From the tap of the Riverdance to a history seeped in mystique and rebellion. From the lake isles to the windswept coastal towns. From the rolling hill forts to the rugged mountains that curtain the island, Ireland shares with its visitors (those of body & of mind) its culture, traditions and enchanting people, with a genuine open heart.
Ireland – where to visit in 2016
Destination #1: Dublin
Dublin city pulsates as you stroll through the city streets. Shopping, or enjoying a bite to eat in one of the quaint side streets off Grafton Street, enjoying ‘the craic’ with a local Dubliner on one of the food stalls on Moore Street or ambling the banks of the Royal Canal (all the way to the River Shannon if your feet will take you!), Dublin offers so much to see.
Visit the world famous Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, Trinity College Dublin (housing the Book of Kells), or any of the spectacular coastal towns that mark the outer walls of this vibrant city; Bray, Greystones, Malahide, Dalkey.
The city has also earned its place in Irish History. This year sees the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising, (April 24th), and raising its voice once again, Dublin is particularly lively with places of historical significance.
Across the city, tours and interpretation museums bring the past to life, shedding light on the city present and giving meaning to the past. These landmarks link us to the stories of the generations who were here before us. Our guide of ‘1916 place to see’ includes; General Post Office (GPO), Jacobs Factory, Four Courts, St. Stephens Green, Howth Harbor, Jameson’s Distillery, Magazine Fort at the Phoenix Park and Glasnevin Cemetery, where many of the rebels now rest.
Destination #2: Aran Islands
Comprising of three small islands off the coast of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands, Inis Mór, Inis Meáin & Inis Óirr are a step back in time. The charm of the islands lies in the glimpse into the past life of Ireland, brought to life through time old traditions. Knitting, and the meaning of the stitching of the Aran sweater, the soft-spoken Gaelic language, the old and new lighthouses, lighting the way for the fishermen and visitors, coming home! The Aran Islands provide an arena for outdoor pursuits (weather permitting!), biking, hiking surfing and for the more adventurous cliff diving!
Destination #3: The Burren
Along the Wild Atlantic Way, The Burren of southwest Ireland, in County Clare, is a vast landscape of immense beauty. The Burren National park’s cracked glacial landscape of limestone, is home to a most diverse fauna & flora, making this unusual habitat a true geological treasure.
Adventure one of the many hiking or walking trails through this living museum, introduce yourself to the wildlife of Dromore Wood Nature Reserve, take in the breathtaking majesty of the Cliffs of Moher, or revel at the surf at Doolin. And when the day is done, try some of the areas award-winning food or join in famed traditional Irish folk music. ‘it is here in Ireland that the tradition has evolved most articulately, thrived most strongly and survived most courageously’ http://www.discoverdublin.ie/
Destination #4: Boyne Valley
The Boyne Valley is located in County Meath, just 45km northwest of Dublin. The Brú na Bóinne ‘bend of the Boyne’ Complex is home to some of the finest prehistoric passage tombs in the world The sites of Newgrange, Knowth & Dowth are collectively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The river Boyne’s valley is dotted with prehistoric relics, monastic sites, high crosses and many more passage tombs, the historical blood-stained fields of the battle of the Boyne give way to the now tranquil The Hill of Tara – the seat of the high kings of Ireland.
Celtic revival jewelry such as the Tara Brooch was based on pieces of early medieval craft found in the area and preserve a tangible connection between their owner and the land they once called home.
Taking us into the 21st century, the natural Amphitheatre at Slane Castle has been transformed into a world-renowned concert venue, hosting some of the biggest names in modern music history including David Bowie, U2, Bob Dylan and Queen.
Destination #5: Ring of Kerry
The Iveragh Peninsula, commonly known as the ‘Ring of Kerry’ is a circular route in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Spanning 179km the route takes in Irelands most breathtaking and unspoiled scenery.
The path meanders its way through tiny coastal towns that will welcome you to their many traditional Irish bed & breakfasts, pubs and restaurants. The coastline is speckled with some of the country’s finest beaches and there is a treasure of outdoor activities to entertain; golf, watersports, walking & hiking, riding, fishing & the ever-growing in popularity, cycling. The coast lies home to Skellig Michel, the second of Ireland’s world heritage sites, a place of spiritual & religious restitution (also of recent Star Wars fame).
The history of the area comes to life in the hills that flank the way. Iron Age forts and Ogham stones awakening an old life, through handcrafted stone and a language realized again in our traditional craft. (Ogham writing is Ireland’s Ancient script, often found inscribed on standing stones and in sacred places throughout Ireland’s rural landscape).
Ireland is as diverse a landscape as can be imagined and the land and people are as naturally bound to each other as the sky and sea.