The 10 Best Places to Go in Ireland

by Kerry O'Donnell
Ireland offers many natural as well as historical attractions to the visitor.

Ireland offers many natural as well as historical attractions to the visitor.

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Ireland has much to offer tourists. From breathtaking natural landscapes to ancient and historic sites and castles, it can be difficult for a visitor to decide where to go and what to see. Among the many attractions available, there are 10 that most often appear on "best of Ireland" lists and that shouldn't be missed on any trip to the Emerald Isle.

Bru na Boinne Visitor Center and The Burren

The Bru na Boinne Visitor Center in Donore, County Meath contains interpretative displays representing the archaeological heritage of the Boyne Valley. There are viewing areas from which you can examine the megalithic passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. These are the largest of all megalithic tombs in Ireland and are only accessible through the Center. The Burren, located in northwest County Clare, is known for its unique limestone formations and is home to rare Alpine plants. It is also of archaeological interest, with more than 60 wedge tombs, so called because they narrow at one end, Celtic crosses and a ruined Cistercian Abbey.

Castles

Blarney Castle, with its famous "Blarney stone," is one of Ireland's best-known tourist attractions. Bunratty Castle in County Clare was built around 1425 as the stronghold of the O'Brien clan. It is filled with a collection of 15th and 16th century furnishings and tapestries. Medieval-style banquets are held twice nightly. The Bunratty Folk Park displays reproductions of the typical homes and buildings found in Irish villages in the Victorian era. Dublin Castle, located in the capital city, was built in the 13th century on a site previously settled by the Vikings. It has been expanded, renovated, torn down and rebuilt over the centuries and served as a military fortress, a prison, a treasury, courts of law and the base from which the English governed Ireland.

Nature's Beauty

The Ring of Kerry is one the most famous and popular driving routes. Located in the southwest, the route starts in the town of Killorgin and ends in Kenmare, crossing the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula. Visitors will find picture-postcard scenery, charming small towns and ancient sites as they travel along the route. The Cliffs of Moher, outside Liscannor, County Clare, offer tourists breathtaking views of the Aran Islands and the coastline. The Giants Causeway is located 2 miles north of Bushmills in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It was formed nearly 6 million years ago from the flow of basaltic lava that cooled into distinct hexagonal shapes. Irish legend has it that the giant Finn MacCool built the causeway to get to Scotland. It has been designated as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Guinness and Jameson

Guinness and Jameson are two names intertwined with the history of Dublin. Famous for their alcohol products, you can visit the original sites of their manufacture. At the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, which opened in 1876, visitors get a tour of the original brewery, including a visit to the Gravity Bar, which offers a sweeping view of the city. The Jameson Distillery, dating from 1780, is now a museum and offers visitors a glimpse of what goes into making Jameson whiskey. It hosts a "Shindig Evening" Thursdays through Saturdays from April through October. This event offers fine food, song and dance, along with a guided tour of the distillery and a complementary Jameson drink.

About the Author

Kerry O'Donnell has been writing professionally since 2008, when she began freelancing for the online magazine NewEnglandFilm.com. She later became the website's associate editor. She also serves as an associate editor of books for The Independent online magazine. O'Donnell holds an associate degree in criminal justice.

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