A land of folklore entwined with history, landscapes both pastoral and rugged, unique cadences of Celtic music, and deeply woven with the irresistible charm of a warm and lively people… Welcome to Enchanting Ireland!
Where to go
In Dublin, visit the historic tombs of Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick's Cathedral, stroll in the vast Phoenix Park, and tour the Kilmainham Goal Memorial and the medieval Dublin Castle. Down a pint at the Guinness Brewery. Visit the archaeological tombs of Newgrange, the monastery of Glendalough, the Powerscourt Estate Gardens, and magnificent Russborough House. Wander about the Hill of Tara, the seat of Ireland's ancient High Kings.
Explore the historic Selskar Abbey, the Brownes Hill Dolmen, and the stunning riverside Kilkenny Castle. Watch glassblowers at the Waterford Crystal Factory, and see recreations of castles and ships at the Irish National Heritage Park at Ferrycarrig. View the strange limestone formations of Dunmore Cave, and the ruins of the massive Rock of Cashel.
Visit picturesque Cork, the weirdly-shaped monasteries of the Skellig Rocks, and kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of eloquent speech. However, the ritual is not easily achieved as the kisser must ascend to the peak of the castle and lean over backwards on the edge of the parapet, with the help of safety handrails and protective crossbars of course. Explore the pretty thatched cottages of Adare, the coastal village of Kinsale, and the gigantic Cliffs of Moher. Experience the festivals of Galway and Limerick. Explore Inis Mor in the remote Aran Islands, relax on the beaches of Achill Island, and go fishing and scuba diving on Clare Island.
Wander the ruins of Sligo Abbey and the ancient graveyard of Carrowmore. Visit the fortress of Dungauire Castle, the historic science centre of Birr Castle, the military museum of Athlone Castle, and impressive Carrigglass Manor and Emo Court Demesne.
In Northern Ireland, soak up the vibrant energy of Belfast. See dramatic Dunluce Castle, well-preserved Carrickfergus Castle, and the Londonderry ramparts. Clamber around the atmospheric basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway.
Flights link Dublin, Belfast and Cork, but the distance is rather short. Sometimes it can be better to use the train, which connects major cities.
Book in advance for savings. Long-distance buses provide extensive inter-city links. Book online or at bus stations.
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and cars are easily rented at airports and in cities. Road signs are in both Irish and English, and parking is usually available.
Within cities, your options are local buses or taxis. Taxis can be flagged down along the street in larger cities, but have to be phoned up for in smaller ones. Only Dublin has a tram and a suburban rail service. Or walk for short distances - Irish cities tend to be compact and pleasant to go around by foot.
Do's and Don'ts
Do bring a raincoat or an umbrella, as it often rains unpredictably.
Do dress modestly, usually in subdued colours, if you want to blend in with the Irish.
Don't refuse a drink if somebody offers you one. It could be considered rude.
Don't forget to tip about 10% at a restaurant, and round up to the next euro for taxi drivers.
Did you know…?
No trip is complete without a visit to an old-fashioned Irish pub. Have a pint, grab some grub, and soak up the atmosphere of traditional Irish music and friendly locals. Pub etiquette? It's never necessary to tip the bartender, and if you want to make friends, buy a round of drinks! You’ll fit right in and enjoy the truly local experience!
Irish folk music is played with harps, bodhrans, fiddles, whistles, banjos, flutes and the Uillean pipes. Hear it at a local pub "session", where amateur musicians meet to jam. Or if you’re visiting in late August, check out the Fleadh Cheoil Music Festival, where over 400,000 people gather for eight days of concerts, sing-a-longs, parades and parties. The very first festival was held in Mullingar in 1951 and has been held in many different venues since then. In 2013, it was held in Derry with a record attendance of 430,000 people. In 2014, it is scheduled to go to Sligo.
Images by Shuttlestock
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