Category Archives: Self Drive Tours Ireland

5 Great Things to do in Belfast

If you have a day to spend in Belfast on your Ireland vacation, here’s what we recommend that you see!

If you have booked a trip to Southern Ireland, don’t rule out a day trip to Belfast City. Belfast City can be reached easily from Dublin’s Connolly station by train, the trip will take in the region of two hours each way.

Belfast at Night
Belfast at Night

Belfast gained a bad name because of the frequent gun and bomb attacks in the city during ‘The Troubles’ from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. Today, the remnants of Belfast’s troubled past make it an interesting destination for tourists from all over world. One of the first questions people often ask us is; ‘Is it safe?’ We always give the same answer; Belfast is as safe now as any other City. Stick to the main tourist areas and you will be fine. Use your own common sense and at night don’t hang around on your own. We also advise not to ask the locals about the troubles, it is often something that people don’t like to discuss and may cause offence. Finally, avoid the city on the 12th of July due to traffic and other transportation disruption as a result of Orange Order parades.

5 of Belfast’s must see attractions, the easiest way to see all of these is by taking the hop on – hop off bus;

1. Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is one of Belfast’s newest and most popular museums, built on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was originally constructed. Galleries reconstruct scenes from Belfast at the time of its construction, the launch, the maiden voyage, the sinking and the aftermath. This museum is extremely interactive, with technology bringing each period to life. We advise pre-booking tickets as the centre does get extremely busy.

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast

 

Titanic Shipyard
Titanic Shipyard

2. Crumlin Road Gaol & Courthouse

The Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845 and closed in 1996. Today you can enjoy a guided tour of the prison and hear about the history of the site from when women and children were held within its walls through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners. The highlight of this tour for many is the fascinating Condemned Man’s Cell and also the walk via the underground tunnel that was used to connect the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse.

3. Belfast Murals
The Belfast murals have become symbols of Northern Ireland, depicting the religious and political divisions. The themes of the murals often reflect what is important to a particular community. The best examples can be seen on Shankill and Falls Road.

Bobby Sands Mural by Glynnis 2009 Flckr
Bobby Sands Mural by Glynnis 2009 Flckr

4. The Ulster Museum & Botanic Gardens
The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens features collections of fine art, archaeology, ethnography, local history, industrial history, botany and geology. Admission to this museum is free.

5. St. George’s Market
If you visit Belfast on a Friday to Sunday, a visit to St. George’s Market is a must. Friday morning is the best time to visit as you will find about 250 market stalls selling a variety of products including antiques, books, clothes, fruit, vegetables and fish. The market was built between 1890 and 1896, making it one of the oldest markets in operation.

Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205
UK FreeFone0800 096 9438
International+353 69 77686
www.irishtourism.com

Share This:

5 Things to See on the Dingle Peninsula

By Orla Spencer

Our top tips on what to take in on a day trip around the Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is slightly less travelled than the adjacent Ring of Kerry but in our opinion, is every bit as beautiful. Our top 5 places to check out on the Dingle Peninsula include;

1. Dingle Town
Dingle town is a colourful marine town; it is full of history, renowned for traditional Irish music and has fantastic food to cater for every taste and requirement. Ireland’s friendliest dolphin, Fungie is resident in Dingle Harbour and a boat trip to see him up close is delightful. Dingle Ocean World in Dingle town is also a lovely place to visit; they have a great selection of sea life including the newly installed Penguin display.

2. Ventry
Ventry is a small village less about 7km west of Dingle. Ventry has one of Ireland’s best beaches, a golden sandy paradise that stretches for five miles. Sports enthusiasts will love Ventry as it was the home town of the GAA legend Páidi Ó Sé and the pub which he owned and ran can be visited in the village.

Seaside Village, Ventry by Pam Brophy
Seaside Village, Ventry by Pam Brophy

3. Slea Head & Dunmore Head
Marked by a Crusafix which the locals call ‘the cross’, the Blasket Islands come into full view here and the scenery is outstanding. Dunmore head, further west offers more amazing views.

Slea Head Drive
Slea Head Drive
Holy Cross Slea Head Drive
Holy Cross Slea Head Drive

4. The Blasket Centre
The Blasket Centre is a captivating centre honouring the unique community who resided on the isolated Blasket Islands until the government decided to evacuate them in 1953. The Blasket Islands are unique because they have produced many gifted writers, most notably; Peig Sayers. Boat trips can also be taken to visit the island from nearby Dún Chaoin Pier.

Blasket Islands Centre
Blasket Islands Centre

5. Gallarus Oratory
Gallarus is a very quick stop, but well worth a look. It’s a very small early Christian Church. A local legend for Gallarus says that if a person can successfully climb through the small window at the back, then their soul will be cleansed. As you will see when you visit, this is a little bit difficult to do!

Gallarus Oratory
Gallarus Oratory

 

Share This:

Burren Walk with Tony Kirby

by Orla Spencer

The Burren in Clare has some of Ireland’s best walks

Today I had the pleasure of taking a guided Burren Walk with Tony Kirby of Heart of the Burren Walks and it was certainly an experience I would recommend to anyone! Of course it is possible take any of the Burren walking trails alone but having a local guide show you the finer details and tell you of the local history, I think is invaluable. These walks can now be booked through Irish Tourism as part of your package vacation.

Tony Kirby from Heart of the Burren Walsk
Tony Kirby from Heart of the Burren Walsk

There are many walking paths in the Burren, today we took the path to St Colmans Hermitage in Carran, where it is believed that St. Colman Mac Duagh lived for seven years as a hermit and this area may have been associated also with Pre-Christian rituals. As you enter the nature reserve, Slievecarran is immediately in front of you; its slopes are known as Eagle’s Rock.

01-IMAG0604

As you continue along the path if you turn North-East you are faced with the summit of Turlooughmore. The circular gaps that can be seen are known as Leim an Phuca Mhoir (The big fairy’s Leap) and Leam an Phuca Bhig (the small fairy’s leap).

02-IMAG0605

This is the first station on the old Pilgrimage Route where pilgrims would say their first set of prayers to Saint Coleman. A rock standing upright in the centre indicates from a distance the route to take.

04-IMAG0609

Further along you will meet ‘The Man Servant’s Grave’. Legend has it that Saint Coleman was not alone during his time in the Burren, he was accompanies by a servant who according to legend is buried here. This is also a station on the pilgrimage route.

06-IMAG0614

When we arrived at the man servants grave, Tony begins to tell me about a local legend concerting saint Coleman and his servant and it goes something like this… Saint Coleman & his servant were fasting in in the hermitage and as they came towards the end of the Lenten fast period, a banquet feast could be heard from the nearby Dunguaire Castle. When the servant told Saint Coleman how hungry he was, the saint took pity on him and prayed on his behalf. At that moment, the dishes from the banquet suddenly took Flight and made their way to the hermitage with the banquet party following along angrily on horseback. St. Coleman prayed again and the horse’s hooves got stuck in the pavement. To this day, the marks from the horse’s hooves can be seen on the pavement nearby and this pavement is known as Bothar na Miasa which means, ‘the road of the dishes’. Of course we know now that the marks are from rainwater dissolving though the rock over time, but it’s a great story all the same!

14-IMAG0626_BURST001-ACTION25-IMAG0637

As you continue along Saint Coleman’s oratory can be seen. This building dates from the 11th century so it was built sometime after St. Coleman was believed to have been here. It was created at the spot and to the same dimensions as his wooden oratory would have been.

29-IMAG064230-IMAG0644

Follow the path directly behind the oratory and you come to Saint Coleman’s Cave or Saint Coleman’s leaba (bed) where it is thought Saint Coleman and his servant slept.

43-IMAG0664_BURST002_COVER

Just beside the oratory lies a holy well and many people believe its waters have healing properties. It is common for people to leave an offering or a piece of their clothing tied to the trees next to the well in hope of a cure to their ailment or suffering.

Get in Touch- The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation–

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

www.irishtourism.com

Share This: