The northeast of the United States is full of the history of Irish immigrants and their American experience. Cities like Boston and New York have histories that are inseparable from the influence of the Irish. In the Catskills, there is another region heavily influenced by the Irish, the “Emerald Isle of the Catskills” also known as the Irish Alps.
During the golden age of the Catskills, Irish from New York would travel up to and vacation in the Catskills. Some would go on to start businesses such as resorts, bars, and restaurants. The concentration of Irish in those rolling green hills quite intrinsically resulted in the name. Now, even though the golden age has passed, travelers can still venture to the Irish Alps to enjoy a bit of nature and Irish-American history.
Why Is It Called The Irish Alps?
The Alps are a chain of high mountain peaks that to a degree isolate Italy from the rest of Europe. And, the Irish hail from Ireland, also in Europe and not anywhere close to New York, where the section of the Catskills called the Irish Alps is found. So, how did this little stretch of land in upstate New York acquire such a name?
This area of the Catskills known as the Irish Alps is prominently included in and around East Durham and the northern Catskills. This area has been affectionately referred to as the Irish Alps for years because it was once a go-to vacation spot for Irish immigrants from New York. Today, people of all nationalities and heritages spend time vacationing in the area, but the name has stuck. Visiting the Irish Alps is an excellent way for many to celebrate their Irish American heritage. The Irish Alps, may not be in Ireland or the Alps, but they are rolling, green, and beautiful, so buy an Irish souvenir and enjoy this location and its connection to Irish-American heritage.
Wine, Dine, And Explore The Irish Alps Of New York
East Durham is the town at the center of the Irish Alps, though the name extends to some of the smaller towns that surround it. East Durham is quite fond of the fact that its area is known as the “Emerald Isle of the Catskills.” There are many locally owned, and frequently Irish, bars, and resorts in both East Durham and the surrounding towns.
For the most Irish experience, Travelers visiting the Irish Alps should stay in one of the still-operational Irish resorts in the area. One such resort is Gavin’s Irish Country Inn in Cornwallville. Its pool and meals are all-inclusive and visitors can count on being greeted by live entertainment at night.
- Contact - 518-634-2582 or (for innkeeper) 518-755-7488
- Open - May through November
- Address - 118 Golden Hill Road, Cornwallville, NY 12418
- Book Now
- Music Schedule
Irish Bars and Restaurants
It is no longer the golden era of the Catskills, but of the dozens of Irish-owned and themed bars, there are still a few that remain. An example of such a destination would the Shamrock House in East Durham. They have a pool, a bar, and an authentic Irish restaurant serving up Irish cuisine.
- Address - 2388 Route 145, East Durham, Durham, NY 12423-1619
- Contact - +1 518-634-2897
- Cost - $$-$$$
- Must-Try - Shepherd’s Pie
Hiking The Irish Alps
Hikers visiting the Irish Alps will also find plenty of entertainment. The Irish Alps aren’t nearly as tall as the real Alps, but they’re still lovely and green, and during the Fall the foliage is beautiful. So, here are a couple of hikes to check out for visitors to the Irish Alps.
Long Path From Mount Pisgah to South Mountain
Travelers to the Irish Alps can venture a little out of East Durhan to the trailhead of what will be a day hike. This 21.2 km out-and-back trail is generally considered a challenging route. Hikers can expect to spend about seven hours and forty-eight minutes on the trail before completion. This is an excellent trail for birding, and it is unlikely that hikers will encounter anyone. Dogs may be off-leash on some areas of this trail.
- Length - 21.1 km (13.1 miles)
- Duration - 7 hours 48 minutes
- Elevation gain - 1,171 m (3,842 feet)
- Difficulty - Challenging
- Route type - Out & back
- Trail Map
Acra Point Via Black Dome Range and Escarpment Trails
About 20 minutes out of East Durhum, travelers can find this trailhead. This 5.6 km out-and-back trail is located bear Maplecrest, New York. This is generally considered a moderately difficult hike that usually requires about two hours to finish. This trail is popular all year round. It is a destination for hiking, birding, and snowshoeing, but travelers can count on finding solitude here on most days. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.
- Length - 5.6 km
- Duration - 2 hours
- Elevation gain - 286 m
- Difficulty - Moderate
- Route type - Out & back
- Trail Map