Ireland has been a popular destination for gay vacations at least since the time of Oscar Wilde, although in those days it was not necessarily a friendly country for the LGBT community. Like Wilde, many people were jailed or sent away for hard labor for what was legally termed “indecency” and, until 1861, acts of sodomy were even punishable by death, but Ireland has come a long way since these dark days, decriminalizing same-sex sexual behavior in 1993 and legalizing civil unions in 2009.
While these significant legal strides might not mean that every village – or even every larger city – is ready to fully embrace same-sex relationships, Ireland has become a rather welcoming country for the most part and is a wonderful choice for gay travel. Many larger cities, such as Galway, Dublin, Cork and Waterford, have active, visible communities, LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly establishments, and enough attractions and activities to fill an entire trip; however, whether you travel to Ireland solo or with organized gay tours, you will not want to miss the beautiful Irish countryside or the quaint, small villages that are scattered about the landscape or overlooking awe-inspiring coastal cliffs.
While several larger cities now have annual community celebrations, pubs and clubs, community organizations and a visible LGBT scene, Dublin is unquestionably the center of LGBT life in Ireland and should be part of any gay travel plans to this country. Dublin nightlife offers both a casual pub scene and an upscale club scene complete with dress codes, which allows those on gay vacations to experience two very different aspects of local LGBT life. There are also a number of community festivals that take place throughout the year, including the Dublin International LGBTQ Pride Festival in June, the Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in July and the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May.
Regardless of which time of year you partake in gay travel to Ireland, there will be some sort of activities going on, which will be listed in GCN – Ireland’s most-read community magazine – so, if you enjoy the scene, you will definitely want to pick up a copy when you get to town. Some of the attractions that you will not want to miss while in Dublin include the Book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Old Jameson Distillery, the Oscar Wilde House Museum and The George, which is Dublin’s quintessential community bar.
Folks planning gay tours to Ireland should consider partaking in group gay tours put together by a reputable travel agency to ensure that they do not miss out on the plethora of historical, cultural and natural attractions that this intriguing, romantic nation has to offer.