The sights of Ireland. A country with Celtic roots.

The sights of Ireland. A country with Celtic roots.

Ireland is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. This state occupies most of the eponymous island. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom with the similar name, is located near Ireland. Climate in Ireland is interesting because the vegetation on this territory keeps its green appearance all year round. It’s connected to the warm currents of Gulf Stream. Ireland is not only beautiful nature but also architecture that was influenced by the Celtic culture.

Knott’s Tomb

Knoth, a Neolithic chamber tomb located 50 km north of Dublin in County Meath. Note and other megalithic monuments (Newgrange and Douth) in the Boyne Valley have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. The area was inhabited from the Neolithic to the period around 1400. The tomb was built about 5,000 years ago. The large (main) mound is the same size as Newgrange and is surrounded by 18 smaller mounds. The large mound has two entrances on opposite sides.

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Tomb of Noth.

The western corridor measures 34 m and opens into a rectangular chamber. The eastern corridor is 40 m long and ends with a cross-shaped burial chamber. The burial chambers are not connected to each other, although they are separated by only 3 m. The mound is surrounded by 127 stones, which form a kind of oval curb around the mound, many of which are decorated with engravings. The length of the oval averages 80 metres from east to west and 95 metres from north to south. The stones are oblong in shape and 2.5 m in diameter. Note surpasses neighboring Newgrange especially in the number of unique discoveries. Note has the largest concentration of megalithic art in Europe. There are a total of 261 stones in Knowth, which is about 45% of all engraved stones in Ireland.

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is located near the town of Clifden . It is the residence of Irish Benedictine nuns and one of the most photographed buildings in Ireland. The neo-Gothic crenellated castle was built by Manchester magnate Mitchell Henry as a gift to his wife. Henry’s family also bought an extensive heathland, drained the marshy slopes and planted thousands of trees as protection for new gardens. After the sudden death of his wife and daughter, Henry left the castle and later sold it.

The castle was briefly owned by the 9th Duke of Manchester, who was forced to sell it because of debts. In 1920 the estate was bought by the Benedictines of Yper of Belgium, and the castle became an abbey. From 1923 to 2010, the Benedictines used the abbey as an international boarding school for girls. There was also a farm and boarding house, but in 1959 the boarding house burned down and never opened again.

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Kylemore Abbey

The Victorian garden was created when the castle was founded. It was one of the last Victorian gardens to be walled. At the time when the castle belonged to the Duke of Manchester, the garden began to decline. Although used by Benedictine nuns, the garden was restored to its original state and only opened to the public in 1999. The Victorian garden has the longest flowerbeds in Ireland. The garden grows only plants (flowers, vegetables and herbs) of the Victorian era. The garden is divided into two parts by a mountain stream. On the east side of the garden are greenhouses and gardener’s cottages, and flowers are grown here. The second part of the garden is used for growing vegetables and herbs, which are used in the local restaurant.

On the grounds of the abbey is a small neo-Gothic church built by Mitchell Henry in 1874 in memory of his beloved wife, who died the same year during a vacation in Egypt. The church is a miniature of the cathedral and was used for Protestant church services. After the arrival of the Benedictines it became a Catholic church. Today the church is used for music concerts, poetry readings, and various community celebrations.

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Visitors can explore the abbey, the church, the Victorian garden, the craft workshops and enjoy a walk on the lake and the surrounding woods. Only the first floor of the Abbey is open to the public with 5 rooms restored in their original Victorian style. Most of the amenities in the rooms are original. In the workshop you can see the hand-painted and fired pottery with cream glaze and fuchsia motifs.

Mall Gap

The Mall Gap, a beautiful pass with a beautiful view of the west of Ireland in County Kerry. It is located on the N71 highway between Kenmare and Killarney. It is part of the famous panoramic Ring of Kerry, and you can climb here to a height of 216 meters after about ten kilometers of gradual ascent. For those who can make it by car, on foot or by bicycle, there are beautiful views of the Black Valley, surrounded by the majestic McGillicuddy Ricks with Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntuhill on one side and the Dunlo Gorge on the other.

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Mall Gap.

The name of the place, characteristic of the prevailing red sandstone cliffs, refers to the family of Mr. Moll Kissane, who owned an illegal pub here in the 1920s. It became popular mainly for its homemade liquor, which supposedly contained up to 70 percent alcohol. Its most appreciative customers were the workers who repaired the road here. Today, on the site of the famous bar there is a store and cafe Avoca, known for its excellent cuisine. Visitors can buy typical local products such as lamb and mohair sweaters, cashmere from the Wicklow Mountains, as well as various jewelry and souvenirs.

The Kissane family has lived here for more than two hundred years. His descendants still own a farm with several hundred sheep. There is also a rich program of dog breeding, dominated by Border Collies, and those who are interested can watch the sheep being sheared and even the birth of lambs in spring. Thanks to the new program, those interested can adopt a member of the flock. They even publish a very popular on-farm magazine that informs readers not only about upcoming events, but also about the lives of all the locals, whether they are owners, employees, sheep, birds or dogs.

Macross Abbey

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Macross Abbey.

Macross Abbey, a 15th-century Franciscan monastery dominated by a massive quadrangular tower and cloister with Romanesque and Gothic arches. The abbey is located in the center of Killarney National Park. The abbey was founded in 1448 by Daniel McCarthy More for the Franciscan order. The Franciscans inhabited the abbey despite the destruction of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII of England . The abbey has very well preserved ruins, a church with a prismatic tower and a monastery. In the center of the so-called courtyard of Paradise grow yews, which are said to be as old as the abbey itself. The adjoining cemetery is still in use today.

Tara Hill

Tara Hill (Tara Hill) is located in Meath County near the Boyne River. It is a long limestone ridge, which according to legend is a magical place inhabited by gods, and the ancient residence of Irish kings. Much of Ireland can be seen from the hill in good weather. To the Irish, Tara, a symbol of national identity and history.

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Tara Hill

Tara, a place of mythic significance , which was the political and spiritual center of Celtic Ireland and the seat of kings until the 11th century. The significance of Tara diminished after the spread of Christianity, as the statue of St. Patrick reminds us. Demonstrated is a stone age corridor tomb (the Mound of Hostages), an Iron Age settlement and royal fort, an oval fort in the center of which you can find the remains of Cormac’s house, hiding the “Stone of Destiny” (Stone of Destiny or Lia Fil), an old symbol of fertility and the coronation stone of kings. According to legend, the stone made a loud sound when the rightful king touched it.

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Ireland – Celts, castles and leprechauns

Ireland occupies a large part of the island of the same name. The country has an area of just over 70,000 square kilometers and a population of about 4.5 million people. The climate is very favorable – the island gives the warmth of the Gulf Stream, and the relief of Ireland is like a bowl with raised edges and a low-lying center. Cold air practically does not penetrate to the plains. Such a climate is favorable for year-round green vegetation, because of the abundance of which Ireland is often called the “Emerald Isle. Nature has made up for the climate’s friendliness by its lack of minerals. There are deposits of some metals and coal, but they are very small. The main natural resource of the country is considered peat, but even taking it into account the mining industry yields only 3% of Irish GDP. Administratively Ireland is divided into 4 provinces, 28 counties and 3 cities – the capital city Dublin, Galway and Cork.

Early Irish history – Carrowmore and the Bru-na-Boin complex

In the early twentieth century, the bones of a prehistoric bear with obvious signs of human processing were discovered in County Clare in the west of Ireland. For almost a hundred years this find was stored in the storerooms of the National Museum of Ireland until in 2010, when Irish scientists Ruth Carden and Marion Dowd became interested in it. Radiocarbon analysis, later confirmed by other laboratories, showed that the age of the bones is 12,500 years. That is how many years ago people lived on the territory of modern Ireland, who apparently came to these places after the retreating glacier.

The first clear traces of civilization in Ireland, using the same radiocarbon analysis, date back to the 7th millennium BC. This is the age of one of the tombs that make up the Carrowmore complex in the north of the island, closer to the Atlantic coast. The tombs of Carrowmore look like small-scale copies of Stonehenge – the central obelisk inside a circle of vertical stones. There are now over 30 tombs, but be aware that until the 19th century local farmers were actively using the Carrowmore stones as building material. All of the surviving structures are oriented with the entrance to Listogil, the central burial mound.


Carrowmore might have been Ireland’s premier megalith (a megalith is a structure made of huge blocks of stone) had there been no Bru-na-Boin. This complex occupies 10 square kilometers 40 kilometers from Dublin, and in contrast to the Carrowmore boulders, which look rather dumpy, is no less impressive than the pyramids of Egypt. The dozens of burial mounds surrounding the major megaliths of Douth, Newgrange and Nouth can themselves be considered outstanding monuments of ancient architecture.


Newgrange is considered the largest and most important megalithic structure in Europe. Imagine a much-publicized Stonehenge, covered with a domed masonry of multi-ton stones, with holes for ventilation and water drainage, inside which is built another circle of stone blocks surrounding a tomb – this is what Newgrange is like. Above the entrance to the mound (height 13.5 m, diameter 85 m) is a small window that allows the sun’s rays to reach the tomb at sunrise on the winter solstice. Naut and Daut are only slightly inferior to Newgrange in size. Nauth is typified by the amount of carving on the stones at the base of the mound, for megalithic structures are usually poor in this kind of subtlety.


The whole of Ireland is dotted with smaller tombs. Dolmens, the name given to humble structures of a few slabs, seem to have served as barrows for the poor.


Later, the Irish, who saw nothing extraordinary in these piles of stone slabs, actively dismantled dolmens to build fences, dams, etc.

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It is striking that the structures of thousands of tons of stone and hundreds of cubic meters of earth were built, apparently, by people who did not know writing. In any case, no authentic inscriptions have been found at either Carrowmore or Bru-na-Boine. Only later Celtic autographs containing information along the lines of “Kisa and Osia were here” have been found.

Ireland and the Celts

Ancient Celts, according to circumstantial evidence, appeared in Ireland in the X – IX centuries BC. In any case, as early as the VII century BC the island of Ireland lived by the Celtic code, which was called “Bregon Code”. The code was passed on by word of mouth, and to make it easier to remember, it was put in verse form. In some parts of Ireland these laws were in force until the eighteenth century.

The Celts were a more organized tribe than the natives, and rather quickly established a familiar social structure with elected leaders. The ard-riag stood above the chiefs, but he did not rule over all the tribes, but only as a sort of personification of the supreme leadership and the resolution of disputes that arose.

According to Celtic law, marriages were for one year and looked more like the purchase of a bride from her father. A woman could marry up to 21 times, and all but the first dowry went to her personally. In addition to traditional marriage, there were several other types of family relationships. The rules for divorce were very scrupulous, so as not to infringe on anyone’s interests. The land was the property of the community or tribe. A guilty tribesman was given a piece of land on the outskirts of the tribe or expelled. Outcasts could get land in another tribe, but only on the condition of free military service. Subsequently, the clans of such outcasts developed into powerful warrior clans.

The role of priests and intellectuals among the Celts was played by the Druids. About their rituals we know only from Roman sources, so the stories about human sacrifice, cannibalism and other wildness should be treated with a certain degree of caution. On the island of Great Britain, the Romans regarded the Druids as inspirers of the local resistance, and the Romans never spared vivid color to describe the barbaric customs of their enemies. The Druids made extensive use of mistletoe, a bushy plant that parasitizes deciduous trees, in their rituals.

The Romans did not reach Ireland. Agricola, who had conquered part of Great Britain, might as well have conquered smaller Ireland. But Emperor Domitian, wary of the warlord’s growing popularity, did not send him reinforcements. The Celts eventually became bolder and regularly set out to plunder their wealthy neighbors. When the Romans left Britain, however, the Celts seized vast swathes of land in what is now England, Wales and Scotland. The conquered territory was larger than Ireland itself. It is true that this rapid enrichment did not lead to anything good. The wealth captured in Britain was used by the Celts for endless wars among themselves.

Ireland and Christianity – St. Patrick and the Celtic Cross

Nor did Christianity help cure Celtic belligerence. The first missionaries came to Ireland at the end of the fourth century A.D. It is generally believed that Christianization of the island began in its northern part, where the Rock of Cashel is located, from the castle on top of which St. Patrick began to preach.


However, archaeological evidence suggests that the Irish began to be baptized in the south. This, however, does not diminish the merits of St. Patrick, who personally baptized tens of thousands of people. Patrick founded hundreds (from 300 to 600) of churches, and his “Confession” is considered the first work of Irish literature. The Celtic cross, according to one legend, was also invented by Patrick – he said that the sun was both yours and ours, for the pagans and the cross for the Christians.

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March 17, St. Patrick’s Day is considered to be a national holiday in Ireland. It is the day of the death of a saint who, even in death, managed to benefit Christianity.


He prayed for forty days on a mountaintop so that the Christian faith would not run out. St. Patrick was no brewer-it’s an invention of some clever modern marketer.

Ireland and the Leprechauns

St. Patrick had nothing to do with leprechauns either. This folkloric character appeared long before the period of Christianization in Irish history. However, as in the case of the Celtic cross, the little men in green on St. Patrick’s Day are a compromise, a tribute to pagan tradition. The Orthodox Church has the same compromises. For example, Shrovetide and Ivan Kupala are pagan holidays, but in their own days they coexist quite peacefully with the holidays of the church. In Dublin there is a very interesting Leprechaun Museum. In it visitors first learn the history of little men in green clothes, legends about them, learn about the manners and customs of leprechauns, meeting with whom promises good luck.


Then you can pass a kind of quest. First, you have to go through the rooms with huge furniture to feel like a leprechaun. Then you will have to get out of the house in the woods, walk under the rainbow, and finally get to the coveted pot of gold.

Ireland and the Vikings

At the end of VIII century the Vikings came to Ireland by water. They contented themselves with plundering coastal monasteries for 50 years, then began to make raids deep into the island. Even the threat that they would take all of Ireland did not rally the Irish kings. Fortunately, the Vikings gradually switched to England. Their last success was the capture of Dublin in 925. The Vikings practically ruled Ireland for the next couple of decades, but that was their swan song. The Vikings left the Irish a legacy of perfectly equipped ports.

Ireland and the English

In 1169 – 1177, Ireland was conquered by the English, and their King Henry II proclaimed his son John King of Ireland (John would later become King John the Soilless of England). In the beginning, however, English dominion was very relative. The English kings of Ireland, succeeding one another, sat in London and kept their noses off the neighboring island. London’s power – and then with reservations – extended to areas owned by the English or their vassals, hardly a third of the land.

In 1366, Clarence, son of Edward III of England, made laws in Ireland that were strongly racist. All Irish blood relations with the English were forbidden. The Irish were forbidden to engage in trade. The laws contained other requirements, but, worst of all, they overturned centuries-old Irish ways, and such actions are not well received by all peoples.

The hundred years between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were marked by a veritable genocide of the Irish. England became a Protestant country, and the monarchs and then Oliver Cromwell tried in every way to force the Irish to change their faith and to consolidate the power of England. The first did not work at all, and the second did, but with very unfortunate results. The power of England became absolute, but by the end of the seventeenth century, it extended to 850,000 people instead of the millions of dead, dead and emigrated Irish. The country from which England had exported money was now unable even to feed its own population.

The Irish, of course, resisted English expansion, but often because of their Celtic character they simply could not agree with each other, so they were defeated. As an example, the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when the Irish, inspired by the examples of the French and American revolutions, rebelled against the British. On July 21, 1798, the rebels were defeated at Weingar Hill. The 55,000 Irish and the French who helped them were countered by roughly the same number of English and mercenaries, plus . 40,000 Irish Loyalist militiamen.

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Ireland and Castles

Many castles have survived in Ireland to the present day – there are 14 in County Galway alone. Of some, such as Ballycarbury Castle in County Kerry, only ruins have survived.


The most famous and relatively well-preserved are the above mentioned Castle on the Rock of Cashel – first residence of Irish kings, and then the place where St. Patrick began to preach, as well as Blarney, Bunratty and Ross castles. Each has its own unique and interesting history.

The owner of Blarney Castle Dermot McCarthy made empty promises to Queen Elizabeth I of England for many years, and did it so successfully that he enriched the English language with a new word – blarney (flattery).


When during the Irish campaign (1649-1653) of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Brogill seized the castle, he discovered that the inhabitants of Blarney not only left by themselves through an underground passage, but took all the valuables with them. Nowadays, Blarney is very popular with tourists. The Stone of Eloquence is built into one of the walls of the castle. According to legend, whoever kisses this artifact, will gain an unprecedented gift of oratory. This kiss is not an easy thing to do. To reach the stone is possible only by lying on the back and hanging from the wall of the castle at a height of 25 meters.

The first castle Bunratty was destroyed in 1318 during the war between the Irish-Scottish coalition and the British. The surviving castle was built around 1425 by Irish clan McNamara and is now one of the most popular castles in Ireland.


The castle has recreated the authentic furnishings of XV – XVI centuries, and next to it there is a park of Irish folk life. The castle’s condition has been greatly affected by centuries of neglect. Only in the 1950s it was restored, and now Bunratty is not only a museum but also a place for festivals and banquets.

The symbol of Irish resistance was Ross Castle. When almost all of Ireland had already been conquered by Cromwell, Ross Castle held on.


The British were able to take the castle only by sending ships with heavy artillery under the fortress walls in the Loch Lynn Lake. Ross Castle also has its own ghost. One day the owner of the castle went to sleep peacefully, and in the morning the servants found that he had disappeared, along with his clothes and all the furnishings of the room. An unknown force dragged the owner of the castle into the lake, where he remains to this day and keeps a close eye on visitors to the castle.

History of Ireland in Modern Times

The history of Ireland in modern times developed in one way or another around the question of independence. From time to time the Irish rebelled, the English government suppressed the uprisings through a combination of force and petty concessions. The resistance movement was hit hard by a famine in the mid-nineteenth century. Famine deaths and emigration are thought to have caused the country to lose between a third and half of its population. There was simply no one left to resist. A new surge of Irish struggle for independence occurred during World War I. In 1921 Ireland changed from a colony to a dominion, and in 1949 it declared full independence. In memory of the millions of Irish people who died fighting colonial oppression, Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance is dedicated to them. In this park there are monuments to prominent fighters for independence. A panoramic gallery is devoted to the history of the struggle. And the millions of dead are symbolized by small cardboard crosses, as if growing out of the lawn.

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