Traveller Ian Wright journeys through a land which,
though ripped apart by political conflict, is renowned
for its hospitality. The spirit of good time is known
only in Ireland as the craic.
Ian begins his trip on the spectacular Antrim
coast in Northern Ireland, boasting a geological
wonder known as Giant's Causeway. The
origins and name of this rocky landmark are enshrouded
in myth and speculation, though Ian has his own theories.
Belfast is the city where Northern
Ireland's political troubles have been most intense.
Ian takes a cab ride through the city and learns about
the perils of Belfast life, and the terrifying events
his driver has witnessed. That evening Ian tours the
lively bars and clubs of the city on a mission to discover
for himself the true meaning of craic.
From Belfast Ian heads south towards Dublin.
His journey takes him through the county of Armagh - known as bandit country due to the troubles - where
he joins a game of road bowls. He also takes a detour
to Boa Island in Fermanagh in order to visit a statue called Janus - a 2000 year
old fertility symbol which was one of the first Christian
When he finally reaches Dublin Ian spends the evening
at the Dublin Music Centre, hotbed
of burgeoning Irish talent following in the footsteps
of the internationally successful band U2. Also on the
entertainment agenda is the semi-final hurling match
between Kilkenny and Cork. It's the world's oldest surviving
stick and ball game, faster than hockey and even more
violent then rugby.
Ian travels by train to Cobh in County
Cork, a seaside town which was once a major
shipping port and final resting place of victims of
the Lusitania, sunk by a German submarine in the first
World War. While he's in the vicinity of Cork Ian visits Blarney Castle, Ireland's most popular
tourist spot where each year thousands come to kiss
the Blarney stone, reputed to give you the gift of the
gab. Not that Ian needs it!
From Cork Ian gets on his bike and heads for the border
with Kerry, where Gaelic is the first language and where
the scenery, dotted with Celtic ruins, is regarded as
the most beautiful in Ireland. Thirty miles off the
coast of Galway lies Inishmor, the
largest of the three Aran Islands and the location of
bronze-age archaeological site Dun Aengus.
Every year there's a festival in Inishmor to celebrate
traditional island life. Ian takes part in a boat race
in flimsy vessels which were used for hunting whales
until the beginning of the 20th century. After the festival
everyone joins in the caille, a traditional celtic knees
Back on the mainland Ian hikes through the wilderness
of Connemara and Donegal.
The farmers of Connemara eke out a living cutting fuel
from the century old peat bogs. Ian hears amazing local
legends and reports of centuries-old articles being
preserved intact in the peat. Next day he enlists a
local fisherman to take him out in his boat to fish
for mackerel near Slieve League Cliffs, before attempting a gruelling hike up Croagh
Patrick, where Ireland's patron saint Patrick
spent 40 days fighting serpents and demons in 441. At
the end of July thousands of barefoot pilgrims hike
to the top to pay homage to the saint.
The final leg of Ian's journey takes him across the
sea again to inaccessible Tory Island.
The tiny island is famous because it has it's own king,
a convivial fellow who makes it his duty to welcome
visitors off the boat. The 125 strong community is thriving
and has a school of artists. Local artist Anton Meaghnan
gets his inspiration from the rich culture of mythology.
He takes Ian to the wishing stone, where Ian ends his
Irish adventure perched on the edge of a dangerous cliff,
throwing stones at a wishing stone in gale force winds.