Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Time in Ireland!

Christmas will be here soon and Santa will be arriving to deliver presents for all the good boys and girls. Like other countries around the world, Christmas in Ireland is celebrated with great joy and enthusiam. In Ireland, there are some unique traditions around celebrating Christmas. Read on to see how families in Ireland celebrate Christmas.

Candle in the Window
The tradition of placing a lighted candle in the window of a family house on Christmas eve is still very popular in Ireland. It is said that the candle is a sign of welcome for Mary and Joseph who on the first Christmas eve were looking for somewhere to stay. According to the tradition, the candle is light by the youngest member of the family and should be extinguished by a girl with with the name "Mary". The name Mary was very popular in Ireland in the old days.
Decorating your house both inside and outside is very popular in Ireland. The holly bush grows wild. It is a tradition to decorate the family home with holly during Christmas. A holly wreath is often placed on the front door of the house. This is a tradition that has been passed down through the years. In modern times in Ireland, a lot of families now use electric Christmas lights on the outsides of their homes. All decorations are traditionally taken down during Little Christmas (January 6th). It is considered bad luck to take them down any earlier than this. Christmas decorations are then put away and stored until the next Christmas!
Santa Claus
In Ireland, Santa Claus or "Santie" arrives late on Christmas Eve after all the children have gone to bed. He leaves presents under the tree and fills the Christmas stockings. The tradition is to leave something for Santa to help him on his long journey. So maybe Santa will be left a mince pie and a glass of milk or Guinness! And of course, a carrot for Rudolph the Reindeer.
The traditional Gaelic Greeting at Christmas
The traditional Irish or 'Gaelic' for 'Happy Christmas' is 'Nollaig Shona Dhuit!', pronounced 'null-ig hun-a-dit'.
A Time for Family
Christmas is a very important time in Ireland for the family. Older children who have moved away from home always try to return home for the Christmas celebrations. It is one of the few days during the year when all the family can be together and spend time together. All shops and pubs are closed on Christmas day in Ireland. On Christmas morning, there is great excitement when the family members exchange gifts and the children open their presents from Santa. Most families normally attend Christmas services at church and then the family spends the day and night together. A great feast is had for Christmas dinner which usually includes a turkey, ham, Christmas cake and maybe some wine or guinness.

We would be very interested to hear about Christmas traditions in other countries. If you are reading this and from another country, please write to us and tell us all about your Christmas. We would be delighted to hear about it. Or if you are in Ireland to learn English during the Christmas period, please tell us all about your experience.

Happy Christmas and a happy new year to everyone!

Hope Santa Comes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ireland: The World's Friendliest Country

Ireland topped a list of the World's Friendliest Countries in a survey drawn up by the Lonely Planet travel guide group in 2008. The Lonely Planet Bluelist books are annual collections of the top trends, destinations and experiences around the world. In the 2008 survey, Ireland comes in above Fiji, Indonesia and Malawi as the friendliest travel destination.

People were said to have 'a deliciously dark sense of humour'. The Emerald Isle has 'a welcoming attitude towards strangers' and the Irish can find craic in boom or bust eras, Lonely Planet said.

Visitors are always 'in for a treat' and with 'The Troubles' ended, 'a cautious optimism reigns supreme, infecting the land once again with the sense that anything's possible'.

"Friendly Ireland tops Lonely Planet list" to read the full article go to

Over 130,000 students come to Ireland each year to learn English. The warm welcome of the people of the of Ireland makes it easy to learn English and to build confidence in speaking English. You will be treated as a member of the family from the moment you arrive. Students are guaranteed to have lots of opportunities to speak English with the friendly Irish people. An English course in Ireland takes place not only with your English teacher and host family but every where you go and with everyone you meet!

L’Irlande est une destination de plus en plus populaire parmi les étudiants d’anglais venant du monde entier. Chaque année, plus de 130 000 étudiants viennent en Irlande pour apprendre l’anglais. Parmi les destinations touristiques les plus populaires, l’Irlande a été nommée Pays le plus Accueillant au Monde par le guide de voyage Lonely Planet. Celui-ci explique que les visiteurs ne pourront qu’apprécier leur voyage, les Irlandais ayant le sens de l’humour, une nature accueillante et la capacité de s’amuser en toute circonstance.

Please send us your comments and let us know if you think Ireland is the "World's Friendliest Country".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Traditions in Ireland

The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, 'All Hallowtide' - the 'Feast of the Dead', when the dead revisited the mortal world. The celebration marked the end of Summer and the start of the Winter months. During the eighth century the Catholic Church designated the first day of November as 'All Saints Day ('All Hallows') - a day of commemoration for those Saints that did not have a specific day of remembrance. The night before was known as 'All Hallows Eve' which, over time, became known as Halloween.
Here are the most notable Irish Halloween Traditions:

Colcannon for Dinner: Boiled Potato, Curly Kale (a cabbage) and raw Onions are provided as the traditional Irish Halloween dinner. Clean coins are wrapped in baking paper and placed in the potato for children to find and keep.

The Barnbrack Cake: The traditional Halloween cake in Ireland is the barnbrack which is a fruit bread. Each member of the family gets a slice. Great interest is taken in the outcome as there is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring in each cake. If you get the rag then your financial future is doubtful. If you get the coin then you can look forward to a prosperous year. Getting the ring is a sure sign of impending romance or continued happiness.

The Ivy Leaf: Each member of the family places a perfect ivy leaf into a cup of water and it is then left undisturbed overnight. If, in the morning, a leaf is still perfect and has not developed any spots then the person who placed the leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health until the following Halloween. If not.....

The Pumpkin: Carving Pumpkins dates back to the eighteenth century and to an Irish blacksmith named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was denied entry to Heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth but asked the Devil for some light. He was given a burning coal ember which he placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out.

The tradition of Jack O'Lanterns was born - the bearer being the wandering blacksmith - a damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the lantern in their window would keep the wanderer away. When the Irish emigrated in millions to America there was not a great supply of turnips so pumpkins were used instead.

Halloween Costumes: On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. 'Help the Halloween Party' and 'Trick or Treat' were the cries to be heard at each door. This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumes to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the end of the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the most popular choices for the costumes.

Snap Apple: After the visits to the neighbours the Halloween games begin, the most popular of which is Snap Apple. An apple is suspended from a string and children are blindfolded. The first child to get a decent bite of the apple gets to keep their prize. The same game can be played by placing apples in a basin of water and trying to get a grip on the apple without too much mess!

The Bonfire: The Halloween bonfire is a tradition to encourage dreams of who your future husband or wife is going to be. The idea was to drop a cutting of your hair into the burning embers and then dream of you future loved one. Halloween was one of the Celt 'fire' celebrations.

Blind Date: Blindfolded local girls would go out into the fields and pull up the first cabbage they could find. If their cabbage had a substantial amount of earth attached to the roots then there future loved one would have money. Eating the cabbage would reveal the nature of their future husband - bitter or sweet!
Another way of finding your future spouse is to peel an apple in one go. If done successfully the single apple peel could be dropped on the floor to reveal the initials of the future-intended.

Anti-Fairy Measures: Fairies and goblins try to collect as many souls as they can at Halloween but if they met a person who threw the dust from under their feet at the Fairy then they would be obliged to release any souls that they held captive.
Holy water was sometimes anointed on farm animals to keep them safe during the night. If the animals were showing signs of ill health on All Hallows Eve then they would be spat on to try to ward off any evil spirits.
Irish Halloween Traditions - An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.

Happy Halloween from Ireland!
If you are doing an English course in Ireland during the Halloween time, we hope you enjoy the celebrations. Please contact us to let us know about your experience. Please tell us about any new English words you learned or traditions you came across.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

LTI Website Launched in French

Language Travel Ireland have recently launched their website in full French version. Full information on all their English courses in Ireland can be viewed on the new French website. Ireland is a very popular destination for French students who come to Ireland to learn English. The English & Farmstay programme in particular is proving very popular amongst French students.

Apprenez l’anglais en le vivant!

Apprenez l’anglais en Irlande. Nous vous proposons des cours particuliers d’anglais intensifs chez votre professeur en Irlande. Nous pensons que le meilleur moyen d’apprendre l’anglais est de le vivre. Vous logerez donc chez votre professeur et serez en contact direct avec la vie de famille et la culture irlandaises. Votre professeur vous donnera des cours particuliers d’anglais (formule one-to-one). Le but de nos séjours linguistiques est de vous aider à apprendre l’anglais le plus rapidement possible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Learn English by Living it in Ireland

I believe the best way to learn English is by living it. So I decided to start my own business in Ireland that would offer foreign students the opportunity to learn English by living with a real Irish family and receiving private one to one, intensive English lessons. Our organisation is called Language Travel Ireland and our website is
Our English courses in Ireland provide the unique opportunity to learn English by living it . Students receive a unique experience of Irish family life and culture. The aim of our English courses in Ireland is to help students make rapid improvement in their English in the shortest possible time. All of our English courses are intensive but varied. Students are really surprised at how much their English improves in such a short period of time.
We invite you to look at our new website and to let us know what you think.

Why the photo of the cattle you may ask?

We have a special course called English & Farmstay programme;
The English & Farmstay Programme provides the unique opportunity for a full immersion experience, living with your own private teacher and family on their farm in Ireland. Students receive private English lessons from their own private teacher, farm activities and full board accommodation.

Students can experience life on an Irish farm, take part in the farm activities and enjoy the home cooking, fresh air and fine views of the beautiful countryside of the Golden Vale region of Ireland which borders the counties of Limerick, Tipperary and Cork. This is the Midwest region of Ireland.

Farm activities will vary depending on the farm but some examples are as follows: fruit picking, harvesting the vegetables, collecting eggs from the hens, feeding the farm animals, milking the cows/goats, haymaking, preparing the firewood, working in the garden, preparing bedding for the animals etc.