Wilde Irish Chocolates
Tuamgraney | Clare
Chocolate is probably the one food that’s practically irresistible. Even the exotic names of the Wilde products are a temptation – Hazelnut Duet, Mocha Mocha, Truffle Temptation. Wilde is the only Irish maker of Organic Fairtrade chocolate, certified by the Organic Trust. There’s also a range of conventional and sugar free hand-decorated products. All the chocolates are handmade by the ‘Wilde Team’ in a small artisan outlet in Tuamgraney.
Skelligs and Cocoa Bean Chocolate Company
Ballinskelligs | Kerry
The Skelligs Chocolate Company and Cocoa Bean Chocolate Company have their production factory and shop on the tip of the Ring of Kerry Peninsula, right by St Finian’s Bay. Skelligs chocolates were created for the luxury market. These truffles use best chocolate from France and Switzerland, married with superb quality ingredients in the flavoured centres. Regulars on the choccie tasting menu include Vanilla Ganache, Strawberry and Champagne and Cognac and Cappucino.
Chez Emily Fine Handmade Chocolates
Ashbourne | Meath
Magical would seem to be the appropriate word for the Chez Emily Chocolate Boutique on Ashbourne’s Main Street. The shop front design with its two large windows offer a tantalising glimpse of the treasures inside, and oh what treasures! With a selection of over 30 different types, the counter is chock-a-block with the most delicious-looking individual chocolates – rum and raisin, cognac, vanilla, crème caramel are just some of the tempting names. Flake truffle supreme, amandine, (truffle coated in roasted almond flakes), cocoa delights, chocolate Florentines, candied orange segments, cherry liqueurs – even the names conjure up images of delights to come.
Marlenes Chocolate Haven
Westport | Mayo
Tucked away in a lovely little courtyard off James Street in Westport is the delightful shop that is Marlene’s Chocolate Haven. Not only a haven but also an absolute heaven for chocolate lovers. How can you choose between 30 varieties of chocolates and truffles? Especially when they have enticing names such as Love Potion or Rose Cream?
Everybody loves FREE! And Ireland has plenty of it. Here is a short list of some of the free attractions and activities in Ireland.
Museums & Galleries: All Ireland’s National Museums are free of charge! Visit the Natural History, the Archaeology and History and the Decorative Arts and History Museums in Dublin and learn all about the country’s colorful past. Many Art Galleries are free too – try the National Gallery or Ireland’s Museum of Modern Art. http://www.museum.ie
St. George’s Market: One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, there has been a Friday market on the St. George’s site since 1604. Home to some of the finest fresh produce, this charming Victorian building attracts visitors from near and far to sample the delights of Friday and Saturday markets. Sample the produce, relax with a coffee and a newspaper against a backdrop of live jazz or flamenco music. This market is a real Saturday treat and a great outing for all the family.
St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast: Explore the treasures of this Irish-roman-style cathedral. Mounted on top of the cathedral is the new, modern spire, ‘Spire of Hope’, rising 100 metres above the city. http://www.belfastcathedral.org
The Causeway Coastal Route and the Giant’s Causeway (Co. Antrim): The Giant’s Causeway, the source of legends of gigantic proportions, is a 50 to 60 million year old landmark of Ireland’s natural and mystical beauty. Located in County Antrim, the causeway was named the fourth greatest natural wonder of the United Kingdom and is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Entry is free (although there is a fee for nearby parking). http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com
Downpatrick Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Tomb: This 19th century gothic cathedral was constructed on a sacred site. Its cemetery contains the tomb of St. Patrick. http://www.visitdownpatrick.com
Connemara National Park, Co. Galway: the park covers 2,957 hectares of magnificent landscape. The Interpretation Centre presents expositions on the fauna and flora, and a film. Visitors can make use of the hiking trails and picnic areas. http://www.connemaranationalpark.ie
Hunt Museum, Co. Limerick: Entry is free every Sunday between 14:00 to 17:00. One of the most beautiful private collections of art and antiques in the world, ranging from Neolithic to modern times, and includes a range of works by Renoir, Picasso and Yeats. http://www.huntmuseum.com
Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo: The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. http://www.croagh-patrick.com
Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry: one of the most popular parks in Ireland, its history-rich scenery will leave you speechless. Walk amongst its 10.236 hectares to see its Torc Waterfall. http://www.killarneynationalpark.ie
Muckross Friary & Gardens, Co. Kerry: This Franciscan Friary was founded in the 15th century and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The cloister and its associated buildings are complete and an old yew tree stands in the centre.
Kilmacurragh Arboretum in Co. Wicklow: Around the ruins of a fine Queen Anne style house lie 52 acres of wild Robinsonian gardens began in 1715 and further expanded with the advice of the Directors of the Botanic Gardens in Dublin during the 19th century. Rare trees and shrubs abound for you to explore. Admission is free.