The Engaging Ireland Podcast

Providing travel tips, guides to places of interest, interviews and all things Ireland – Hosted by Travis and Kathy Nelson

Ep. 37 – The Gobbins Path


The Gobbins Path - The Eye

The Gobbins is a cliff-face path on IslandMagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, northeast of Belfast. Unlike many other costal paths that just follow close along the top of an ocean-side cliff, the Gobbins first descends down to sea level, then winds along he base of the cliff, up and down steep cut stone stairs, across bridges from sea-stack to cliff face and island to island, past caves and through a narrow tunnel. Though it was long inaccessible to the public because it fell into disrepair after World War II, it has been rebuilt within the last several years and re-opened to the public as of Summer 2015.

Start out at the beautiful visitor’s center for a walk through the interpretive display to learn about the history of the path, the wildlife that abounds in the surrounding area, and the astounding effort that it took to reconstruct the path in its current incarnation.


The Gobbins Visitor's Center


If you’d like to check out some parts of the Gobbins path from the comfort of your own home, take a look at the 360 degree pictures of the Gobbins on



The Gobbins - Tubular Bridge


Walking the Gobbins path is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience…though we’re already looking forward to the next time we get to walk the Gobbins! We highly recommend a visit!


The Gobbins - Bridges


Check out the official Gobbins Path website at:

Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 8:22 pm.

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Ep. 35 – Contemporary Irish Halloween Traditions


During this, the last of our special Halloween-week episodes, we are taking a look at some contemporary ways to observe Samhain/Halloween.

We thought some of you might be interested in trying your hand at making colcannon and/or barmbrack, which is also known as barnbrack (bairín breac), so we’re including a recipe for each here. Enjoy!


Barmbrack Recipe

This bread is the perfect companion to a nice cup of tea. We don’t make it with cherries or dates, but we know people who make theirs this way. If you prefer, you can also add the zest of a lemon or 1⁄4 cup marmalade.

Makes 1 loaf (or round)

  • 1 Cup (125 g) Raisins
  • 3⁄4 Cup (100 g) Sultanas
  • 3⁄4 Cup (100 g) Currants
  • 1 Cup (250ml) Hot black tea
  • 1 Large egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 3⁄4 cups (225 g) Self-raising flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cup (200 g) Brown sugar (light, not dark)
  • 1 tsp Mixed spice*

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 1 lb (450g) loaf tin with parchment paper or grease pan with butter. (Some people make round barmbrack, and that’s fine, too.)

Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, (and, if you’re including them) cherries and/or dates in a bowl, then pour in enough hot tea to cover the fruit. Put a cover on the bowl and soak overnight (or at least an hour, if you’re in a big hurry).

Add the beaten egg, flour, sugar, and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well until everything is just combined. If you’re planning to put charms in the loaf (a ring, coin, piece of cloth, etc.), wrap them in a piece of parchment paper and insert them in the batter, in such a way that there will be no more than one charm in any slice.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 90 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing. Serve slices with butter. If you have an airtight tin to store in, that is the perfect place for it.

*For those who live an area where it is not readily available, you can make your own mixed spice using the following recipe:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • About 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Makes about 4 teaspoons worth of mixed spice.


Colcannon Recipe

As with most recipes, colcannon recipes vary from family to family. This recipe is a general starting point. A popular addition to this recipe is bacon (either the ‘streaky’ bacon bits common in the US or traditional Irish bacon pieces).


  • 2 lbs Potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 3/4 cup Milk or Half ‘n’ half
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 6 T Butter
  • 1 cup Chopped onion
  • 6 cups Shredded green cabbage (or kale)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

(Optional: 4 oz or ~1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese – We prefer sharp cheddar)



Boil potatoes for about 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and mash with skins on, adding milk and salt.

While potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (or until very soft). Add shredded cabbage. Cook and stir for 5 minutes more or until very soft.

Stir cabbage mixture and cheese into hot potatoes and season with pepper. Mound onto serving plates and make a well in the center of each. Pour a little melted butter into each well, if desired.

(We know it’s a bit “English,” but we like to add leeks to our colcannon recipe. Another option we’ve tried is adding one bunch of green onions instead of the leeks.)

Makes 8 servings.

We hope you’ll try out these recipes for yourselves. Let us know how they turned our or what your family recipes are!


Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh!

(Pronounced: EE-hyeh HOW-nuh HUN-uh DEE-iv)

Pronounciation guide from Bitesize Irish Gaelic:

Posted 3 years ago at 6:48 pm.

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Ep. 34 – Samhain stories of the supernatural: the Pooka and the Banshee

The Banshee


Our Halloween-week episodes are nearly done. In this episode, we talk about two supernatural creatures of Ireland: the Pooka and the Banshee.

Posted 3 years ago at 7:03 pm.

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Ep 31. – A History of Halloween Traditions

This is the first of a special Halloween series, where we explore the history of contemporary Halloween traditions and observances, such as bonfires, jack o’lanterns, costumes and trick or treating.

Posted 3 years ago at 10:04 pm.

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Ep. 29 – In the Footsteps of Patrick

Hill of Slane

In this episode, we follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, paying a visit to a few of the key sights connected with Ireland’s patron saint. Below you will find links to a variety of resources providing information about the sites included in this show.


Info about Slemish Mountain from Discover Northern Ireland:


To get to Slemish: take the A42 Carnlaugh road from Ballymena towards Carnlaugh/Glenarm on the Antrim Coast (or vice versa). About 7 miles outside Ballymena and to the right of the road is the little village of Buckna. Just outside it is Carnstroan Lane which will take you to the car park at the foot of Mountain.


Saints and Stones: Saul Church, County Down


To get to Saul Church: From Downpatrick, follow the A25 to Strangford. Turn right onto Mearne Road. At the crossroads, turn right following the signpost for the church.


Hill of Slane:


Croagh Patrick, County Mayo


Visitor’s Centre for Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from Westport on the R335 road. The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim’s path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.


Croagh Patrick is situated near the town of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland. It is approximately 92 km from Galway City and 230 km from Dublin City. The main pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. Westport is served by both bus and train from Dublin and Galway. The Croagh Patrick Information Centre is a further 8 km west of the town of Westport.


Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. What equipment is necessary for the climb? It is advisable to take sturdy footwear, rainwear and some drinking water. Climbing sticks are for sale at the Centre.


The Centre provides the following facilities: restaurant, information services, guided tours of the mountain, packed lunches, secure lockers, craft shop, shower facilities (for a nominal fee).

What are the Centre’s business hours? Spring Season (April and May) 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. High Season (June through August) 10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m. Shoulder Season (September and October) 11.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Low Season (November through March) Limited opening hours. Please e-mail for details. If you’re interested in possibly joining a group pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, call on this number for more information: +353 (0) 98 28871.


Discover Ireland website:

Directions: Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from Westport on the R335 road. The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim’s path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.

Note: Croagh Patrick is a high mountain and is a difficult climb, so those climbing it should be prepared. It is advisable to wear solid footwear and bring good clothing, a stick and mobile phone. It can get very cold on top of the mountain and weather conditions can change during the course of the climb.

Pilgrimages: For group pilgrimage enquiries call: +353 (0) 98 28871

Opening Details: Opening Details Public access to the mountain. Visitor Centre open daily from St Patrick’s Day through to October.


Jim Burns’ account of his amazing, but harrowing climb on Croagh Patrick.



St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, County Armagh info came from here:


April – October: 9.00am – 5.00pm

November – March: 9.00am – 4.00pm

Group tours must be pre-arranged with the Cathedral Steward.


As the Cathedral receives no state funding visitors are invited to make a small donation to assist with the preservation of this historic building. The suggested amount is £3 for adults or £2 concession.


Sunday Services

10.00am Holy Communion – (Said – No sermon or hymns) Traditional Form except 2nd Sunday

11.00am Sung Eucharist – Choral Matins 2nd Sunday, Contemporary Form

3.15pm Choral Evensong – Sung Eucharist 2nd Sunday, Traditional Form


Weekday Services (Monday – Saturday)

9.30am Said Matins

12.30pm Celtic Eucharist – 1st Wednesday of each month


St. Tassach’s Church, Raholp, Co. Down


Down Cathedral 


+44 (0) 28 4461 4922
+44 (0) 28 4461 4456




From Visit Downpatrick website”


Opening Hours:-
Monday – Saturday – 9.30am to 4.30pm
Sunday – to 5.00pm



Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick

+44 (0)28 4461 9000

+44 (0)28 4461 9111


Opening Hours:

January – December

Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday Closed
St. Patrick’s Day 9am – 7pm

July – August

Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm

The Centre is located on the Market Street, in Downpatrick’s town centre.

Travel by Bus and Rail from Belfast:

The local Ulsterbus service regularly goes twice an hour from Belfast to Downpatrick. The Europa Bus Centre is located in Glengal Street beside the Opera House and behind the Europa Hotel. The journey takes just over an hour and the Centre is a 2 minute walk from Downpatrick Bus Station. See the Ulsterbus timetable for more details about your specific journey.

Travel by Bus and Rail from Dublin to Downpatrick:

Regular services run from Dublin Connolly Station the Dublin Busaras bus station and Dublin Airport. A connection can be made in Newry or a rail and bus connection through Belfast. The Centre is a 2 minute walk from Downpatrick Bus Station.


Travelling by Road from Dublin:

Take the M1 North to Dundalk, the N1 to Newry, enter the town and take the A25 to Downpatrick through Hilltown and Castlewellan.

Travelling by Road from Belfast:

Take the A24 out of Belfast heading for Newcastle and the A7 to Downpatrick through Carryduff, Saintfield and Crossgar.


Adults £ 4.95

Children £ 2.55

Concession £ 3.35

Family £11.75
(2 Adults & 2 Children)

Adult Groups £ 3.30
(25 or more)

Children’s Groups £ 2.25
(25 or more)

Senior Citizen Groups £ 2.70

Education Group £ 3.50

Auditorium Only £ 2.15



Assorted links to information about Saint Patrick:

Jump into Ireland Blog about St. Patrick’s Trail


The Catholic Church’s information about St. Patrick


St Patrick’s Cathedral – Armagh and its link to Patrick



A recreation of Saint Patrick’s legendary journey

From Pocket Britain


The Real St. Patrick, Bishop of Ireland

by Fr. Kristopher and Matushka Elizabeth Dowling

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 10:44 pm.

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