By Mary Isokariari
A tiny country with a big reputation, Ireland offers a fascinating combination of breathtaking mountain scenery, natural wonders, medieval monuments and traditional heritage. With St Patrick’s Day fast approaching on March 17, we round up some of the Emerald Isle’s unmissable highlights to celebrate this iconic festival.
A trip to Ireland would not be complete without visiting Dublin, Ireland’s capital and home to the St Patrick’s Day parade and festival. Join the lively carnival atmosphere, cheer on the flamboyant procession and experience the warmth, wit and hospitality of the Irish. During your visit, wander around the cobbled courtyard of Trinity College and its picturesque surroundings.
Visit Temple Bar, the city’s Cultural Quarter, filled with the finest bars and restaurants. Enjoy a pint in one of the bustling pubs where musicians travel far and wide to celebrate the rich traditions and modern face of Irish culture. Tour the iconic Guinness Storehouse and learn all about the age-old art of brewing that makes the stout so distinctive. Ascend to the Gravity Bar to admire the unparalleled panoramic views of Dublin City.
The quintessential town of Connemara holds a special relationship with the Irish language. The region, which was captured in the film, The Quiet Man, is an area of desolate unspoiled beauty, dramatic mountains and rugged hills. Get a true glimpse of rural life, greet the locals ‘dia dhuit’ (hello) and experience the real jewel of Ireland.
The remarkable lunar landscape of the Giant’s Causeway, which lurks below the gaunt wall, is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage. The result of an ancient volcanic eruption, this natural wonder is comprised of 40,000 interlocking basalt rock hexagons all reaching up into the sky right beside the dramatic and beautiful coastline of County Antrim.
Cliffs of Moher
Travel to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to see the stunning Cliffs of Moher, which stand at 214m (702 feet). See the history of the cliffs brought to life with a visit to the ‘Atlantic Edge’ exhibition. Explore the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park dedicated to life in Ireland during the 18th and 19th century.
Set on the swirling River Nore with a web of narrow laneways, Kilkenny is a 20km hop north of Jerpoint Abbey, and a contender for Ireland’s most spectacular city. Its ‘medieval mile’ stretches between 12th-century-established Kilkenny Castle and its monumental Cathedral of St Canice, on the site of a 6th-century abbey founded here by St Canice, Kilkenny’s patron saint.
As Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford, which was established as a Viking port in 914 A.D, makes this one of Ireland’s most engaging places to visit. Unravel the history behind this seaport by touring the Medieval Museum; the Georgian mansion housing the Bishop’s Palace, covering the city’s history from 1700 to 1970.
Famous for its hand-crafted crystal, Waterford is a cluster of cosmopolitan life, charming seaside resorts and mountainous hinterland. Take a trip to the three-masted famine ship Dunbrody, and gain a cultural insight into the tragic plight of Irish emigration during the 1800s.
If you like the sound of Ireland, then click here to find out more about our trips.
Images Courtesy of Getty Images