After some of the longest Covid-19 restrictions in Europe, Ireland is looking to 2022 and beyond with optimism.
After 20 months of Covid-19 restrictions, one of the longest stretches in Europe, Ireland recently lifted its 20:00 curfew on restaurants, bars, and indoor events and removed limits on the number of people gathered. As a result, residents are heralding the return of the craic, the atmosphere of fun and conversation that permeates the Irish social scene.
“Spring is in the air, figuratively and literally,” said Dublin resident Ray Commins, founder of walking tour company Generation Tours. “There’s a real sense of optimism as we emerge from a winter (two in fact) of discontent. I don’t think there’s been a spring or summer we’ve looked forward to more in my time.”
Nowhere is that more evident than in the classic Irish pubs, where socialising and singing have finally returned – a culture no longer taken for granted by the locals.
“We missed it dearly as a society here, and having it back is an incredible boost to morale,” said Commins.
McCabe has also been excited to see a renewed commitment to local eating here. “Ireland has really embraced the farm-to-table ethos,” she said. “It’s quite common for restaurants to list their sources on their menus – a locavore’s paradise!”
Ireland has really embraced the farm-to-table ethos
Some of her favourite spots include Kildair-based Aimsir, which serves only food grown, harvested, fished or foraged within the Emerald Isle’s borders; and the Wicklow Escape, a small inn 50km south of Dublin that pairs its garden lodgings with local specialties like wild boar and venison pie and Atlantic cod and scallops.
To further connect visitors with the land, McCabe often takes visitors to Cnoc Suain, a hillside settlement on the west coast within a Special Area of Conservation in the Connemara region. The founders offer events and education in the cultural heritage of the region as well as its unique bogland ecology.