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Ireland Vacation: 5 Must-see Sights of Ireland

Updated on December 6, 2010

Ireland: Green land rich in history

In spite of its turbulent history, and more recent rise to becoming a high-tech European version of Silicone Valley, to most people, Ireland is synonymous with four-leafed clovers and leprechauns. The word "Ireland" conjures up an image of a green land rich in history, culture and mythology. All it takes is a visit to some of the must-see sights of Ireland to confirm that it lives up to its image.

The Blarney Castle - Blarney Stone is located inside the Blarney Castle

If any one monument defines the Irish character best, it is arguably the Blarney Stone. Rich in history as well as legend, this stone continues to enchant some 300,000 visitors who visit it each year. According the legend, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you become eloquent and persuasive in speech. This stone gave rise to the term, "blarney," which means, roughly speaking, BS.

Interesting as the Blarney Stone is, it is worth visiting simply for the stunning beauty of the surrounding countryside and the fact that it is housed within Blarney Castle. This castle, located in Cork, was re-built in 1446 by the McCarthy clan after having been nearly destroyed in war. While the McCarthy's built it to protect the clan from attack, it also became an Irish cultural center when they established the Bardic School within its walls.

The must-see landscapes of Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren

If sheer beauty appeals to you, then the Cliffs of Moher are a must-see. A flat landscape takes you to a sheer 700 foot drop into the Atlantic Ocean. Heralded by many as the most spectacular coastal site in all of Europe, the Cliffs of Moher are not to be missed.

While you're in the area, you will be near another must-see Irish attraction. The Burren does not fit the green and fertile image of Ireland at all, but it is quintessentially Irish nonetheless. Often compared to a moonscape, it is one of the world's strangest landscapes and has its own unique ecosystem. The fact that it has been a place of interest for millennia is evidenced by the numerous prehistoric monuments that dot the limestone plateau.

Belfast - Northern Ireland

The capital of North Ireland

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is an amazing city that is both rich in history and in modern attractions. Right up through the 1990s, Belfast was a no-go zone for tourists, being the center of the raging storm between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. Thankfully, it is now undergoing a renaissance and visitors are welcome. There are innumerable castles and other historical sites in and around the city of Belfast that make it high on any "must-see" list.

Dublin

The capital of the Republic of Ireland

Last, but by no means least on the list of must-see Ireland sights is Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Trying to describe this amazing city has defied even some of its most famous writers and poets in the world, some of whom have included James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and even the man who gave the world Dracula - Bram Stoker.

That these literary giants came from Dublin is no accident. Everywhere you turn, there is something to stir the imagination. While there is plenty of history in Dublin, it is also one of the most youthful cities in all of Europe, with over 50% of its inhabitants reportedly being under the age of 25.

Limiting the top attractions in Ireland to this short list is almost impossible. The truth of the matter is that there is only one top attraction in Ireland - the island in its entirety.

Books about Ireland - Read more about Ireland

Photo credits

Flickr:

Ireland Landscapes By obbino

Blarney Castle By ctoverdrive

Cliffs of Moher By m.prinke

Belfast, Northern Ireland By lyng883

Ballsridge, Dublin, Ieland By UggBoy♥UggGirl[ PHOTO:WORLD:SENSE ]

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    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great lens!

    • globedancer profile image
      Author

      globedancer 6 years ago

      @TeacherSerenia: That would be The Burren (in the must see landscapes). Hmm... good thing you asked. I think some of my lenses needs to be updated. Thanks Serenia!

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      Gosh William has the same thinning hair as charles, philip and edward - poor fellow.

      you said 5 sites - I only see 4.

      Dublin, Belfast, Cliffs of moher, Blarney castle and what's the 5th site?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hey that view in the video - a castle ruin on top of of the cliff - I've seen many movies that seem to use the same spot... Actually a lot of views in there looks like what they have in films about the olden times... Ireland is an interesting place..Awesome!