10 of the Most Brilliant Places to Visit in Ireland
Places to See at the End of the Rainbow ~
Ireland is known for its rainbows, and Leprechauns guarding the gold at the end of them. From experience, I know that contemporary Irish citizens love the word "brilliant" and that their land is truly magical. I spent my senior year in college studying in Galway - attending classes, completing my undergraduate internship, and traveling around that beautiful country. It was one of the best years of my life before settling down and beginning to raise a family. Because I visited the Emerald Isle before the digital age, I am using the pictures taken by my Mom and Stepdad visited in 2004. I will attach also links to the wonderful places mentioned below for you to start planning your own memorable vacation there.
Rainbows are plentiful on the Emerald Isle
Ten Places in Ireland You Must Visit
Galway is a grand city. It is a college town with hundreds of years of history. The University alone has both old and contemporary architecture with a central grassy quad. Horticulture is one of the areas for which the university is renown, and the greenhouses there enjoy international acclaim.
The city is walkable from one end to another, and close the the promenade by Galway Bay, where beach combers gather at the first blooming of Spring. At the center of town is a giant fountain, which occasionally bubbles over with giant suds. The train/bus station houses the post office and a giant set of stairs leads to the entrance on 3 sides. Nearby the fountain is also a set of public restrooms that are kept reasonably clean. "Buskers" sing in the cobble stoned streets and Irish folk of all ages and sizes enjoy pints of Guinness in the local pubs. In September, the Salmon festival is the main occasion for merrymaking.
2. Cliffs of Mohr
The beautiful cliffs of Mohr are featured at the end of the movie Waking Ned Devine . The view of the Irish Sea is breathtaking, and worth the drive out to visit them. They have suffered a great deal of erosion over the last 25 years, so the sooner one visits them to appreciate their majestic beauty, the better. If you are not careful, you may become part of the cliffs and be washed away to sea, because it is incredibly difficult to tear oneself away from them.
3. Connemara and Kylemore Abbey
The Connemara countryside hosts the Gaeltacht, where the residents speak Irish Gaelic as their native language. There are radio shows in the language, thatch-roofed cottages in abundance, and signs with both the Gaelic and anglicized names for each small town. The Aran Islands featured in The Secret of Roan Inish , are accessible by boat from the west shore of Connemara, and if you tour the area by car, be sure to stop for a visit at Kylemore Abbey.
4. Yeats Tower and Coole Park
The tower where W.B. Yeats lived, named "Thoor Ballylee," is a charming stone tower to climb up and down, especially when led by a docent who is knowledgeable about Yeats' life and the meaning of what has been preserved there. Coole Park, which the tower is located in, is a refreshing garden lined with cyprus trees and graced with an abundance of beautiful flora. The trip I took was through the International Students' Club through the university, a day I did not want to end.
5. Bunratty Castle
During the day, visitors may climb up and down Bunratty Castle and explore its turrets and quads. At night, guests enjoy the royal shenanigans of a medieval feast. Some guests are invited to play roles in the drama that is played out before dinner is served. Make sure you bring your camera to catch and keep the memories. My mother and I spent New Year's Eve there when she visited me in Ireland, and we still have the picture of it to keep the fond memory of our grand time alive.
6. Durty Nelly's
Durty Nelly's has a welcoming entrance and a charming interior. My aunt noticed a corner of the ceiling full of firefighter badges, since my cousin is a firefighter. In the winter, there is a blazing hearth fire to warm you on the outside, and pints of Guinness stout flowing to warm you on the inside. There is usually a pianist providing live music. When you walk out, you will know a few more people than you did when you walked in.
Sing with the locals and make friends for life!
Learning some pub songs will prepare you for getting on well with the residents.
Photos of Places to Visit in Ireland
7. Cork and Blarney Castle
The best time to travel to the city of Cork is the last weekend of October, right before Halloween. That is the weekend of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, which features entertainment both outside and in the multitude of pubs there. While you are there, visit Blarney castle, and beautiful sweeping landscape that surrounds it, and make sure yo travel with a partner who is willing to hold you as you kiss the stone that will give you the "gift of the gab."
8. Killarney and the Ring of Kerry
Killarney is a small town, and across from the Bed and Breakkfast my mother and I stayed at overngiht, there was a forest with an abundance of holly bushes. It reminded me of Bing Crosby's song Christmas in Killarney . From there, you meet a guide who takes you on a day to remember around the Ring of Kerry . The views are breathtaking and the Village of Sneem nestled in the mountains is adorable.
9. Trinity College, home of the book of Kells
Trinity College in Dublin is their Harvard; it is an Ivy League school. The library on campus houses the Book of Kells . The library building and the rooms that hold their collection of books alone is worth the visit, and the exhibit explaining the role of illuminated manuscripts is worth spending as much time on it as you could possibly give it.
10. Grafton Street
Grafton Street is the Saks Fifth Avenue of Ireland, but with more charm and class. There are tea rooms galore and lovely cafes for eating a noontime or evening meal; they call both "teas," but the evening meal at supper time is their "high tea." The shops and shopkeepers found on Grafton Street are delightful.
More stories about life in the land of Leprechauns ~
Stories are a great way to learn about the Irish people and their culture.
X Marks the Spot for places to visit in the Republic of Ireland
There is a fountain in the middle of the square that dates back hundreds of years.
Next door to Bunratty Castle is Durty Nelly's Pub, the place to go for a pint of Guinness.
From here, you would take a tour through the gorgeous Ring of Kerry.
The tower built by W.B. Yeats, and nearby Coole Park
Unsung Beauty and Out-of-the-Way Places
When making plans for a trip to another country, it is good to find places to visit that are both culturally significant and locally appreciated. Many of the sites that I have listed above in this hub are culturally significant. They carry a wealth of history with them.
There are others that are more locally celebrated, too, such as the Armagh Observatory and Kylemore Abbey. The list of links below are meant to bring you in touch with information that might give you a sense of how much time you'd like to devote to visiting them. I wish I had known about the observatory before I visited Ireland, but I will be sure to get there when I return to Ireland with my family.
Links for planning your own trip to Ireland ~
- National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway)
National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) - an information resource for prospective students including research, college, and schools (Arts, Science, Commerce, Engineering, Celtic Studies, Medicine & Health Sciences, Law) information.
- Kylemore Abbey
The Abbey is a fine place to stop when touring the countryside of Connemara, Co. Galway.
- Yeats, Coole Park and the Burren - Galway, Ireland Travel Blog
Yeats, Coole Park and the Burren: Read the story and see 15 photos of a visit to Galway, Ireland by TravelPod member meece
- Durty Nelly's The Village Inn Bunratty - Home
Durty Nelly's The Village Inn Bunratty
- Blarney Stone
Legends associated with the stone are recounted here. If you travel in October, you will also have a chance to enjoy the Cork Jazz Festival.
- Holiday in the West of Ireland - visit Galway, Mayo, Roscommon
Ireland West Tourism, the official website for Ireland's West. Explore the counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
- The Old Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition : Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dubli
The Old Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition
- Welcome to Sailing Ireland
For the most adventuresome of you: Sailing, yacht, Sailing Ireland, Dermot Greer, Charter, Yacht, Sailing Courses, Wexford, Kilmore quay, Fun, Sea
- Armagh Observatory
See the stars of wide open Irish skies.
- Armagh Observatory
Official tourism guide to Fermanagh Lakelands area of Northern Ireland. Information on cruising holidays on Lough Erne & the Shannon, pleasure cruising breaks in County Fermanagh.
© 2010 Karen Szklany Gault