Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic

Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh: An Insider’s Tour of the Emerald Isle


Always Ireland: An Insider’s Tour of the Emerald Isle is a brand new travel guide by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic that offers an insider’s tour of Ireland.

Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh features literary pubs of Dublin, great Irish drives, compelling history, regional recipes and cocktails, and over 300 National Geographic images.


It was written to give friends from abroad a gateway to the best aspects of our homeland. These includes Ireland’s landscapes, special places, food and drink, the best of Irish culture, and of course, its people.’

– Jack Kavanagh


ALWAYS IRELAND BY JACK KAVANAGH - AN INSIDER'S TOUR OF THE EMERALD ISLE - THE LIFE OF STUFF


About Jack Kavanagh

Justin ‘Jack’ Kavanagh grew up in Wicklow, Ireland and studied English Literature and Philosophy at UCD (University College Dublin) before taking his writing career worldwide, from London to Tokyo, New York and Washington D.C. to Philadelphia – where he now resides when he isn’t exploring his home in the West of Ireland.

Jack has written and edited numerous guidebooks for National Geographic which have included Ireland, Cuba, New York City and Japan. He is also the author of National Geographic Complete National Parks of Europe, and a soon to be published Unesco World Heritage Sites book.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - Jack Kavanagh


When Jack isn’t writing world travel and culture guides for National Geographic, he leads the National Geographic Expeditions ‘Ireland: Tales and Traditions of the Emerald Isle’ tours.

And if that resumé hasn’t got you hooked then these personal favourite features of Jack’s, excerpted from his book, ‘Always Ireland: An Insider’s Tour of the Emerald Isle‘ will surely inspire you.

Due for release in February 2023, you can pre-order your copy here: Always Ireland: An Insider’s Tour of the Emerald Isle.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - Book Cover


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh – Travel Ireland Inspiration


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh:

The Landscape: Glendalough and the Wicklow Way

Because I grew up in the Garden of Ireland, my happy valley is in Wicklow, the sacred ancient site of Glendalough. And my own karmic Camino is the Wicklow Way.

There is something truly timeless about approaching this 6th-century monastic site of St. Kevin on foot. Start out from Glencree, head across Wicklow Mountains National Park, and stop to gaze in gratitude at landmarks such as Lough Tay (the Guinness Lake), the Sally Gap, and Glenmacnass Waterfall. You’ll arrive at Glendalough with tired limbs and a soothed soul.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - Glendalough - Photo by Jeff Mauritzen
Glendalough or “the valley of the two lakes” is the site of an early Christian monastic settlement nestled in the Wicklow mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland. Photo by Jeff Mauritzen

Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh:

A Special Place: Dingle

A summer’s day spent in Dingle is like escaping the real world and entering into the Kerry Dreamtime, a dangerously seductive mindset where all urgent cares are dismissed with a local shrug of “arrah, time enough…” So it’s small wonder that one of nature’s most intelligent creatures (a dolphin) stayed on for decades after finding Dingle Bay.

A day in Dingle. Where to start? Maybe a leisurely coffee on any of the harbourside eateries. A stroll uptown takes you past Murphy’s Ice Cream shop, which tempts the sweet-toothed with flavors such as Salann, Dingle Sea Salt, made from seawater collected at Bín Bán beach. The Dingle Distillery, just west of town, offers other elemental tastes of the Kingdom; their delicious gin and warming whiskeys are made with water from a well 800 feet deep.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry photo by Lukas Tennie
Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry photo by Lukas Tennie

After indulging your earthly appetites, stop into the Diseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture to meditate on the celestial beauty of Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows. Across the road, on Green Street, you’ll find the most musical 102 feet in Ireland. The Dingle Record Shop is staffed by two of the Kingdom’s most knowledgeable musos, owner Bryan Lee and musician Mazz O’Flaherty.

Further along Green Street, there’s nowhere better for a quiet afternoon pint than in the snug at Dick Mack’s. Later, after a fish supper at The Fish Box, also on Green Street, head to Main Street for an evening of traditional music and dance at Paul Geaney’s pub.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh:

The Food & Drink: Guinness and Oysters

Get yourself to Galway in late September and you’ll enjoy one of Ireland’s great culinary combinations at the International Oysters and Seafood Festival. A more quintessential tasting board of the island you could not hope to locate: A plate of succulent oysters, raised at Dunbulcan Bay, washed down with a creamy pint of plain.

The salty delicacy born of Atlantic waters, cleansed by the stout’s smooth flavors, brewed from the harvests of this temperate land: roasted barley, malted barley, hops, and yeast. All combined with the one ingredient that makes it richer here than anywhere else on the planet, Ireland’s abundant freshwater.

The festival is one final bacchanalian blowout for Galwegians before they face into a long western winter. Their endless summer revelries include the Galway Arts Festival in July and the Galway Races in August.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - Wolfwalkers - Cartoon Saloon - Wolfwalkers Wolf poster by Ciaran Duffy
Wolfwalkers Wolf poster by Cartoon Saloon painter, illustrator and designer Ciaran Duffy

Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh:

The Culture

Always Ireland features a running sidebar on films set in various parts of Ireland, and in places such as New York, which the Irish have long since colonized. Filmmaking is largely how we tell the great stories of the 21st century.

Yet I also discovered Irish films relating ancient tales in new and surprising ways. Tomm Moore’s Irish folklore trilogy renders timeless stories in hand-drawn animation. The Kilkenny-based animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, has produced three delightful classic tales of Gaelic Ireland: The Secret of Kells (2009) reimagines the making of the famous monastic book; Song of the Sea (2014) reimagines the maritime myth of the selkie, the human changeling in seal form; and Wolfwalkers (2020) recasts the story of Ireland’s last wolves.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh:

The People

I met so many wonderfully talented Irish people while writing this book that it’s impossible to single out just one or two. Among the memorable chats I had were with harp-maker Kevin Harrington, hurley-maker Joe Fitzpatrick, whiskey historian, Fionnan O’Connor (most of which I remember), and conservationist Kate Lavender in the Burren.


Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic - OSullivans Cascade - Photo by Jeff Mauritzen
Thomas O’Sullivan, a traditional Irish musician plays a bodhran drum at O’Sullivan’s Cascade in Tomies Woods at the Lakes of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. Photo by Jeff Mauritzen

Kerry’s master-musician and seanchaí (storyteller) Thomas O’Sullivan was so expansive that we had to give him two pages! Killian McLaughlin led me on a wonder-filled walk through the Celtic rainforest habitat he has recreated up in Donegal (Wild Ireland), complete with howling wolves, bears, arctic foxes, and old Irish goats.

And our poet-president himself, Michael D. Higgins, called me for a memorable chat from the Aras (presidential residence in Dublin), while I stood looking out over the cliffs of Aran. It’s not often you get to talk to a head of state about poetry while watching the sun set into the wild Atlantic Ocean.


PIN: Always Ireland by Jack Kavanagh of National Geographic

ALWAYS IRELAND BY JACK KAVANAGH - AN INSIDER'S TOUR OF THE EMERALD ISLE - THE LIFE OF STUFF - Irish Online Magazine


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