You’ve kissed the Blarney Stone and drunk Guinness in Dublin – what to do next on the Emerald Isle? Steeped in ancient legends and folklore, Ireland is never short of intriguing places to discover. If you’d like to get to know its lesser-known sites and secret spots, here’s our pick of Ireland’s hidden treasures.
Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare
Dolmen seemingly deceive nature – they are vast slabs of stone on which precariously balance a giant capstone and have endured for centuries. These megalithic tombs are scattered across Ireland but the Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of the finest examples of ancient Irish history. Sitting atop the high Burren limestone plateau, it’s the oldest dated Neolithic monument in Ireland, estimated to date back to 3600BC.
Connemara Marble Factory, County Galway
Marble quarrying, cutting and polishing is one of Ireland’s oldest industries. This family-run factory creates striking jewellery and accessories from locally hewn Connemara marble which geologists estimate to be an astonishing six hundred million years old. See silversmiths at work hand-crafting brooches, bracelets and earrings and check out their museum which houses hundreds of years’ worth of antique marble items.
William Butler Yeats grave at Drumcliff churchyard, County Sligo
“Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.” So reads Nobel Literature Prize-winning poet, William Butler Yeats’ unique self-penned epitaph. His final resting place is Drumcliff Parish Church, set in the shadow of the majestic Benbulben Mountain. The small hamlet is home to a handful of visitor attractions but it’s the raw beauty of the surroundings and historical church that make it a great spot to check out.
Waterville, County Kerry
The Ring of Kerry may be a tourist hotspot but this small-but-scenic village is a must-visit. Sitting between Lough Currane and Ballinskelligs Bay, you can see where it takes its aquatic-inspired name from. Undulating green hills roll down to tranquil watersides offering the most spectacular views. Of course, it’s a great destination for fishing, exploring local archaeology and simply wandering through the picturesque village itself.
House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford
Ever wondered how intricately cut glassware is crafted? Find out at a tour around the House of Waterford Crystal. The iconic brand has been at the forefront of creating the most exquisite cut-glass for centuries and their visitor centre is the best place to get acquainted with its heritage. Learn the Waterford story, watch molten-hot crystal being blown and see the master sculptors at work.
Irish Famine Museum, County Roscommon
Discover the tragic history behind Europe’s greatest social disaster of the 19th century at the Irish Famine Museum. Located in the stately home of Strokestown Park House, the museum is a moving portrait of the infamous potato crop failure of 1845. There’s a wealth of captivating photos, documents and exhibitions which illustrate the horrors of the famine and what stoic sufferers had to do to survive.
If you’d like to delve into Ireland’s mystical past and hidden treasures, click here to find an enchanting Trafalgar Tour to the Emerald Isle.
Image credits: Dolmen © iStock/alantobey. Connemara Marble © iStock/clsgraphics. Waterville © iStock/pawopa3336. Yeats grave © iStock/trevorb687. Famine Museum © Famine Museum. House of Waterford © House of Waterford.