Thursday, October 28, 2010

Traditional Halloween Celebrations

Halloween is fast approaching and what better place to spend your Halloween break, than in Ireland.

Truly an Irish Holiday, the celebration of Halloween started in Ireland around 100AD by the Celts. The Celts called their pagan festival “Samhain”, an old Irish word meaning the ‘end of summer’ because the celebration marked the first day of winter and the end of the harvest season. The Celts believed that on the eve of Samhain, the dead spirits would revisit the mortal world. Folklorists have chronicled how at Halloween hobgoblins, evil spirits and fairies were busy abducting individuals to fairy land!

Of course the Americanized version is somewhat different, it is easy to see the direct link to past traditions. Here are just some of the ancient traditions of Halloween in Ireland.

Jack O Lanterns
Most people associate the pumpkin with the Jack O Lantern, but did you know that the Jack O Lantern originated as a turnip? Old Irish tradition was to hang the Jack O Lantern as part of the festival lights to ward off evil spirits.

Trick or Treating
This old Irish Halloween custom originated centuries ago when the poor would go to the rich and ask for food or money to use for their celebration of Halloween. Children were disguised with masks and costumes to embody the evil spirits.

Samhain was a fire festival and Halloween celebrations in Ireland usually involved lighting a bonfire. The Celts lit huge bonfires on the hills so the spirits could find their way. It is also said that the fires would ward away evil spirits. An old Irish tale suggests that if you drop a strand of your hair into the flames and dream of your future mate, your dream would come true! Bonfires continue to be a huge part of Halloween festivities in Ireland and are lit throughout the country.

Mysterious fortunetelling rites were popular during the Halloween celebrations. Many customs to foretell ones future were practiced. One popular tradition is the Barnbrack, a fruit bread with various items baked inside. The items varied from region to region, with each of the items signifying different things. Some of the items baked inside would be: a pea, a ring, a thimble and a bean. If your piece contained: the pea, you would be wealthy; the bean, you would be poor; a thimble, you would not marry; and if you found the ring, you would be wed within the year. At Halloween, in Ireland, the shelves of local supermarkets are packed with every kind of Barnbrack.

Experience this time old tradition in Ireland, where there is no better place to be at Halloween. Start planning your Ireland Vacation with Celtic Tours Vacation Builder!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Experience Spain: Small Group Tour

Experience Spain -
Small Group Vacation
Our new Spain Experience tour is designed for small groups of 10 or more. Great for Family and Friends.

Experience these inclusions on your tour:

*Three nights four star hotel in Madrid - BW Santo Domingo.
*Three nights four star hotel in Barcelona - Ayre Gran Via.
*Round-trip airport transfers.
* Continental breakfast daily, except for day of arrival.
*Second class rail tickets between Madrid and Barcelona.
*Local hotel taxes.
*Celtic Tours flight bag and portfolio of travel documents.

Celtic Tours is pleased to offer 2 touring options in conjuntion with your Experience Spain Package. Choose from the Best of Toledo and the Half-Day Escorted tour of Montserrat Monastery. Tours must be booked at time of reservation or before documents are shipped.

Book Your Spain Vacation Today!

Please note - hotels are on request and subject to change. Tour prices based on a minimum of 10 participants. Higher priced tour may be offered with fewer passengers. Full details will be provided by our reservation staff - and for further information please call 1-800-833-4373.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Celtic Dream Tour

Our premier tour offers you an updated itinerary in 2011. This tour has added attractions for 2011 and features most of the major historic and scenic attractions of Ireland. The Celtic Dream is acknowledged by visitors and Travel Agents as being the best value tour offered to Ireland. This wonderful Celtic Dream Vacation is offered in a 12 day or 13 day option!

Your Celtic Dream tour includes:

  • First Class and Superior First Class hotels throughout.
  • Full Irish breakfast daily, except day of arrival.
  • Dinner each evening except for two nights in Dublin, including a traditional medieval castle banquet and traditional Irish entertainment and dinner in Dublin.
  • Full sightseeing by Deluxe Touring Motorcoach.
  • Professional Irish driver/guide to escort you through out.
  • Visit to Rathbaun Farm to see an actual working farm, including coffee/tea and Irish Farmhouse scones.
  • Lough Foyle Ferry.
  • Visits to: Whitefriar Church, Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilkenny Castle, Cobh Heritage Center, Blarney, Dingle Peninsula, Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Cliffs of Moher, Rathbaun Farm, Galway Crystal Factory, Belleek Pottery Factory, Glenveagh Castle and National Park, Fort Dunree, Moville Pottery, Giants Causeway, Titanic Docks & Pump House.
  • Porterage of one (1) suitcase per person.
  • Tips and taxes in Ireland. Gratuities to the driver/guide not included.
  • Celtic Tours flight bag and portfolio of travel documents.

Learn More About This Exciting  Celtic Dream Vacation

Act Quickly on our EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT, save $100 PP on selected departures. (Limited to the first 10 passengers on deposit. May not be combined with group or any other discounts).

Celtic Lore: Banshees

Irish folklore is an integral part of the Irish culture. It adds a richness and sense of magic and mystery to the history of Ireland. In Irish Folklore, the Banshee is known as an ancestral spirit of the Fairy World. Their history extends way back into the dim and mysterious past. They enjoy the same mythical status in Ireland as fairies and leprechauns. Banshees continue to appear in modern fiction that deals with mythology, folklore or the supernatural.

Banshees are among the oldest of the Fairy Folk of Ireland. Said to be appointed to forewarn members of Irish families of impending death; to hear a Banshee in the act of keening is to have witnessed the announcement of the death of a loved one.

Famous tales of Banshee sightings are plentiful. Descriptions of the Banshee vary but she usually appears in one of three guises: young woman, stately matron or raddled old hag. The banshee may also appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel. According to legend, each Banshee mourns for members of one family.

Discover the magical mystery on a Tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours. Learn more about Celtic Tours World Vacations.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hill of Tara

Discover the lore, myth and legend surrounding this ancient power spot and let the magic and spirit of this enchanted place harmonize within.

The Hill of Tara, located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex in County Meath, Ireland. It contains a number of ancient monuments and, according to tradition, was the seat of the High King of Ireland. Many Irish High Kings were simultaneously Kings of Tara. The title King of Tara represented a very old ideal of sacred kingship in Ireland, imbued with mythical aura stretching deep into the long-forgotten past.

For many centuries, historians worked to uncover Tara's mysteries, and suggested that from the time of the first Celtic influence until the 1169 invasion of Richard de Clare, the Hill of Tara was the island's political and spiritual capital. Recent scholarship claims that Tara was not so much a true seat of kingship, but a sacral site associated with kingship rituals. The earliest records, dating back to 600 AD, attest that high Kings were inaugurated there, and that they had to drink ale and symbolically marry the goddess Maeve to acquire the high-kingship.

Tours of the mystical Hill of Tara include an audio-visual show. The highlights of the visit may include walking up the ceremonial entrance and touching Tara’s ancient and magical Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, the legendary treasure from the Fairy Kingdom. As much of the tour is outdoors visitors are advised to wear protective clothing and shoes suitable for walking over uneven terrain.

Discover the lore, myth and legend on your Ireland Vacation with Celtic Tours. Learn more about Celtic Tours World Vacations

Extending Hours

Celtic Tours is pleased to announce the extension of business hours.

In order to better serve travel agents on the west coast, Celtic Tours announced that we will now be open at 8:30 and close at 7:00 PM EST Monday – Thursday. And Friday 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST.

During these extended hours, we will be available to assist you in all your travel needs. Try it out, call us at 1-800-833-4373.

Or visit us online at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

St. Patrick's Week 2011 in Ireland

St Patrick's Week, Ireland

St. Patrick's Week, Ireland: Escorted Motorcoach Tour!

March 11-18, 2011: Land From $949 PP Sharing

The whole world is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! And Dublin is the stage for the biggest and best St. Patrick’s celebrations in the world, the St. Patrick’s Festival. Thousands of Irish people and visitors alike will paint the town green for six fantastic, fun-filled days.

Join in and celebrate St. Patrick's Day festivities in Ireland on this scenic fun-filled tour. Visit Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Killarney & Kildare before taking part in the St Patrick's Day parade and festivities in Dublin.
This exciting tour features 11 meals including a night of traditional entertainment and dinner at the Merry Ploughboy Pub or similar.

Your St. Patrick's Week 2011 tour includes:

  • First Class and Superior First Class hotels for 6 Nights.
  • 6 Full Irish breakfasts.
  • Four (4) hotel dinners.
  • One night traditional entertainment and dinner at the Merry Ploughboy Pub or similar in Dublin.
  • Opportunity to view the St. Patrick's Day in Dublin.
  • Full sightseeing by Deluxe Touring Motorcoach.
  • Professional Irish driver/guide to escort you through out.
  • Visits to Cliffs of Moher, Foynes Flying Boat Museum and tour the ring of Kerry
  • Optional visit to Blarney Castle and Blarney Woollen Mills
  • Porterage of one (1) suitcase per person.
  • Tips and taxes in Ireland.
    Gratuities to the driver/guide not included.
  • Celtic Tours flight bag and portfolio of travel documents.
Learn More

***These specials are for new bookings only

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Irish Mead

Traditionally, when people speak of Irish Wine, they are referring to a unique drink made from white wine, honey, and herbs called Meade. This wine was said to have been first made in secret by Irish Monks. Its origins, however are lost in pre-history with the earliest archeological evidence dating back to 7000 BC.

Mead is best known as the ancient drink of Ireland, where it was relished by the High Kings of Tara, and ever after down through medieval times, to today. Mead is considered a creative alternative to more traditional wines and compliments all meals. One excellent label of mead in Ireland today is an Irish honey wine made in Bunratty. A version of Bunratty Mead, labeled "Bunratty Meade," is imported in the United States. It is a white wine with honey and herbs added. Though very good, it is not quite the same as the Bunratty Mead served in its home town in Ireland. Traditional Irish Mead can be sampled during the famous Bunratty Medieval Banquets.

For all things Irish, Old World, and New Age, mead (or meade) is a cutting edge honey wine to serve at parties, holidays, and informal gatherings. Actually, mead has been an "in" drink for a very long time, as in over 2000 years. There are many artful ways to serve mead.

In Ireland, a traditional way to serve mead is hot, in earthen mugs. This hearkens back to the belief in its serving in the old times, at medieval tables to banish the damp and chill of a rainy climate. There are several ways hot mead can be served, similar to hot cider. As a light wine, mead is good served cold. Simply chill and pour straight glasses of the chilled wine from the bottle to serve with main courses. For a truly Irish Experience: stop into the Galway Crystal Factory to purchase Dolmen Goblets. The distinctive Celtic pattern created in the Waterford Dolmen collection has been at the heart of Irish artistry for centuries. For those captivated by the romance and mythology of Ireland, Waterford Dolmen is the link to Waterford’s Celtic past.

Sample your traditional Irish Mead at a Bunratty Medieval Banquet. Bunratty is a featured stop on the Celtic Tours 2011 Celtic Dream Tour of Ireland. This amazing Ireland Vacation is available in a 12 day and 13 day option! Other sights you will see along the way: Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilkenny Castle, Cobh Heritage Center, Blarney, Foynes Flying Boat Musuem, Cliffs of Moher, Rathbaun Farm, Galway Crystal Factory, Belleek Pottery Factory, Glenveagh Castle and National Park, Fort Dunree, Moville Pottery, Giants Causeway, Titanic Docks & Pumphouse…Wow, what an amazing Celtic Dream. Learn more about this tour.

You can also add the Banquet onto any Celtic Tours package to Ireland for $89 PP, entertainment and 4 course meal included. Learn More about Celtic Tours Ireland Vacation Packages

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Golf Ireland: Carne, Enniscrone & Ballina

Great West Golf Package from $416 pp
No Weak Links! Enjoy 3 top courses - accommodations - car rental - and so much more!

Great West Golf Ireland Package
An experience like no other! Golf three of the finest courses; Carne, Enniscrone and Ballina.

This Irish Golf Vacation Package for four includes:

* Play three courses - at Carne, Enniscrone and Ballina
* 3-Nights Accommodations at selected hotel below (subject to availability at time of booking).
* Full Irish breakfast daily - except day of arrival.
* One dinner
* Van rental - standard shift. Upgrade to automatic available.
* Collision Damage Waiver included.
* FREE Celtic Tours 5-minute phone card
* Shannon Region 25% discount off entrance to the Shannon Regions top Attractions and Activities.

Golf + Downhill House Hotel
Oct 2010 Land - only $635 pp (based on 4 person)
Nov 2010 Land - only $442 pp (based on 4 persons)
Feb 01-Mar 31, 2011 Land - only $416 pp (based on 4 persons)
Apr 2011 Land - only $599 pp (based on 4 persons)

Golf + Luxury Mount Falcon Hotel
Oct-Nov 30 2010 Land - only $669 pp (based on 4 person)
Feb 01-Apr 30, 2011 Land - only $633 pp (based on 4 persons)

Extend your package - 3 nights Open B&B vouchers & Van rental from $218 pp!
Rates also available for non-golfers and larger parties with private driver.

With Celtic Tours - no small print and never any hidden charges!

Learn More

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whitefriar Church, Dublin, Ireland

Whitefriar Church is a Roman Catholic Church set in Dublin, Ireland. The church is noted for having the relics of St. Valentine. In 1835 Pope Gregory XVI decided to make the church a gift to St. Valentine’s body. The Whitefiar Shrine to St. Valentine has been and continues to be a place of pilgrimage for those celebrating love, gained or lost.

The church also contains relics of St. Albert, a Sicilian who died in 1306. On his feast day (August 7), a relic of the saint is dipped into the water of St. Albert's Well and is said to grant healing of body and mind those who use the water.

Whitefriar Church also contains a life-size black oak statue of Our Lady of Dublin. Local legend with tenuous documentary suggest that the statue originated in St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, Mary Street, Dublin. Stylistically, the statue resembles early sixteenth century wooden statuary and probably dates from that period. Originally brightly painted, the figure had been later whitewashed over, unfortunately, the removal of the whitewash in 1914 also took off the ancient polychrome surface as well. The feast-day of Our Lady of Dublin is celebrated on September 8.

The Whitefriar Church is a new featured stop on Celtic Tours Irish Rambler Tour! The Irish Rambler Tour is a premier escorted motorcoach tour with a  fabulous new itinerary featuring Dublin, Galway and Killarney! Visit new sights like the Whitefriar Church and enjoy the scenic rugged beauty of Connemara and enjoy Dinner and Irish entertainment in Dublin. Learn More about this great tour!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Traditional Irish Cuisine

Traditional Irish Cuisine

The first ingredient that comes to mind when most people think of Irish cuisine is the potato. Irish culinary history can be traced back to three periods: pre-potato, post-potato and sans potato (the potato blight).

It is safe to say that the potato is a fundamental part of the Irish diet, and that no meal is complete without the inclusion of the potato in some shape or form. In Ireland, potato bread, aka potato farl, is a staple of Irish breakfast.

Of course the only true way to experience the wholesome goodness of traditional Irish cuisine is to enjoy the fresh home baking in Ireland itself. But here is a recipe for traditional Irish potato bread that you can prepare at home.

Ingredients for Irish potato bread

3 oz plain flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, Pinch of salt, 1 oz butter, 8oz mashed potatoes, 2 tablespoons milk, Butter to serve, Handful of scallions, if desired


Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, rub in the butter using the fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add in the scallions now if you are using them.

Stir in the mashed potato and enough milk to make soft but not loose dough. Roll out onto a floured board into a round approx ½ inch thick and mark into quarters without cutting right through the potato farl.
Place on a greased baking tray and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes

Experience the wholesome goodness of traditional Irish Cooking in Ireland. Plan your Irish Vacation

Networked Blogs