There are several sites you just have to see when you travel to Ireland - from the windswept Cliffs of Moher to the rain-soaked Aran Islands. If ancient history is your thing, Ireland has plenty of it, try Newgrange or the Hill of Tara in County Meath. For sheer unadulterated, natural, beauty try the Giant's Causeway or the entire county of Kerry. But there is more to Ireland than countryside and rocks, as any number of attractions in Dublin, such as Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
The most famous and breath taking part of Ireland’s craggy west coastline is the Cliffs of Moher area, which feature some of the most phenomenal views on the entire island. The seaboard offers no greater sight than County Clare’s mighty Cliffs of Moher, which tower above the raging ocean below along a five-mile stretch.
The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs. The Cliffs of Moher are home to 40,000 birds from 30 different species including Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Chough. The seabirds nest all along the rock shelves and especially on the sea stack An Bhreanan Mor, which is best seen from our Cliffs of Moher cruise.
Cliffs of Moher
The Giant's Causeway, a coastal area of about 40,000 basalt columns near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. For centuries countless visitors have marvelled at the majesty and mystery of the Giants Causeway.
At the heart of one of Europe's most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire our visitors. To stroll on the Giants Causeway is to voyage back in time.
The Causeway proper is a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea mostly hexagonal but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The north Antrim coastline in renowned for its scenic beauty and the Giant's Causeway is its unique jewel in the crown, known to the Irish as the 8th Wonder of the World.
A trip to Galway would be incomplete without a visit to the Aran Islands, the collective name for the small islands, Inishmór, Inishmaan and Inisheer. The mystical, frozen-in-time islands are famous for their preservation of a rural existence largely unchanged, at least culturally, over the centuries.
There may be some electricity there these days, but the ways of the past are carefully preserved among locals who make their living much the same way their ancestors did.
The pace of life is slow here and a profound sense of peace accompanies any walk or cycle down the narrow grassy lanes. This serenity makes the islands a precious sanctuary from the rush of modern life and their isolation guarantees their place as a stronghold of traditional culture.
Images of the islands are instantly recognisable due to their landscape, which is criss-crossed with stone walls, a traditional feature found in the west of Ireland. That said, each island has its own distinctive personality and charm.
Trinity College is Ireland's most prestigious college - and although its rivals at University College Dublin might dispute this, it's probably the best university in Ireland. Although the college is best known for the Book of Kells, it's also worth going there to check out the Long Room of its old library.
It is also worth taking one of the guided tours around the college as nearly every building seems to have an interesting story. Many of the tour guides appear to be Trinity College drama school graduates: They always seem to add a little dramatic flair to their tours.
Trinity College is a symbol for the importance of Dublin as an economic and political powerhouse in Elizabethan times. Originally set up in 1592 for the education of the protestant elite, Trinity opened its doors to Catholics in 1793.
The most precious single item on the Trinity campus is undoubtedly the Book of Kells. The book is an illuminated manuscript from 800AD which is housed in the Old Library building of the university. Apart from the Book Of Kells, the Old Library is worth a visit for its magnificent Main Chamber. The 65 metres long hall houses 200,000 of Trinity's oldest books.
Belfast Castle estate is situated on the lower slopes of Cave Hill Country Park in north Belfast. It contains both
parkland and mature mixed woodland and offers superb views of the city from a variety of vantage points.
The estate is home to many different species of wildlife, including long-eared owls, sparrow hawks and Belfast’s rarest plant, the town hall clock.
Guinness is synonymous with Ireland and no visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse – the Home of Guinness. Located in the heart of the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, this production site has been home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759, when Arthur Guinness signed a lease for 9,000 years.
The Guinness Storehouse building dates back to 1904 and is built in the style of the Chicago School of Architecture. It was once the fermentation plant of the brewery and is now a seven-storey visitor experience dedicated to the history of the making of this world famous beer.
Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visit to Dublin. The parish church of Saint Patrick on this site was granted collegiate status in 1191, and raised to cathedral status in 1224. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.
In the cathedral, the visitor is confronted by hundreds of memorial plaques, busts, and monuments. Pride of place goes to the Boyle Family Tomb from the 17th century. Smaller mementos are dedicated to Turlough O'Carolan (the famous blind harper) and Douglas Hyde (the first President of Ireland).
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral embodies the history and heritage of Irish people of all backgrounds from the earliest times to the present day. A beautiful stained glass window telling the story of the life of Saint Patrick in 39 different images.
Visitors to Blarney Castle most often are actually visitors to the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. As its name implies, the legend states that if you kiss the stone, you will never be at a loss for words.
Besides the draw of the Stone, the Blarney Castle also boasts handsome gardens and several interesting rock formations. Known collectively as Rock Close, the formations have been given such whimsical names as Wishing Steps and Witch's Cave, adding a certain sense of enchantment to this 600 year old fortress. So by all means, take your turn to kiss the Stone, but don't leave the Castle without exploring the grounds a bit too.
For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate. Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements.
Today, we are rather more cautious of the safety of our visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone presents the gift of persuasiveness.
Dublin Castle is the heart of historic Dublin. In fact the city gets its name from the Black Pool - 'Dubh Linn' which was on the site of the present Castle garden.The Castle stands on the ridge on a strategic site at the junction of the River Liffey and its tributary the Poddle, where the original fortification may have been an early Gaelic Ring Fort.
Later a Viking Fortress stood on this site - a portion of which is on view to visitors in the ' Mediaeval Undercroft' which also includes the remains of the original 13th century Castle. The south range houses the magnificent State Apartments that were built as the residential quarters of the Viceregal court. They are now the venue for Presidential Inaugurations, State Functions and Ireland's Presidencies of the European Union.
Dunguaire castle is one of the most visited and photographed castles in the West of Ireland, conveniently located as it is, by the roadside on the way into the picturesque, seaside village of Kinvara. It has had a curious and colourful history, having changed hands many times since it was first built in 1520, as told in the tale of Bothar na Mias.
Once upon a time the High King of Connaught, Guaire was feasting with his merry men at the castle. When the hermit Saint Colman, who had been fasting for forty days up in the nearby mountains, called on God to provide him with sustenance. Miraculously, the food was seen to fly from the plates in the castle up through the air to the saint's altar in Carron.
The National Museum of Ireland is dedicated to showcasing items of Irish art, culture, and natural history. The National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, on Kildare Street in Dublin, first opened its doors in 1890 and since then it has been filling in the blanks for us through its extensive archaeological collections.
Take time at The Treasury which features outstanding examples of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard. Gaze in wonder at the finest collection of prehistoric gold artefacts in Europe, which is to be found in Or, Ireland's Gold. Ramble through prehistoric Ireland and experience life at the same time of the Vikings in Viking Age Ireland. Medieval Ireland 1150-1550, documents life in Ireland in the age of cathedrals, monasteries and castles.
This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.
Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. In fact, the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones, representing the King's Road.
Tucked in the shadows of the mighty Seven Pins Mountain range, Kylemore Abbey cuts a striking figure against its majestic backdrop. A Benedictine monastery founded in 1853, the Abbey took seven years to build and remains in use today as an all girls’ school governed by Benedictine Nuns the only Benedictine Community in Ireland - as well as opening its grounds to tourists.
The dramatic landscape and iconic image of a gothic castle reflected in a Connemara lake has made Kylemore Abbey world-famous and it is now the largest tourist attraction in the west of Ireland. Kylemore’s many nature trails, woodland walks and the magical award-winning walled garden offer a wonderland to explore.
Belfast's most prominent timepiece was built from 1865-1870 in memory of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, who died in 1862. The 43m-high landmark is famous as Belfast's very own leaning tower.
Like many structures in the city, it was built on reclaimed land on the River Farset's somewhat squishy foundations and the clock tower currently leans 1.25m to the left. A two-year £multi-million restoration project saw craftsmen working 'round the clock' to spruce up its sandstone, polish its two tonne bell and add gold leaf to its four faces. The area around the clock was once the stomping ground for ladies of the night 'servicing' visiting sailors.
Just as Dublin has Trinity, so Belfast has Queen's. It's the city's top university and a center of green and calm. Neo-Gothic and neo-Tudor buildings mingle with less majestic fare. It was founded in 1849 and its main building was designed by Charles Lanyon. However, the main pleasure for the visitor is less its history and more just strolling around the grounds enjoying the tranquil enclave and the toney streets surrounding the campus.
The highlight of the University for many is the original college building which was designed by Charles Lanyon and opened in 1849. Lanyon is synonymous with Belfast as he was both a Lord Mayor of the city as well as being responsible for designing Crumlin Road Gaol and the Customs House. The original college building has a Tudor Gothic Style characterised by flattened arches, spires, carvings and red brick. The building is used on bank notes and tourist brochures and is one of Belfast’s most iconic landmarks.
Found at the base of Torc Mountain among the lakeland splendors of Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall is a short walk off the winding Killarney-Kenmare road through the dense woodland of Friar’s Glen. Fed by the River Owengarriff, it plunges 66 ft (20 m) down a series of polished rock steps and eventually flows into Muckross Lake.
The waterfall is at its most exuberant after rainy weather and is best seen by climbing the steps on its left for panoramic views of the cascade and the surrounding valleys.
Built in the 18th century on the north bank of the River Liffey, Custom House is one of the grandest neoclassical buildings in Dublin. Designed as part of a city-wide plan to enhance the streets and public buildings of the Irish capital, it took over a decade to build.
Designed by the English architect Thomas Cooley, during the Irish Revolution, Custom House was seen as a symbol of British power in Ireland, and so on May 25, 1921, the Dublin Brigade of the IRA set fire to the building, destroying the grand dome and entire interior.
The building has since been renovated, and Irish Ardbraccan limestone rather than the original English Portland stone has been incorporated into the dome as a way of promoting Irish resources.
Wicklow Mountains National Park covers much of upland Wicklow, and contains an area of nearly 20,000 hectares. The National Park provides protection for landscapes and wildlife. The Wicklow mountains National Park was established with the aim of protecting the area’s wildlife, landscape and maintaining and improving the area as a recreational resource for Irish citizens and International visitors alike.
The National Park covers an area of 20,000 hectares and covers much of upland Wicklow. The National Park provides protection for the landscape and wildlife and covers areas such as Lugnaquilla and Liffey Head Bog complexes and Glendalough Wood Nature Reserve.
Slea Head is located at the western tip of the Dingle Peninsula and is easily reachable from the main town Dingle via the winding Slea Head Drive, a 30 kilometres long panoramic road. Shortly before Slea Head the road narrows appreciably and uncovers amazing views over the Atlantic, the nearby Blasket Islands and the rugged coast covered with luscious green.
Slea Head itself invites you to walks along the beautiful sandy beach, the Counmeenoole Beach, or up to Dunmore Head. The Slea Head Drive is a circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic way, beginning and ending in Dingle, which takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the peninsula. The route is clearly labelled by road signs throughout its length. To properly enjoy the Drive, a half-day should be set aside for the journey.
The Blasket Islands, or as they are known in Irish Na Blascaodaí, lie around 6 km beyond the most westerly tip of the Dingle Peninsula (Leithinis an Daingin) in County Kerry. A truly magical trip with a glimpse of Dolphins, Whales, Orcas and Porpoises. Come and enjoy this remote and unspoilt beauty first hand and we promise you an experience never to be forgotten.
The Great Blasket Island remains uninhabited today, but visitors can travel by ferry over to this remote and wildly beautiful place and spend several hours or all day marvelling at its natural beauty and what remains of years of human endeavour. You can take a boat tour around the islands for some whale and bird watching too and enjoy the abundant marine bird and aquatic life the region has.