10 things you have to do in Ireland in the fall
Fall is harvest time, and there’s nothing quite as tasty as heading to farmers markets – big and small – to pick up food fresh from the farm! Two special treats, though, have to be St George's Market in Belfast and the English Market in Cork, which have both been serving organic goods for centuries. Alternatively, head to the orchard county of Armagh, the home of the Bramley Apple, which has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status from the European Commission, and learn how to make your own cider, jam and juice. Yum.
“Is this Brazilian coffee?”, someone asked. “No," replied Joe, "that's Irish coffee." It's one of the many tales you'll hear at the Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in County Limerick. Invented in 1942 at Foynes Port, where planes en route from Europe to America would stop to refuel, Chef Joe Sheridan whipped it up one chilly evening for passengers delayed due to bad weather! Wind blowing outside? Take a sip of this classic.
You can’t journey around Ireland in the fall without stopping into a cozy café for a drop of tea or coffee. Preferably accompanied by some cake and pastry loveliness. Take an indulgent pitstop at Malahide’s Garden Café, Avoca’s Fern House in Wicklow or Established Coffee in Belfast to rest those weary bones.
Feel like reliving the thrill of all eight seasons in real life? Northern Ireland is Game of Thrones® territory and home to countless Seven Kingdoms filming locations. Bruised fall skies only add to the atmosphere whether you’re learning archery at Winterfell, meeting the direwolves or travelling the Kingsroad on horseback.
Is it a bird? Is it plane? No, wait, it is a bird. Millions of birds, in fact. Ireland holds the distinction of lying beneath some of the busiest bird migration routes in the world, and fall sees the arrival and departure of countless species including Canadian geese, Icelandic whooper swans and Eurasian golden orioles. Don't miss this feathered phenomenon.
No denying, there’s something wonderful about a walk through our kaleidoscope of colored forests, glens and coastlines. Fall in Ireland is Walking Festival Season, with organized trails turning a simple walk into something special. Try the Wicklow Walking Festival, County Wicklow or the Wee Binnian Walking Festival in the Mournes, County Down.
Surrounded by water, you’d kind of expect the island of Ireland to have some of the best spots in the world to whale watch! And, fall just happens to be one of the best times to see nature at its most dramatic. Humpbacks, minke and even the occasional orca can all be spotted doing their aquatic acrobatics along the Wild Atlantic Way. Charter a boat, grab a hot chocolate and go see some whales in the flesh. Or should that be blubber?
If you’re a lover of life’s finer things, the next-level luxury of Dromoland Castle, Lough Eske Castle and Ashford Castle will hit the spot, promising gourmet dining, award-winning spas and five-star standards. Fancy rubbing shoulders with the owners? Master of Wilton Castle, Sean Windsor, delights in sharing its story with visitors; while the 7th Earl of Erne has opened the doors of County Fermanagh’s Crom Castle for years.
Did you know that Halloween was invented in Ireland? Which is why we celebrate it in style! Voted the world’s best Halloween spot in a poll by USA Today’s 10 Best online poll, Derry Halloween festival in Derry~Londonderry beat out ghoulish competition including witch trial capital Salem, Massachusetts, and even Transylvania! Want to be even more spooked? Take a paranormal tour around Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol or Offaly's Leap Castle. Boo!
Ah, the Irish pub, no better place to duck inside on a cold day! Blazing open fires, warm welcomes and old-world knick-knacks aside, make sure to catch a traditional music session to get the complete experience. Here, among wooden corner booths, snugs and pints of Guinness, friends old and new trade melodies and ancient songs on an assortment of native instruments.