Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Bluegrass, Bourbon, and Barbecues!

ANDREA McVEIGH, takes a tour through the state famous for its red likker, bluegrass music and Scots Irish links....

WITH its Scots-Irish links to the auld sod - in the 17th and 18th centuries the colonies south and west of Pennsylvania were largely settled by immigrants from the Celtic fringe - they just love to hear an Irish accent in Kentucky.

You’ll find yourself, as I did, getting into conversations with the locals about where you come from and where their ancestors came from. And don’t forget that bluegrass music has its roots in Celtic reels and jigs, and was inspired by the music the Scots-Irish immigrants brought with them to the Appalachian region.

I even noticed that some of the ‘Suthern’ words and phrases I heard, such as ‘youse guys’ and ‘shenanigan’ sounded very familiar to these ears. You don’t need to travel far in Kentucky to feel right at home!

From its Appalachian culture to its Civil War ties, Kentucky, one of America’s finest southern states, is full of history and heritage - and also horses.

Keenland thoroughbred racecourse in Lexington - the horse capital of the world - celebrated 75 years of operation last year. It holds live races each April and October, but the track is open year round so you can view the early morning workouts, eat at the track kitchen and take a self-guided tour.

Aside from horses and racing - this is the home of the Kentucky Derby after all - the state is also famous for its bourbon, bluegrass and barbecues (a favourite method of cooking food is over large BBQ pits). Which makes it perfect for another set of B-themed alliteration - that of the ‘big boy’s birthday’.

While ladies may head for a shopping spree in NYC to mark a significant birthday, tourist figures show that men are discovering the delights of marking a momentous milestone with a boys own adventure in the bluegrass state.

That’s not to say that women aren’t welcome, as I enjoyed the bourbon distillery tasting tours and days at the races as much as any bloke. And I was fascinated by the ‘barn and backside’ tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville, where I saw at first-hand the workings of the track which hosts the Kentucky Derby each May as well as April’s annual Rolex three-day eventing competition.

To read the rest of Andrea McVeigh's feature on Kentucky and see all the pictures, pick up a copy of Northern Ireland Travel News...

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