The Emerald Isle is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places you can visit in the world. There are good reasons behind why it’s an extremely popular tourist destination – from the heritage to the culture, to the attractions you can experience, and, of course, think of all the stunning scenery all around you!
If you’re planning your first trip to Ireland, you may be wondering how to best spend your time. While there’s more than enough to see in the country to keep you occupied for months, here are a few marvelous attractions that are a must-see.
The Blarney Stone
This is perhaps the best-known sightseeing option in the country and is located in Blarney Castle. It is a common tradition to kiss the stone; legend holds that doing so gives people the “gift of the gab,” or skill at flattery and eloquence. However, there’s much more to the castle than just the stone.
Blarney Castle was built in the 1200s and then renovated into its current state in the 1400s. There are numerous beautiful rock formations surrounding the area, and the castle boasts extensive gardens. Of note among these is the poison garden, which features plants such as the mandrake, wolfsbane, and ricin.
If you’re a lover of horror stories, this castle should be a priority on your list. Not only is Leap Castle among the most beautiful castles in the country, rumor has it that it is also haunted. Charlotte and Emily, two young girls, and a Red Lady holding a dagger are of the most known ghosts in the castle.
Some accounts also claim that another spirit haunts the castle – a malevolent element. The castle has been featured on numerous television shows and is also often given the moniker of the “world’s most haunted castle.”
The Cliffs of Moher
Located in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are perhaps Ireland’s best-known natural attraction. These sea cliffs reach a maximum height of 214 m and run about 14 km in length. O’Brien’s Tower – a stone tower at the midpoint of the cliffs – is open to the public, and from it, you can see the Aran Islands, the Twelve Pins mountain range, and more.
The cliffs were formed between 313 and 326 million years ago and are home to over 20 species of birds. During peak season, it is estimated that about 30,000 pairs of birds make their home on the cliffs. Additionally, this site is a great place to view the surrounding sea life, including minke whales, sunfish, dolphins, and basking sharks.
A former prison located in Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol is now a museum; an interesting visit for people fascinated by Ireland’s history with the British. The jail was where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were executed, with the only survivor being Eamon De Valera; He was also an American citizen and the British were looking to bring the Americans into the First World War. He was not executed, and he would go on to become president of an independent Ireland.
The prison dates back to 1796 and was initially the site of several public hangings, though these fell out of popularity by the 1820s. It is considered an essential part of the history of Irish independence and has housed numerous people considered heroes of the Irish struggle for independence.
The Rock of Cashel
Along with the Blarney Stone, the Rock of Cashel is perhaps the most popular attraction in the country. For hundreds of years before the Norman Invasion, this was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster. Additionally, it is home to one of the best collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture on the continent.
The buildings on the rock include a 15th-century castle, a 13th-century cathedral, Cormac’s Chapel (which dates to the 12th century), and a graveyard that is home to numerous high crosses. The site features a long and often tumultuous history – it was sacked by the English in the 17th century, and the roof of the main cathedral was removed in the 18th century. However, despite this, it retains an aura of mystery and intrigue – its many visitors include British royalty, and it was one of the stops on Queen Elizabeth II’s 2011 visit to Ireland.
These are, of course, only some of the attractions you can enjoy when visiting Ireland. There’s much more to see – the country is home to dozens of other castles and other touristic sites, all of which are gorgeous sites worthy of your precious vacation time. Additionally, Ireland is home to some gorgeous natural scenery and bustling markets, including the English Market in Cork, Grafton Street in Dublin, and Newgrange in County Meath.