The Newgrange monument is a tomb that dates back to 3200 BC. It is only 500 years older than the Pyramids of Giza and about a thousand years ahead of Stonehenge.
The monument is a part of the Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is, essentially, a mound that covers more than an acre of land, encircled by curbstones, some of which are adorned with megalithic art.
A 19 meter (62 foot) passage leads to an inner chamber, which was carefully designed to capture the light of the rising sun on winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
Today, this coming in of the sun’s first rays is re-enacted during the Newgrange tomb tours, using of artificial lights – but once a year, people are chosen by lottery for the privilege of being able to see the actual event.
Archaeologists have called Newgrange a passage tomb, but today it is recognized to be more of an ancient temple, for it had been – and still is, some would say – a center of religious, spiritual, and astrological importance.
The Guinness Storehouse
Irish liquor is famous all over the world. Your trip to Ireland would be incomplete without your sampling a few of its world-renowned beers, Irish cream, malt, and whiskeys.
Guinness beer is perhaps the most famous drink Ireland has to offer. Indeed, it has a constant presence in pubs and bars. Guinness’ white frothy head and deep black color continues to bring huge amounts of revenue to Ireland because of the big demand for it from the rest of the world.
Therefore, visitors to Ireland should not miss taking a trip to the brewery that makes this beer.
In 2000, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin was first opened to the public. The highlight of this storehouse is a tour around the seven full floors of the storehouse, with each floor showcasing a particular activity in the Guinness business.
From brewer guides to ingredients, plus the storehouse’s history and a bar at the topmost floor, Guinness Storehouse is a must-visit when in Ireland. Guests can even have a pint, to enjoy while savoring a full view of Dublin city at the Gravity Bar.
The Burren, whose name is derived from the Gaelic word that means “rocky place,” is located in North Country Clare and south of Galway Bay. In this place that Nature has almost completely paved with limestone, there is “not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them,” as a Cromwellian officer once declared – and yet, as the same officer reported, the cattle in land are fat, for the tufts of grass that grow in the tiny spots of earth are extremely nourishing.
This rocky place did not get its unique appearance in a day. It is a result of thousands of years of acidic rainwater erosion, which created limestone hollows between rock formations and ruts beneath the surface.
The Burren has a 45 kilometer (28 mile) walking trail. From April to October, the flowers and plants bloom in the hollows all around the Burren, creating a magical explosion of colors between the rocks, making this place a favorite among landscape photographers and nature lovers.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is a medieval fortress built by the McNamara family in 1425 but was acquired by the O’Brien family in 1475. Although it had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair in the 1800s, it was bought and restored in 1954 by Viscount Lord Gort.
Today, it is Irelands most authentically restored castle, and it is open to the public all year round. It displays the splendor of its prime, with its rich tapestries, artworks, and furniture dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Around the castle, you will find Bunratty Folk Park, which features a reconstruction of what the area looked like in the 19th century.
Here you will see one-roomed homes of the poorest residents, as well as the regal Bunratty House, a Georgian-styled house that had been the home of the Studdarts after they left the then-aging Bunratty Castle for a more modern, more comfortable residence.
Another main attraction in the park is the Bunratty Walled Garden, which is a recreation of the garden that once supplied flowers, fruits, and vegetables to Bunratty House.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Famously known as the National Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is the largest church in all of Ireland.
Founded in 1191, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has chapter members from all of the twelve dioceses of the Church of Ireland.
Aside from being an institution for faith and worship, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is also a center for theological learning, housing both a choir school and a grammar school for children.
The cathedral’s architecture has strong Gothic influences. A lot of the decorations for the church reflect strong Irish roots dating from the 12th century. It is also home to one of the largest organs in Ireland – a musical instrument with over 4,000 pipes.
Over time, religious edifices were built around the cathedral, making the complex a center not just for the clergy but for many public ceremonies as well. Ireland’s Remembrance Day, a day attended by the president and sponsored by the Royal British Region, is celebrated in the cathedral grounds every November.
The cathedral’s carol service during Christmas season is also something visitors and locals love to attend.
The Dublin Castle structure was mostly built in the 18th century. The castle was the center of Britain’s rule in Ireland until 1922, after which, it was transformed into an Irish government complex.
It was also the home of the Irish Crown Jewels until they were stolen in 1907.
Today, the castle is used as headquarters whenever Ireland hosts the European Union presidency, and for other important government-related functions such as Ireland’s presidential inaugurations, state visits, and state banquets.
An art center is found in the castle, and occasional concerts are held in its grounds. The biggest crowd drawers, however, are the luxuriously decorated state apartments, including St. Patrick’s Hall, where the state inaugurations and functions are held; the regally adorned Throne Room, built in 1821 to welcome King George IV; and the State Dining Room, the oldest room in the castle, which still looks pretty much like it did when Lord Chesterfield dined in it in the days when the castle was just newly built.
The castle is open to the public, except when it is being used for state functions. Entrance is free on the first Wednesday of every month. The State Apartments can be accessed through guided tours only.
Killarney is a town located in the southwest region of Ireland. It is surrounded by other Irish tourist spots such as St. Mary’s Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, Dunloe Gap, and the Lakes of Killarney.
Voted as the Best Kept Town by Ireland’s Department of Environment, Killarney is a popular tourist destination because of its beauty, history, and geographic proximity to many other tourist attractions. Visitors can enjoy the flora and fauna at the blossoming Flower Garden in Muckross House or go cycling around this pristine town.
For the nature hounds, Killarney is not devoid of attractive nature parks. Some of the more popular tourist destinations in this area are the Lakes of Killarney, the Killarney National Park, and the Black Valley.
For history buffs, Killarney’s Ross Castle is a must-see. It features boat tours, 15th century medieval architecture, and a huge collection of 16th to 17th century oak furniture.
Adare, which is situated in County Limerick, is known to be one of the prettiest villages in Ireland. Perhaps this is the reasons why the town is one of the Emerald Isle’s most popular venues for weddings.
Designated as a heritage town by Ireland’s government, the town of Adare is well crafted to become a real tourist destination and heritage center. The main streets of the village are a combination of Old English and Irish architecture. The village houses are mostly English-styled and estate-like. There are six open public houses that tourists can visit: Collins, Sean Collins, Auntie Lena’s, Thatch, Bill Chawke’s, and Neville’s.
Visitors can learn about the village’s history at the heritage center. You can also visit Desmond Castle, which was first built in the 12th century, and the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey, which was built in the 1400s and where dawn mass is still celebrated every Easter morning.
Belfast used to be one of the largest and most efficient shipyards in the world. The famous RMS Titanic was built here in the early 20th century.
Today, Belfast is visited because it is home to the Belfast Castle and the Carrickfergus Castle, which were both built during the Middle Ages.
The Giant’s Ring, one of the finest henge monuments found in Ireland, is also found in this city.
Belfast has a number of cultural zones, or quarters, for its visitors. The Cathedral Quarter is the city’s most important cultural locality. It holds yearly festivals that showcase different forms of art, such as theater, music, and literature.
The city also has many outdoor concert venues, such as the Custom House Square, and centers of excellence, such as the Gaeltacht Quarter, which promotes the study and use of the Irish language.
Croagh Patrick is the Irish translation for St. Patrick’s Stack. The 764 meter (2,507 foot) tall mountain has been mentioned in many pagan texts, some of which date back to the 1100s.
The mountain is revered as the Holy Hill of Ireland. It has been said St. Patrick himself fasted for forty days on the mountain’s summit. Legend also has it that after his fast, St. Patrick battled with the pagan goddess Corra, who took the form of a snake. He won the battle, and the goddess – along with all other snakes – left Ireland.
On Reek Sunday, the last Sunday of July each year, thousands of pilgrims come to this site to gain indulgence for their sins.
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