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Visiting Ireland: Land of the Celts

Updated on July 16, 2018
ashroc profile image

A librarian, family historian and artist, Jen loves to travel and take photographs

Cork hotel entrance
Cork hotel entrance | Source

The emerald Isle

You're thinking of going to Ireland? Want to find out a bit more about the place?

Explore this lens to find out more about Ireland, its history, culture, language and the Irish people. I visited Ireland in 2007. With Irish heritage in my background, I was keen to actually step on the same ground as my ancestors.

In planning my trip, I found it useful to browse through the travel books, take a virtual tour of Ireland and check out some accommodation spots from web pages.

Countryside County Cork. Photo taken by ashroc 2007.

The landscape

Ireland is a magnificent country. From "The Lakes Of Killarney" to "The Cliffs Of Moher" and from "The Giants Causeway" to "The Mountains Of Mourne". For such a small island, there is much to see.

The landscapes in Ireland are many and varied. Ireland has dozens of coastal islands, including the Aran Islands to the southwest of Galway. The River Shannon is Ireland's longest river. The highest peak is Carrauntuohill, at 1,041 meters.

Ireland's climate is temperate and generally does not experience extremes of temperature felt by many other countries at similar latitude. Average annual temperature is about 9 °C. Summer mean daily maximum is about 19 °C and winter mean daily minimum is about 2.5 °C. The reason it is so green is that it rains a lot. So take an umbrella or raincoat with you. While I was there, the rain fell as a soft kind of mist. Not enough to stop you from going out and seeing what you wanted to.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher | Source

The people

Ireland's population is approx 6.2 million (as at 2008).

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. As of 2008, 30% of the Irish population live in Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland are citizens of both Northern Ireland and Britain. Identity for the population is a complex issue. Many people identify themselves as Northern Irish, however there is a significant number of people who see themselves as British.

It was in the 1920s that numerous counties of Ireland gained independence from England. This area is known as the Republic of Ireland.

While English is spoken widely in Ireland there are also Gaeltacht areas (Irish speaking regions). Visitors will notice that many road signs are in English and Gaelic.

Irish Actors

The Irish are notable for their contribution to acting.

In the 1980s there weren't a lot of Irish actors in the US, and those that were, like Liam Neeson, were asked to change their accents. These days, with the increased number of Irish actors in the industry and major shoots occurring in Ireland, more people are comfortable hearing a variety of accents in films.

Whos is your favourite Irish actor?

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St Patricks church
St Patricks church | Source

Irelands history - Ireland has a rich, varied and complex history.

The first settlement in Ireland took place approximately 8000 BC. With people arriving, most likely from Scotland. Archaeological excavations show the first settlers to be hunters and fishers, using food resources along the Island's eastern coast during the Mesolithic period.

Celtic speakers arrived about 700BC, subduing previous inhabitants and brought with them a new culture, language and working with Iron.

Gaelic Ireland was divided into five tribal kingdoms or provinces. These were Ulaid (in the north), Connacht (in the west), Laighin (in the southeast), Mumhan (in the south) and Mide (in the centre). The kings of these kingdoms often allied their armies to raid neighbouring Roman Britain.

The Christians were the first people to document historic events in Ireland. Many people think that St Patrick was the one who brought Christianity to Ireland but it was actually St Palladius who arrived first. The pope in Rome had sent St Palladius to Ireland in 430AD, two years previous than when St Patrick arrived. St Palladius wasn't as successful in converting the Irish and Celtic druids to Christianity as St Patrick.

Places to see in Ireland

Ireland has spectacular rugged and beautiful landscape and plenty of historical sites. You may want to consider adding some of these to your list of places to visit.

Dublin City

Dublin cathedral
Dublin cathedral | Source

Dublin is a cosmopolitan city. Along with its pubs and bars, Dublin is a must see on any tour of Eire. Take a tour of Dublin's sights by horse and carriage, by the Double Decker hop on hop off bus and explore the castle and cathedrals.

Christ Church cathedral features a restored 12th century crypt. This massive crypt is a perfect space for exhibitions. Featured are manuscripts and artifacts to give visitors an overview of nearly one thousand years of operation of the cathedral and nearby churches. One of the treasures is a royal plate given by King William III in 1697 to celebrate his victory at the battle of the Boyne. Also on display are the candlesticks used in 1689 during the reign of James II.

The capital of Ireland is well known for its colourful doors in the Georgian part of town. Georgian Dublin is named after four kings all named George who ruled during the period the buildings were constructed.

Dublin's doors
Dublin's doors | Source

Temple Bar Hotel Dublin

A popular night spot!

Temple Bar is a central area in Dublin which has retained its cobbled streets. After dark is when Temple Bar really comes alive.

The Temple Bar Hotel is centrally located, perfect for encouraging you to enjoy all the culture and entertainment that Dublin is known for.

The Temple Bar, Dublin
The Temple Bar, Dublin | Source

Trinity College

The University of Dublin

The University of Dublin is located in the centre of the city. From the huge door that greets you to the complex. To the bell tower, which has the fable of students who cross underneath when the bell tolls risk failing their exams. To the book of Kells and the library itself. Walking on the cobble stones through the college precinct it is easy to imagine the students hurrying through the same area in the 18th Century.

One room in the library contains approximately 200,000 of the library's oldest books. At the end of each row on the ground floor is a marble bust. Walking the length of this room gives you a feeling of walking through history.

The doorway to knowledge

This university is the oldest in Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth I signed the charter to enable the establishment of the college. At the time, the land was outside the city walls. The college started with one small square.

By the turn of the 16th Century, many of the books which started the collection of the library were acquired. A curriculum was developed and the college was well on its way.

Today the College covers approximately 40 acres of cobbled squares and green areas.

Tours of the campus are available from May to September daily and at weekends outside of these months.

Photo of Trinity College door by ashroc 2007.

Malahide Castle and gardens

Just north of Dublin is a seaside village called Malahide. Like many other Irish towns it has a castle, one of the oldest in Ireland. Go on a guided tour of Malahide Castle and then take a walk through the beautifully kept gardens and parkland. Afterwards, there is a nice pub in the village where you can stop for lunch.

Malahide Castle and gardens
Malahide Castle and gardens | Source


County Cork

The Irish port of Cobh (pronounced Cove) in County Cork is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Cobh was the last of Ireland that many would see. The port, previously called Queenstown was the place of departure for millions of emigrants to north America.

This statue is at Cobh,. It depicts Annie Moore and her two younger brothers, Anthony and Phillip. The siblings left Ireland and arrived at Ellis Island in America. The three children were joining their parents who were already living in New York.

Photo by ashroc 2007.

Cobh was a place of departure for many Irish folk. Both those who left willingly and those who were transported to places like Australia.

This plaque says: "After the rising of 1798 over six hundred United Irishmen were transported from Cove to the penal colonies of Australia where they subsequently influenced the development of the democratic and egalitarian ethos of the Australian nation".

Photo by ashroc 2007.

The Titanic's last port

On 11th April 1912 the 'largest ship in the world', the Titanic visited the port of Queenstown, an earlier name for Cobh.

The liner had begun its voyage from Southampton in England and called at Cherbourg in France before heading to Ireland.

A number of passengers boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. It was the final port for the Titanic.

Photo by ashroc 2007.

Cork City

On the banks of the River Lee, Cork is Ireland's third largest city. A hilly city, it can be a bit challenging to traverse on foot for those with mobility issues. Luckily there are plenty of options, including bus, car hire and guided tours by coach. I went on a coach tour which first gave an overview of the city and then visited the outstanding Blarney Castle, while I did not personally kiss the Blarney stone, a lot of other people did!

Looking from  one bridge to another over the River Lee, Cork City
Looking from one bridge to another over the River Lee, Cork City | Source


While its a country town, there are many things to see and do in Tralee, including theatre, museum, eco tourism and more. Before my visit, I only knew of Tralee from the song, the Rose of Tralee. Although, I was pleased to find a beautiful rose on the footpath on my visit to Tralee.

A colourful pub in Tralee
A colourful pub in Tralee | Source

© 2010 Jen Wood

What do you want to see most in Ireland?

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    • Travel Shepherd profile image

      Michael Shepherd 

      7 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      Wow, I am impressed with the completeness of this lens as well as your photos.

      I have a new, very specific lens:


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ireland is truly a beautiful country. There are numerous places to visit in Ireland that could really stand out for most tourists. This country is one of the magnificent places in the world.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ireland is truly a beautiful country. There are numerous places to visit in Ireland that could really stand out for most tourists. This country is one of the magnificent places in the world.

    • LizRobertson profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative! Good resource for St. Paddy's Day!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      This is a great overview of Ireland. As you say there is so much to see in this tiny island which is well worth a visit - but don't forget your raincoat and boots! Thanks for visiting my wine lens, appreciated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've always wanted to visit the Irish countryside! Great links btw!


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