The 20 Best Sights of Ireland
The state of Ireland occupies part of the island of the same name in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. This is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, standing out for its distinctive cultural traditions, ancient architecture, picturesque hills, green valleys and clean rivers.
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Who Should Come to Ireland and Why?
Ireland is a country with a rich history, preserving ancient castles, medieval abbeys and temples. People come here to look at the architecture of the old cities, artifacts of the Stone Age, to admire the natural sights.
The island’s rocky shores move smoothly into broadleaf forests and plains covered with emerald vegetation. And in its depths hide national parks for ecotourism lovers. There you can learn a lot about the nature of Ireland, walk and admire the local beauty, or engage in equestrian sports.
It is very interesting to spend holidays in this country. On May 1, tourists gather for the pagan Beltaine, symbolizing the beginning of summer. On this day, locals decorate rowan bushes with ribbons and toys and build large fires on the hills in the evening. Halloween fans flock to the country in the fall, as Ireland is the home of this popular holiday. Right after Halloween, another Celtic holiday, Samhain, marking the end of the harvest, is celebrated.
Picturesque Ireland is perfect for a family vacation. There are medieval castles, interesting museums and excursions in every town. Come here with your child, go to Dublin Zoo, visit the Aqua Dome in Tralee and check out the Adventure Park amusement park in Bandoran.
Don’t miss the national dishes while you’re in Ireland: hard cheese with a nutty, creamy flavor, and sausage pudding. Be sure to buy souvenirs for your family and friends. Handmade wool sweaters, cashmere pieces from the Blarney factory, whiskey, crystal, Celtic jewelry, leprechauns, and clover charms make good gifts for them.
Ireland’s Historic Landmarks
The seat of government in Dublin is a majestic and beautiful castle founded in the 13th century. The complex was originally intended to protect the city. At different times it housed the Irish court, the residence of the king and the government.
Now it is a place for conferences and official meetings. When there are no state events, the castle is open to visitors. Tourists can see the interior decoration of the halls, the Birmingham Tower, the Holy Trinity Church, and the art center located in the dungeon of the royal chapel.
In the town of Kells near Dublin rises Kell Abbey. The first mention of the castle dates back to 554. Here the monks who created the masterpiece of religious art, the Book of Kells, found refuge. It is a collection of the Gospels decorated with exquisite ornaments and miniatures that have not lost their brilliance of colors to this day.
The abbey was repeatedly attacked by Vikings, so many structures of the complex were destroyed. Only the main tower and the high walls surrounding the courtyard have survived well.
The largest castle in Ireland, built in the early twelfth century on an island in the middle of the River Shur, is perfectly preserved. It was founded by Conor O’Brien, a prince who lived before the Norman invasion.
Walking around the castle, it’s easy to see with your own eyes the peculiarities of ancient Irish life, see the rooms of the lord, the three-story donjon, the steep stone stairs, the watchtowers and the grating that protects the gate.
In the county of Clare is the Castle of Bunratty. The citadel, built in Norman style, was destroyed many times during the wars, but was always rebuilt as it was of great strategic importance. The castle has been completely restored and is open to tourists all year round. There is stored wooden furniture, paintings, tapestries of the XVII century, medieval weapons.
In the courtyard is an open-air museum. Guests can see farm huts, a mill, learn about ancient crafts, taste dishes cooked in an ancient oven, and buy local souvenirs.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The largest cathedral in Ireland is located in Dublin. It is a bright example of Gothic architecture founded in the early XII century near the source of St. Patrick.
Now it is a huge temple complex including the church, chapels, and the archbishop’s palace. It regularly holds religious services and important national ceremonies. Inside the cathedral are kept church relics, ancient frescoes and an organ.
Church of Christ Church
Dublin’s main cathedral is known locally as Christ Church or Cathedral of Christ. It was built in the 11th century and has always been the center of religious life of the country. The cathedral is decorated with original tiles of XIII century, columns, wall paintings and frescoes.
There is a small museum in the crypt, where unique works of art are exhibited: ancient manuscripts, paintings, candlesticks and church utensils.
Newgrange is a huge block tomb in the Bru-na-Boin complex, near Dublin. It consists of a wide burial chamber and a narrow, long passageway. The top of the structure is covered with earth and stones. The mound is about 5000 years old. It is much older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. During the excavations, scientists have found many unique artifacts.
There is a hole in the top of the mound – through it, from December 19 to 23, the sunlight penetrates into the burial chamber for a short time. But to see the illuminated room can only lottery winners. On normal days, tours are conducted in the light of spotlights.
The prehistoric sanctuary is located in County Sligo and is one of the main Neolithic megalithic structures in Ireland. Scientists have not reached a consensus on the age of the monument. Some experts believe that the stone blocks are about 7,000 years old.
In Carrowmore, there are about 30 dolmens, surrounded by fences of hewn stones. When you come here, tourists can get in touch with the ancient culture and admire the picturesque green hills.
Museums of Ireland
In the historic part of Dublin there is a beautiful gray brick structure with a high tower – Dublinia Museum. It’s a great place for families. The halls of the museum recreate the medieval and Viking era.
Adults and children can watch actors dressed in knight’s armor, national dress and join their “games”. The museum, which introduces living history, is visited by 125 thousand tourists every year.
Irish National Museum
Next to the parliament building in the center of the capital is the National Museum. It contains the rich cultural heritage of the Irish people.
The extensive collection includes:
- Celtic attire and jewelry;
- Christian relics;
- Pre-Christian archaeological finds;
- ancient forged weapons.
The gem of the exhibit is the Klonikavan Man. It is an Iron Age mummy found in the marshes of Meath County. The estimated age of the exhibit is 2,300 years old.
Art Museum in Dublin
The National Gallery of Ireland is of great interest to connoisseurs of painting. There are paintings of Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian and German masters, written before the beginning of the XVIII century. A separate hall has a huge collection of Irish paintings.
There are about 14 thousand paintings, sculptures, pencil drawings, as well as samples of graphics in the museum vault.
Museum of leprechauns
There is a museum dedicated to Irish folklore in the capital. The exposition tells about leprechauns – magical creatures dressed in green clothes and granting wishes. Tourists will learn a lot of interesting things about the little people, which are compared to elves or fairies.
During the tour, adults and children are shown a tunnel with optical illusions, a room of Irish mythology, artifacts from the Newgrange tomb, and an ancient well. Souvenirs are sold on the grounds of the museum.
Guinness Beer Museum in Dublin.
The history of the legendary brewery begins in 1752, when Arthur Guinness rented a small building and founded the family business. For 200 years the small company has grown into a global brand.
The exhibition halls of the museum tell about the traditions of brewing and methods of making beer. Here you can taste beer in the bar Gravitation, buy sweets with beer fillings and interesting souvenirs. On the roof of the building is an observation deck, which offers a gorgeous panorama of Dublin. Beer Museum attracts about 700,000 visitors a year.
Kilmanham prison, used by the British authorities to hold prisoners, is now converted into a museum. The complex, built in the capital, is called the Irish Bastille because many of the country’s notables and independence fighters served their sentences or were executed there.
Visitors can see the courtyard and the cells where the prisoners languished. The Kilmanham Museum has an exhibit on Irish nationalism. On the second floor is an exhibit of sculptures, paintings and drawings from the incarcerated.
Natural attractions, parks and activities
In County Clare, near the village of Liskannor, one of Ireland’s main attractions can be seen – the Cliffs of Moher, towering on the ocean. Tourists flock here to climb to a height of two hundred meters and admire the magnificent scenery.
The O’Brien Tower is built on one of the cliffs and has an observation deck for even more awesome views.
In the west of the country, the Burren National Park sits near Galway. This is an unusual place, attracting fans of fantastic scenery.
Here you will find:
- limestone plateaus;
- small groves;
- underground caves;
- peat bogs.
On the territory of the park grows ivy, fern, mountain ash, hazel, heather, alpine grasses and mosses. In the reserve there are hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. It is recommended to travel as part of a tour.
Killarney National Park
In the southwest in Kerry County there is a nature reserve founded in 1932. There are beautiful lakes, underground springs, forests, heathland and green hills on an area of 10,000 hectares. Travelers here can see deer, marten squirrels, geese, falcons. The flora is represented by the rare Killarney fern, strawberry tree, and century-old oaks.
In the valley of Glendaloch in County Wicklow the monk Quentin settled in the sixth century. In a picturesque corner surrounded by high hills, he built a small monastery, outbuildings and a hospital.
The abbey is a place of pilgrimage for the faithful and attracts tourists with its beautiful natural scenery. There are many trees, shrubs, flowers, but most importantly – many religious shrines and ancient stone towers are preserved.
It’s easy to spend a whole day in Dublin’s Botanic Gardens. In the center of the capital on 25 hectares of land grows more than 20 thousand plants. Its indoor greenhouses are filled with tropical trees and herbs while the outdoor areas are filled with gorgeous roses and medicinal plants from around the world.
Along the perimeter of the park are laid out alleys – there guests take a leisurely stroll and rest on cozy benches. Everyone can sit in a cafe or try national cuisine in the local restaurant. In the garden there is a store where seeds and seedlings of the plants are sold.
There’s a big amusement park for kids of all ages on the outskirts of Dublin. Tayto Park, named after potato chips, is open every day. Children can enjoy the rides, roller coaster, fun competitions and costume shows.
The park has separate areas for kids with safe swings, trampolines and mazes. The ticket price includes a visit to the Teito factory, where they make those delicious chips. Children can view an interactive exhibition and taste the products that have just come off the assembly line.
Not far from England, occupying almost the entire island of the same name, spreads Ireland. A small state, on the territory of which there are a lot of historical sites and ancient medieval buildings, it is buried in greenery and fog, towering its rocky cliffs over the stormy waters of the ocean.
Ireland is an ideal place not only for recreation and tourism. It is a country with a rich history and picturesque nature, where everyone can find something to do.
Glendaloch Valley Ireland
The valley of glacial origin, it is located in a small county. Famous for its ancient monastery, which dates back to the sixth century, it is a picturesque natural area, standing out for its special landscape.
Skellig Michael Ireland.
As a cliff island, Skellig Michael is the largest of the group of islands of the same name. Covering an area of no more than a few square meters, it was a haven for the monks who built a monastery on its territory, cutting out the cells
Macross House Museum Ireland
Located in the largest county in Ireland, Macross House Museum is a nineteenth-century manor house that’s now one of Ireland’s premier historical landmarks. Situated in the center of a national park, it is valuable not only for its architecture but also for its authentic decorations.
St. Stephen’s Green Dublin
In the heart of Dublin, St. Stephen’s Green Park is a favorite place for walks. It was created in the seventeenth century and covers nine hectares, with beautiful ponds, a cascade of fountains and shady garden paths.
Great Western Greenway.
Originating in the town of Westport, the Great Western Greenway is the longest hiking trail in the country, winding through some of the most scenic natural attractions and leading to the coastal cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean.
Powerscourt Manor Garden Ireland
Surrounded by a beautiful garden, this ancient manor house is another major historical landmark. Erected in the eighteenth century, the mansion has been altered and rebuilt several times, and gardens have been added around it. The grounds are now home to the Italian and Japanese Gardens, the Tower Valley, and the Garden Beyond the Walls.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin)
The ancient cathedral, built centuries ago, stands out among the other buildings for its size and the length of the complex. It is the largest church in Ireland. While not a bishop’s pulpit, the cathedral is of particular value as a historical landmark.
Blarney Castle Ireland
Built in medieval times, this mighty structure sits in the middle of a lush valley in the south of Ireland. Overlooking a picturesque loch, it’s a fine example of medieval architecture which has survived almost unchanged until the present day.
Aran Islands Ireland
Characterized by natural scenery and unique flora, the Aran Islands, consisting of three separate islands, are located in the west of the country. Capturing the Galway Straits, they are famous for their large cluster of historic sites in their territory and excellent hiking trails.
Shopstreet in Galway.
One of the most famous tourist spots in the city itself is Shop Street, a pedestrian street that is home to a host of stores and fashionable boutiques. Surrounded by old buildings, Shop Street also stands out for its street musicians. Here you can hear songs from different times and groups, and even order your favorite song.
Guinness Beer Museum in Dublin.
Opened in an old building of the factory of the same name beer brand, which is the most popular among the citizens of Ireland, the museum tells about the history of the company, traditions and rules, peculiarities and secrets. Among its exhibits is a collection of equipment, documents, photos and recipes.
A small colorful town in County Cork is famous among tourists for its cafes and restaurants. It serves national food, and a large “Gourmet Festival” is held here every year. Notably, Kinsale is even the hometown of famous chef Kate Floyd.
Kilkenny Castle Ireland.
Erected in the twelfth century in the town of the same name, the castle was for a long time in private ownership and only in the twentieth century it came under government control. Nowadays it is an open-for-visit historic site, an example of medieval architecture.
Part of the Bru-na-Boin complex of megalithic structures, Newgrange is a corridor vault. Its date of creation is two thousand five hundred B.C. The tomb is now a national monument.
Kilmanham Prison Dublin in Ireland
A former prison used for its intended purpose until the early twentieth century, Kilmanham is now a museum complex. Inside, the authentic prison setting has been preserved and various guided tours of the prison are offered.
Ring of Kerry Ireland.
Located on the Iveragh Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry is another popular hiking route. About one hundred and sixty kilometers long, the hiking trail leads through the most picturesque plains and skirts the peaks of low green mountains.
Cliffs of Moher Ireland
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs of Moher are a beautiful natural landmark. They offer a dizzying view of the ocean and the surrounding area, and the cliffs themselves rise one hundred and twenty and two hundred and forty meters above the water.
Grafton Street in Dublin
A shopping street in the heart of Ireland’s capital is a popular tourist destination. As a pedestrian street, it is famous for its rows of stores, stores, boutiques and restaurants, where you can find everything for every taste. Here you can also buy great souvenirs.
Trinity College (Dublin)
Opened its doors in the mid-sixteenth century, Trinity College, part of Dublin University, was once founded by Elizabeth the First herself. It is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning, renowned not only for the quality of education but also for its historical significance.
Rock of Cashel Ireland
Sometimes called St. Patrick’s Rock, the famous tourist attraction is the ruins of a medieval castle located in the city of the same name. Erected in the twelfth century, over time Cashel has grown into legends and stories, and is now popular with tourists.