During these strange and unprecedented times, most of us across the world are navigating new waters – from learning how to homeschool kids, getting used to joining virtual exercise classes in the garden and adjusting to life tele-commuting and remote working, setting up home offices in spare bedrooms and kitchens – we’re all in the same boat.
For those of you getting a bit of cabin fever and wanderlust, missing the beauty and culture of Ireland, we’ve compiled a list of a few websites that may be of interest to you, under two main headings: Culture & Activity. To help you get inspired, this list covers everything from virtual museum exhibits, live music, online learning, live exercise classes, beginners yoga and pilates sessions, community-based learning groups, and YouTube and video series. We hope to be updating regularly as more resources become available. We hope you enjoy!
Can’t visit Ireland (or even the local museums), but missing a tour of the museums? Check out this comprehensive list of Irish museum exhibits’ online exhibits. Sure, its not the same thing as going there, but the amount of interesting things you’ll learn is vast, and you’ll have a solid background for your next visit to Ireland.
Visit everything from the National Archeology Museum to Glasnevin Cemetery, Kilmainham Gaol, the Leprechaun Museum, Waterford Treasures and more.
Okay, yes, you got us. We know that The British Museum is in London, not in Ireland. But we just had to include this online resource here as the virtual exhibits are amazing! Instead of a 360 tour of the physical building, this is 100% online exhibit, and lets you choose what region and era are of interest to you.
Broken up into Europe, Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Africa and organised chronologically, this museum really pulled all the stops.
Pro tip: Each artefact has a short description, but you can choose to listen to an explanation by an expert as well.
One of the biggest museums in Dublin is EPIC, the museum of Irish emigration. Wish you could have a wander around the museum and learn about the the Irish diaspora? Why not take a virtual wander a look at their online tour! Pro tip: Use the Floor Plan view to all of the various themes so can find the one you want to learn about.
While no plays or shows are put on at the moment, the theatre community has found a new way to come together to create and share their work. Commissioning writers from Ireland, USA, China and Italy to write monologues performed by actors, they’re released in four parts on their YouTube channel.
You can also keep up to date on Irish culture on Discover Ireland’s Stay At Home page, which should be updated regularly.
Homebound? Now’s the perfect time to do an online class or two! FutureLearn is a great resource, providing free classes on various subjects in partnership with universities across the world, including Trinity College, Ireland’s top university.
FutureLearn offers a few levels of Introduction to Irish Language and Culture as well as a stellar course dedicated to Ireland’s most famous manuscript, the Book of Kells (now housed at Trinity), which we highly recommend! (In addition to these classes, FutureLearn also offer a wealth of other courses on a wide array of subjects, including other history classes, health, the COVID pandemic, business, IT, literature, politics, and more.)
Ever been curious about the Irish language? Why not use your extra free time to learn a bit? Pop Up Gaeltacht ar gCoraintín is a great resource for anyone who has an interest in learning a bit of the Irish language. They have online Pop-Up groups every Saturday. All are welcome, and they have a specific group for beginners.
Join in any Saturday at 7pm Irish/BST time. On your next trip to Ireland, you’ll dazzle everyone with your new knowledge of Irish Gaelic!
*Welcome to Ireland!
Ok so herbology might be a course in Harry Potter. But herbalism, herbal medicine and foraging are very real things, and here in Ireland, we have a great tradition of them all. Imbas Herbs and Foraging is an herbalist who has done a few videos on local plants, foraging and herbs to help you get acquainted with the countryside.
Pro tip: she talks about dandelion leaves for use in salads, but did you know you can use dandelion roots to make coffee? Learn how to here, from our very own Lucianne Hare.
Want more Irish literature in your life? You could dive into Oscar Wilde (we recommend The Picture of Dorian Grey or The Importance of Being Earnest), jump into the poetry of W.B. Yeats (we love the “The Lake Isle of Inisfree”) or Seamus Heaney (check out “Digging”). Maybe you want classic horror – such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Or perhaps modern writers like Eoin Colfer, John Connolly, Sebastian Barry or Sally Rooney are more your style. Want more Irish lit details? See here.
However, reading’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner, how about going to an Irish play? Okay, so no, you can’t quite visit a theatre right now. But you could watch JM Synge’s often-overlooked classic, The Playboy of the Western World, filmed and made available online during the current pandemic, provided by Druid & Wildfire Films. Pause Netflix for a bit, and soak up a bit of Irish literary culture!
Mayo Dark Skies is a wonderful centre in the rural hills of County Mayo, and is founded by one of our very own guides, Georgia MacMillan.
They have created and shared some interesting videos about the night sky and Ireland’s dark skies. They are also doing virtual “Moon walks” on the full moon, teaching you about the phasing of the moon, moongazing and the best time to view the craters of the moon.
Pro tip: Read Georgia’s blog to learn all about Ireland’s dark skies.
The Black Castle Observatory in Co Cork have a “Daily Astro Challenge” – a few short videos designed to familiarise you with the night sky, building on what you learn in early videos for a deeper understanding of the night sky.
The night sky slowly changes over the course of the year, but most changes are quite slow, so even if you miss a video it’s useful for some time after release.
See the link below to past daily challenges linked to their Facebook and Twitter sites, or check their social media pages for new videos.
Culture Ireland is working with all types of musicians across Ireland to put on Ireland Performs, a short-term series to showcase online performances by artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Events are all streamed through the artist’s social media channels (they will also be on Culture Ireland’s Facebook page).
Pro tip: Sort by “Past Events” or “Upcoming Events” as well as tags such as “music,” “poetry” or “families” etc, depending on what you’re looking for.
Missing Irish tunes? County Sligo’s lovely little theatre, the Hawk’s Well Theatre, is putting up live recordings with daily and even twice-daily performances. Learn about traditional Irish song and lyrics, listen to the fiddle, and get acquainted with Irish trad (traditional) music with these short and sweet performances, perfect to fit into your workday.
Pro tip: tune in Mon-Fri at 1 pm for a “trad tune” on the fiddle, or Irish songs at 5pm daily as well as weekend guest performances.
Ok, you got us again. The Lockdown Gigs are Scotland-based, but since we’ve been enjoying his music, and he works in a bit of Irish song to his playlist, we’ve included cheerful Inverness musician Davy Holt and his nightly “live” music performances. His live sessions last approximately 1 hour from 19h-20h BST, and each night usually has a theme.
Pro tip: you can request songs, though its best to request them in advance to give him time to familiarise himself with the lyrics!
Every Friday, at 8pm Irish time, tune in to various Irish performers through the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, on their YouTube or Facebook pages. Don’t worry if those times don’t work for you – you can always catch their videos on their YouTube channel. With videos about 40 minutes long, this makes perfect background music to listen to during your work day!
Pro tip: All the music is lovely, of course. But the violin duet by award-winning performers Mairead Hickey and Yoan Brakha is pure magic.
Besides from keeping up with the culture and keeping your mind active, you might want to keep your body active too. Sports and exercise is a great stress reliever and probably something that most of you take for granted. Now is a time when life is far from normal, and depending on your country or state’s restrictions, you may or may not be able to get out and about.
Read on to find a few Irish resources about keeping fit so you’re ready for the trails when life goes back to normal!
Are you missing the gym or your local exercise class? Not able to get out running or cycling or swimming since you’re staying at home? Or perhaps you’re someone who finds more motivation to exercise in groups rather than individually?
Irish gym chain Ben Dunne gyms has solved the problem of gym closures by putting on free daily live exercise classes on Facebook and Instagram!
Everyday at 12pm BST, as well as some days at 10am BST and 5pm BST, join Ben Dunne’s enthusiastic trainers on Facebook Live as they lead you in a variety of classes from strength and conditioning to ab workouts, yoga, and HIIT classes. Even if those timings don’t work for you, don’t worry – you can always do the classes in your own time. Take this chance to join in new classes and workouts!
Some classes require weights but if you don’t have any at home, don’t worry – the trainers will give you some DIY tricks to add weights to your workouts.
Pro tip: Have a request? Leave a comment or contact them! They have done a fantastic job at responding to attendees wishes, whether that be adding more class times, using other platforms, or adding more workouts.
Sligo-based pilates instructor Sinead Henry started a YouTube channel to post weekly pilates workouts. These workouts are perfect for beginners as well as those of you who might be more familiar with pilates. Her workouts, which run from 12 – 40 minutes, are short enough to fit into a lunch break!
For most videos, all you need is an exercise mat; weights and an exercise band are optional extras.
Pro tip: Check out her abs video! Don’t just do one workout – after a couple of classes, you’ll start to notice you can do more and more of the exercises.
The pandemic can be a time of stress for a variety of reasons. One of the best ways to deal with stress is to do yoga. Whether you’ve already been attending yoga classes or are only just starting, this Irish yoga teacher will lead you on a series of guided yoga classes and breathing exercises, designed to help alleviate stress and increase flexibility. She has some videos on her site, and she is also offering free Zoom classes for those who sign up.
Don’t let all your hard work to get mountain fit for your hiking trip in Ireland go to waste! We’re working with some of our guides in regards to creating videos and articles on how to stay “mountain fit” – i.e. ready to hike the trails.
In the meantime, Mountaineering Ireland, Ireland’s representative body for walkers, hikers and climbers, have a few suggestions on staying fit for the hills. There aren’t any videos here, but hopefully these few exercises give you an idea of what kind of activities you’ll want to be sure you incorporate in your daily and weekly workouts, and why.
We’ve asked our guides and office staff to create videos of what we’re up to during the lockdown.
From bread-baking to local heritage, from music to foraging to gardening to running, check out our videos to learn more.