

(Guh row mah aguth)

What time is it?

Cén t-am é?

(Kayn thom ay)

Goodnight, see you tomorrow

Oiche mhaith, feicfidh mé ar ball tú

(Ee-heh wah,feck-hee may her boll hoo)

It might be a good idea to know a few place names and words on signs, as some of the county’s sign are still written in Irish. Keep an eye out for:

Dublin – Baile Átha Cliath

Belfast – Béal Feirste

Derry – Doire Cholm Cille

Galway – Cathair na Gaillimhe

Tralee – Trá Lí

Irish can be a very challenging language to understand, but at least with a few basic words and phrases you’ll have some place to start.

Irish Children’s Songs – Irish Culture for kids

Ireland has a nearly unlimited number of songs for any occasion. Here are a few well-known children’s songs.

Báidín Fheilimí

Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Gabhla,            Feilimí’s little boat went to Gola,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it,
Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Gabhla,            Feilimí’s little boat went to Gola,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it.

Curfá                            Chorus

Báidín bídeach, báidín beosach,            A tiny little boat, a lively little boat,
Báidín bóidheach, báidín Fheilimí            A buoyant little boat, Feilimí’s little boat,
Báidín díreach, báidín deontach            A straight little boat, a willing little boat,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it.

Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Toraí,            Feilimí’s little boat went to Tory,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it,
Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Toraí,            Feilimí’s little boat went to Tory,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it.

Curfá                            Chorus

Báidín Fheilimí briseadh i dToraí,            Feilimí’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Fish on board and Feilimí in it,
Báidín Fheilimí briseadh i dToraí,            Feilimí’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it.

Curfá                            Chorus

Báidín Fheilimí briseadh i dToraí,            Feilimí’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Iasc ar bord agus Feilimí ann.            Feilimí’s little boat and Feilimí in it,
Báidín Fheilimí briseadh i dToraí,            Feilimí’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Éisc ar bord agus Feilimí ann. Curfá            Fish on board and Feilimí in it.

Seoithîn Seó

Óho óho óho mo leana                Oh, my child,
Óho mo leana ina chodladh gan brón.        oh my child asleep without any care

Ar mhullach an tí tá síógí geala            On the roof of the house there are bright fairies,
Faoi chaoin-ré an earraigh ag imirt ‘s ag ól        playing and drinking under the gentle rays of the                                 spring moon;
Is seo hiad aniar iad a’ glaoch ar mo leana        here they come, to call my child out,
Le súil is a mhealladh isteach sa lios mór.        wishing to draw him into the the fairy mound.
A leana mo chléibh go n-éirí do chodlaigh leat,    My child, my heart, sleep soundly and well;
Séan agus sonas gach oíche i do chómhair..        may good luck and happiness forever be yours;
Tá mise le do thaobh a’ gui ort na mbeannacht,    I’m here at your side praying blessings upon you;
Seoithín mo leana is ní imeoidh tú leo.        Hushaby, hush, you’re not going with them.

Óho óho óho mo leana                Oh, my child,
Óho mo leana agus codail go fóill.            oh my child still asleep
Óho óho óho mo leana                Oh, my child,
Óho mo leana ina chodladh gan brón.        oh my child asleep without any care

Irish Alphabet – Irish Culture for kids

While most of Ireland today is English-speaking, this was not always the case. Originally, the language of Gaelic, or Irish, was the language of the nation. Today, much of the language is lost, but the people of Ireland are determined to recover what has been lost and regain their original language.

The language and alphabet have changed a lot through the centuries. Today’s Irish language has 18 letters compared with English’s 26. However, the Irish language has an accent-mark system that changes the way letters are pronounced. So each vowel really has two varieties: plain, and accented, which changes the way words are pronounced. Here’s a look at their alphabet today.

Vowels

a    -as in ‘bat’

e    -as in set’

I    -as in ‘sit’

o    -as in ‘son’

u    -as in ‘book’

á    -as in ‘far’

é    -as in ‘say’

í    -as in ‘me’

ó    -as in ‘more’

ú    -as in ‘who’

Consonance

b    -as in ‘bat’

c    -as in ‘cat’

d    -as in ‘dude’ or ‘jude’

f    -as in ‘fox’

g    -as in ‘good’

l    -as in ‘leg’

m    -as in ‘man’

n    -as in ‘nun’

p    -as in ‘pinch’

r    -as in ‘roll’

s    -as in ‘soap’ or ‘shade’

t    -as in ‘time’ or ‘chime’

There are many other letter combinations that make entirely new sounds. As you can see, they don’t have certain letters, like ‘q’, for instance. Some of their letter combinations, ‘ch’ make sounds that we don’t have in English at all.

Irish Traditional Music and Instruments – Irish Culture for kids

Perhaps the most easily recognizable part of Irish Culture today is their musical tradition. Nearly everyone has heard an Irish fiddle tune, a jig, or melody on the tin whistle. People sometimes confuse the traditional bagpipes of Scotland as being an Irish instrument. Although Ireland does have it’s own “Irish Pipes”, they are not the same that come to mind when thinking of their neighbors.

Ireland is a nation with a long history, and remember and recalling their history is incredibly important to them, and music is one of the main ways they tell stories. Much of their traditional music was instrumental, but more modern music became increasingly about telling about events in their history, honoring their heroes, or exposing untold stories.

The first idea that comes to mind for many people when thinking about Irish music is a fiddle, guitars, maybe a banjo, and some folk-singing. These instruments appear a lot in Ireland, but things were not always this way.

The first known instruments in Ireland were a small harp, a timpan (a stringed instrument, sort of like a guitar), a feadan (a whistle), a buinne (a flute), and a few other flute-type instruments. It is difficult to hear much of this music today because it was written and played before recording or printing technology.

Some people say that these, and only these instruments are at the core of the Irish tradition. There were energetic songs used for celebrations like weddings, and songs of lament to be played when there was sorrow. It is difficult to describe what any music is like in words, but “lively” is a good word to describe much Irish music. On a well-played jig (a song for dancing), there are complicated melodies jumping back and forth between fiddle and flute, solos, foot-stomping, and it becomes easy to see why people would dance to such enthusiastic tunes. Irish music is very much known for the social aspect of playing music, or of dancing to it. Many forms of music today are best-known for a song that plays on the radio, or a track on a CD that is especially good. Irish traditional music, however, is all about the experience of being together and playing the songs as a group.

It wasn’t until about 200 years ago that the folk songs that we associate with Ireland began to be written. It was only in the 1960′s that the guitar made its way into Irish music, and the banjo in 1920′s. The fiddle showed up around the 1200′s. With all these instruments together, the stage was now set for the folk music of Ireland we think of today.

It is very common to find Irish music being played either in people’s homes or in restaurants. This is because during certain parts of Irish history, they were forbidden to play music outside, so it turned into a group activity that took place in people’s homes. A common sight to see in Ireland would be one or two people playing guitar, a banjo, a fiddle player (or two), and perhaps a stand-up bass. Sometimes there might be a musician playing a bodhrán, or a circular drum, that is held in one hand. Lastly, a very small but very important part of this set-up might include a tin-whistle. A tin-whistle is a small, simple flute that is used to play melodies during a song. Since so much of Irish music tradition is based on flute-type instruments, having the tin-whistle in a folk song can be what really ties it to Irish roots.

In the last 30 years, a number of musicians have carried the Irish tradition for all the world to enjoy. In a world where the music of particular counties often get lost in the sea of pop-music that gets played on the radio and TV, Irish music is one of the strongest and most enduring of all forms of music.

Irish Names – Irish Culture for kids

An Irish name is pretty easy to spot. Often an Irish last name will have an “O” before it, like O’Toole, O’Keefe, O’Brien, and so on. The same thing often happens with “Mc”, as in McGrady, McCarthy, or McLouglin. This is no coincidence.

There was a time when people didn’t have or need last names. As the population of Ireland expanded, the clans of people needed a way to identify themselves. As time went by, there might be two Naoise’s in an area, and so the last name was created as a way of telling people with the same name apart. The “Mc” as in “McLouglin” literally means “Son of Loughlin”. McCarthy means “son of Carthy”. In the same way, the “O” means “Grandson of”. So “O’Connor” means “Grandson of Connor” and “O’Brien” means “Grandson of Brien”.

Until about the 1200′s, most names were in the Gaelic language. After the English influence, however, many names became translated into English. Seamus (pronounced SHAY-mus) for example, was translated to James. Patrick, a very common Irish name comes from the original Gaelic name “Padraig”, “Padraic”, or “Paraic”.

Here are some of the most common names in Ireland, along with their Gaelic translation, and the meaning of the name.

Conor – Concobhar – ‘Hound Lover’

Sean – Seán – ‘God has favored’

Jack – Séan – ‘God has favored’

James – Séamus – From the Name “Jacob”

Adam – Adhamh – ‘Red Earth’

Michael – Micheál – ‘who is like God’

David – Dáivi – ‘Loved one’

Aaron – Áron – High Mountain’

Daniel – Dainéal – God is my judge’

Luke – Lúcás – ‘of Luciana’

Anna – Aine – ‘Radiant, brilliant’

Catherine – Caera – ‘pure’

Elaine – Eibhlin – ‘pleasant’

Melissa – Maolisa – ‘follower of Jesus’

Sheila – Sile – ‘pure and musical’

Aidan – Aedan – ‘fire’

Arthur – Art – ‘champion’

Kenneth – Canice – ‘attractive person’

Charles – Cathal – ‘strong warrior’

Conor – Cochobhar – ‘lover of hounds’

David – Dahey – ‘swiftness, nimbleness’

Declan – Deaglan – ‘full of goodness;

Dylan – Dillon – ‘A flash of lightning’

Donald – Donal – ‘ruler of the world’

Edmond – Eamon – ‘guardian of riches’

Owen – Eoghan – ‘born of the yew tree’

Gerald – Gearoid – brave with a  spear’

Irish Holidays – Irish Culture for kids

The Irish like to celebrate as much as anyone, and have enough holidays to keep themselves busy throughout the year.

The biggest Holiday export from Ireland is obviously St. Patrick’s Day. While most people think of St. Patrick’s day as being a holiday about wearing green, doodling Leprechauns, and pinching one another, it has a much longer and more interesting history.

The St. Patrick’s Day Holiday falls on March 17th, and was originally created to honor St. Patrick, who is recognized as having brought Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick is now represented by the color green, which is why people celebrate by wearing green. A story is told about how St. Patrick used a three-leaf clover or shamrock to teach the Celtic Irish about Christianity, which is why today, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, the symbol of the clover is so common.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of Irish culture more than anything. It is a chance for the rest of the world to really immerse themselves in the Irish food and drink, song, dance, and even language.

The biggest celebration of St. Patrick’s Day takes place in Dublin with plenty of parades and celebration, but it is celebrated all over the country.

Many other holidays that are practiced elsewhere also take place in Ireland. The Celtic tradition is actually one of the earliest times when Halloween was practiced. Originally, Halloween had a very different meaning. Since the early people of Ireland were Celtic, they were very rooted to the land, and Halloween was a festival that was practiced to mark the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter.

This origin of Halloween, called Samhain, was also a time when people honored the spirits of those no longer living. This connection isn’t too hard to see with the modern version of Halloween. Today, there are some people who still celebrate Samhain, though most people celebrate Halloween.

On December 26th, Ireland celebrates what is known as St. Stephen’s Day. Many countries celebrate this holiday, though in Ireland it is sometimes called Day of The Wren, or Wren’s Day. The day is set aside to honor St. Stephen, who was an important figure to early Christianity. Day of the Wren is celebrated with people dressing up in straw hats and clothing, enjoy parades, song, and dance, all themed around the symbol of the Wren.

In Ireland, Easter Sunday is a very important Holiday, as is Good Friday, which comes two days before. Good Friday (also known as Black Friday) is a solemn Christian Holiday used to commemorate the death of Jesus. On this holiday, many businesses are closed, and it is often seen as a day of rest.

Easter Sunday, marking the resurrection of Jesus in the Christian faith, is also very important in Ireland. Many of the symbols of the holiday, such as eggs and rabbits, are actually Celtic symbols. Just like how Halloween had its origins tied to the end of the harvest season, Easter also marks the end of winter, and the beginning of Spring. This is why the symbols of the rabbit and the egg exist, because they are both symbols of growth.

Irish History – Irish Culture for kids

The Irish have one of the most interesting, long, storied histories of many nations. There are few countries who take so place so much importance on remembering their history, and sharing that history. They have written countless songs about historical events spanning all throughout its lifespan, told and written thousands of stories, and made many films. It is not an overstatement to say that Ireland has one of the strongest connections to its history of any nation in the world.

Ireland’s sloping hillsides and lakes were formed long ago by glaciers moving across the landmass, but it wasn’t inhabited by people until about 10,000 years ago. Around 5,000 years ago, a site was built in Ireland that today is known as Newgrange. It is a large stone monument that still stands today, though its purpose is not exactly known. It was thought to have religious significance.

At this time, and for thousands of years to come, Ireland was a Celtic region, and had not yet become Catholic. Celtic religions in Ireland tended to believe in numerous gods and goddesses, and were very much interested in making a spiritual connection with the earth and with living things.

Tradition says that St. Patrick arrived in Ireland in 432. When St. Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped and taken to work in Ireland. He eventually was able to escape back to his home in the Roman Empire. After he became a bishop of Christianity, he returned to Ireland to spread the ideas of his faith. St. Patrick is now known as one of the Saints of Ireland and it largely associated with the clover, an Irish symbol. The story is that he used a three-leafed clover to illustrate the idea of the Holy Trinity to the people, which is why that symbol is so important today. St. Patrick’s day, a holiday that today everyone dresses up in green for, was supposed to have been the day that St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland.

Between 800 and 1100 AD, Viking invasions from Noways were common. A typical Viking invasion would involve sailing in a ship to the eastern coast, establishing a settlement to live in for several months, and raiding villages up river. The Vikings were not able to overtake Ireland, and the settlements that they created along the coasts were eventually absorbed back into Irish culture.

By about 1200, the Irish had established lots of regional powers, or dynasties in certain areas. During this time, castles were being built to maintain power, and Ireland was not a united country. Each of the regions was trying to gain power of the other ones.

It was during this time that the King of England first came to Ireland and Ireland soon became ruled by the English. The English had conquered most of the east coast, and despite the Gaelic resurgence, English rule remained and strengthened over the next several centuries. In 1541, King Henry was proclaimed the King of Ireland. Over the next 400 years, the English established themselves in Ireland. Through these years, Irish natives held uprisings, like the Desmond Rebellion of 1569, or the Nine Years War of 1594  to try and liberate themselves from the English, but were unsuccessful.

Irish rebellion became stronger and more frequent in the 1900′s until about 90 years ago. Eventually, in 1922, Ireland waged the Irish War of Independence officially becoming a free Republic. Some of the Irish preferred to remain a free state of England, and today, Northern Ireland is still technically part of England.

Since The War of Independence was won, Ireland has come a long way, but over the last century there has been a great deal dispute between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland in trying to resolve their disagreement on politics and religion.

Irish Games – Irish Culture for kids

Games and sports are a huge part of Ireland’s culture. They are a nation of great athletes and they enjoy the competition and fun of supporting a team.

In Dublin, the Republic of Ireland is the owner of the Bohemians, their professional football (or soccer, in The US) team. Football is a huge part of Irish culture, and it is very common for the Irish to rally behind a sports team or gather together to watch their teams play.

Another important game in Ireland is rugby. Rugby, or rugby football, is a game that came from England in the 1400′s, that’s a little like American Football, but still very much it’s own game. Players gather on a 100 meter field and attempt to move a ball to the goal zone, and try to “ground” the ball, which means touching the ball to the ground with their hand still on it.

The ball they use is a unique ball, however. It is a sort of oval shape, like a football, but much wider and rounder. This is important because in Rugby, the ball can do a lot of bouncing. When players are running the ball up the field, if they get tackled the must drop the ball, but the game keeps going. In American Football, when a player gets tackled, that is the end of the “play”, but in Rugby, the play keeps going until the ball is out of bounds, or someone scores.

Also, players can kick the ball up the field while they play, but they cannot pass the ball forward to their teammates, only sideways or backwards.

All of these rules add up to a very energetic and fast-paced game that many Irish people love.

If there is one game, however, that the Irish really take pride in, it is Hurling. Hurling is a game straight from Ireland, and only played in Ireland. In Hurling, players use a hockey-stick like club called a hurley to hit a ball (a sliotar) over the other team’s goal for one point, or through the goal posts for three points.

There are many complex rules for passing and moving the ball up the field, but it might be best to ask an Irish person. Hurley tends to be one of their favorite subjects to talk about, because it is a point of pride for them. Most people in the world have never heard of it, or don’t understand it when it is explained to them, because it is quite complicated. On top of that, it is an incredibly fast-paced game that requires a great amount of strength, intelligence, and speed. Also, there are no professional Hurley teams. It is simply played by people who love the game.

From the sounds of Rugby and Hurling, it might appear that the Irish only play very intense, physically demanding games. While this is often true, they have their slow-paced games as well.

One very low-key game that the Irish have been known to play (in certain parts of the country) is road-bowling. Usually played on a Sunday, or a day when people have plenty of free time, road-bowling is a little bit like golf.

Basically, players take softball-sized heavy balls, and try to roll them down seldom-used country roads to a designated destination. Most of the roads in Ireland are quite narrow and winding, so road-bowling can take a while. A player will roll a ball as far as he or she can, pick it up where it stopped, and roll again, keeping track of the number of turns it takes to finish. If it sounds a little strange, it probably is. Many Irish people agree that it’s a sort of strange pastime, and it is mostly played to be social. When you’re driving in Ireland, it pays to be careful, because there’s no telling when you’ll come across a group of road-bowlers.

Croquet was also said to have been developed in Ireland. Croquet is a leisurely lawn-game where players use a mallet to take turns hitting balls through a series of gates or “wickets”.

Of course, if the weather doesn’t permit outdoor festivities and games, the Irish Nation have lots of games to be played indoors by the fire. Playing darts is very popular, card games, pool, and snooker.

Irish Fashion – Irish Culture for kids

Ireland can be a pretty cold and rainy place throughout the year, so much of their fashion and dress is based on that fact. A raincoat, although maybe not fashionable, is one of the most important pieces of clothing that a person can own, and comes in handy all the time.

Depending on the location, the fashion trends will change. In many of the coastal villages and fishing towns it is very common to see sturdy boots, comfortable pants or jeans, and something warm to wear on top of it all. In areas like County Wicklow, there are lots of sheep which have wool that is spun into some of the best sweaters around. So in the colder rainier villages, a good warm sweater is easy to find, and for good reason. When cotton gets wet, it tends to make a person colder. Wool, on the other hand is resistant to water, which keeps the wearer warm, so it is quite popular in Ireland. Lastly, to keep the head warm and rain out of the eyes, a flat-cap might be worn by many of these Irish folks. The flat cap used to be called a “bonnet” until about 700 years ago, and now they are easy to find all over the US, mostly thanks to Irish influence.

When not in a coastal village, it is likely that the fashion is somewhat similar. Like Irish food and Irish customs, they often dress plainly, without unneeded frills and accessories. What is woolen and warm will usually do the job, and earth-colors are the most prominent shades. There are lots of deep greens, soft browns, and grays. It would be someone out of the ordinary to see a very brightly colored flat-cap, for example.

In Dublin, Cork, or Belfast, for example, a greater variety of fashions might present themselves. In big cities in general, it is much easier to find a wide variety of styles and dresses. The average Irish fashion for modern clothing is quite similar to what can be found in Western Europe of the US. Jeans and T-shirts are the standard among most young people. The range of Irish fashion is as broad as any country. Most people probably dress somewhat simply, and other people are more interested in wearing intricate and flashy clothing.