Ireland: the best free thing
What is the best thing to do in Ireland that is free? This was asked of me recently.
Ireland can be quite a pricey country, that’s true. But The National Museum of Ireland, in Dublin -- which is four museums, actually -- is free. I like the archeology part best myself, with learning how the bog people and the Vikings lived, seeing the Ardagh Chalice, which I’d often met in schoolbooks, in the real, and meditating on a pair of shoes said to have belonged to Saint Bridgid.
It also doesn't cost anything to cross the border into the north of Ireland and walk the walls of Derry, or to look at the murals there-- quite a span of history in those two things. You can stop in at the bookstore and tourist point at An Chulturlann in Belfast, too, to brush up on your Irish language and Irish history, and get advice on seeing the city. Back over in the republic, you can walk the longest main street in Ireland, in Letterkenny in Donegal, and see the ancient tombs at Carrowkeel. Just about anywhere in Ireland you’ll find water, in lakes, rivers, and seacoast. A walk along the edge of the waters and a listen to their music reminds that Ireland is an island, and water forms part of its identity.
The best thing to do in Ireland that is free, though, is just that, to listen
*To people talking with each other -- Ireland has many regional accents and turns of phrase, and should you be in a Gaeltacht area you may hear conversations in Irish as well. These days, conversations in other languages, neither Irish or English, are equally common. Listen to the rhythm of speech, and perhaps, strike up a conversation if you will. Many Irish people are good and generous listeners as well as talkers.
*To the music, which you will find in pubs, and clubs, dance halls and concert halls, at festivals, in churches, along the street from buskers, in people’s homes, and on the radio. Not all of it will be traditional Irish music. In fact, quite a bit of it will not be. Trad lives a vibrant life alongside chart hits of all genres, though, and that’s a fine thing.
*To the sound of the waters, and the sound of the landscape. Those are part of the music, the people, and the history.
Ireland will speak to you through all these if you let it, and none of them costs a thing.
you may also wish to see
fine ideas for no cost ways to explore while you travel from Doctor Jessica Voigts at Wandering Educators, along with great pictures from the west of Ireland and other places, as well
for ideas about frugal and sustainable living, check out the patchwork living blogging bee, a project from Kris Bordessa of Attainable Sustainable and Melanie McMinn of Frugal Kiwi.
and for music to go along
Music Road: holiday gift list: Irish music
Music Road: ceol chairlinn: sharing music in winter
Music Road: music and hope: Derry