Things to do in Ireland

One of the most romantic and rugged countries in Europe Ireland is steeped in folklore and legend. The home of St Patrick and the ubiquitous celebrations, and now a favourite haunt of stag and hen celebrations too, you’ll find a hearty Irish welcome waiting for you across the Emerald Isle.
Posted on: June 01, 2012 by David Lewis
1. Cliffs of Moher
One of the most spectacular visitor centres of any attraction in Ireland is the Atlantic Edge at the Cliffs of Moher.
The building itself is spectacular built underground so as not to spoil the fantastic scenery, head for the centre where a large domed cave holds exhibits both static and interactive that are organised into themes such as Ocean, Rock, nature and Man. The highlight is at the end of a tunnel where you’ll enter a theatre showing a virtual reality cliff face called the ledge. In the theatre you’ll experience first hand just what it is like to live on the towering cliffs.

2. The Giant's Causeway
Probably Ireland’s most famous natural attraction it looks man made hence the name but it was formed by the rapidly cooling of 40,000 hexagonal cross-sectioned pieces of basalt that over the years have broken off or worn away to form the steps and road of the causeway. It’s so spectacular, it’s known as the eighth wonder of the world to the Irish. Some of the stacks are nearly 40 feet high. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be found on the north east coast of County Antrim.

3. Newgrange
England has Stonehenge and Maiden castle but Ireland equals it with Newgrange, a Pagan burial ground built around 3000 BC. It is thought it had links with passage to the afterlife for, as with Stonehenge, it is aligned with the rising sun but at the winter solstice. Thousands flock here on December 21st to witness the sunrise flood the tomb with light. Its excellent condition is attributable to it being sealed up, like the Egyptian tombs, for millennia and protected by local folklore and mystery.

4. The Aran Islands
Dubbed one of the most romantic places in Ireland, the islands richly deserve the epithet. It’s a magical and beautiful place, known to many simply as the place the thick chunky sweaters, loved of the local fishermen, come from. It has so much more. Stunning natural beauty, the fact that the main language spoken is Irish and the millennia of history evidenced all around the islands but in particular in the spectacular DĂșn Aonghasa, an Iron Age ring fort that sits on a hill on Inishmore looking watchfully out over the water

5. Clonmacnoise
founded in the 6th century this Christian monastery was founded by a young man from Rathcroghan and had close associations with the Kings of Connacht. Its location made it important as a major religious centre and along with it a centre of learning. Additionally it taught trades and skills to locals and became one of the most famous monasteries in Ireland. There are many kings of the region buried in the monastery grounds.

6. Learn to speak Irish
Sometimes the best way to learn something is to be completely immersed in it. If you want to be able to pick up the beautiful lilting Irish language there’s nowhere better than staying at the Oideas Gael Language camp. It has been offering courses in Irish language and culture for over 25 years and the learning takes place in beautiful surroundings where you’ll experience Irish cuisine and hospitality at its best.

7. Glenveagh National Park
Ireland’s answer to the Scottish Highlands, Glenveagh National Park is a huge area of stunning scenery with majestic peaks plunging to icy lakes and forests stretching as far as the eye can see. In the rugged scenery it’s easy to lose your way so do as I did and take a guided tour with a ranger who will show you what the ordinary tourist misses including the efforts of the park to reintroduce the Golden Eagle to Ireland’s shores after nearly 100 year’s absence

8. Spectate at the Donegal Car Rally
If you want thrills and spills on your holiday, you may find Ireland a little tame but all that changes on the third weekend of June when the Donegal Car Rally Hits town.. From the spectator areas you can watch as tyre rubber and mud are thrown up on forest tracks and hairpin bends. The three day event attracts top class drivers from all over the world but as they say ‘don’t try this at home!’

9. Try a Pint of Guinness
Guinness is as Irish as Leprechauns and shamrocks and has been brewed in Ireland for nearly 200 years. It has a creamy head and a slightly bitter taste from the roasted barley it’s made from. It originated from London porter in the early 18th century which got its bitter taste from the addition of old porter to the new batch. Whether the process continues to this day is part of the secret recipe but accompanying a pie or an Irish stew it’s delicious.

10. Hunt for Leprechauns
A bit of fun now. When in Ireland look out for the ‘little people’ the leprechauns. They spend their time making shoes and the money they earn is put in a pot at the end of the rainbow. It’s said that you’ll only see one out of the corner of your eye and that they’re very nimble on their toes. However if you do catch one it’s got to give you three wishes before you can release it. So watch out for the little red or green coats and get your wishes ready!

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