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Ireland Travel Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
Ross Castle, Ireland
Ross Castle, Ireland

According to the influence that it has on tourists, Ireland is a perfect destination, often characterized by clichés like being the greenest country, filled with the friendliest people, who would all be geniuses if they wouldn’t be attracted by the countless pubs. Ireland is indeed a green country – benefiting from the abundant rain, and the inhabitants are renowned for their hospitality. The country also boasts with four Nobel Prize winners in literature. The Irish custom of composing verses is already renowned, and they must always be recited in pubs.

The ancient Ireland was too cold and too dark to appeal the Romans. It is also said that the Romans confused Ireland with Spain’s western coast. The Celts continued to worship the sun until the 5th century, when St. Patrick succeeded to convert the population to Christianity. Today, the visitors find in the small Ireland a beautiful landscape and many virgin areas that are waiting to be explored. The Burren region is an extraordinary place, with underground springs, caverns, abysses and cracks. The most famous ones are the AliweeCaves, which are engaged into a continuous reshaping.

The areas around Killarney are ideal for hiking and cycling. If you visit the Aran Islands, don’t miss Inis Meain, Cloncmanois and Connemara, Galway and Sligo, to experience wonderful sensations outdoors. Ireland would be an ideal destination if it weren’t for the always changing weather. But it would silly if this thing stopped you. And if it starts raining abundantly, you can always take shelter in the nearest pub, to enjoy a pint of beer.

Ireland's Tourist Attractions

  • TrinityCollege is an oasis of Elizabethan elegance in the center of Dublin and the place where the famous Book of Kells is located. This is the place where famous personalities studied, like Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett.

  • Admire the rare book and the Chester Beatty Library’s artifacts from Dublin, whose collection includes some of the most remarkable examples of the Koran in the whole world, as well as some of the oldest biblical fragments in the world.
  • Visit the Guinness shop that is part of the brewery and is one of the most visited attractions in Dublin. Discover the history of this beer brand.
  • Visit Kilmainham Gaol dungeon, the place where most of the people who fought against the United Kingdom were imprisoned, and where the 1916 Easter Riot leaders were executed.
  • Explore the burial grounds in Bru na Boinne, west of Drogheda in the Louth and Meath regions, which are older than the pyramids. Among them, Newgrange is the most remarkable segmental tomb, built almost 5000 years ago.
  • Admire the wild Connemara region, including the only fjord in Ireland, in the KillaryPort, and the road network that goes through the mountainous chain Twelve Bens.
  • Dance on the traditional rhythms in the pubs from the Clare region – Kilfenora, Lisdoonvarna and Corrofin are places where you can listen to original Irish music.

  • Visit the approximately 2000 stone fortresses, scattered all over the Clare region’s territory, famous for its landscape that consists of limestone rocks, The Burren.
  • Don’t miss Ireland’s medieval castles collection. Some of them are tourist attractions (Blarney in the Cork region), others are high class hotels (Dromoland in Clare region and Ashford in Galway region).
  • Visit the medieval city of Kilkenny. During the festivals you can make the most out of the city’s pubs and nightlife.
  • Explore Ireland by foot, crossing its 31 tracks. The most famous one is Wicklow Way, which goes from the Dublin’s suburbs to the Carlow region.
  • Explore Ring of Kerry, a 180km scenic road around the IveraghPeninsula, with numerous by-passes to the coast and islands like Skellig Michael, one of the most attractive corners in Ireland.
  • Visit Ireland’s islands, with attractions from the Italian gardens in Garinish to the wild Tory. Don’t miss the Aran Islands.

Donegal County, Glengesh pass
Donegal County, Glengesh pass

Irish Cuisine

Ireland is an agrarian country, famous for its meat, bacon, chicken and dairy products. The capital city, Dublin, has a selection of restaurants that suit every pocket, like in all big cities. Recently, Ireland has become a mandatory destination for all gourmands. In this country cooking classes take place, from the ones in schools to courses offered by enthusiast cooks in countryside restaurants.

The tea often means a full meal, with sandwiches and cookies. The national specialties include shrimps, oysters, Irish stew (ram meat or beef, potatoes, onion, carrots and garlic), pig trotter and souffle of sea algae. The national beverages are whiskey (which is cured for seven years in a wooden barrel), Irish coffee (a strong coffee, with brown sugar and whip) and Guinness, one of the most popular drinks in the world.

Ireland's History

10.000 years ago Ireland was still connected to England and only a few species of animals and plants managed to reach the island before the melting glaciers separated Ireland from the continent. On the island there were oak forests, 9000 years old, when the people coming from the east and south-east started cutting down entire areas.

Slowly, the society of hunters and gatherers was replaced by the one of farmers and blacksmiths. They erected huge stone edifices, long before the pyramids in Egypt. The Celts have brought iron on the island and a language that is still spoken today in some corners of the country. The Christian missionaries like St. Patrick converted the kings, the monastic centers functioning as administrative centers for several hundred years.

In the 1100s the Normans came, and they filled the countryside with castles, living together with the native clans, until Queen’s Elisabeth the Great armies conquered the whole island. Ireland remained catholic, while England became protestant. The English kings started to see in the Irish people a natural resource as a work force, and when king Wilhelm of Orania defeated James the Second, rules were imposed that deprived the Catholics of every right. The next several hundred years represented a period of unsuccessful riots against the English oppression.

In 1916 the Easter Riot was annihilated and its leaders executed. Their martyrdom influenced the population and the guerilla battles finally managed to push the English away. Yet the price was losing 6 shires in Ulster, where the population was mostly protestant. Ulster had remained a conflict reason in the modern Irish policy, until 2007, when they reached an agreement in the north. Today Ireland is a member of the European Union and uses the European currency, the population is mostly living in cities and the island has become the biggest software exporter in the world. Furthermore, the entire economy of Ireland has the greatest tendency in the world towards export.

What You Should Know

In smaller cities and villages, there is the custom of saluting when passing by someone and you will eventually be asked “How do you do?” It’s polite to answer back without giving too many details. A remark about the weather is always well received. If you are driving on a narrow road and the car that’s coming from the opposite lane allows you to pass, it’s polite to salute as a thank you.

Even though there are many similarities between the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Irish nation is proud of its cultural differences and doesn’t appreciate the tourists that make mistakes. An advice is that you don’t express your opinions about the cultural and historical differences between Northern Ireland and IrelandRepublic.

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