Top Sights and Attractions in Ireland
Sitting on the edge of the wild Atlantic Ocean, the Emerald Isle, as Ireland is often affectionately known, has been a draw for visitors keen to explore the land of myth and legends for many years.
This little island has a rich heritage and culture, with a reputation that often precedes it. Anyone visiting will know the people like a good story, enjoy a drink and are very used to being a bit wet. It rains a lot in Ireland, but as long as you’re prepared for it, no matter when you visit, it shouldn’t dampen the spirits too much. And if the rain does get you down, think of the old Irish saying, “Well, at least it doesn’t rain in the pub.”
Here are some of the highlights of Ireland we think you will enjoy:
Dotted with massive chunks of granite and moss, the Derryveagh Mountains run through County Donegal in the north west of Ireland. At 751 metres, Mount Errigal is the highest in the range and may be familiar to some as it adorns many postcards and Ireland guide books. Despite the remote location, climbers and hill walkers visit the area often to enjoy expansive views across Ireland from the summit.
Sitting on the coast of County Kerry, Dingle is one of Ireland’s picture-postcard towns. With brightly coloured buildings and bars lining the narrow, hilly streets, even on dark and stormy days it looks good. The roads of Dingle Peninsula hug the coastline with amazing views over the Atlantic and are linked with many Irish myths and legends. Ask the locals to share their version for an entertaining evening.
Dating back 350 million years ago, the landscape of the Burren in County Clare is geologically significant as it is one of the finest examples of a glaciokarst landscape in the world. This refers to the characteristic limestone pathways and glacial erosion of the last ice age. There are a number of old Celtic ring forts in the area built from local stone, including the triple ring fort of Cahercommaun and the well-preserved Caherconnell Stone Fort.
It’s a well-known fact the Irish are good with words – in the verbal sense, however, they’re not too bad with the written word, either. Spawning literary greats like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker, it’s no wonder Dublin was designated UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. See The Book of Kells in Trinity College’s magnificent Old Library, or visit the Dublin Writers Museum housed in a wonderfully restored Georgian mansion on Parnell Square.
Cliffs of Moher
One of the most visited sites in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher jut vertically out of the Atlantic reaching a vertigo-inducing height of 214 metres at their highest point. Stretching along the coast of County Clare for eight kilometres, these shale and sandstone giants take their name form a nearby stone fort located on the southernmost point of the cliffs. Ornithologists flock here to see the estimated 30,000 birds living on the cliffs, which include the Atlantic puffin, guillemots, hawks and shags.
It would be a sin to leave Ireland without trying a pint of ‘black stuff’. Even those who don’t like stout should try Guinness in Ireland as it doesn’t travel well, so even if you can get it in another country it will never taste the same as it does here. Pouring a pint is almost an art form. Take a tour of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin to find out how to pour the perfect pint and discover the secrets of this infamous stout.
The Giant’s Causeway
Another ancient landscape steeped in myth and legend, The Giant’s Causeway is found on the northern coast of Ireland, in County Antrim. Around 60 million years ago, when the old European and North American tectonic plates were on the move, a volcanic eruption caused lava to come to the surface. This cooled rapidly and hardened into the polygonal basalt columns we see at the Giant’s Causeway today. Learn about the legends of this UNESCO World Heritage Site on a guided tour along the coast, and enjoy interactive exhibits in the impressive visitor’s centre, which only opened in 2012.
No matter where you go in Ireland, there will be fascinating landmarks to check out, and more stories and legends than you can handle. It’s a country that doesn’t take itself too seriously, enjoys a bit of ‘the craic’, a good drink and lively music. What more could you ask for on a vacation?