Ireland Things to Do Tips by chrissyalex
Ireland Things to Do: 1,167 reviews and 1,795 photos
I was told and read before going to Ireland that if you have only a week,pick to visit just one of the three peninsulas in south west as they are similiar. I definately planned on visiting Dingle,but since I love scenic places, I really wanted to visit Iveragh(the "Ring of Kerry") too. I was glad I did. Although I did prefer the Dingle as it was more rugged, The Ring of Kerry was gorgeous too .I really thought the scenery was different as well. The drive around the ring is much longer than Dingle. 133 miles compared to 30 miles. Be careful, as some of the roads are narrow with no shoulder.
Lady's View at Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is a beautiful park with three lakes,waterfalls,mountains and woodlands.
Besides the natural beauty here,you can also visit the Muckross House ,an elegant and beautifully furnished Victorian mansion surrounded by gardens. A twenty minute walk up the road from the Muckross House will take you to the ruins of Muckross Abbey. The abbey's central feature is a cloister around a courtyard which contains a giant Yew tree that is said to be as old as the abbey itself.
Ross Castle,a 15th century castle on the edge of lower lake is 2 miles outside of Killarney. I saw many deer in the woods near this castle.
Cobh (pronounced "Cove") means "haven" in Irish and at one time was named Queenstown. This harbour town lies on Great Island 15 miles east of Cork city and is one of the world's largest natural harbours. Before aviation,Cobh was Ireland's chief port of exit and entry.
There is a great amount of history to this town. It was the last port of call for the Titanic before it sunk in 1912 and also The Lusitania was torpedoed by German ships in 1915 near here. Two and half million Irish departed from Cobh to the USA in the mid 1800's, many in "coffin ships"
If you visit this town, the "Queenstown Story" a museum located in Cultural Center ,does a great job presenting the history of Cobh and it is a must see.Extremely interesting.
You can't miss seeing St Coleman's Cathedral when in Cobh because this magnificent Gothic Revival church towers over the town.
The Connemara is a beautiful region North-West of Galway city where you will find bogs,valleys,mountains and lakes. The capital of this region is Clifden. When you arrive at this town, take the circular 11 km Sky road for some spectactular ocean views!
!7 km from Clifden is Kylemore Abbey and lake. This abbey was originally built as a summer home for a wealthy English business man who fell in love with the region while on his honeymoon. This building was converted into an abbey during World War I by Belgian nuns. Today it is an exclusive boarding school. This beautiful building is in a very picturesque setting with the lake in front and a beautiful mountain in the background.
Connemara National Park is gorgeous and its area encompasses some of the "Twelves Bens" (or "Twelve Pins") a beautiful group of mountains.
Bunratty Folk Park
If you are flying out of Shannon Airport late in the afternoon, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a handy place to visit on your last day in Ireland as it is only about 10 minutes from the airport.
Bunratty Castle is definately a big tourist sight ,but it is worth seeing because it has been restored to excellent condition and it is beautifully furnished. In the evening, medieval banquets are held here also.
Bunratty Folk Park is a reconstructed traditional Irish village with cottages, a blacksmith shop,post office,pub,mill church and many farm animals. During the summer, people in traditional dress demonstrate local craft here.
Besides the caslte and folk park is the pub "Durty Nelly's" This pub has been around since the 1600's. Many tourists visit here because of its close proximity to the castle, but it is really nice. Here you can hear Irish music and eat some good " pub grub". The pub contains two more formal restaurants also.
Across the street from the castle are several nice souvenir shops open 7 days a week and it is a great place to do some last minute shopping before heading home. I don't remember the names of all the shops with the exception of Blarney Woolen Mills. This store has a large selection of the typical Irish souvenirs such as sweaters,linen and crystal.
Directions: not far from Shannon Airport, easy to find, the way is well marked and you will easily see this large castle from the road
Monk's Fishing Hut
County Mayo is another one of Ireland's beautiful counties. Be sure not to miss the town of Cong. Although small ,there are a few interesting things to see in a concentrated area. Visit the ruins of Cong Abbey which was built in 1120. After visting the ruins, take a short stroll through the wooded area behind it and you will arrive at a river . Here you will see the Monk's Fishing Hut which I thought was pretty cool. This was used to protect the monks while fishing in rainy and cold weather.They would ring a bell in the hut everytime they caught a fish to let the abbey's cook know there would be fresh fish to prepare for dinner.
After visiting the abbey, take a 10 minute walk up the road to view the grounds of beautiful Ashford Castle Hotel. This is the sister castle of Dromoland Castle. I heard several times while in Ireland that this is where Pierce Brosnan was married a couple of years ago.
Something else of interest in this town is The Quiet Man Heritage Cottage which is a replica of the cottage used in the John Wayne movie "The Quiet Man"
In the Northern part of County Mayo is the town of Westport. A few miles south of Westport is the mountain of Croagh Patrick. This mountain is famous because this is where St Patrick did a 40 day pilgrimage and where legend says he "drove the snakes out of Ireland" According to a sign in front of the mountain, it takes about 3 and half hours to climb. I would have loved to have done this if I had had the time and in better weather. Every year on the last Sunday in June (called "Reek Sunday"), thousands of pilgrims climb the mountain in bare feet as an act of penance.
Across the street from Croagh Patrick is the National Famine Memorial which is a metal sculpture of a 3 masted ship covered with skeletons commemorating the Potato Famine.
Galway's pedestrian shopping area
Galway is a lively university town and a great place for your base if you would like to visit such places as the Connemara, the Burren or Aran Islands.
The city itself is a great place to explore as there are many pubs,restaurants, and a large,attractive medieval shopping area where you will also see street musicians and puppeteers.
The Cathedral of St. Nicholas which was opened in 1965 is a nice church to visit too.
Something I would have loved to have seen,but could not because it was not in season was the Siamsa Folk Theatre.which features Irish step-dancing(like Riverdance) along with Irish Music and singing. Its season is from June to August..
The unique landscape of the Burren
If you are flying into Shannon airport, County Clare is a nice stop for your first day. The five mile long Cliffs of Moher are here(which is Ireland's most visited sight) and they are only about and 1 hr to 1 hr 15 minutes from the airport.
The barren but unique landscape of the Burren region is nearby . This is a 50 sq mile limestone plateau and the name literally means "rocky place" The flora here is very unique and varied in that there are both mediterranean and arctic flowers growing here in the spring and summer side by side. The most famous site in the Burren region is Poulnabroune Dolmen, a 4000 yr old tomb which looks like a giant stone table.
By the way,driving through the Burren region on your first day is a good but stressful orientation to driving in Ireland,because the roads are very winding ,narrow and many without shoulders.
Also in this county is the pleasant town of Ennis and the village of Doolin which is very famous for its great Irish folk music
The Dingle Peninsula was my favorite place In Ireland! Picture perfect! The route along the ring is 30 miles and in good weather, people many times will make this trip via bike. The roads are extremely narrow and curving with no shoulders in some areas. There was very little traffic when I visited here in December, but I would imagine during peak season, it may be a little more difficult to drive or bike here.
Here you will see scenic landscapes of hilles,beaches,cliffs, and thousands of sheep. The most beautiful view I saw was from Slea Head.
Besides the natural beauty of the peninsula, you can also visit the beehive huts and Dunberg Fort. It costs 2 Euros per person to visit these places.
Gallarus Oratory is one of the Dingle's most visited sights. This completely stone church is 1,300 years old and amazingly , it is still waterproof after all these years of rain and wind. It also costs 2 euros to visit here and included in the price of admission is a viewing of a 15 minute video about the peninsula at the visitor's center.
Some free sites along the way are a "fairy ring", the ruins of Kilmalkeder Church, and the ruins of a monastery.
At the town of Dingle, we visited Oceanworld, an interesting but small aquarium. It is also a center for conservation and research. Here you will learn about the different species of fish and ocean life in the area. There is a "touch tank",where you can touch the fish and also an aquarium tunnel where you can walk through and see the fish swimming above your head. Admission to Oceanworld is 7 Euros.
We ended our day in Tralee where we visited some pubs and spent the night. Nice town. Tralee is famous for its "Rose of Tralee Festival" and pageant held every August.
I will have many more pictures and more detailed info when I make my "Dingle"page.
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