Another St. Patrick’s day is looming – and the stereotypical Irish caricatures are beginning to show their colours – in any shade of green you like. But while the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in different ways across the world, there is no where to take it in and experience the festivities like in its place of origin, on the Emerald Isle. The first time I celebrated the feast day of the Irish patron saint was in Dublin – it was a lively, colourful and whimsical proverbial Irish stew of history, culture and folly – and whilst elsewhere in the world, the celebrations are focused around the big day itself – in Ireland, it’s a weeklong thing.
But honing in on a destination like Ireland around St Patrick’s Day would be selling it short – Ireland is a fabulous place, throughout the year. It will surprise you – it’s a place that hangs on to tradition like you won’t believe, yet its people have an open-minded, lust for life that makes visiting all the more exciting, as recent political events prove. There’s a certain unidentifiable mysticism to Ireland; you’ll feel like you’ve been there before, somehow. Like it was home and you never knew it.
On the subject of diversity in travel, our friends at Preferred Hotels and Resorts, the world’s largest collection of independent luxury hotels have long been leading the pack on luxurious, gay-welcoming places to stay across the globe. And they happen to have six wonderful properties in Ireland. If you book a Bed and Breakfast stay today at any of Preferred Hotels and Resorts’ Irish properties, you’ll score double iPrefer points (the group’s loyalty programme) – plus if you’re new to the scheme, a US$25 credit for your first stay awaits.
So here’s our run-down of fantastic and authentic ways to really get in the Irish spirit with Preferred Hotels.
FIT FOR A QUEEN
Set in a romantic Irish castle, alongside an enchanting lake, Dromoland Castle Hotel was a seat of Irish aristocracy, whose lineage goes back over a millennium. A true place to get in the St. Patrick’s spirit like a king, or queen even.
WHAT’S THE CRAIC?
The Fitzwilliam in Dublin is the city’s best base to take on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And after all the festivities, you can check out the Gaelic game of hurling, a 3,000 year old tradition at Croke Park to experience what the locals call ‘the clash of the ash’; and at the end of the day, you can venture into Temple Bar, Dublin’s hipster hood. Our hot tip is to visit the Vintage Cocktail Club behind an unmarked, black door, down a cobbled alley.
FIRST CLASS LUXURY
Titanic fans can get into the infamous ship’s (it was built in the now coined Titanic Quarter, where the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast is located) tempestuous story. The hotel offers all the luxury of First Class on the great ship, but without that sinking feeling.
IRISH EYES ARE SMILING
Where history and tradition meets contemporary Ireland – in the heart of Dublin. The fusion continues outside Dylan’s doors, you can walk in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde who grew up on its streets, drop into an old pub for a pint of the black gold or check out the merriment in South Great George Street.
GREEN IS THE COLOUR
The Irish love golf as much as the Scots do, and the great game is celebrating an illustrious 125 years on the Emerald Isle. This 550 acre, once French-Chateau was home to the Ryder Cup ten years ago and will host the Irish Open later this year.
As if a trip to Ireland wasn’t already getting away from it all, you can go even further to disappear off the grid at the sublime Europe Hotel and Resort. After a day of enjoying the Irish countryside of County Kerry and Loch Léin, you can melt away at the property’s luxurious ESPA.