Ireland’s Other Favorite Beers: Guinness is Not the Only One!


 


Often times when we think of a good, Irish beer the first that comes to mind is Guinness. Well, what if you found out there were a few more and that you have really been missing out? Here are four Irish beers that you must try.

 Murphy’s Irish Stout (Cork, Ireland) 

This beer is considered outstanding amongst the beer snobs of Ireland and the United States alike. With an ABV of 4% this creamy stout gives a smooth, chocolate flavor to your palette.

Beamish Irish Stout by Heineken (Cork, Ireland)

This light, dry stout has an ABV of 4.1% with a flavor that delivers. There is a creamy head to top it off with light bitterness and cinnamon undertones, this beer is sure to put a smile on your face.

Smithwick’s Superior Irish Ale (Kilkenny, Ireland)

An earthy beer with an ABV of 4.5% this beer is crisp and clean. This full-bodied beer takes it easy on the hops. So for those of you who like a crisp beer but don’t like the bitter aftertaste of a more hoppy beer, this is for you!

Kilkenny’s Irish Cream Ale (Guinness Brewing Co., Dublin, Ireland)

This Irish Ale is of the Red Ale variety with an ABV of 4.3%. With strong legs and a creamy head, this beer delivers floral spices with a hint of fruit. It has a sweet scent but a crisp taste. For those who love red ale, this is a Irish must have.

The Truth About St. Patrick’s Day


Sometimes, only after our college years, do we begin to wonder the exact origin of St. Patrick’s Day. The true traditions and meaning behind the holiday come to the front of our minds as the need to heavily celebrate dulls. Chances are, if you are reading this, it is because you have already asked yourself the question, “What is St. Patrick’s Day really?” Well, you’re in luck (pun intended). Here are the truths of St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick was not from Ireland.

St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387. Then, his family moved to Britain to care for Roman colonies. Around the age of sixteen, St. Patrick was kidnapped from his family’s estate in Britain during a raid conducted by Irishmen. He was later sold as a slave to herd sheep in Ireland.

Then how did St. Patrick become, well, a saint?

Although St. Patrick spent many years living with the “pagans” of Ireland, he strengethed his faith in Christianity. He prayed often. During prayer, he had a vision that it was time for him to escape Ireland. Fleeing to the docks, St. Patrick was able to escape to France where later he was reunited with his family in Britain.

St. Patrick felt as though his calling was to study Christianity. He spent just over 14 years studying Roman Catholicism. During a dream, St. Patrick heard the very people who captured and enslaved him calling him to walk amongst them once more. He had taken this as a sign to fill the people of Ireland’s hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of Christianity. After being ordained Bishop, St. Patrick went back to Ireland where he successfully built churches and spread the religion for 30 years until his death in the 5th century. He was believed to die on March 17th, which is why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated this time every year.

Is the Shamrock Legend true?

One of the most well-known legends of St. Patrick is that of the shamrock. As a missionary, St. Patrick was known to explain The Trinity as the leaves of Ireland’s clover, the shamrock. While the leaves all look separate. Each having a strong individual presence, the closer you get to the stem, they are all one. Much like the Trinity, while all seen as different entities, they are all part of God. This held a lot of meaning to pagan Ireland as they were said to have many traditions and beliefs based around the number three (St. Patrick must have been a very smart man). However popular this story may be, there is little documentation to pose it as a fact. The first real mention is in 1675 where St. Patrick is depicted in the detail of a stained glass window holding a shamrock clover.

What about the legend of the snakes?

Another legend says that St. Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. Well, Ireland never really had many snakes and he had nothing to do with their snake-free status. Although, it could quite possibly have been a metaphor for his successful mission of spreading Christianity throughout Ireland and driving the “evil pagan” religions and beliefs out.

Well, why does anyone celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day was originally celebrated as the Feast of Saint Patrick in 17th century Ireland. It was a religious holiday that occurred during the Christian season of Lent. In the morning, Christians attended church to honor the saint. The afternoons were spent feasting, drinking, and celebrating. A free pass was given during the Feast of Saint Patrick and traditional Irish bacon and cabbage was a popular meal.

In 1762 Colonial NY hosted its first St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Irish immigrants who were part of the British colonial army marched down the streets of New York to honor the patron saint of Ireland.  Since then, it has been the US’s oldest, and most watched parade. Most identify St. Patrick’s Day as a drinking holiday. Many people did not know that until the 1960s, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day! Drinking all day and night would have been too sinful.

What’s with all the green?

Well, Ireland (also known as the Emerald Island), is associated with the shamrock, thanks to St. Patrick. What most people don’t know is that the pagan beliefs around the color green were very different than how we view them today. It used to be considered bad luck to wear green. It was the color of the faeries and if your children wore too much green, it was believed that the faeries would take you away.

As time progressed, Christianity debunked this theory and people began to associate the symbol with the luck of the Irish. In the 19th century Ireland even declared green as a symbol of Ireland (it was originally blue). Oh, and if you forget to wear green, expect to get pinched! It is now tradition for children to pinch those who forget to wear this lucky color on St. Patrick’s Day.

So there you have it, a quick look into the true history of St. Patrick’s Day and how it came to be. Now that you have done your research, you may go enjoy a Guinness or maybe one of those green beers they are serving these days.

Travel Photos to Get You Through the Week

It’s Monday and time to get back to the grind! To help you get through the week, we’ve compiled gorgeous travel photos. Go ahead, day dream – your secret is safe with us.

Stuck between a golf course and beach in Rosslare, Ireland. What a great problem to have, right?

As if the cliffs of Cinque Terre, Italy aren’t beautiful enough, a rainbow is added to make this view nothing short of amazing.

A gondola ride down the canals of Venice, anyone?

Haystack Rock provides a great view off the coast of Cannon Beach, Oregon.

We want to see your amazing travel photos! Share them with us on Facebook, Tweet us or send them on Pinterest. We can’t wait to see your photos!

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Destinations for Solo Travelers

Ireland: Explore miles of rolling green hills, dramatic coastal cliffs, and mingle with the friendly locals and enjoy a lively pub culture while touring through Dublin and the Irish countryside. Travelers can take it easy while hopping from one pub and bed & breakfast to another, or rent a car and enjoy a tranquil coastal drive. The country’s rich history and rural charm — and of course, beautiful historic castles and churches — will put you in a relaxed frame of mind.

Costa Rica: With some of the highest national rankings for happiness and safety in the world, Costa Rica is the perfect setting for a peaceful getaway that combines adventure travel and relaxation. If you’re looking for relaxation, you’ll have plenty of beaches to choose from – the country has dozens of Pacific beaches.

Stockholm, Sweden: Although Stockholm is definitely on the pricier side, the Swedish capital is one of the best cities in Europe for solo travelers. The city is safe and friendly for travelers who are looking to explore a European city. Also, if you get lost, most Swedes speak English and will be happy to help you find your way.

New Zealand: If you’re looking to really get away, experience a new culture, and tour through some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the world, plan a trip trekking across New Zealand. Like the other destinations on this list, New Zealand people are really friendly and willing to help visitors to their country.

Now it’s your turn to tell us. Where would you like to travel solo? No matter where you decide to go, make sure travel insurance is part of your vacation plans. With medical coverage, flight delay coverage, lost luggage coverage and much more, it can make a difference in your vacation.

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