The island of Ireland’s natural beauty, enduring legends and long and often-turbulent history have created a fascinating place for visitors to explore. Some popular Irish attractions include:
Legend has it that the giant, Finn MacCool built a causeway from Northern Ireland to Scotland in order to fight a Scottish giant – and the Giant’s Causeway is all that’s left on the Irish side. Whether you believe the story or the more prosaic theory - that these 40,000 basalt columns were formed by volcanic eruptions, this part of the Antrim coast is not to be missed.
The Titanic was built in Belfast, and a recent addition to the city’s list of tourist attractions tells the story of the ill-fated liner. You can learn about the shipyard where it was built, the doomed maiden voyage and the passengers, plus see images from the wreck.
Cliffs of Moher:
These magnificent cliffs rise more than 200 metres straight out of the North Atlantic. Located on the central west coast of Ireland, the Cliffs or Moher stretch for eight kilometres, and are made out of 300 million year old sandstone, siltstone and shale – rocks that are rich in fossils and display an attractive horizontal layering effect. On a clear day, the views are amazing.
These beautiful mountains contain the highest point in Northern Ireland, and are popular with hikers, cyclists and climbers. Because of their proximity to the coast, on a clear day you can sometimes see across to the Isle of Man and even as far as Snowdonia in Wales from the mountains.
Dublin Castle has played an important role in Irish history for more than 800 years. You can visit the State Apartments, which include the Throne Room, St Patrick’s Hall, State Bedrooms and State Dining rooms. The Chapel Royal, Revenue Museum and Police Museum can also be visited.
This medieval castle, in the south of the Republic of Ireland, is a popular tourist destination, not least because it is home to the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you will get the gift of eloquence. Kissing the stone is not a straightforward affair, though – it takes some agility to get into the right position.
Ireland gave the world the “black stuff”, and fans of this drink should not miss out on a visit to the place it’s made. Visitors can tour this attraction, at St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, and learn about the history of Guinness. You can then pour your own pint, and even see if you can draw the perfect shamrock in its head.
National Museum of Ireland:
The museum has three branches in Dublin, which feature archaeology from Ireland and beyond, decorative arts and historical items, and natural history exhibits. A fourth branch, in Castlebar tells the story of the way of life of rural Irish people between 1850 and 1950.
Ring of Kerry:
Down in the southwest of Ireland, Kerry is one of most beautiful corners of the country. The ring of Kerry is a 179-kilometre loop featuring dramatic sea views, secluded white-sand beaches and misty mountains. You can also visit picturesque villages and call in at charming pubs and cafes.
This 764 metre high mountain, on the west coast near Westport, is popular as a site of pilgrimage. Legend has it that St Patrick completed a 40-day fast on the mountain, and that it is also from here that he banished all the snakes from Ireland. If you climb Croagh Patrick, you are rewarded with magnificent views over the coast and countryside, while you’ll also find a chapel at the summit.