There are so many places in Ireland to see and visit, while you are studying English in Ireland, it is hard to know where to start! Probably the top ten attractions in Ireland would be 10 of the most popular places in Ireland to start with…
1) Aran Islands
Here, on the very edge of Europe, are some islands rich in the language, culture and heritage of Ireland, unique in geology and archaeology with a long tradition of hospitality. Here is a place to sense the spirit of Gaelic Ireland, to touch the past, but with all the comforts and facilities of the present. These islands will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. Islands of great peace and tranquillity, but also of great fun – if you enjoy hanging off a cliff!
2) Blarney Castle, Co Cork
This is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles. It was one of the strongest fortresses in Munster. Its walls are eighteen feet thick in places. The famous Blarney Stone is embedded in the Battlements. There is a famous legend about the Blarney Stone. If you kiss it you will have the gift of eloquence (speech) forever. The last admission to the castle and grounds is 30 minutes before closing. Open from June to September and located in Cork.
3) Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch, Co Clare
These natural “walls” against the might of the Atlantic rise in places to over 215m and stretch for almost 8km. It is here that the visitor can most easily get a feel for the wildness of the terrain over which the Celts wandered. O’Brien’s Tower, constructed in the early 19th century as a viewing point for Victorian tourists, is located on the highest point. From here you can view the Clare coastline, the Aran Islands and mountains as far apart as Kerry and Connemara. You can visit here every day all year round.
4) Dublin Zoo, Dublin City
This is located just 3km from the capital’s city centre, in the grounds of the Phoenix Park. Established in 1830, it is the world’s third oldest. Set in 30 acres of colourful gardens, it has a large collection of wild animals and hundreds of tropical birds from around the world. There are many rare and endangered species with excellent information panels. 18 March-31 December.
5) Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
This area is a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Altogether there are 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal, but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 40 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 90 feet thick in places. The legend is that our famous giant Celtic warrior, Finn McCool, used the pillars as “stepping stones” to visit his love in Scotland. Visit all year round.
6) Guinness Hopstore, Dublin City
This is a handsome four storey building. It has a wonderful exhibition and Advertising Gallery showing how this product has been advertised from the past to the present day. There is also an audio visual show on the history of this product in Ireland, a model Cooperage and Transport Museum, a Souvenir Shop, a Coffee Shop and a lively bar where you can sample some of Dublin’s finest brew at your leisure. It is open seven days a week and should be a part of any visitor’s itinerary around the city 11 April-30 September, 1 October-24 December, 27 December-31 March
7) Muckross House
Discover the magnificence of this fine Victorian mansion, as Queen Victoria did in 1861, and more than a century after her visit much remains the same. It is situated in the spectacular scenery of Killarney National Park. The gardens benefit from the natural setting of the mountains and lakes of Killarney. Entry to gardens free. 1 July-31 August, 1 September-23 December.
8.) Newgrange Neolithic Tomb, Slane, Co Meath
5000 years old and therefore older than the pyramids! This burial place has architectural links to the prehistoric maritime peoples of Portugal, Northern Spain, Brittany and Denmark. There is also an opportunity to learn about the famous Battle of the Boyne where William of Orange defeated James II of England in 1690.
This is one of Ireland’s great gardens and waterfalls. It is situated 12 miles south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The garden was begun by Richard Wingfield in the 1740s and stretches out over 45 acres and has over 200 variations of trees and shrubs. The 18th Century House, designed by the German born architect Richard Castle, now includes an innovative shopping experience, terrace cafe and house exhibition showing the history of the house. Visit from 1 March-31 October, 1 November-31 December.
10) Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Dublin City
This is the oldest university in Ireland. It was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I of England. It is in the heart of Ireland’s capital city. Its forty acre site still has most of its cobbled squares and other world seclusion. The gardens and parks have a unique collection of buildings dating from the 17th to the 20th century. The Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated manuscript of the four gospels, is on view in the Old Library along with the Book of Armagh and the Book of Durrow. The Book of Kells exhibition is an excellent introduction to the manuscript explaining its history, the symbols and how it was made. 14 April-22 December.