Since starting this readathon I’ve noticed a lot of people taking part are very interested in visiting Ireland for the first time. Coming here isn’t much of a culture shock for Westerners (anymore anyway) but there may be some things that might surprise you.
🇮🇪 Tip 1: Bring an Adapter
In Ireland we use three pin plugs in our outlets so you will most likely need to pack an adapter. USB charging ports are rare in hotels but you can find them on some buses and trains.
🇮🇪 Tip 2: Plan Your Travel Around Ireland
Roads in Ireland are small and often quite narrow with hedges growing almost into the road in some places so if you’re not confidant about driving around here (especially since we drive on the left side of the road) make sure you research buses and trains. Trains here are pretty good but they can be extremely expensive. If you want to travel by train I’d recommend taking advantage of online deals with Irish Rail. And keep in mind you may need to flag down your bus even when you’re at it’s designated stop.
You can also book tours with Paddy Wagon to visit some of the more remote places of interest.
🇮🇪 Tip 3: You Don’t Have to Tip
Except in restaurants, tipping isn’t a big deal here. You can tip if you want in other places but it’s not common and not really done by Irish people. The only time I tip is in a restaurant for dinner and depending on the restaurant I probably wouldn’t tip for lunch and never in a pub.
🇮🇪 Tip 4: The Weather is Changeable
The weather is a constant topic of conversation for Irish people but it’s generally pretty mild. My advice would be to wear layers and keep in mind that rain is likely most months.
🇮🇪 Tip 5: It’s a Sleepy Country on Sundays
Technically Sundays are a day of rest. A lot of shops and some cafes/restaurants will be closed on Sundays or open around 12 or 2 pm. The same goes for Bank Holiday Mondays when most businesses will be closed. Just give the place you’re planning to visit a quick Google before heading out.
🇮🇪 Tip 6: Get Out of Dublin
Dublin is great, there’s so much to see and do there but it’s not the only place to visit here. To really see the beauty of Ireland you need to get out of Dublin and visit places like Galway, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, and Waterford.
🇮🇪 Tip 7: There’s More Than One Currency on the Island
In the Republic we use to Euro but if you plan on vising Northern Ireland (Belfast, Giant’s Causeway) you will need to use Pounds Sterling.
🇮🇪 Tip 8: It Can Be Expensive Here
It can be pretty expensive to stay here in comparison to some other holiday destinations in Europe. The Irish Times reported that the average cost of a hotel is approx €150 per night and dining out could cost on average €55 per person for a two course meal. Alcohol and cigarettes (which we call fags by the way) are very expensive here because they are heavily taxed. You can only purchase packets of 20 cigarettes and they cost approx. €12 so if you’re a smoker make sure you bring those with you.
🇮🇪 Tip 9: We Use A Lot of Slang
We use a lot of slang when we speak and the words we use can vary between regions but some common ones are grand meaning ok or fine, deadly meaning great, yoke meaning a thing, the jacks or bog or loo all mean toilet and craic (pronounced crack) meaning fun. There are so many other ones I could mention but it would take an entire post so here’s a list from Irish Central.
🇮🇪 Tip 10: We Swear Casually
This one didn’t occur to me until I watched a video from Wolter’s World called The Don’ts of Ireland. He pointed out that the Irish swear all the time and I realised that yes, we do! We swear quite casually in general conversation but it’s mostly swear words that have gotten a bit of an Irish treatment like feck and shite. So, please don’t be offended if someone swears around you…
Do you have any tips for visiting Ireland? Please share them in the comments to help your fellow travelers
Hello everyone, today I’m introducing my new food and travel blog BiaVenturous.
BiaVenturous means foodie adventures!
The name BiaVenturous is inspired by the popular hashtag on Instagram, #foodventures. Bia (pronouncedbee-ah) is Irish for food and we love our little food adventures.
BiaVenturous is a food and travel blog with an emphasis on food while travelling. I will be sharing dining experiences, nightlife, travel diaries, food diaries, reviews, recommendations and tips for visiting and dining on your travels.
I’m kind of soft launching the blog today with one restaurant review but I’ll have loads more content soon and expanding the blog with Instagram and YouTube pages in the near future.
I’ll be visiting lots of places around Ireland (and the rest of the world though not as frequently) especially Cork. Cork is a great place to visit if you love food. We have the wonderful English Market as well as some fantastic restaurants and bars. It’s known as the Food Capital of Ireland for a reason!
The blog will be mainly focused on vegetarian food though not exclusively because my husband is a complete carnivore so there will be a bit of variety in the dining experiences.
When people think of Irish writers they usually think of James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, or Roddy Doyle. Basically, they think of the old guys but we have a lot more to offer than that.
Avoid the crowds this St. Patrick’s Day and curl up with one of these great contemporary Irish books.
Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght, Sarah Breen
Soon to be made into a film, Oh My God, What a complete Aisling is the story of a particular type of Irish girl. “We all know an Aisling**. She’s your stereotypical friend who carries her court shoes to work in a bag while pounding the pavement with her MBTs on the walk in from Rathmines.” Aisling has stepped out from her Facebook group roots and taken the country by storm! The book has been hugely popular and it’s not hard to see why.
Aisling is twenty-eight and she’s a complete … Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.
Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she’s lost two phones already this year – Aisling has never lost a phone).
Aisling spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John’s. He’s from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.
But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents’ house, although she’d miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car ‘out for a spin’ and bringing it back full of petrol.
When a week in Tenerife with John doesn’t end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.
Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.
Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling’, bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.
Almost Love by Louise O’Neill
Louise O’Neill’s first two books have been wildly popular especially Asking For It which is currently being adapted for a stage production in Cork’s The Everyman Theatre. Almost Love is her first adult fiction release and if it’s anything like Asking For It it will crawl under your skin and take up residence.
If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not love: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of Asking for It. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult.
When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.
So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.
Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.
But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.
And love is supposed to hurt.
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
McInerney won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2016 for this darkly comic book set in Cork city’s criminal underbelly. You know you want to read something described by the Irish Times as “a big, brassy, sexy beast of a book“.
‘He was definitely dead, whoever he was. He wore a once-black jumper and a pair of shiny tracksuit bottoms. The back of his head was cracked and his hair matted, but it had been foxy before that. A tall man, a skinny rake, another string of piss, now departed. She hadn’t gotten a look at his face before she flaked him with the Holy Stone and she couldn’t bring herself to turn him over.’
One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight…
Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.
Holding by Graham Norton
The debut novel from one of Ireland’s most loved exports. Norton makes us laugh most Friday nights on his BBC chat show but now he sets his sights on criminal mystery in the Irish countryside.
Graham Norton’s masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
The Break by Marian Keyes
Keyes has the amazing ability to write witty fun books around serious topics such as addiction, depression, and the loss of a loved one without making light of the topic. She approaches them with such a humane eye making it seem like even though this shitty thing has/is happening everything will be alright.
Amy’s husband Hugh has run away to ‘find himself’. But will he ever come back? ‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’ ‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’ If only. Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . . However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge. For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . . The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best. ‘Just brilliant’ Sunday Times ‘Girl-power at its best. I laughed . . . I cried’ Daily Mail ‘Another belter. Full of brilliantly fun characters, genuine emotion and heaps of charm. We loved it!’ Heat ‘Keyes writes extremely well about modern women. A breezy, candid and deeply felt account of a wife, mother and career woman rediscovering herself’ Metro ‘Fabulously entertaining. Classic Keyes. The queen of intelligent women’s fiction’ Sunday Mirror ‘A glorious life-affirming novel with Keyes on top form’ Woman & Home ‘When it comes to writing page-turners that put a smile on your face and make you think, Keyes is in a class of her own’ Daily Express.
The Secret Scripture by Sebastion Barry
This was adapted into a movie recently. Don’t watch it. Read the book. It’s written with such real emotion there’s a good chance you will forget you’re reading fiction. And, yes, ok, this is really historical fiction but it’s written by a contemporary author so I’m including it.
Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she’s spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates.
Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne’s story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland’s changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
Of course, this list could go on and on. What contemporary Irish literature would you add?
Join the Howlin Books mailing list and get updates on book reviews, articles, events and videos. Sign up here
The goal of the readathon is to read books by Irish authors or about Ireland. You only need to read one book in order to participate but there are some challenges that you can do if you want.
I realise we’re halfway through the month now but I only discovered the readathon this week and really want to join in. Luckily I’ve already read some books by Irish authors this month and there are only four challenges.
1. (Leanne’s challenge) Read a book by an Irish author published in the last 10 years
2. (Stephen’s Challenge) Read an Irish classic (or modern classic)
3. (Jessica’s challenge) Read a book by a female Irish author
4. (Aoife’s challenge) Read a book based or focused on an event in Irish history
Bonus: Read a book with green on the cover.
What I plan on reading…
I am so bad at sticking to TBR’s so really this is a list of Irish books that I have on my shelf waiting to be read.
For a little extra touch of Irishness, I’ve decided to watch some Irish TV shows and films as well. I would like to watch mainly stuff set in Ireland but I will probably include some things by Irish directors or starring Irish actors as well.
I recently read this very interesting article on the Irish Times website by John Boyne, author of The Hearts Invisible Furies.
In many of the tourist shops around Ireland you will find something known as the literary tea towel. It’s a collage of 12 great Irish writers all of which are men “most of whom look as if they’ve spent the morning drowning puppies.”
The article is a very interesting study on how female authors are treated in the industry and the struggle they face to have their work taken seriously.Read the article here.
“I’ve known men who, on showing me a proposed jacket design, have felt pleased by the seriousness of the approach, a sign that their work is intellectual and provocative. And I’ve known women who’ve had to fight tooth and nail to prevent a bare-legged girl lying on her back in a field of hay, laughing her pretty little head off while holding a forget-me-not, being the first image readers associate with their work.”
This is the collage and below is a proposed alternative.
Are you an author? Is this something you’ve encountered in your professional life? Is this something you’ve noticed as a reader?