It’s no secret that the Irish have a long association with all things pub and enjoy imbibing on special occasions and holidays. It’s surprising then that the craft beer movement didn’t happen sooner. There are now a huge (and to me at least) bewildering variety of beers being produced in micro breweries around the island. Whiplash Beer “of no fixed abode” have won the 2018 Beer of the year, with their beer “Saturate”, an award from Beoir, the consumer group started to support the brewing of craft beers in Ireland. This is the second time they have one the award having won the same award in 2017. Try to catch some on your travels (but not if your driving obviously!).
Their very funky style show just how far craft beers can go in this country.
Find out more about Whiplash on their website.s
The May bank holiday in Ireland shares celebration with one of our most ancient traditions. The time of Bealtaine translates as ‘Bright Fire’ from Gaelic and is the traditional change from winter to spring in the ancient calendar. Really it was a celebration of the passing of time from winter to the new growing season. The tradition is indeed ancient and stretches back even to pagan times. The hill of Uisneach in county Westmeath is the centre of a wonderful festival. A rock stands at its centre and is said to be a doorway or portal into an ancient world filled with fairies and spirits. In olden times people would hang may flowers in their doorways, or on the horns of cattle to ward off mischievous spirits.
Each year a bonfire is lit on the hill, and on the surrounding hills other groups would take their cue to light fires of their own, radiating out from the spiritual centre of Ireland. The stone at its centre is said to be a type of ‘omphalus’ (navel in ancient Greek) and is at the meeting point of counties Meath, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The ceremony lives on today and over the current bank holiday happens at the site on Saturday 5th of May. If you fancy a trip back to your spiritual roots then this could be the place for you this May bank holiday.
Photo courtesy of Abi Skipp, Flickr.
Looking out on the day this morning you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re never going to see the spring. Although, I can’t help but think about a long walk in the woods on a day like this. Even at its grey best, when when it’s more 50 shades of grey than 40 shades of green, Ireland can be a lovely place – especially if you’re visiting rural Ireland. Even here in Dublin, the mountains to the south can be very beautiful in this weather. So, I’m not going to be disheartened by the weather. It’s not all bad, we can just have Keats “mists and mellow fruitfullness” in Spring instead of Autumn 🙂