The state of Ireland occupies part of the island of the same name in the northeast of the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, distinguished by its original cultural traditions, ancient architecture, picturesque hills, green valleys and clear rivers.
Who should come to Ireland and why?
Ireland is a country with a rich history that has preserved ancient castles, medieval abbeys and temples. People tend to come here to look at the architecture of old cities, Stone Age artifacts, and admire natural sights.
The rocky shores of the island smoothly pass into broad-leaved forests and plains covered with emerald vegetation. And in its depths, national parks are hidden for lovers of ecotourism. There you can learn a lot about the nature of Ireland, take a walk, admiring the local beauties, or go horseback riding.
It is very interesting to spend holidays in this country. On the first of May, tourists gather for the pagan Beltane, which symbolizes the beginning of summer. On this day, locals decorate rowan bushes with ribbons, toys, and make big fires on the hills in the evenings. In autumn, Halloween fans come to the country, because Ireland is the birthplace of this popular holiday. Immediately after Halloween, another Celtic holiday is celebrated — Samhain, which marks the end of the harvest.
Picturesque Ireland is perfect for a family holiday. In each city, children are waiting for medieval castles, interesting museums, excursions. If you come here with a child, go to the Dublin Zoo, visit the Aqua Dome in the town of Tralee and take a look at the Adventure Park amusement park in Bundoran.
While vacationing in Ireland, do not forget to try national dishes: hard cheese with a nutty cream flavor and sausage pudding. Be sure to buy souvenirs for family and friends. A good gift for them would be hand-knitted wool sweaters, cashmere items produced at the Blarney factory, whiskey, crystal, jewelry with Celtic motifs, leprechaun figurines and clover key rings.
Historical sights of Ireland
The government residence in Dublin is a majestic and beautiful castle founded in the 13th century. Initially, the complex was intended to protect the city. At various times there were an Irish court, the residence of the king and government.
Now it is a place for conferences and official meetings. When there are no state events, the castle is open to the public. Tourists can see the interior decoration of the halls, the Birmingham Tower, the Church of the Holy Trinity and the arts center, located in the dungeon of the royal chapel.
Kells Abbey rises in the town of Kells near Dublin. The first mention of the castle dates back to 554. The monks who created the masterpiece of religious art, the Book of Kells, found refuge here. This is a collection of the Gospels, decorated with elegant ornaments and miniatures that have not lost their brightness of colors to this day.
The abbey was repeatedly raided by the Vikings, so many of the buildings of the complex were destroyed. Only the main tower and the high walls surrounding the courtyard are well preserved.
The largest castle in Ireland, built at the beginning of the 12th century on an island in the middle of the Suir River, is perfectly preserved. It was founded by Conor O’Brien, a prince who lived before the Norman invasion.
Walking through the castle, it is easy to see with your own eyes the peculiarities of the life of the ancient Irish, examine the lord’s rooms, the three-story donjon, stone steep stairs, watchtowers and the lattice protecting the gate.
Bunratty Castle is located in County Clare. The citadel, built in the Norman style, was destroyed more than once during the wars, but was always restored, as it was of great strategic importance. The castle has been completely restored and is open to tourists all year round. It stores wooden furniture, paintings, tapestries of the 17th century, medieval weapons.
There is an open-air museum in the courtyard. Guests can see farm huts, a mill, learn about old crafts, taste dishes cooked in an old oven, and buy local souvenirs.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The largest cathedral in Ireland is located in Dublin. A striking example of Gothic architecture was founded at the beginning of the XII century near the source of St. Patrick.
Now it is a huge temple complex, including a church, chapels, the archbishop’s palace. Religious services and important national ceremonies are regularly held here. Church relics, ancient frescoes and an organ are kept inside the cathedral.
Christ church church
Dublin’s main cathedral church is known locally as Christ Church or Christ Cathedral. It was built in the 11th century and has always been the center of the religious life of the country. The cathedral is decorated with original 13th-century tiles, columns, wall paintings and frescoes.
A small museum was founded in the crypt, where unique works of art are exhibited: ancient manuscripts, paintings, candlesticks and church utensils.
Newgrange is a huge tomb made of stone blocks, part of the Bru na Boine complex, located near Dublin. It consists of a wide burial chamber and a narrow long passage. From above, the structure is covered with earth and stones. The age of the mound is about 5 thousand years. It is much older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. During excavations, scientists discovered many unique artifacts here.
There is a hole at the top of the mound — from December 19 to December 23, the rays of the sun penetrate into the burial chamber through it for a short time. But only lottery winners can see the illuminated room. On ordinary days, excursions are conducted under the light of spotlights.
The prehistoric sanctuary is located in County Sligo and is one of the main Neolithic megalithic structures in Ireland. Scientists have not come to a consensus on the age of the monument. Some experts believe that the stone blocks are about 7 thousand years old.
In Carrowmore, there are about 30 dolmens surrounded by fences of hewn stones. Arriving here, tourists can touch the ancient culture and admire the picturesque green hills.
Museums in Ireland
In the historical part of Dublin there is a beautiful building made of gray brick with a high tower — the Dublin Museum. This is a great place for a family vacation. In the halls of the museum, the era of the Middle Ages and the Vikings is recreated.
Adults and children can look at the actors dressed in knightly armor, national clothes and join their “games”. The museum, which introduces living history, is visited annually by 125,000 tourists.
Irish National Museum
Next to the parliament building in the center of the capital is the national museum. The rich cultural heritage of the Irish people is collected here.
The extensive collection includes:
- Celtic clothes and jewelry;
- Christian relics;
- archaeological finds of the pre-Christian period;
- ancient forged weapon.
The pearl of the exposition is the Clonycavan Man. This is an Iron Age mummy found in the swamps of County Meath. The approximate age of the exhibit is 2300 years.
Art Museum in Dublin
The National Irish Gallery is of great interest to connoisseurs of painting. Here are canvases by Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian and German masters, painted before the beginning of the 18th century. A separate room is occupied by a huge collection of Irish paintings.
There are about 14 thousand paintings, sculptures, pencil drawings, as well as graphic samples in the museum’s storage.
The capital has a museum dedicated to Irish folklore. The exposition tells about leprechauns — magical creatures dressed in green clothes and granting wishes. Tourists learn a lot of interesting things about little people who are compared to elves or fairies.
During the tour, adults and children are shown a tunnel with optical illusions, an Irish mythology room, artifacts from the Newgrange tomb, and an ancient well. Souvenirs are sold on the territory of the museum.
Guinness Museum Dublin
The history of the legendary brewery begins in 1752, when Arthur Guinness rented a small building and founded a family business. For 200 years, a small company has grown into a global brand.
The exhibition halls of the museum tell about the traditions of brewing and the methods of making a foamy drink. Here you can taste beer in the Gravity bar, buy beer-filled sweets and interesting souvenirs. There is an observation deck on the roof of the building, which offers a gorgeous panorama of Dublin. The beer museum attracts about 700,000 visitors a year.
Kilmanham Prison, used by the British authorities to hold prisoners, has now been converted into a museum. The complex built in the capital is called the Irish Bastille because many famous people of the country and fighters for its independence served their sentences or were executed in it.
Visitors can see the courtyard and the cells where the prisoners languished. The Kilmanham Museum has an exhibition dedicated to Irish nationalism. On the second floor there is an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and drawings made in places of detention.
Natural attractions, parks and entertainment
Cliffs of Moher
In County Clare, near the village of Liscannor, you can see one of the main attractions of Ireland — the Cliffs of Moher, towering on the ocean. Tourists tend to come here to climb to a height of two hundred meters and admire the magnificent scenery.
O’Brien’s Tower was built on one of the cliffs, equipped with an observation deck, which offers an even more gorgeous view.
In the west of the country near the town of Galway lies the Burren National Park. This is an unusual place that attracts lovers of fantastic landscapes.
- limestone plateaus;
- small groves;
- underground caves;
- peat bogs.
Ivy, fern, mountain ash, hazel, heather, alpine grasses and mosses grow on the territory of the park. The reserve has hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. It is recommended to travel as part of an excursion.
Killarney National Park
In the southwest, County Kerry has a nature reserve established in 1932. On an area of 10 thousand hectares there are beautiful lakes, underground springs, forests, moorlands and green hills. Travelers here can see deer, marten squirrels, geese, falcons. The flora is represented by a rare Killarney fern, strawberry tree, ancient oaks.
In the valley of Glendalough in County Wicklow, the monk Quentin settled in the 6th century. In a picturesque corner surrounded by high hills, he built a small monastery, outbuildings and a hospital.
The abbey is a place of pilgrimage for believers and attracts tourists with beautiful natural landscapes. Many trees, shrubs, flowers grow here, but most importantly, many religious shrines and ancient stone towers have been preserved.
Dublin Botanic Gardens is an easy place to spend an entire day. More than 20 thousand plants grow on 25 hectares of land in the center of the capital. Tropical trees and herbs are planted in closed greenhouses, magnificent roses and medicinal plants imported from different countries grow in the open ground.
Alleys are laid along the perimeter of the park — where guests stroll slowly and relax on cozy benches. Everyone can sit in a cafe or try national cuisine at a local restaurant. In the garden itself there is a shop selling seeds and seedlings of the presented plants.
In the vicinity of Dublin there is a large amusement park for children of all ages. Tayto Park, named after potato chips, is open every day. The children are waiting for playgrounds with attractions, roller coasters, fun competitions and costume shows.
The park provides separate areas for kids with safe swings, trampolines, labyrinths. The ticket price includes a visit to the Teito factory, where those delicious chips are made. Children can watch an interactive exhibition and try products that have just rolled off the assembly line.