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!
Waterford is located in Ireland’s Sunny South East, and is one of Ireland’s oldest cities. Founded by Vikings in 914 A.D., a part of its ancient walled core still remains. The city is most famous for one of its exports, Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city’s glass making industry.
Before you set off sightseeing in Waterford you might want to sample a Blaa, a large, soft, and fluffy bread roll that is exclusive to Waterford!
Waterford Viking Triangle is the city’s Cultural and Heritage quarter and many of its visitor attractions are here. The quarter is characterised by narrow streets, atmospheric public spaces and a collection of cultural & historic attractions.
On your travels you may wish to pay a visit to;
This landmark building is the only monument named after a Viking. Situated at the apex of the Viking Triangle, the tower was originally part of the cities defences. The building was once used as a mint, a prison and military store; it now displays an exhibition on Viking Waterford.
The Bishops Palace
The Bishop’s Palace is located in Cathedral Square and gives the visitor an insight into the Georgian and Victorian periods in Waterford. The first two floors are laid out as a historic house with displays of 18th century glass, silver, furniture and paintings. The oldest piece of Waterford Glass in the world is a highlight.
The Medieval Museum
The Medieval Museum is located between Cathedral Square and the Bishop’s Palace in the heart of the Viking Triangle. The Museums main architectural features include two medieval chambers, a 13th century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. One of the museum’s most precious artefact is the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Henry VIII, a cap of maintenance.
The Theatre Royal is locally referred to as “the people’s theatre” and has been the traditional venue in Waterford for the arts throughout generations. The theatre is the home of several amateur societies and has hosted the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera since its foundation in 1958.
House of Waterford Crystal
The origins of crystal production in Waterford date back as early as 1783 when George and William Penrose began producing extremely fine flint glass that became world-renowned. Waterford Crystal continues this tradition and its facility in the city offers visitors the opportunity to take guided tours of the glass making process from start to finish. The on-site crystal store showcases the world’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal.
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There are thousands of Castles in Ireland, Some of them you can even Stay In! You will see ruins randomly scattered around the Irish countryside as you make your way around. Many of them are ruins or on private land so you may not be able to visit, but there are plenty that open their gate to prospective visitors:
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is one of the most fully furnished castles in Ireland. You can walk through several of the rooms inside and they appear to be left as they would have been by the MacNamara family who built the castle back in 1425. Outside the castle walls there is a folk park which recreated rural life as it was in the 19th century. Make sure to leave a few hours to visit the castle and all of the surrounding cottages.
Blarney Castle & Gardens
Blarney Castle is probably the most famous of all the Castles in Ireland. According to legend if you climb the ramparts to kiss the Blarney Stone it is said to bestow the gift of eloquence, otherwise known as ‘the Gift of the Gab’.
Dublin Castle was constructed in 1204 and was until 1922 the seat of the British Government administration in Ireland; it played a pivotal role in the 1916 Easter Rising. Today it houses The Chapel Royal, The Chester Beatty Library which displays artistic treasures from around the world and the State Apartments; the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, Presidential inaugurations and prestigious functions.
Probably one of the most charmingly located castles in Ireland; Kilkenny Castle sits aside the River Nore. The ‘Long Gallery’ has a stunning 19th century hammer beam and glass roof and the gardens are lovely for a picnic on a fine day.
Trim Castle is the largest and most-preserved Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Trim got its name from the Irish phrase ‘The Ford of the Elder Trees’, signifying that this was an important crossing point of the River Boyne. Braveheart fans may recognise the castle from scenes in the film.
Situated 10 miles South of Dublin city centre the town of Dalkey has a 10th Century church and two 14th Century Norman castles, one of which houses The Heritage Centre. Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company runs live theatre performances involving visitors so it’s a fantastic castle to visit for families.
Once the home of the powerful Butler family; this castle remains mostly complete, you can see its impressive keep, the tower and a lot of its original defensive structure with moat and portcullis still intact.
Situated in the midst of Glenveagh National Park on the edge of Lough Veagh is Glenveagh Castle, a late 19th century castellated mansion, built as a hunting lodge.Its construction in a isolated mountainous setting was inspired by the Victorian idea of a romantic highland retreat.
Besieged in by the Scots, Irish, English and French, this castle played an important military role as far as 1928 and to this day remains one of the best preserved castles in Ireland.
Another scenic gem sitting prettily by the edge of Lough Leane in Killarney. This Castle is a typical example of a stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages.It is enclosed by a fortified bawn, its curtain walls defended by circular bordering towers, two of which remain.
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If you are interested in Castles to Visit in Ireland there are plenty but there are also some great castles in Ireland to stay in. Many of them offering an authentic Castle experience.
Check out our Castles & Manors Tours for ready made packages that include many of these great castles and learn more about each property below:
Dromoland Castle is one of the finest castles in Ireland to stay in, a 5-star luxury hotel located near Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare. It was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, who are one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the eleventh century.
Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that has been extended over the centuries and turned into a 5-star luxury hotel near the village of Cong, on the shore of Lough Corrib. The castles history stretches back as far as 1228!
Adare Manor is a manor house located in the village of Adare, County Limerick. The Castle was the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Although the present house was built in the early 19th-century, it retains some of the walls of the 17th-century structure. It is now the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, a luxury 5-Star resort hotel.
Ballynahinch Castle located in Recess in the wilds of Connemara has an interesting history – it was built at some point between the end of the 18th century and the first decade of the 19th and is now a luxury 4-Star hotel and one of the loveliest castles in Ireland to stay in.
Markree Castle, in Collooney in County Sligo is the family seat of the Cooper family, partially moated by the River Unshin. Today it is a small family-run 4-Star hotel.
Lough Eske Castle
Lough Eske Castle is a 5-Star Castle Hotel near Lough Eske in County Donegal, Not far from Donegal Town. In 1861 the new Lough Eske Castle was built on the location of the old Brooke manor, which was itself a rebuilding of an original Jacobean house.
Waterford Castle is located on an enchanting Island surrounded by the River Suir and this site was the ancestral home of the Fitzgerald Family for 800 years. The castle is now a delightful 4-Star hotel and a great option for a castle stay in Ireland.
Ballyseede is a 4-Star Castle Hotel set on 30 acres of pasture and gardens, just a few minutes’ drive from the town Tralee. This castle is a great base to explore Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula.
Kilronan Castle, known previously as Castle Tenison, sits on forty acres of parkland on the shore of Lough Meelagh in County Roscommon. It is now a fantastic 4-Star hotel.
The 4-Star Cabra Castle in Kingscourt in County Cavan was constructed in the first decade of the 19th-century. This building was formerly called Cormey Castle, after the local townland where it was built.
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We have Improved our Northwest Knitting Retreat: More Knitting, No Extra Cost!
Knitting at Glencolmcille Folk Village left & Glenveagh Castle right (Both featured on Northwest Retreat)
Our 2017 Knitting Tours are almost full but we still have some seats left on our Northwest and Southwest Retreats. We have made some changes to our Northwest Knitting Retreat to make it even better!
Our Northwest Knitting Retreat is based primarily at Harvey’s Point on the banks of Lough Eske in Donegal. The ideal location for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern living. This Hotel was voted ‘Best Hotel in Ireland’ by TripAdvisor users for three years in a row!
This tour also includes some fantastic optional touring including a trip to the gorgeous Glenveagh Castle and the stunning Slieve League Cliffs. You will also visit Carrickmacross Lace and the Ulster Folk Museum. On your retreat stay you will have the company of one of our most loved knitting instructors; Edel MacBride working on knitting projects that have been designed especially for this knitting retreat by Edel.
The retreat now includes a Spinning Demonstration on a traditional Donegal Spinning Wheel and an afternoon knitting at Glencolmcille Folk village with some of the ladies from the locality – here tour members will be going through a Fair Isle pattern with Rita who received it from a local woman who had it in her family for several generations.
Don’t miss out – Contact us today to book your place!
What you should know about the Skellig Islands before you plan your trip
About the Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands are two small extremely steep and rocky islands situated about 13km west of Bolus Head on the Ring of Kerry. The larger of the two islands Skellig Michael is open to the public, the smaller one is not but can be seen and photographed from Skellig Michael. A Christian Monastery was founded on Skellig Michael between the 6th and 8th century and remained occupied until the 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Recently the island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
How to Get to the Skellig Islands
You can only take a boat trip that docks on the island in the summer season which is between May 12th and October 2nd and the boat trips are always subject to weather conditions on the day. Outside of this time period it may be possible to do a perimeter boat tour which allows you to see the island close up but won’t stop to let people off.
The crossing takes about 40 minutes to an hour but can take longer depending on weather. There are contact details for the local boatmen that have a permit to run Skellig Island trips on the Office of Public Works website. The Skellig Experience Visitor centre also runs cruises around the island without landing on it.
Before you go to the Skellig Consider the Following:
It’s a seriously hard climb! There are more than 600 steps to the summit and they are extremely steep. There are no handrails and the rocks can be dangerous, especially if wet.
If you decide to go, then you really have to make the climb or you will be waiting at the bottom with no shelter for the boat to return.
Along the climb there are intermittent little plateaus where you can take a rest but they are not really suitable to wait for long periods of time.
There is no toilet on the island or on the boats. Go before you go!
What to bring? Good walking shoes or boots, a jacket, some food, water and sunscreen.
Please watch the following safety video produced by the office of public works:
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre
If you can’t make it to the Skellig Islands we recommend that you visit the Skellig Experience located just off the bridge from Portmagee to Valentia Island. Here you will find exhibitions on all aspects of the Skellig Islands as well as a 14 minute film presentation.
Contact the Irish Tourism Group –
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The Ring of Kerry, a 180km circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwest, is quite possibly Ireland’s most well-known driving route. Superb Mountains and coastal settings combined with vibrant towns and villages will make this tour one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation.
All of our Self Drive tours include a detailed suggested itinerary which will help you decide what to see or what to leave out. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route.
The 10 Stops to Make on your self-drive or Escorted Ring of Kerry Tour are;
Killorglin is the first town you will meet when you begin your Ring of Kerry Adventure! Home to the famous ‘Puck Fair’, Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest market fair. The town has some nice restaurants and shops and pretty riverside views.
Glenbeigh & Rosbeigh Beach
The mountainous backdrop here is glorious, and the half circle of hills from Seefin to Drung Hill, nicknamed the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe” is one of Kerry’s finest mountain walks. Near to Glenbeigh Village you will find Rosbeigh Beach with its lovely sand dunes and shale walks.
This is the principal town on the Ring of Kerry and birthplace of the famous Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’ Connell. Pay a visit to ‘The Barracks’, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the life and times of Cahersiveen.
You can reach Valentia by the car ferry from Cahersiveen from April to October. Outside of this time take the bridge across to the island from the pretty harbour village of Portmagee. There are a few places to visit on the island including the village of Knighstown with its beautiful period buildings, Valentia Island Lighthouse and Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs; Valentia’s highest point and a superb spot to enjoy 360 degree views of the island and beyond!
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre & The Skellig Islands
Skellig Michael also known as the Great Skellig is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. At the summit of the 230m high rock there is a 6th century Christian monastery and stone beehive huts which the monks who inhabited the island lived in. Boat trips to the islands can be taken from Portmagee pier. Trips to Skellig are not for the feint hearted however as there are 670 stone steps to climb before you reach the top! You can learn more about the Skelligs at the Skellig Island Visitor Experience which is located on Valentia Island near the bridge across to Portmagee.
Ballinskelligs or “Baile na Sceilge” is one of the few remaining Irish speaking areas in this region of Kerry. Southwest of the village you will find Bolus Head, which looks over St. Finan’s Bay and the Skelligs. The ruins of Cill Rialiag, an early Christian monastic settlement are located nearby. Ballinskellig Beach known locally as Ladies Beach is a stunning place to relax or take a long beach walk!
Waterville is a lovely little village overlooking stunning Ballinskelligs Bay and nestled on the beautiful Lake Currane. The town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who used to holiday here. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane House
Caherdaniel is small but striking and perhaps set in one of the most scenic locations on the Ring of Kerry, on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’ Connell, a 19th century politician who achieved Catholic emancipation for the Irish people. The house is now a public museum.
Kenmare town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. One of the most striking features of the town is its colourfully painted houses and shops. There are lots of nice restaurants, pubs and craft shops here also.
Moll’s Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. Here you will find unrivalled views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Nearby you will find Avoca Handweavers which sells Irish giftware and local food produce.
To discover these locations and more on your own Ring of Kerry tour, contact us today:
Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Ireland, also known as ‘Mary of the Gael’. Her feast day, Saint Brigid’s Day, is the 1st of February, the start of the Spring season. Traditionally Saint Brigid crosses like this one are made from rushes on her feast day and hung in the house for the rest of the year to ward off evil and danger from fire.
Saint Brigid’s Day is believed to have come from the pagan festival ‘Imbolc’ which literally beans ‘in the belly’ and celebrates spring and the arrival of longer days. In pagan mythology, Brigid was the goddess of fertility.
In some parts of Ireland St Brigid’s Day is celebrated with the ‘’Brideog’’, a handmade doll traditionally fashioned out of straw and dressed in white. The Brigeog is taken from house to house and usually at each house the visitors play traditional Irish music and dance.
Saint Brigid is associated with County Kildare and is sometimes referred to as ‘Brigid of Kildare’. According to legend Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, served by a group of young women who tended an eternal flame. In the 6th century, a monastery was erected on the same site. The original monastery no longer exists but a new Cathedral was built on the site during the 13th century. This Cathedral still stands and the sisters of St. Brigid (nuns) reside there.
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Our Knitting Tours are hugely popular but past customers have often mentioned that they would like to return to Ireland to relax and to knit, so we have come up some new tours to fill this demand – Luxury Knitting Retreats!
Each Knitting Retreat is 6 Nights Long ; the retreats are centered around four nights in a luxury hotel with a day either side in Dublin, also staying in a nice four star hotel.
There are also two options for our 6 Night Luxury Knitting Retreats; Our Southwest Knitting Retreat includes the beautiful Parknasilla Resort hotel in Country Kerry and our Northwest Knitting Retreat is centered around the spectacular Harvey’s Point Hotel in Donegal. Both of these retreats feature some fantastic optional local touring and throughout your retreat stay you will have the company of our much loved knitting instructors, Carol Feller for the Southwest Tour and Edel MacBride for the Northwest Option.
Please review our Website for travel dates, do get in touch with us sooner rather than later as our tours do book up very far in advance and we wouldn’t want you to miss out!
The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation –
Christmas in Ireland really is a joyous occasion, a time when family members come to celebrate together, a time for tearful airport reunions, boozie parties, festive food, family gatherings and a time for making lasting memories. We’ve put together a selection of our favourite Irish Christmas Traditions purely for your festive enjoyment!
It’s a relatively new tradition but for the past number of years, Ireland has had some great Christmas markets in the lead up to the Christmas period. Galway Continental Christmas Market is probably the longest running market and here you will find more than fifty traders from Ireland and further afield in Europe. The market is outdoors in the centre of Galway City, complete with Christmassy carousels, mulled wine and festive entertainment! It usually runs from the last week of November until the third week of December. In Northern Ireland, the Belfast Continental Christmas Market is also proving to be a very popular with numbers and support growing tremendously every year. This market runs from about the 15th of November until the 21st of December.
Two of Ireland’s biggest Christmas Festivals are Waterford Winterval & the Dublin Docklands Festival. Popular attractions in Waterford include a festive horse drawn carriage, a vintage Ferris wheel, a Christmas train ride through the city and the Exploration Dome which showcases 360 degree movies on snow creation, astronomy and more! The festival usually runs from the 21st of November to the 23rd of December. With Christmas Choirs, Brass Bands, Christmas Market Stalls and a Family Christmas Treasure hunt, the Dublin Docklands Christmas Festival has been running successfully for a number of years. It runs from December 12th to 23rd and many of its attractions are free.
The Annual Christmas Swim!
In coastal towns across the country a freezing cold Atlantic Ocean swim is becoming an annual custom. This is usually done to collect money for local charities or clubs and it is certainly an experience given that the temperature in Ireland around December can drop below freezing point
Hot Port/Hot Whiskey & Enough Food to Feed a Small Army!
If there is one thing an Irish mammy knows how to do, it’s keep her family well fed at Christmas time! In many households around Ireland Hot Port & Hot Irish Whiskey is the Christmas Drink of choice. Of course we have the big Turkey dinner on Christmas day and at home in Cork where I hail from we have Spiced Beef on Christmas Eve.
The Wren Boys
Hunting the Wren (pronounced ‘Ran’ in some places) is one of my personal favourite Irish Christmas Traditions. People have been doing this for hundreds of years in many places throughout Ireland. To hunt the wren, local musicians and dancers dress up and paint their faces, and travel from door to door singing, dancing and playing Irish music. ‘Wren Boys’ go around on Saint Stephen’s Day, the 26th December and money will be collected, usually for local clubs or charities. The original Wren Boys would have hunted and killed a wren in advance to take on parade with them but that’s not done anymore. Local legend tells us that the reason the wren is hunted is because of its involvement in the betrayal of St. Stephen. Another version of this tradition says it’s to celebrate the Wren as the King of all birds. Legend says the Wren is the king because once all the birds in Ireland had a race to see who could fly the highest. The eagle was winning but the clever wren jumped up on his shoulder and flew the final length beating all the other birds, including the eagle!
The Annual Roses Vs Quality Street Debate
In an Irish household at Christmas you will find either one or the other of these types of sweets. A point of constant debate is which one is better. Personally I go for the quality street every time!
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 –