2011 is 'The Year of the Craft' in Ireland. Festivals and events are taking place throughout the Emerald Isle. Breathtaking scenery, a country steeped in history and the worlds' most friendly people remain ones' first impression of this land. The history buff and hiker are welcome. For now, crafts rule.
Crafts cover a wide spectrum of interests ranging from commercial ventures to local entrepreneurs. On a large scale are the stunning pieces of crystal from the Waterford factory. Skilled craftsmen work with precision in the blasting heat of their furnaces. Tours are given. It must be noted, there are no 'seconds'. Imperfections are tossed.
Two other commercial ventures requiring the skill of a craftsman are the beer and whiskey facilities. Tastings are more than welcome. Both Guiness and Jameson give tours as well. Lace making from the local to the commercial appear everywhere. Hand knit sweaters and wide variety of uses for the mountains of sheared wool abound. Crafted jewelry featuring Celtic designs temp the traveler. Claddagh rings and the ubiquitous shamrock-inspired pieces can be purchased.
Traveling to Ireland can involve everything from individual itineraries to guided tours Unless one is proficient in driving 'on the wrong side of the road', a tour guide could be the most expeditious way to go.
No matter how much or how little you immerse yourself in this culture it will hands down likely be that you will come away enriched by this 'crafty' experience