Ep. 28 -Part 2- Northern Ireland and Donegal Top 10

Section of the walls of Derry

7. The Walls of Derry (or Londonderry) – http://www.derryvisitor.com/

  • A good parking location is in the garage for the shopping mall, which is next to the Tourist Information office, then you can walk through the mall to get to the wall walk.
  • Costs about £1 an hour for parking.
  • Plaques and signs are located all around the walls to tell you the story of Derry and its history.
  • Places to make sure and visit as you walk the walls:
  • St. Columba’s
  • St. Augustine’s
  • Tower Museum
  • We spent about 6 hours in Derry, just walking the walls, visiting the places we mentioned, and talking to people.
  • If you’d like to do more of the walking tours (like the Bogside and Waterside walks) we’d recommend staying overnight in the area and allowing one full day or even two days for Derry.
  • You can pick up informational brochures and contact information about the city and the walks at the TI. You can also catch hop-on-hop-off bus tours out in front of the TI.
  • Derry has been named a U.K. City of Culture for 2013, so some special events are being planned in the area that might influence your travel plans.  This is also possibly the reason that so much of the city is currently under construction right now (they’re sprucing it up for the influx of tourists in 2013).

View from the top of Slieve Donard

8. Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains

  • Newcastle makes a great base for walks in the Mourne Mountains.
  • It’s a beautiful seaside town with good accommodation, beautiful views, and some of the best food we had on our trip.
  • There are multiple walks easily accessible within a short distance of the town.
  • Trail head to Slieve Donard (the highest peak in NI) and/or Slieve Commedagh (the 2nd highest) is accessed right in town at a city park (Donard Park, in fact).
  • This link on the Walk NI site shows the route we took to the top of Slieve Donard: http://www.walkni.com/Walk.aspx?ID=344
  • Be sure to look at all the great walks on walkni.com.  They’ve got lots of great walks for all still levels, including many in the Mournes.
  • If you’re planning to walk in the Mournes, also be sure to stop by the TI in Newcastle, as they have a lot of resources about hiking in the Mournes (we missed out on this while we were there, and really wish we’d stopped by to pick up some of the walking information that they have there).

Falls in Glenariff Forest Park

9. Glenariff Forest Park


  • Glenariff has great walks (four, ranging in length between .5 miles and 5.5 miles), amazing scenery, including waterfalls, gardens, fern dells, forests and sea views.
  • Opening Hours – Open every day of the year from10.00 am until sunset.
  • Admission – Charges are displayed at the entrance to the Park. Not really a charge to get in the park, but a charge to park once you’re there. It’s disc parking.
  • Services:
  • Caravanning and Camping Sites.
  • Picnic and Barbecue areas, as well as a café/tea shop and gift shop.
  • Toilets.
  • Way-marked Trails.
  • Horse riding routes.
  • Guided Tours (bookable by organized groups).
  • Disabled facilities.

Mount Stewart House and Garden

10. Mount Stewart House and Gardens


  • Located southeast of Newtownards on the shore of Strangford Lough.
  • The estate came to its current name in 1744 when Alexander Stewart purchased the property, which was then known as Mount Pleasant
  • The work on the house, as it looks now, began in 1804
  • The gardens in their current form are mostly due to the work of the Edith, Lady Londonderry, and the current owner of the house, Lady Mairi Bury.
  • While the house is interesting, the gardens are truly something special.  They include:
  • Sunken Garden
  • Shamrock Garden
  • Spanish Garden
  • Peace Garden
  • Mairi garden
  • Dodo Terrace (sculptures)
  • Italian Garden
  • Lake Walk
  • Tir Nan Og
  • Burial ground for the family
  • Rock Walk
  • Ladies’ Walk
  • Rhododendron Hill
  • The Lily Wood
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Built overlooking Strangford Lough
  • Commissioned in 1782
  • This building only open on Sundays 2-5 pm
  • Be sure to check the schedule on their website before you go
  • If they’re hosting a big event – say, a classic car show on Father’s Day Sunday – the grounds will be overrun by throngs of visitors.  Make sure that you’ll be able to truly enjoy this amazing house and garden.
  • General hours of the property are 10-6/House hours 12-6
  • Admission is £7 adult/£3.50 Child/£17.50 family
  • No extra cost for house tour, which takes about 45 minutes
  • To go on all the walks and see all the gardens, you’d need at least ½ a day, if you’re a quick walker

Flyfishing in Fermanagh

Bonus: Fishing the Lakes of County Fermanagh

  • Tudor Farm Country House B&B (http://www.tudorfarm.com/) Near Kesh – just to the east of Boa Island) Proprietors: Sam & Anne McCreery – arranged our fishing guide for us before we arrived and also packed us a lovely lunch.
  • We were very lucky in that we got an extremely knowledgeable guide who was great to talk to. He made the day fun, when it otherwise might have just been dreary, windy and wet.
  • This day highlights a tip that we would give to our listeners…find the things that you like to do or would like to learn to do, and then do those things in Ireland. The day was made that much more special because we were learning something new in such an amazing place.  So, learn to fly fish, to surf, to sea kayak, to paint, to hand throw pottery, to take better photographs.  Find an Irish expert and schedule a lesson while you’re on your vacation!

Ep. 27-Part 1-Northern Ireland and Donegal Top 10

In the first half of a two part episode, we talk about some our top 10 places to see in the counties of Northern Ireland and in county Donegal. In no particular order, they are:

Cliffs at Slieve League

1. Slieve League – Take the route via Glengesh pass, it’s worth it for the view. You can park at the lower parking lot or the upper parking lot depending on your fitness level, the weather and how long you have to view the site.

  • If you drive to the upper lot, make sure to close the gate so you don’t let out the sheep.
  • No facilities until you get back down to the bottom of the hill, where there are portable toilets.
  • Make sure to stop at, Ti Linn, the coffee/tea/art shop down the road once you’re finished.  Family-owned and operated business. They have great local art.

Glenveagh Castle

2. Glenveagh National Parkhttp://www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie/

Admission to the National Park and Visitor Centre is free.

  • Bus Tickets

Cars are not allowed beyond the visitor centre however a shuttle bus service is available to take visitors to the castle and gardens.

Adult      3.00 Euro (return)

Concession      2.00 Euro (return)

Single Tickets are available at the Castle for 2 Euro

  • Castle Tour – you can only go through the castle w/ guided tour (~30 min)

Adult      5.00 Euro

Group/Senior  3.00 Euro

Child/Student 2.00 Euro

Family    10.00 Euro

  • Garden Tours

Garden Tours on request: Adult 5 Euro Concession 3 Euro

  • Walks

Ranger-Led Hill Walks and All Other Guided Walks/Visits:

5.00 Euro

All family events and shorter walks run by The Nature Team are free of charge.

  • Hours of operation

The National Park is open to the public all year round, apart from Good Friday and Christmas Week.

Park open 10.00am – 6.00pm March – October

Last admission 5.00pm

9am – 5pm October – March (last admission 4pm)

Those wishing to take the guided tour of Glenveagh Castle should note that during the summer months, demand can be high and, therefore, early arrival is advisable.

Dogs are permitted in the park but must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted entry to buildings, Castle Gardens or park buses. (Guide dogs are permitted in all areas)

The Grianan of Aileach

3. The Grianan of Aileach

  • 5 miles northwest of Derry (in County Donegal) near the base of the Inishowen Peninsula (between Derry and the N13)
  • Views of Loch Foyle and Loch Swilly
  • Where to pick up the Heritage Guide publication before you go.
    • Wordwell Books website has several guides for sale:
    • Wall dimensions – about 16 ½ feet high and diameter is about 77 feet.
    • Constructed in late 8th or early 9th century of dry stone construction and abandoned around the turn of the 12th century.
    • Reconstructed in the 1800s as an archaeological project and modeled on Staigue Fort on the Ring of Kerry.
    • Now under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW), who are working to further stabilize the walls.
    • No entry fee/no facilities
    • There’s a walking path that will take you to a cairn and a holy well near the stone fort.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

4. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge


  • It’s a National Trust site so get your card if you’re going to other National trust sites too.
    • View opening hours on website or in your National Trust Guide (which you’ll get when you get your card) before you go – they vary greatly depending upon time of year. It is open most of the year – weather permitting, with the exception of pretty much the month of December)
    • Admission to the rope bridge is £5.60 for adults, child £2.90, family £13.70/ Prices are the suggested Gift Aid entry fees.

Dunluce Castle

5. Dunluce Castle


  • Parts of the castle date from the 14th century. Most is from the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • After changing hands many times, the castle eventually was awarded to Cromwellian soldiers, who (by 1663) disassembled much of it to sell.  The castle was never returned to its former livable state
  • Hours of admission are generally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m./Admission cost £4 for adults and £2 for children or seniors, maximum £10 for a family (group rates are available)

Ulster American Folk Park

6. Ulster American Folk Park


  • Located just a few miles north of Omagh
  • We were pleasantly surprised – we really didn’t know what to expect from the folk park. The employees working in the various areas of the park were one of the main reasons for our enjoyment.  They’re very knowledgeable and great to talk to!
  • Park open year-‘round
    • Between March and September (when most people from the U.S. are traveling to Ireland), hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      • The museum’s website (at National Museums Northern Ireland) says you should allow about 3 ½ hours to go through all of the exhibits in the main building and areas outside.
      • If you’re the type of person who likes to take their time and really absorb all of the information at the exhibits, you might want to add an hour or an hour and a half to that time.
    • Cost of Admission (Gift Aid Admission Prices)
      • £7.15 Adults, £4.40 Children (age 5-18) & Students & Seniors, Children under 5 free
      • There are concessions for persons with disabilities, and there are family admission packages – they’re listed on the NMNI website for the park

Ep. 26 – McPeake Interview

You can’t read a history of traditional music of Northern Ireland without coming across the McPeake name sooner or later. The McPeake family has been influencing traditional music in Ireland and around the world since the mid-1900s and continues its tradition of education and entertainment today.

We had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Frances McPeake III and Frances McPeake IV at Milwaukee Irish Fest, and they gave some insight as to what has gone into the making of this family legacy. You’ll also hear how the family’s path crossed with those of royalty and a member of a famous quartet from Liverpool and why, despite numerous difficulties and setbacks, they feel that it’s of utmost importance to continue to provide traditional music education to children in Ireland today.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the McPeake family, visit http://www.mcpeakemusic.com/. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the CD “These Days,” which is mentioned in the podcast, you may order it online at http://www.vendio.com/stores/mcpeakeband/item//-these-days-album/lid=8952504. You can also connect with the current McPeake band and hear samples of their music on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/MCPEAKE/51053409251.

Ep. 25 – Irish Christmas Traditions

In this special holiday edition of the Engaging Ireland Podcast, Travis and Kathy take a look at some of the holiday traditions that have been practiced in Ireland over the years, and Travis presents a recital of the Kerry Christmas Carol, written by Sigerson Clifford.

Anne Roos was kind enough to allow use of her beautiful harp music for this episode. For further information on Anne and her music, visit her website at www.celticharpmusic.com or in iTunes.

The Engaging Ireland Podcast (www.engagingireland.com) presents information, interviews, and travel tips related to Ireland and Irish Culture. The podcast can also be found on iTunes and other media podcast outlets.  (Why are we talking ourselves in the third person here?  Well, that would be because this episode, and these shownotes were first released on Marc Gunn’s Celtic Christmas podcast!  Check out all the Christmasy goodness here: http://celticchristmaspodcast.com/)

MiniCast – The Gathering

In this brief MiniCast, we talk about the year long promotion being spearheaded by Fáilte Ireland in 2012.  This promotion, being called The Gathering, is really a series of cultural and sporting events that will take place throughout the year and is an effort by Fáilte Ireland to entice Irish people who have moved abroad and those of Irish ancestry to return to Ireland for a visit.  You can read more about The Gathering on our daily blog:


Also, more information about one of the sporting events taking place in 2012, the Notre Dame and Navy football game in Dublin, can be found here:


Two other websites where you might find more information about those events that make up The Gathering:



Ep. 24 – The Top 10 Gardens in Ireland

Powerscourt House and Gardens

Ireland boasts many beautiful and interesting gardens. In this episode, we highlight a few of our favorites. It’s difficult to narrow down our list to just ten, but we have made our choices. If you have a favorite garden, please feel free to send a comment telling us about your favorite garden and why it is special to you.

Remember, the list is no particular order! (more…)

Ep. 23 – Interview With Joe O’Flynn and Brian Bourke

Joe O'Flynn from Rathsallagh Country House Hotel and Brian Bourke from Glenlo Abbey Hotel

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joe O’Flynn, owner of Rathsallagh Country House Hotel, and Brian Bourke, owner of Glenlo Abbey Hotel. Both establishments are family-owned and operated, and Joe and Brian shared with us a bit of what it has been like to operate in these difficult economic times. Not only has there been a drop in the number of visitors to Ireland, but there has also been the issue of the “zombie hotels” to contend with. (more…)

Ep. 22 – Interview with Mags Downey Martin from the IHF

At the 2010 Milwaukee Irish Fest, Megs Downey Martin, from the Irish Hotels Federation, and the DownHill House Hotel in Ballina, County Mayo, took some time to speak with us regarding the current state of the Hotel Industry in Ireland, and what you should think about when booking a hotel or guest house for your next Irish stay.

Ep. 21 – Tourism Ireland Interview

In this episode, we sit down to talk with Marie McKown of Tourism Ireland to discuss current issues affecting Ireland tourism, such as how the recession has affected travel to and within Ireland and how the tourism industry in the country has reacted.


Engaging Ireland Minicast – The State of the Podcast

The Updated Podcast Studio

The Updated Podcast Studio

On this short episode we discuss changes to our recording capabilities and our website. And we briefly review our plans to attend the 30th anniversary of Milwaukee Irish Fest. (more…)