Famous Irish landmarks
Blarney Castle is a medieval castle in Blarney in County Cork in the south west of Ireland. The castle was built around 1446 by the MacCarthy clan, Kings of Desmond.
At the top of the castle lies the famous Stone of Eloquence which is also known as the Blarney Stone. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle can hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the Lia Fáil—a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.
Ben Bulben, Co. Sligo
Ben Bulben is probably the most stunning rock formation in Ireland. The pleateau formation, which is a part of the Dartry Mountains, overlooks Sligo Town in County Sligo, in the northwest of Ireland. For those interested in climbing up Ben Bulben it is a tough approximately 2.5 hour climb but on a clear day you have a stunning view of as far north as Donegal and as far south as Mayo.
If you make it to Ben Bulben you have to check out the famous Irish writer William Bulter Yeats' grave which sits in a grave yard at the foot of Ben Bulben.
Whereas Galway and Connemara is well known outside of Ireland, County Sligo is less known but just as beautiful.
Also take a trip out to Rosses Point pennisula, about a 15 minute drive from Sligo town.
The Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands are called Na Scealaga in Gaelige. The islands are two small, steep and rocky islands lying about 10 miles west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. They are famous for their thriving wild bird populations including gannets and puffins, and also for an early Christian monastery that is now a world heritage site.
There are two Skellig Islands, Little Skeillg, known as Sceilig Bheig in Gaelige and Skellig Michael, known as Sceilig Mhichíl in Gaelige.
Little Skellig is unfortunately closed to the public, and holds Ireland's largest and the world's second-largest Northern Gannet colony, with almost 30,000 pairs.
Skellig Michael is the larger of the 2 islands, rising to over 230 m above sea level. With a sixth-century Christian monastery perched on a ledge close to the top.
The Cliffs of MoherThe Cliffs of Moher are one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland. The cliffs are on the south-western edge of the Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland.
The cliffs rise 394 ft above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head. The area attracts close to one million visitors per year. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara.
The cliffs were recently made famous as the digital backdrop in a scene in a recent Harry Potter film.
The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located on the west coast of Ireland in Galway Bay. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
The three Aran Islands are Inishmore (the largest island), Inishmaan and Inisheer.
You can get the ferry to the islands or the plane to Inishmore, which is a fantastic experience. We also suggest you perhaps get the ferry out and the plane back for visa versa as they are both fantastic experiences.
Ferries are also available to the Aran Islands from Doolin in County Clare (Seasonal April 1 - Oct 31st).
When you are on Inishmore why not rent a bike and cycle to an Iron Age fort called Dun Aengus. The fort sits on the edge of a 100 metre cliff with stunning views out into the Atlantic Ocean. Dun Aengus itself is a series of concentric circular walls, the innermost; the citadel encloses an area approximately 50 meters in diameter with 4m thick walls of stone.
It has to be said that the Aran Islands, famous for its native Irish speakers and cheesy Irish sweaters (aka jumpers), is a little touristy now but is still a stunning place to visit. The trick is to get out of the villages where you are constantly being sold something or other and enjoy the isolation of an island stuck out in the Atlantic. For less commerical islands there are plenty of other islands to visit. However no other island has the stunning view of Dun Aengus!
Newgrange is one of the most popular tourist sites in Ireland and is one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.
Newgrange is an ancient passage tomb located in County Meath, Ireland. The megalithic passage tomb dates from between 3100 and 2900 BC which was during the Neolithic period. It is also likely that Newgrange had some religious significance as it aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, which floods the tomb with light. It is an incredible to think that these ancient people could build such a complex structure. It is even more incredible to think that this structure is older than the pyramids in Egypt.
Every solstice there is a lottery to see which lucky people get to sit in the passage tomb to see it light up perfectly. Unfortunately the Taoiseach, Irish Prime Minister, always seems to by-pass the lottery and just turn up!
The Giant's Causeway
On the coast of county Antrim, the Giant's Causeway is one of the most popular and unique tourist attractions in Ireland. Resulting from a volcanic eruption over 50 million years ago, the Giant's Causeway is a forty thousand interlocking hexagonal basalt columns. That said some of the columns have four, five or even seven sides. It truly is the oddest natural site you have ever seen. So unique that the Giant's Causeway was mentioned in ancient myths and legends.
Legend had it that the ancient Irish warrior Fionn Mac Cumhail built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish enemy Benandonner.
Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare
Bunratty Castle is one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions which is in County Clare, southern Ireland. The castle sits with a series of cottages representing an early 19th century folk park. The individual cottages are a fasinating The name Bunratty, means the "bottom" or end of the "Ratty" river. This river, alongside the castle, flows into the nearby Shannon estuary. From the top of the castle, one can look over to the estuary and the airport.
The Bunratty Folk park gives you a glimpse into Irish life in the 19th century: This features reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period style village main street. Old tools, furniture and artifacts are displayed, with the village kept alive by some inhabited shops, an old home bakery and peat fires in cottages. The Folk Park excels at showing life in all classes from around Ireland throughout recent history. In the village, you can see the school, post office, shops, and enjoy drinking at a working pub. Animals are a big attraction for kids, including two very large Irish wolfhounds.
This living museum is an incredible resource to learn about Irish history. From chickens wandering around to local women in costume, making apple pies, it's a glimpse into Irish life in the 19th century. The houses are furnished with period furniture - note the very small beds, the prized dishes, and how smoky the houses were from the peat fires. We learned that there is still a local thatcher that works on the roofs. From the blacksmith's forge to fishermen's cottages, from single story houses to double story houses of the more weathly folks, from the Golden Vale Farmhouse (from Limerick) - a house of a prosperous family - to the classical Georgian Bunratty House, you can learn of the various ways that the social classes lived and worked.
Today it is a major tourist attraction along with the castle as it sees thousands of people pass through its gates every year.
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