With 33 million Americans (that’s nearly 11% of the total population) claiming Irish heritage, it’s no wonder many of our clients want to travel to Ireland or Northern Ireland to visit their ancestral homes. We help people play golf and explore cultural trips in the lands of their forefathers all the time. Here are some of our favorite ways to pay homage to your Irish heritage on your next golf adventure.
Explore Your Family’s County
Historically, Ireland was divided into 32 counties. Six of these counties are now part of Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom), while the remaining 26 are still used as the basis of local government in the Republic of Ireland. Narrowing down where your family came from can be easier if you use a genetic test or ancestry site, or if you have family history. The most populous counties in Ireland now are Dublin (Leinster), Antrim (Ulster), Cork (Munster), and Down (also part of Ulster). Whether your family was historically Catholic or Protestant can also give you a clue regarding what part of the country they came from, and when they arrived. Most Irish protestants immigrated in the colonial area (1600s-1800s), while the larger proportion of Irish Catholics immigrated during the Great Famine (1820-1860) seeking better living conditions. You can also look up your last name in a surnames database to see where you’re likely to have ancestors.
Take a Walk in the Countryside
Ireland and Northern Ireland are full of beautiful, dramatic landscapes. Taking a stroll along the coast will surely bring up thoughts of how your ancestors lived and survived. While the Cliffs of Moher are perhaps the most popular site, Downpatrick Head and Giant’s Causeway are both beautiful and noticeably less crowded. While you’re at the Giant’s Causeway, check out the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which was historically used by fisherman to cross between the mainland and a tiny island. Visit Killarney National Park in southwestern Ireland to see Ireland in all its natural glory. If you don’t want to go out of your way, most of the resorts, hotels, and bed and breakfasts in Ireland and Northern Ireland are also surrounded by beautiful countryside. Take a stroll around the grounds at Mount Falcon Estate or add a fishing trip to your stay at Ballynahinch. And, of course, you’ll get to see plenty of the Irish countryside while playing golf on any of the famous old links courses.
Enjoy a Hearty Irish Meal
Nothing speaks to heritage as much as food. Recipes passed down from generation to generation speak to the heart and the soul of a people, and Irish food is no different. You’ve probably had corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day at some point in your life, but real Irish cuisine is a lot more fresh and innovative. Wild-caught salmon, grass-fed lamb and beef, fresh oysters, and homegrown vegetables (including those famous potatoes) are all part of today’s food scene. Stews, pies, and breads go well with tea, a pint of beer, or a dram of whiskey to help keep you warm in the famously chilly Irish weather. And nothing is more Irish than spending an evening in a pub, enjoying good conversation and local music with newfound friends.
Visit Historical Sites and Museums
Of course, one of the best ways to get in touch with the past is to see documentation of it, which you can find at museums, castles, and estates across Ireland and Northern Ireland. Titanic Belfast spans both Northern Irish and American history with an interactive exhibit on the building site of the famously doomed ocean liner. You can learn more about Ireland’s capital city in the extremely popular Little Museum of Dublin. Explore the medieval castle Dun Angus on Inis Mor of the Aran Islands and marvel at the old stone fort that ends in a 300 ft drop straight down to the Atlantic Ocean. While you’re there, get an authentic Irish wool sweater to bring home. There are countless ruins of castles and still functioning estates to tour throughout the countryside, where your ancestors could have worked and lived (or perhaps even ruled).
No matter what your heritage is, the people of Ireland are friendly and its history is ancient and fascinating. If you’re ready to visit the Emerald Isle and experience Irish culture for yourself while enjoying some of the best golf in the world, get in touch with us today for a free quote.