Epic scenery, buzzing cities, thrilling experiences and warm welcomes… the island or Ireland delivers all this, and more!
The Wild Atlantic Way
From the wind-whipped tip of Malin Head to the safe haven of Kinsale Harbour, wrap yourself in the wilderness of the west coast or Ireland on the world’s longest defined coastal touring route.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a sensational journey of soaring cliffs and buzzing towns and cities, of hidden beaches and epic bays. So whether you drive it from end-to-end, or dip into it as the mood strikes, it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Northern Headlands are untouched, off-road and crying out for exploration. Nature is the star here, from the sheer granite walls of some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs at Slieve League to Northern Lights dancing in clear winter skies. But there is warmth and wit to be found among the vibrant, Irish-speaking community. This is a place that will lift your spirit.
Wave-riding thrill-seekers and sensitive souls alike lose their hearts to the Surf Coast, where pounding waves and poetic silence exist side by side. From Mullaghmore and Downpatrick Head to Yeats Country and beyond, prepare to be inspired.
The Bay Coast is waiting for you as well – from distant Erris to Connemara, the Wild Atlantic Way skims south around huge bays. The largest of these – Clew Bay – is said to have 365 islets and islands, one for every day of the year. In Connemara, water and land merge in a lacy shoreline of loughs, coves, islands and bogs.
The Cliff Coast is where the island’s most improbable landscapes meet. Some were shaped by the Ice Age, others resemble the moon, and are all worthy of pilgrimage. Take in the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and The Burren in all their weather-beaten splendour.
In Ireland’s beautiful south-west, five great peninsulas – Dingle, Iveragh, Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen – stretch miles out into the ocean. Breathtaking views unfold at every turn here, and there’s a distinctly edge-of-the-world feel to these Southern Peninsulas.
Zigzagging gently from dreamy Bantry Bay through Skibbereen and on to Kinsale, the Haven Coast is perfectly named. Hedgerows thick with fuschia and monbretia border lush gardens, endless inlets and Blue Flag beaches promise long days spent relaxing in the salty air.
Ireland’s Ancient East
ncompassing 17 counties and 5,000 years of history, Ireland’s Ancient East features three unique areas.
In the Land of 5,000 Dawns, you’ll find the whimsical woodland trails of Belvedere House and the exceptional passage tomb of Newgrange, built way back in 3200 BC.
The Historic Heartlands is much more than cosy National Heritage Towns and sleepy mirrored lakes. This is where saints converted kings at the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle changed hands for a song and Iron Age victims were surrendered to Lough Boora Bog.
Tales continue on the Celtic Coast, where Vikings looted holy treasures from the monastic city of Glendalough and the light of Europe’s oldest lighthouse sweeps across Ireland’s story-strewn maritime history.
Expect the Unexpected in Dublin
Visiting Dublin is like taking a great big breath of fresh air. Always invigorating, this Viking city is at once modern and historic, exciting and relaxing. No wonder Lonely Planet chose the city as one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2016!
But how will your Dublin adventure begin?
Aboard the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship on the River Liffey? Alongside the wild deer in the Phoenix Park? Or walking through 1,000 years of story-filled history? Maybe you’ll find yourself charmed by picture-postcard villages along the coast. Or you could simply ignite your passion in a good old Dublin pub, frequented by the wordsmiths who called and call this UNESCO City of Literature home.
Really, though, it’s hard to tell you how your Dublin adventure should unfold. But we can suggest this: take a deep breath and let Dublin do its thing.
Museums of Ireland
Every historical itch can be scratched on a visit to Ireland’s museums, from the tiniest micro-museums to priceless treasures in thriving national institutions.
“Want to hold some dinosaur droppings?” Don’t worry – the Irish welcome isn’t under threat. This is just one of the questions you – and your kids – might be asked at the Ulster Museum. Set in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, this multi-storeyed wonderland is the kind of place where you can wander from a dinosaur skeleton to an Egyptian mummy; from an exhibition on Irish Home Rule to top-notch contemporary art. Young explorers get special maps, and hands-on discovery centres.
Fancy coming face to face with a 2,300-year-old bog body? Or perhaps the bejewelled Ardagh Chalice, discovered by two boys digging a potato field, is more your cup of tea. They’re just two of the artefacts, riches and exhibitions on display in Dublin’s National Museum of Archaeology.
There’s plenty to discover in local museums, too. In Kerry County Museum, for instance, you can try solving a 500-year-old murder mystery. The cold case (the victim died by the sword, it transpires) lies in the basement, and you’re also welcome to grab a trowel and help excavate a skeleton while you’re at it!
The Great Famine of the 1840s is one of the most tragic events in Ireland’s history, and it’s touched upon in museums and heritage attractions all over the country. You can even visit a famine village in Doagh, County Donegal, and a reconstructed Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, County Wexford.
In County Roscommon, the Irish National Famine Museum explores “the single greatest social disaster of 19th-century Europe”. Unusually located in the stable yards of Strokestown Park House, it’s a sobering visit. You can also learn more about the famine’s aftermath at the Irish Museum of Country Life in County Mayo.
The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, County Tyrone, brings to life the human stories behind three centuries of Irish emigration and thousands who crossed the Atlantic for the New World of North America. The journey starts in the thatched cottages of Ulster, continues aboard a crowded sailing ship, and finishes at the American frontier.
The information for this article was taken from www.ireland.com, the official website of Tourism Ireland.