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.
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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.
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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 –
What are The Aran Islands and why are they interesting?
The Aran Islands; Inishmore (Irish Spelling Inis Mór), Inisheer(Inis Oírr) and Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) are located off the coast of Galway. The islands lie about 13km (8 miles) from the coast of Galway. This distance to the mainland has made the islands far more traditional than the rest of Ireland. Many traditional farming and crafts can still be seen on the island and the people speak Irish as their first language here.
The landscape on the Aran Islands may be like nothing you have seen before. It is karst and rocky and you will find land made fields surrounded by stone walls.
Clothes – The Aran Islands are famous of course for the traditional Aran Sweater but some other clothes are also unique to the island; the men for example wore a woven belt called a Crios and leather shoes called Pampooties! You can find out more about traditional Aran dress in the Stitches in Time exhibition at the Aras Eanna centre on Inisheer.
Land Making – The land on the Aran Islands is karst and rocky so the locals have to create land, they do this by mixing sand and seaweed and placing on top of rocks to create fertile soil.
Currach Boats – you may see these lying on the beaches on Aran Islands, they are a traditional Irish boat with a wooden frame over which animal skin would have been stretched over, although modern Currachs are now covered with canvas. These Currachs were a lifeline for Aran natives in times before motor powered boats and ferry crossings.
Day Trip or Stay Overnight?
Many of our clients take day trips to the Aran Islands. We recommend getting the morning ferry or flight and taking the evening ferry home. Make sure you leave in plenty of time and arrive at your departure point about 30 minutes early. The ferries usually leave on time and the journey to ports can sometimes take longer than expected. Calculate the time it will take you to get from your location to the port and add an hour to it!
There is ample accommodation on all of the islands, should you wish to stay overnight. There is a hotel on Inishmore as well as several good B&Bs, Inisheer has a small hotel/guesthouse and several good B&Bs and Inishmaan has several good quality B&Bs.
Get in Touch with us about booking your Ireland package including the Aran Islands and we can secure you the best available accommodation.
Aran Islands & Disabilities –
Although some of the ferries may have wheelchair access, access to the ferry is often by floating pontoon which may not be suitable for wheelchair users, depending on tides. The best thing to do is to check with the ferry company a few days in advance.
The islands themselves are not totally disabled friendly, the tour companies on the ground do not have wheelchair adapted buses and the ground can be quite uneven in places and so is not ideal for maneuvering wheelchairs around.
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The best way to learn about the Aran Islands is to visit yourself. Contact us today to book your trip!
Ireland is famous for Halloween and some ghostly places to visit since its origins date back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. The origins of Samhain are from Celtic pagan roots and is a festival in Gaelic and its meaning is the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Winter. This festival is traditionally celebrated from October 31st to November 1st. In this month’s blog are some recommended places to visit in Ireland at Halloween to that will not disappoint.
6 Places to Visit in Ireland at Halloween
Derry Halloween Festival
Around the globe places vie as to where is the best place to celebrate Holloween. Think of Transylvania, home of Dracula or Salem Massachusetts for its heritage of witches. Derry can be regarded as one of the best destinations when it comes to celebrating Halloween, the city is truly one of the most memorable places to visit during Halloween season. The city of Derry packs a punch when it comes to Halloween and in 2015 USA Today named Derry as the “best Halloween destination in the world”. Derry as a city is full of creativity and puts on a spectacular show with creative costumes. This history of great costumes comes from the people of the city with its heritage of shirt factories. The festival usually runs annually from the 26th of October to the 3rd of November and there is something for everyone and with a mix of music and harvest markets for foodies.
Westport House Halloween Festival
Westport House located on the West of Ireland in Co. Mayo which promises to scare you during Halloween season. This festival is normally happening on the 27th to the 31st of October annually. It is a perfect treat for individuals or all the family and has something for everyone to enjoy. During the festival for Halloween, the Estate House is transformed into a spooky old mansion and visit the dark dungeons where Pirate Queen Grace O’ Malley locked up her prisoners. There is lots more to this Halloween festival and worth a visit.
Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival
This festival happens all around Meath County in the historic Boyne Valley from 6th of October up until 4th of November annually. It is one of Ireland’s biggest Halloween festivals and a short drive from Dublin city centre. The festival goes from Haunted Hills to Eerie Graveyards, Tour of Shadow to friendly witches to spells and terrifying Terror Houses. You can visit during the day and be spooked at night. The Spirit of Meath Festival makes for an electrifying display of Halloween horrors.
Bram Stoker Festival
This festival offers 4 days of adventure usually between 26th – 29th of October and has something for everyone with its gothic programme of events in Dublin city. There are some free and some ticketed events for families and adults. This a great way to experience Halloween in Dublin’s capital city. Bram Stroker was the creator of Dracula’s and worked in Dublin Castle as a clerk. This Halloween festival celebrates the thrill of Halloween and the mysterious after dark and looks into the legacy of Ireland’s most valued authors.
The Crumlin Road Gaol – Belfast
This is a great place to enjoy the Halloween fever on the island of Ireland. The Crumlin Road Gaol offers the ultimate Halloween ghostly experience from its history from when it opened in 1846 and closed in 1996. For over 150 years it was a fully operational prison and has lots of eerie stories that you will learn about. A great way to enjoy this is to take a tour and learn about all aspects of the Gaol from the tunnels linking the courthouse on one side of Crumlin Road to the hospital, graveyard to the hanging cell and Governor’s office. This prison has had over 25,000 prisoners, with 17 men executed and has witnessed deaths, marriages, births and have and has been the scene of escapes, hunger strikes and riots.
Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin
Halloween and prisons become very popular as places to visit as they are famously haunted buildings and Kilmainham Gaol is not different. Ghostly tales surround the prison and it has been said that lights have mysteriously been turning on and off in the prison chapel. The prison is a symbol of Ireland’s past from militant and nationalism from the rebellion in 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922 -23. The leaders in these rebellion movements were detained in Kilmainham and sometimes executed. Opened in 1796 as the County Gaol for Dublin and it closed its door in 1924. This is truly a great place to visit in Ireland as a Halloween attraction or any time of the year and experience some of Ireland history and listen to the ghosts of the past.
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The best way to learn about Halloween in Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 Most Popular Things to do in Dublin to help you decide what to take in when you Visit!
Dublin is our capital city and one of the most multicultural cities in the world today and a must visit for anyone visiting Ireland. Most international traffic arrives through Dublin airport so most people will enjoy at least a few days in the city and explore all the attractions that it has to offer. Founded by the Vikings in 998AD, the city has a varied and interesting past and quite a few stories to tell. If it is your first trip to Dublin, you might want to tick a few of these famous visitor spots off your list:
Visit Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the biggest unoccupied prisons in Europe, it is now a museum and access is by guided tour. When it opened in 1796, the prison was one of the most modern of its time. Since then it has housed many political prisoners including those associated with the 1916 Easter Rising. Tours can get very busy and if you plan to visit, do call ahead or book tickets online.
See Glasnevin Cemetery
The Glasnevin Cemetery opened in 1832 and contains monuments and graves of some of Ireland’s most prominent national figures including Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Maude Gonne, Luke Kelly of the Dubliners and many more. Onsite, in the world’s first cemetery museum visitors can learn about the history and the lives of more than 1.5 million people that are buried in the cemetery.
Visit the Museums & Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle was built in 1204 and was until 1922 the seat of the United Kingdom government administration in Ireland. Today it houses The Chapel Royal, The Chester Beatty Library which displays artistic treasures from around the world, The Revenue Museum which offers an interesting history of tax collection in Ireland and the State Apartments; the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, Presidential inaugurations and prestigious functions. The grounds of the site are free to explore, admission to the State Apartments is by guided tour only and tickets can be purchased in the Upper Castle Yard in advance.
Walk Around Trinity College & See the Book of Kells Exhibition
Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, it is Ireland’s oldest university and has had many famous students including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift. Visitors to the College can enjoy guided tours of the magnificent Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibition. Online booking is recommended and you can purchase tickets here. Visitors with pre-booked tickets will be allowed access at their allocated time-slot. For a more enjoyable experience, you are better off purchasing your tickets online.
Have a pint at the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is one of Dublin’s busiest attractions and one of the most popular things to do in Dublin. The museum is set out over seven floors which surround a glass atrium in the shape of a pint of Guinness. The exhibition covers the process of making Guinness, right through to the marketing, sales and distribution of the finished product. The seventh floor houses the Gravity Bar with fantastic views of Dublin City.
Enjoy The (Free Entry) National Museums of Ireland
Three out of our four national museums are located in Dublin; The Museum of Archaeology and the Natural History Museums are located quite close to each other off Kildare Street and the Decorative Arts and History Museum is located at the Old Collins Barracks on Benburn Street. All of these museums are free entry and well worth a visit!
Visit Christchurch Cathedral & Dublinia
Christchurch Cathedral is the elder of Dublin’s two cathedrals, the other being St. Patricks. The cathedral famously contains the tomb of Strongbow, a medieval Norman-Welsh warlord who came to Ireland at the invitation of King Diarmuid MacMorrough. The cathedral also contains the largest Crypt in Ireland and amongst the things, you will find there are secular carvings and the mummified corpses of a Cat & a Rat, commonly nicknamed Tom & Jerry! The adjacent Dublinia Exhibition is especially great for kids but enjoyable by most anybody, it covers the period of Dublin’s history from the arrival of the Anglo-Normans to the closure of the monasteries in the 1540s.
See The GPO & New GPO Museum
The General Post Office (GPO) is the headquarters of the Irish Post Office and one of O’Connell Streets most prominent buildings. During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO famously served as the headquarters for the rebellion leaders. The GPO Witness History Museum documents the building’s history and brings the events of the Easter Rising to life.
Do Some Shopping on Grafton Street
Characterised by energetic buskers and talented streets artists, Grafton Street and the surrounding streets contains some of the best shopping to be had in Dublin. There are also lots of nice cafes and bars in this area. Nearby at Meeting House Square, there are often theatre and film screenings and on Saturdays, there is an excellent organic food market.
Check out the Night Life at Temple Bar
Temple Bar is one of the best places to be in Dublin by night! Home to some of Dublin’s best traditional music bars and restaurants as well as some great art galleries, popular watering holes include The Palace Bar, The Temple Bar Pub, Oliver St. John Gogarty’s and The Auld Dubliner.
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The best way to learn about all the things to do in Dublin is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a free quotation including some or all of these locations today. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
In this month’s blog, you have the opportunity to learn about some of the 15 Best Towns To Visit In Ireland. Ireland as a country is dotted with endless beautiful towns and villages.
Ireland’s towns and villages are full of character, charm, culture and heritage that defines them as unique in their own right. Some of these towns sweep along the raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way to the hidden gems in Ireland’s Hidden Heart Land and Ireland’s Ancient East. The selected Best Towns To Visit in Ireland below has their own beauty that is full of creativity and uniqueness for you to experience.
This is the 15 Best Towns to Visit in Ireland
Doolin is a small village in Clare located on the west coast about five kilometres from the towering Cliffs of Moher which lie southwest of the village. Doolin is an extremely popular place with travellers with its Irish bars which are famous for playing traditional Irish “Ceili” music nightly. It is also a village where you can access the famous Aran Islands from which are not too far offshore. Doolin is in the heart of the Burren and its home to an excellent gourmet trail of different food businesses. Doolin is one of the best towns to visit in Ireland especially in the summer months where it is thriving as a tourist destination with excellent accommodation options along with craft shops and activities.
Enniskerry is located in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains and only a short drive from Dublin. It is a fantastic base to explore Glendalough, Powerscourt Gardens, Sally Gap and Lough Tay (Guinness Lake). Enniskerry itself has some terrific cafes and tea rooms. The clock tower at the centre of the village frames the town, it is a great place to relax and unwind in a beautiful day and people watch. There is an excellent array of restaurants offering great choice and you can have the chance to try someplace new every evening.
Kinsale can be known as Ireland’s Gourmet Capital. You will find exceptional seafood restaurants with fresh fish caught nearby. Great array of international food and if traditional Irish food is something you look for, Kinsale has excellent Irish food in abundance. You will find excellent bars with traditional Irish music throughout the summer months. Kinsale is also famous for its arts and crafts and will find a diverse collection to choose from. While there it is worth a drive out to the Old Head of Kinsale which offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Ardmore is situated on one of Ireland’s oldest Christian site and is ideally situated on the coastline of Ireland’s Ancient East trail. The village is extremely picturesque and has won many Tidy Town awards. Ardmore boasts a wide range of accommodation options with excellent food in the restaurants and fun pubs to visit. Ardmore boasts five beautiful beaches to choose from. The town also has a lovely cliff walk to enjoy panoramic views of Ardmore Bay and boast one of the finest Round Towers in Ireland built on the 12th century. For water enthusiasts, a great way to see the coastline is by sea kayaking. If long walking is of interest it has the St Declan’s Way ancient pilgrimage walk from Ardmore to the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary and the total distance is just over 90km.
Dingle is based in the western peninsula of Kerry. Dingle is famous for old-style Irish bars and is a mecca for seafood. It has also a thriving arts scene there with the Other Voices music festival being held there every December. Dingle has managed to retain its charm over the years in spite of its popularity. In recent years it has become famous for being a film destination with Star Wars being filmed in the area. Worth renting a bike or driving back west of Dingle and head for Slea Head, you will not be disappointed in the breath-taking scenery. If you are an Ice – cream fan, Murphy’s homemade ice cream with a selection of different flavours is well worth stopping at.
Kinvara is a scenic town on the southern shores of Galway Bay and gateway to the Burren. Kinvara is translated as “The Head of the Sea”, was once a thriving port village and lots of trade went through it for the necessities of life such as food and turf fuel in the 19th Century. Kinvara can be one of the best places that you can visit in Galway with its close proximity to Galway city, it is buzzing in the weekends with an excellent array of pubs and restaurants. Kinvara is also home to Dunguaire Castle and is one of the most popular places to visit in Galway.
Kenmare is located on the picturesque famous Ring of Kerry. As a town it has got something for everyone from its excellent choice of restaurants, bars and cafés with superb accommodation options. Kenmare is beautiful in summer when the town park gardens are in full bloom with its stunning rhododendrons collection. The town itself is beautifully situated as a great starting point for a drive along the Beara Peninsula. With golf courses, horse riding, trekking and unspoilt scenery, it is one of Europe most natural unspoilt places to visit.
This town may be small and it is situated remotely in the tranquil setting of Donegal in the north-west of Ireland. Gwedore is a Gaeltacht town with its first language spoken being Gaelic and is one of the largest places in Ireland that speak Gaelic and as a result of this, it is the heartbeat of Irish culture. Surrounded by rolling hills and mountains and long stretches of sandy beaches this is a very peaceful place and a great place to clear your head from daily life. An excellent site in Gwedore is Glenveagh National Park and Castle.
Adare in Limerick is regarded as Ireland’s prettiest villages. The main street in Adare is dotted with an array of beautiful stone buildings, medieval monasteries ruins and beautiful village park which is a great place to take a peaceful walk. The pretty thatched cottages on the main street are part of the charm of Adare and why is it a great place to visit. The town is full of historical landmarks such as Desmond Castle that dates back to the 12th century and Adare Manor which is today a luxury hotel and golf resort which re has opened in the last number of months after a two-year upgrade. With a great array of accommodation options, boutiques, craft shops and bars the village has lots to offer.
Lismore is located in the Sunny South East in the county of Waterford. Lismore is a stunning town situated in the lush countryside on the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains and is one of Waterford’s most historical towns. You can spend time here exploring Lismore castle and the gardens the town’s main tourist attractions which are over 800 years old. The castle which was built in medieval times and build on a steep hill above the town, providing excellent views over the town. Time can also be spent exploring the woodlands around the River Blackwater.
Dalkey located on the south side of Dublin city and it is home to the likes of Bono, Van Morrison, Enya and many others in the music and arts industry. In the past Vikings had a port in Dalkey which was first constructed in the 8th century. Dalkey and its neighbouring Killiney are considered one of the most affluent neighbourhood in Ireland to reside in. Today Dalkey is full of castles from its past and with a pleasant array of restaurants and bars to choose from. Close by is Killiney Hill which is an excellent place to go visit and get breathtaking views out over Dublin Bay. A peaceful village enclave not too far from the hustle and bustle of Dublin City Centre.
This coastal town along the east coast of Ireland is on Ireland’s Ancient East no more than one hour north of Dublin. The town gets its name from the Old Norse which can be translated to “narrow sea inlet of the hag”. This town is surrounding by rolling hills and has roots to the Viking past with the towns’ street showing evidence of the medieval age. Carlingford offers adventure or a complete quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It has great live music in the bars and activities groups of friends or family. Also, it is known for its quality of fishing that can be fished from the place with oysters and crabs are often caught off the nearby harbour.
Clifden is located in Connemara and is one of the best towns to visit in Ireland if you are heading back west of Galway city exploring the national park. Not too far from Clifden is Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, one of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions. Clifden may be small in stature but it packs a punch with its collection of restaurants and bars. It also has lots of arts and craft shops for you to stop at. Highly recommended is the “Sky Road” offering unparallel views over Clifden Bay.
Kilronan, Aran Islands
Kilronan is the main village on Inis Mor on the largest island of the three Aran Islands and is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. This was a fishing port for the Aran fisherman and presently the main function of the port is that of a ferry terminal and a place for festivals. As one of the most unique and diverse places to visit in Ireland, this should be on everyone’s itinerary to Ireland and one of the best places to visit. Kilronan has an excellent range of restaurants, serving seafood and traditional Irish bars and music.
Birr is most famous for its castle and also it is one of the most scenic places to visit in Ireland with the heritage that it has on offer. The town itself was developed around Birr Castle estate of the Parsons family. Birr is known as one of the best Georgian towns in Ireland with its wide streets and makes for a charming place to visit. Along with Birr Castle and its grandeur, it is well worth taking a walk around the estate grounds where you can be captivated with the formal gardens and the Great Telescope.
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The best way to learn about Ireland and its towns and villages is to visit, immerse yourself in the history and heritage of the places. Contact us today for a quotation from our dedicated travel advisors who will be able to help you create your ideal trip to Ireland and answer any questions you may have. We can tailor your itinerary on any of our Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
This month’s blog gives you the opportunity to learn about some of the Top 10 Things to Do on Ireland’s Ancient East. Ireland’s Ancient East starts on the south of Ireland by Cork’s Spike Island and takes in Cahir & Kilkenny Castle, Rock of Cashel to the Boyne Valley, Newgrange and Glendalough on the East Coast through to the northern region of Ireland to counties of Cavan and Monaghan and much much more in between. The aim is to have a memorable experience while on the trail & you will gain inspiration from the places that will map your journey. Discover the legends and stories and let you discover your own Ireland’s Ancient East!
Source: Discover Ireland
Dublin is an excellent base to plan your immersive journey on Ireland’s Ancient East. Dublin is a city that is full of history with tales and stories. With an abundance of history here, take a guided tour of Trinity College and see one of Ireland’s great cultural treasure in the Book of Kells. Along with its many more popular renowned attractions Guinness Storehouse, James Joyce Museum, Christchurch Cathedral, Kilmainham Gaol & Glasnevin Cemetry, the options are endless for you.
Top 10 Things to Do on Ireland’s Ancient East
Glendalough, Co Wicklow Glendalough is one of the top things to do on Ireland’s Ancient East and is one of the most important monastic sites in ancient Ireland. St. Kevin founded the Christian monastic settlement in the 6th century; from there developed into what could be termed a “Monastic City”. What you will see presently are buildings that survive from the 10th to the 12th century. In spite of various attacks from the Vikings, Glendalough thrived as a great foundation for learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. Also close by to the monastic settlements you can visit the visitor centre and listen to the audiovisuals and see the model monastic city on display.
Newgrange, Co Meath When you think and imagine ancient Ireland, Newgrange is one of the things that springs to mind immediately. This is one of the main attractions that can be found on Ireland’s Ancient East trail and within one hour of Dublin City Centre. The attractions also include Knowth & Dowth but to get to these you will need to go to the visitor centre via a short bus journey. Newgrange is the only attraction that is accessible to the public with a chamber. Newgrange is really popular during winter solstice but to get tickets for the event is challenging but worth going to watch for the memorable experience.
Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly Clonmacnoise is located near Shannonbridge in County Offaly and is a top attraction on Ireland’s Ancient East trail. Wander through the ruins and it will give you images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s Golden Age of learning. Founded by St Ciaran in the 6th century, it became a special place for learning and religion. Clonmacnoise is full of heritage and tales to capture your imagination. You will find ruins of round towers, graves, churches and celtic crosses. The Clonmacnoise graveyard is still in use and religious studies are regularly held on site in a modern chapel and was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979. Visiting will give you a true feeling of the history of Ireland.
Kilkenny Castle, Co Kilkenny A great place to visit on Ireland’s Ancient East trail is the historic medieval city of Kilkenny. In the heart of the city is Kilkenny Castle and its gardens. As you enter the castle, it can feel like you are stepping back in time to the 12th Century, which has been remodeled and restored to its 1830 state. Kilkenny is strategically situated on the River Noire and dominates the “High Town” of Kilkenny City. With its beautifully maintained gardens and surrounds, Kilkenny Castle makes for the perfect attraction and to get romanised and transported to medieval times. Also, the castle is the start of the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny City which takes you on a journey through the heart of the city to St Canice’s Cathedral to the famous Smithwick’s Brewery.
Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary This is a stunning group of buildings of the medieval style set upon looking over the town of Cashel Co Tipperary in the area known as the Golden Vale. The Rock of Cashel consists of a 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th-century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. This attraction is one for everyone to put on their to-do list when traveling Ireland Ancient East. The attraction comes with audiovisual shows and exhibitions.
Spike Island, Co Cork Spike Islands is a Winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2017 at the World Travel Awards! Spike Island is located off the town of Cobh County Cork. It has a varied history over the past 1300 years from being a 6th-century Monastery, a Fortress and during Victorian times, the largest convict depot in the world. With the rich history, there is something for everyone and learn about Ireland’s ancient past. Habitants on the island have included monks and monasteries, rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts and sinners and saints. Why not take the scenic ferry ride from Kennedy Pier in Cobh and enjoy the guided tour of the island and enjoy the surroundings while enjoying the views from the café.
Carrickmacross Workhouse Carrickmacross Workhouse is located in the northern location of Ireland’s Ancient East in the heart of the historical barony of Farney in County Monaghan. This Workhouse has been meticulously restored and tells a lot about Ireland’s history and heritage during that time. The reason for building these workhouses was for the poor of Carrickmacross town and the nearby parishes of Donaghmoyne, Inniskeen, Killanny, Magheracloone, Magheross and part of Bawn in 1841. During this time in Ireland population was close to 9 million with 3 million living in a state of destitute due principally to the evictions by British landlord. Carrickmacross Workhouse was one of a total of 130 built between 1841 & 1843 to house poor in society. In order to enter the Workhouse, you had to surrender any land where living conditions were poor and rules were strict and families were separated and forbidden from seeing each other without prior permission. The food was poor, and the hard physical work had to be undertaken. For people admissions to the workhouse became a last resort in life and became known as a “Poor Man’s Jail”. Definitely worth a visit if you want to immerse yourself in Irish History.
Cavan Burren Park, Co Cavan One of the “Hidden Gems” of Ireland’s Ancient East and a top thing to put on your itinerary if you are in the area. The Cavan Burren Park is located in County Cavan. This park opened in 2014 but has been here for centuries before that, this is a perfect attraction if you are interested in the outdoors and with a good pair of outdoor footwear you can explore the glacial boulders, rock art, and explore the ancient times of Cavan Burren Park. It is certainly worth the journey and it is away from the traditional tourist trail so you will not be caught in the midst of huge crowds. What will attracts you here is mainly the natural landscape with sights such as the Giants Cave constructed over 4,000 years ago.
Waterford’s Viking Triangle Waterford’s Viking Trail is located on the “Sunny South East” of Ireland. Waterford is Ireland’s oldest cities and only city in Ireland that Oliver Cromwell did not conquer. The cities Viking Settlement date back to 914. Visit Reginald’s Tower where you will get a chance to see the full set Viking weapons that have survived in Ireland. To learn more about the Viking Trail, visit the Medieval Museum and immerse yourself in the Viking era in Ireland.
Waterford’s Greenway The Waterford Greenway opened in March 2017 and is an excellent attraction to the Waterford region and to Ireland’s Ancient East and definitely one of the top things to do while exploring the “Sunny South East”. It is 46km of off-road cycling and walking trail along the old railway line. This route will give you the chance to experience the natural landscape of Ireland while your journey takes you across three viaducts from the river to sea.
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The best way to learn about Ireland’s Ancient East and explore the surrounding places that are on the trail is to visit by yourself. Contact us today for a quotation from our dedicated travel advisors including some or all of these locations – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer on Ireland’s Ancient East Self Drive or Chauffeured tours.
Mayo is a hidden gem of a county on the Wild Atlantic Way situated on the Western Seaboard of Ireland. It has lots to offer to all visitors with its stunning landscapes and diverse range of scenery it has many points of interests. It is steeped in history and culture. This below is some recommendations of the “Top 10 Things To Do in Mayo” and why it is a place to put on your itinerary to visit this coming 2018 in Ireland.
Mayo offers a range of outdoor activities ranging from exploring the Greenways by cycling or walking. Also excellent opportunities for, angling, mountain climbing, and water sports such as surfing or paddle boarding. One of the hidden gems of Mayo is Achill Island with its breath-taking landscapes, its people, and natural fauna – This Island will not disappoint you with lots things to do and explore.
Source: Dream Culture by Kevin MacLeod
10 Top Things To Do in Mayo
The Great Western Greenway
This is the perfect way to explore the area, be it walking or cycling part of the Wild Atlantic Way with 42km of Greenway along the old Westport to Achill railway line. What better way to escape the urban life and travel the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in Ireland. Perfect place to start this trip is from Westport and it takes you to villages of Newport, Mulranny and finishes up in Achill Island.
Atlantic Drive on Achill Island
This is a first-rate way to see the natural beauty of Achill Island. It is a special mystical drive that takes in the rugged scenery of the island with beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs with excellent opportunities to stop off and take some panoramic pictures. The island is blessed with many nice traditional pubs, restaurants serving beautiful nutritious traditional Irish food. Achill Island is perfect for a day trip or overnight stay.
Westport name comes from Cathair na Mart meaning “stone fort of the beeves”. It is situated on the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. The current town center as it stands today was designed in Georgian architecture style in the 1780s by James Wyatt. The town layout was urban design incorporating medieval principles. Westport is famous for its collection of traditional Irish bars, selection of quality restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts. Combined with a vibrant friendly local population it makes for the perfect place to stay.
Westport House and Garden
Westport House is one of Ireland’s most loved heritage attractions. It is possible for visitors to view one of the finest places built in the 16th Century in Ireland with 30 rooms available to tour. This house dates back to Grace O Malley the Pirate Queen of Connacht who ruled the land and sea around the estate. The original foundations of Westport House were built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke, Grace O Malley’s great – great – granddaughter.
Croagh Patrick is locally known as the “The Reeks” situated 10 km from the town of Westport. If hiking or hill walking is your interest this is a mountain that will not disappoint. The mountain is regarded as Ireland’s Holy Mountain. The mountain offers spectacular views of Clew Bay, Achill Island, and surrounding areas. It is best advised to climb during the summer months between (April – September). The mountain rises 762m above sea level and generally takes approximately 4-5 hour round trip.
National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock
Knock Shrine in Gaelic Cnoc Mhuire “Hill of Mary” is a very important holy place in the village of Knock. It is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage and National Shrine where it has been observed that there was an apparition of Saint Joseph, Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and Jesus Christ in 1879. During the time that this happened Ireland had been coming to the end of the great famine and the 1870s saw the beginning of land reform which changed Irish rural life with the events of Knock happening at the beginning of the Land War.
This is one of the earliest church to be founded after Saint Patrick came down from Croagh Patrick established in 1216 and it is only the church in the Irish state founded by an Irish king that is still in use. This abbey has quiet the history, the abbey was burned by the Normans, seized by James I and suppressed by Henry VIII. To add to this historic abbey, the roof was burned by Oliver Cromwell soldiers in 1653 and not fully restored until 1966 but even so, there was no roof, the mass was continued to be said. It is some feat to have the abbey celebrating mass continuously for the past 800 years which is the only church in Ireland to do so.
National Museum of Country Life – Castlebar
This is an award-winning Museum of Country Life and is home to the National Folklife Collection. This museum is spread out over four floors showcasing rural Ireland in the hundred years between the Great Famine and the end of the 1950s. One learns about traditional clothing of the Aran Islands, folklore objects and a selection of photographs depicting the living environment of the people working on the land and sea. Also, visitors get to learn about the resources people used in that time and the skills that were required to live in rural Ireland.
Fishing on the River Moy
River Moy is one of the most productive river systems in Ireland. It is approximately 100km long which drains the catchment of over two thousand square kilometers. Within this river fishing system is some excellent lough such as Conn and Cullin with also streams and lakes. The Moy river is famous for being one of Ireland’s premier Salmon rivers and the great thing about it is that it offers a great range of quality angling to suit all tastes and budgets. The Moy estuary is also excellent for sea trout that can exceed four pounds and can be caught on fly and bait. The fishing season is from February 1st – September 30th and it is important to check with ghillies and owners to confirm the local rule. If you are interested in sampling Ireland’s world-renowned fishing, the River Moy offers you all this and more.
Surfing in Blue Flag Beaches
If water sports are something that gives you the idea of your dream holiday, Mayo has this in abundance and more. Mayo gives ample opportunity to enjoy the renowned Irish waves and a chance to surf them. There are waves for all levels of surfers from beginners up to experienced. Beatra beach an arm of land extending into Clew Bay not far from Westport is an excellent place to surf and many surf schools in operation in these places too. If going off the beaten track and away from the masses then Bellmullet or Achill Island is the place to be. Enjoy the windswept beaches and try and bag a big wave in Keel Strand in Achill Island. There are lots of other options too such as paddle boarding or windsurfing to enjoy. Bring or rent a wetsuit, as Irish waters are quite cold!! Definitely one of the memorable things to do while in Mayo
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The best way to learn about Mayo in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer in Mayo alongside our Wild Atlantic Way Self Drive or Chauffeured tours. We can customise your trip to suits your needs and wants & create your own unique experience in Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way that will make it your dream holiday to Ireland.
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
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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.
Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Ireland that we get asked for consistently over and over again. It is important not to try and visit too many places in Ireland on one trip, talk to our sales representatives about how you can make the best of your time here so that you can visit the places that are important to you but also not go home feeling like you need another vacation! There is so much to see & do in Ireland so please do not limit yourself to just these attractions however these are the places we get asked for a lot;
Top 10 things to do in Ireland
Visit Dublin & The Guinness Storehouse
2. See the Cliffs of Moher
3. Drive the famous Ring of Kerry
4. Take a boat trip to the Aran Islands
5. Tour the Stunning Connemara Region
6. Check out the Festival City of Galway
7. Visit the famous Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast
8. Visit Belfast City & Titanic Belfast
9. Visit Blarney Castle
10. Visit the Boyne Valley & Newgrange
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Learn more about the top 10 things to do in Ireland by taking your own trip here! Contact us today to arrange your own vacation in Ireland including some or all of these fantastic locations!