I had Ireland on the mind this morning after corresponding with a friend. I also know many who have felt called there, as I did.
And with Winter approaching, and hearing friends making travel plans and looking for ideas of where to go, I was reminded of this old article I wrote in 2008, not long after returning from my personal sacred journey there to retrieve and integrate parts of my soul.
It also coincides with my painting, Air, which holds the Ancient Druid and Celtic Ireland energy that I am sending out prints of today from my December art sale.
I traveled at the end of Winter, right before the transition into Spring, and found it amazing! People often don’t think about traveling to places in Winter, unless they’re headed to warm, sunny locations.
Having traveled a lot off-season (the best in my opinion) and visiting both Ireland and Iceland in the Winter, I can tell you it’s pretty fantastic.
There are many gifts to be experienced in all seasons.
I spent my time on the west coast of Ireland, which called to me most with its energy.
Anyway, I felt inspired to share the ezine article here with only a fraction of the photos I took that I managed to find easily. I have a ton more amazing images of my journey and this incredible place, but pressed with time, I went with what I found quickly.
I’m copying the article below, but you can also read it at the link here: Ireland Off-Season – Travel at it’s Best! Unexpected Surprises and Tips for Everyone
Unexpected Surprises and Tips for Everyone Including Solo Travelers, Vegans, and Those Looking for a Bit of Magic Any Time of Year.
If you have your sights set on Ireland, or any exotic travel locale for that matter, then don’t be put off by mass opinions and appeal. Ireland, especially its magical west coast, is a must-see whether traveling en groupe or going it alone. And all you vegetarians and vegans out there will find Ireland to be surprisingly accommodating with interesting and fairly elaborate options available. You simply need to ask. This Emerald Isle offers a nice blend of down-to-earth goodness, ancient and exotic mystique, and lively pub night life. There’s something for everyone indeed.
Most sources will tell you that mid-Spring to mid-Fall, particularly April to October, is optimal travel time to Ireland. And sure, Spring is gorgeous with everything a-bloom, especially May, Autumn colors are bountiful in October, and July and August are peak, but not everyone enjoys the hustle and bustle of tourism at its height. What they fail to share with you is the fact that Winter is actually pretty amazing, especially if you catch the end of it right before Spring rolls in. Not only do you pretty much get the place to yourself, but you also get to capture some of the true magic and mysticism of this ancient land.
Now of course, all depends on personal interest and preferences, yet don’t be put off by the colder Winter months. Winter can actually be pretty mild, with little to no rain, gorgeous nebulous, cloud-filled skies, fog rolling across mountain tops and just skimming the edges of the Lakes of Killarney, beautiful bursts of sun-lit days lighting up the fairy-filled forests, and fabulous, ancient winds that sweep you into a world of Celtic and Druidic splendor. What magic to behold and all to yourself, on top of that!
Ireland’s west coast hosts a multitude of things to see and experience, including the beautiful Gap of Dunloe, Inisfallen Island on the Killarney Lakes, many castle ruins, well-known and off-beat Stone Circles and Standing Stones, the famous Ring of Kerry, gorgeous Beare Peninsula, sacred Skellig Michael Islands, and Killarney National Forest with its famous Muckross House to name just a fraction of possible destinations.
The beauty of traveling off-season is that you will find yourself having the sites, and experiences of them, all to yourself. Skim across the mystical Killarney Lake waters with your very own warm-hearted Irish boatman to tell you tales and share folklore or take a walk through Killarney National Park and feel the grandeur of its old, knotted oak trees while skipping along the fairy trails.
Better yet, imagine standing, as the Druids once did, amongst the ancient energy of Uragh or Grange Stone Circle, wind sweeping across the hilltop as you take in the serenity and sacredness without a sound or presence around to disturb you. Whether a history buff, photographer, artist, avid traveler, or spiritualist, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for and be grateful for the serene opportunity any other “peak” traveling time would not oblige you.
For those of you with special dietary needs, such as vegetarians and vegans, not to worry. You’ll find more than enough options and surprises in store for your culinary tastes, to suit any occasion. If you’re looking for an ideal place to stay, while loading up on great meal options, Friars’ Glen Guesthouse is #1 on the list.
Located just a couple of miles outside of Killarney town center, in the beautiful Killarney Forest, this exquisitely quaint home-away-from home, bed and breakfast not only offers unmatched quality service and exceptional serenity, but the owner Mary is one top-notch chef, whipping up hardy vegetarian and vegan surprises for breakfast and if asked, packed lunches as well! And the nearby, beautiful Killarney Park Hotel has a wonderful bar restaurant where the chef is most accommodating, creating fabulous vegan soups and such options as vegan risotto made with coconut milk! And for the luxury seeker and spa enthusiast, Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa in Killarney offers a multitude of sensuous pleasures to cater to your every whim, including a top notch chef who will prepare some pretty fancy vegan meals from start to finish! Some vegetarian options can also be found in small deli/bakeries and cafes, as well as the occasional small health food stores. The simple key and secret always, is simply to ask and your wish will be granted. Ireland does host home to some of the warmest and friendliest people in the world.
That being said, those who also prefer traveling alone will find Ireland to be most welcoming and a perfect destination for the adventurer, as well as the peace seeker. Of course this island is a wonderful host to groups, families, and romantics, but those who venture for their own experience and enjoy the exciting possibilities that are available for ones who march to the beat of their own drum, will discover how truly fulfilling a journey to Ireland can be. Whether you decide to follow your heart’s desire in the moment, or desire a personalized itinerary, you’ll find an overwhelming amount of experiences awaiting you. For a truly unique and sacred experience, Celtic Spirit Journeys with international teacher and writer on Celtic spirituality, Mara Freeman, are not to be missed. Or, simply contact her and she’ll be more than happy to tailor-make a special custom journey that suits your personal needs, even equipped with fabulous personal driver, Michael Burniston, as your historical encyclopedia of knowledge and folkloric entertainment.
No matter what you are looking for, Ireland, ANY time of year is truly a place not to be missed; Winter, vegan, solo traveler, and all.