County Donegal, located in the North West of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most rural counties with a rugged coastline littered with beautiful cliffs, national parks and castles making it a county with an authentic charm like no other. For those who are looking for a brief escape from it all, it is difficult to find a more suitable place to relax and rewind. Donegal topped National Geographic’s Cool List for 2017. Here are our top 5 recommended things to do in Donegal.
Slieve League Cliffs
Situated on the South West coast of Donegal, the majestic Slieve League Cliffs are one of the highest oceanic cliffs in Europe with the top of the cliffs reaching a towering 600 metres. As you walk towards the top of the cliffs there are magnificent views across Donegal Bay towards the mountain base in Sligo and Mayo with Glencolmcille being visible to the North West.
Glencolmcille Folk Village
Glencolmcille Folk Village offers you the opportunity to catch a glimpse as to how daily life has varied in Donegal throughout the past few centuries. Thatched cottages, each a replica from a particular century filled with furniture and artefacts of that period, a fully reconstructed schoolhouse and a pub/shop give you a real perspective as to how people survived in the remoteness and hardship of life in Donegal.
One of the most popular things to do in Donegal is to explore the Inishowen Peninsula. Situated on the Northern tip of County Donegal, it is the largest peninsula on the island of Ireland. This scenic drive is the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way and has a scenic driving route of its own, the ‘Inishowen 100’. One of the highlights of the route is Malin Head which is the most Northerly point of Ireland is also where scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi was shot in 2016.
Glenveagh National Park & Glenveigh Castle
Glenveagh national park is the second largest national park in Ireland with over 16,000 hectares of land for you to explore. Recommended sights and activities within the park include the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle while six walking trails within the park varying in length from 1km to 8 km with all trails providing different views and levels of difficulty for walkers.
Grianán of Aileach
The Grianán of Aileach is a hillfort on top of the Greenan Mountain on the Inishowen Peninsula. The ringfort dates back to the 6th century and was the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach and one of the royal sites in Gaelic Ireland. From the top of the hillfort, there is a breathtaking view across Lough Foyle & Lough Swilly as well as the entire Inishowen Peninsula.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Donegal in Ireland is to visit yourself through a Self Drive or Chauffeur Tour. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Cork has the second biggest city in Ireland and Cork County is the largest county in Ireland. It is also home to some beautiful scenery and some fantastic tourist attractions so we decided to pick out 10 of the top things to do in Cork below!
Looking for places to visit in Cork? Check out our list for our top 10 recommended things to do in the famous Rebel County!
Blarney Castle & Blarney Stone
Where else could we start a list of the top things to do in Cork but with Blarney Castle and the Blarney stone? The famous stone of eloquence is situated at the top of the magnificent Blarney Castle and folklore has it that anyone who kisses it acquires the gift of eloquence or as we say in Ireland, the gift of the gab! Surrounding the castle are beautiful gardens for you to take a stroll through at your own leisure.
Cobh Heritage Centre
Another must visit during your time in Cork is the Cobh Heritage Centre which is located about 25km southwest of Cork City, in the town of Cobh. Here you are given the opportunity to learn about life in Ireland during the 18th& 19th centuries where mass emigration, the famine and criminal transportation are the main themes. The centre also hosts an exhibition on the history of the Titanic; Cobh was the last port of call before it made its final faithful voyage across the Atlantic.
Known as Ireland’s Alcatraz, Spike Island is also located near Cobh, just off the coast. Originally founded as a military installation it later became a prison which was in operation until the 1980s. In 2015 the island was re-opened as a tourist attraction & it was recently crowned as Europe’s leading tourist attraction. Tours of the island take in the fort, prison cells and the gun emplacements. An after-dark tour is also available for those who would be interested in a more edgy but fun experience.
Of course one of the best things to do in Cork is to sample the local cuisine and the best place to start is at The English Market in Cork City Centre. Surrounded by beautiful 19th-century architecture the market is famous for supplying local specialities such as drisheen (a type of blood pudding), spiced beef and buttered eggs. Even Queen Elizabeth II decided to pay a visit to the market in 2011 to see what all of the fuss was about!
Shandon Bells, St Anne’s Church
On the north side of Cork city, across the cities famous River Lee, St Anne’s Church constructed in 1722 and is famous for its Shandon Bells tower. The 18th-century bells are still in use presently and are widely regarded as one of the top things to do in Cork. St Anne’s Tower is a distinctive sight overlooking Cork’s skyline. There will be an opportunity for visitors to ring the bells from the first floor and enjoy unrivalled views out over Cork city and beyond.
Blackrock Castle Observatory
Blackrock Castle Observatory is certainly worth a visit when in Cork city. The castle is located in the beautiful scenic suburb of Blackrock on the banks of the River Lee. This structure is said to be the oldest still in use in the city and will give you an excellent appreciation of the maritime history in Cork. It is very interactive and features a planetarium, a cinema and a host of interactive exhibits. The village is also a great place on a Sunday between 10am -2pm for the Sunday Market which offers a great range of foods to experience on your way to the castle observatory.
Garnish Island is situated in Bantry Bay just off the West Cork coast. The island is renowned for its beautiful gardens, Martello Tower and exotic plants, most of which are rare to Ireland. A short scenic ferry cruise, departing from the village of Glengarriff, takes you out to the island. One thing to keep an eye out during the journey are the seals who frequently visit the rocks on the southern shore of the island.
Jameson Distillery Midleton
For any whiskey fans then the Jameson distillery in the town of Midleton in East Cork should definitely be on your bucket list. A guided tour of the distillery begins with a short film to give you a brief background to Jameson’s history before a guide takes you through the distilling process from the start from finish. At the end of the tour, each participant receives a free glass of whiskey (those who are 18 and over!).
Cork City Gaol
Rounding off our list of top things to do in Cork we come to Cork City Gaol. Located within walking distance from the city centre, the museum gives you the opportunity to see what life was like inside one of Ireland’s most famous jails during the 19th & 20th centuries. Exhibitions including lifelike figures, sound effects and furnished cells make it an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
This is a beautiful gothic style cathedral located about 10 minutes walk from the heart of Cork city. Designed by architect William Burges in 1862. It is certainly worth a visit while in Cork and is one of the top things to do. It is constructed with Cork limestone and the interior walls are made of Cork marble. You will come across beautifully stained glass and intricately carved icons in the walls.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Cork and its sights and attractions is to visit yourself. We offer a range of ways to see Cork from Self Drive, Chauffeur or Rail. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Our Top 6 Recommended Christmas Markets to Visit in Ireland this Year
What else could we write about at this time of year but Christmas? One of the more recent traditions during the festive period here in Ireland is a visit to a Christmas market! So if you would like the opportunity to buy unique & authentic Irish gifts and taste some of Ireland’s best artisan food then look no further than one of the six markets that we have listed below.
Galway Continental Christmas Market
The Galway Continental Market is one of Ireland’s most popular and longest running Christmas Markets. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and spans all the ways from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch. The market stalls are a mixture of both local & European products (hence the name). The German Bier Keller is one of the favourite tents to visit for many of the market goers and if you’re not afraid of heights you can try out the 32 metre high big wheel too.
Belfast Christmas Market
Regarded as one the best markets in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Christmas Market is configured of 90 wooden chalets representing 30 countries from all over the world. The market usually runs from the middle of November until right before Christmas and is situated at the picturesque city hall. On offer are a variety of Christmas decorations, handmade jewellery and a food court which supplies both local and continental food. The mulled wine is highly recommended.
Dublin Christmas Flea Market
As you can probably imagine, the capital city has no shortage of top quality Christmas markets so picking out just one is quite difficult but we have decided on the Christmas Flea Market. Located at the Point Square right next to the 3Arena, the market usually takes place on the second weekend in December. No two stalls are the same with craftspeople, artists, collectors and designers showcasing there talent. So if you are looking to buy a more quirky and unique gift for someone then the Christmas flea market is definitely worth a visit.
Milk Market (Limerick)
Located in Limerick’s historic Old Quarter, the Milk Market is run every weekend during the year however it takes on a Christmas theme as the festive period approaches. A renowned hot spot for food buffs, the Milk Market is well known for its locally produced quality food with a wide range of products available for you to sample. The themed stalls, choirs and Santa’s grotto will get you in the Christmas spirit in no time.
With over 60 market stalls bringing festive charms to Ireland’s oldest city, Winterval is one the premier Christmas markets in the south east of Ireland. Winterval usually runs from the end of November right up to Christmas and is spread across three different locations in Waterford City Centre. Make sure to check out the vintage ferris wheel, the storytelling in Reginald’s Tower and the Winterval Express train which takes you on a tour of all the festivals attractions.
Glow – A Cork Christmas Celebration
For some merry entertainment in Ireland’s second city, look no further than Glow! Conveniently located in Bishop Lucey Park just off grand parade in Cork City Centre, the market runs every weekend in December, right up to Christmas! Glow lights up Cork with fantastic Christmas food markets, choral performances and a 30 metre high ferris wheel provides amazing views of the city. Just across the street from the park is the famous food market, The English Market, where you can try the famous spiced beef or some buttered eggs.
Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Christmas in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
Halloween in Ireland originated in the ancient Celtic world as a pagan festival known as Samhain and has since become a day that is celebrated worldwide.
Halloween in Ireland is still a significant holiday especially due to the fact that the last Monday in October is designated as a public holiday. Below we look at some of the popular Halloween traditions in Ireland from both past and modern times.
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish Halloween custom where yeasted sweet bread is prepared with sultanas and raisins. Barmbrack contained various items that had been baked into the brack and these carried predictions for the future year. Finding a pea in your piece of barmbrack meant you would never marry, a stick predicted that you would have an unhappy marriage (a stick to beat your partner with!), a piece of cloth often referred to as a ‘rag’ meant you would be poor, a small coin for wealth and a ring meant you would be married before the next Halloween. Even today, no Halloween in Ireland is complete without having a few slices of Barmbrack!
Next on our list is Colcannon, a traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish that is often eaten at Haloween in Ireland. The dish gets its name from the Irish word cal ceannan, which when translated means white headed cabbage. The dish usually includes kale, green cabbage, bacon and floury mashed potatoes. Similar to the barmbrack, items were placed into the Colcannon which were used to give predictions for the coming year.
The Halloween bonfire which we have come accustomed to in modern day celebrations was in fact the centre of the Samhain festival. Legend goes that each village would have a bonfire where people would sacrifice crops and animals in return for protection for themselves for the coming winter. Before the main bonfire could be lit all fires around the village had to be quenched. Only after the main bonfire had been extinguished could the villager’s then re light their own fires.
Jack O Lantern
An ancient Samhain tradition that can still be seen during Halloween today is the Jack O Lantern. Folklore has it that hundreds of years ago an Irishman called Jack conned the Devil into buying him a drink for exchanging his soul. However when Jack finished the drink he proceeded to cover himself in crosses meaning the devil was unable to get his soul. When Jack died he was refused entry to heaven for his behaviour. He then encountered the devil who refused him entry to hell but grudgingly giving him an ember so he could see as his walked throughout the night. Every Halloween since, people carved out turnips and placed a candle in them to ward off the wandering Jack. It was from this that the Jack O’Lantern came into existence. Although in Ireland we no longer carve out turnips it is thought that this is where the practice of carving pumpkins originally came from.
One of the more modern Halloween traditions in Ireland is visiting haunted houses & castles over the Halloween period. Events are held around Ireland where people gather in supposedly haunted houses & castles in the hope of encountering some spirits! Some of the most famous spooky attractions around Ireland where these events take place include Loftus Hall, Charleville Castle and Charles Fort, Kinsale.
Read more about some of Ireland’s most spooky attractions here
Get in Touch-
If you are interested in experiencing Halloween in Ireland contact us today for a competitive quotation. One of our experienced travel advisors will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.