Ireland is a country with a less than rosy history, having endured Viking invasions, English conquests, suppressed rebellions, religious conflicts, and decimating famines. But in spite of the obstacles and setbacks of the past, the Irish today stand firm. Their country, culture, and customs remain strong and intact, and since joining the European Union their economic future has never shone brighter.
Tourism in Ireland is strong and not surprisingly so. The country’s landscape captures the hearts of many with its misty lakes, gloomy peat bogs, green countryside, lush wildflowers, idyllic pastures grazed by ponies, virile ocean shores, and rugged coastlines amidst tumbling mountains. Ireland’s natural landscape is further decorated by the remnants of past settlements – prehistoric tombs, high crosses, stone circles, hill forts, fine churches, round towers, medieval castles, and Viking city walls. With such fairytale imagery, it is not surprising that a mythical aura is commonly associated with Ireland – a land of fairies and leprechauns. The Irish are also known for their great poetry, literature, mythology, and folk traditions involving music and dance, not to mention their unruly pubs and bars and love affair for hurling and gaelic football.
Some areas of Ireland are really worth visiting, including the Ring of Kerry, which is the longest walking path or bike trail in Ireland. The trail takes you through various terrains and scenic passes. Along the trail, you’ll hit popular tourist spots like the Muckross House, Derrynane House, Ross Castle, Ladies View, Killarney National Park, and the Staigue stone fort. Another popular attraction is the Burren region, which is a limestone plateau surrounded by lush greenery. At the Burren, you’ll find springs, caverns, and caves like the famous Aliwee Caves.
Other prehistoric tombs in Ireland waiting to be marveled at include Newgrange, Creevykeel, and Kilclooney. The Newgrange is the most famous and a must-visit. It is a passage tomb that was built around 3000 BC with stone, quartz, and granite and is decorated with megalithic art. The tomb is celebrated for its impressive direct alignment with the sun, which shines into the chamber along the roofbox above the tomb’s entrance for 17 minutes as it rises during the winter solstice. Other places worth visiting include Count Kerry, which is south of the city of Limerick. It features a breathtaking scenery of mountains, sparkling lakes, and seascapes. The Arans is another notable attraction and features windswept limestone amidst prehistoric sites.
The top travel destinations in Ireland include Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Galway, Inis Meain, Cashel, Kenmare, Bantry, Glengarriff, and Athlone. The best time to visit Ireland is in July or August when the weather is reasonably warm and towns break out with various festivals.