Giant’s Causeway – County Antrim: This geological phenomenon is Northern Ireland’s iconic World Heritage Site, home to a wealth of history and legend
Carrickfergus Castle – County Antrim: One of the best preserved medieval structures in the whole of Ireland
Florence Court – County Fermanagh: Fine 18th-century house and estate set against the stunning backdrop of the Cuilcagh Mountains
Enniskillen Castle – County Fermanagh: Beside the River Erne, this impressive castle was built almost 600 years ago by the Gaelic Maguires
Queen’s University – Belfast: One of the iconic buildings of Belfast’s skyline, and the finest Victorian architectural set-piece in the province
Belfast City Hall: A magnificent Edwardian ‘wedding cake’ of a building built to reflect Belfast’s city status with exhibitions and grounds open to the public
Kylemore Abbey and Gardens – County Galway: One of Ireland’s most romantic buildings, nestled in the Connemara Mountains on the shores of a lough
Lissadell House – County Sligo: A striking neo-classical country house with beautiful restored gardens
Strokestown Park – County Roscommon: An 18th century palladian mansion housing the Irish National Famine Museum
Elphin Windmill – County Roscommon: A fully restored, working 18th century windmill with a thatched revolving roof. The oldest of its kind in the country
Rosserrilly Abbey – County Galway: This 14th century Franciscan abbey is still largely intact with its nave, chancel, brew house and mill
Christ Church Cathedral – Dublin: A beautiful medieval cathedral and one of Dublin’s oldest and most famous landmarks
Trinity College – Dublin: Built in 1592, the oldest university in Ireland with its famous library
Malahide Castle – County Dublin: Set in 240 acres of parkland. The castle grounds also include Talbot Botanical Gardens and a model railway
Tullynally Castle – County Westmeath: One of the largest and romantic castles in Ireland, occupying two acres of grounds
Kilkenny Castle – County Kilkenny: A magnificent, nine hundred year old castle, with its extensive gardens, overlooks the River Nore
Trim Castle – County Meath: The largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. The massive keep and tower have been restored for guided tours
Blarney Castle and Stone – County Cork: Come and kiss the legendary Blarney Stone at the castle which is a world landmark and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures
St Finbars Cathedral – County Cork: A gothic, 19th-century cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Cork
Charles Fort – County Cork: A classic 17th century star-shaped fort and one of the largest military installations in Ireland
Lismore Castle and Gardens – County Waterford: One of the most spectacular castles in Ireland, it is situated in a panoramic position overlooking the Blackwater Valley, with views to the Knockmealdown Mountains beyond
King John’s Castle – County Limerick: Offering panoramic views of Limerick city and the surrounding countryside
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park – County Limerick: The most complete and authentic medieval castle in Ireland with a folk park which recreates 19th century rural life
Mount Stewart – County Down: Nominated a World Heritage Site, these gardens are a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry
Rowallane Garden – County Down: A famous woodland garden, with rock and walled gardens, and wildflower meadows
Seaforde Gardens – County Down: Includes a hornbeam maze at the center of an eighteenth century walled garden, butterfly house and nursery
Benvarden Garden – County Antrim: An historic estate built in the 1630s with beautiful rose beds, well stocked kitchen garden and Victorian woodland pond
Glenarm Castle Gardens – County Antrim: One of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens
The Argory – County Armagh: This handsome Irish gentry house’s gardens have sweeping vistas, scenic walks and fascinating courtyard displays
Palm House Botanic Gardens – Belfast City: Part of Belfast’s Victorian heritage, with an extensive rose garden, long herbaceous borders and rare oak trees
Brigits Garden – County Galway: The 11-acre site brings Celtic heritage to life through nature, art and unique gardens themed on Celtic festivals
Birr Castle Desmesne – County Offaly: Fine natural landscapes and formal gardens. World’s tallest box hedges. Victorian fernery
Oakfield Park – County Donegal: Traditional walled garden and kitchen garden. Flower meadows, lakes and streams. Part of Donegal Garden Trail
Beaulieu House, Gardens and Car Museum – County Louth: Four acres of beautiful walled gardens in the grounds of an historic house
Russborough – County Wicklow: One if the finest houses in Ireland open to the public
Mount Usher Gardens – County Wicklow: Laid out along the banks of the River Vartry, it has been voted the Best Garden to Visit in the Republic of Ireland by Gardener’s World
Powerscourt House & Gardens – County Wicklow: Considered one of the world’s great gardens and located at the foot of the Wicklow mountains, the grounds also include Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121m
Killruddery – County Wicklow: The oldest gardens in Ireland still surviving in their original 17th century unique style
Belvedere House and Gardens – County Westmeath: A stunning Georgian Villa situated in 160 acres of lakeside parkland, punctuated by numerous follies
National Botanic Gardens – Dublin: More than 15,000 plant species from around the world. Restored, award-winning glasshouses including the Great Palm House
Kilfane Glen – County Kilkenny: A romantic era garden dating from the 1790s with winding paths, clifftops, a cascading stream, a hermits grotto and a waterfall
Kilmokea Gardens – County Wexford: Covering seven acres with over 130 different species, these beautiful gardens are a delight to all
Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) – Cork: Known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty
Bantry House and Garden – County Cork: With amazing views over Bantry Bay, these Italian-inspired gardens have seven terraces, a parterre and fountain
Muckross House and Gardens – County Kerry: Situated in Killarney National Park, these gardens are in the grounds of a magnificent Victorian mansion
Kells Gardens – County Kerry: 40 acres of gardens are laid out along a fast flowing stream with a waterfall
Tramore House Gardens – County Waterford: Formal and informal gardens and grotto around a cascading, hillside stream surrounding a Victorian townhouse
Belfast Zoological Gardens: This 55 acre site is home to more than 1,200 animals and 140 different species
WhoWhatWhereWhenWhy (W5) – Belfast: An amazing interactive discovery center with nearly 200 hands-on exhibits exploring science, technology, art and design
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – County Down: Uncover a way of life from 100 years ago as you wander through the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum and the fascinating Transport Museum
The Ark Open Farm – County Down: Home to 200 different animals, many of whom are rare and endangered species of domestic animals plus play areas
Castle Ward & Strangford Lough Wildlife Centre – County Down: Situated in a stunning location overlooking Strangford Lough, this unique 18th century house has a wildlife centre, farmyard and adventure play area
Exploris Aquarium & Seal Santuary – County Down: Learn about and view the marine species that are indigenous to the local coastline
Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge – County Antrim: Take the famous rope bridge across the chasm to Carrick-a-Rede island with fantastic views of unrivalled coastal scenery
Armagh Planetarium: Ireland’s leading centre for astronomy education
Marble Arch Caves – County Fermanagh: One of Europe’s finest showcaves with a natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers
Riverwatch Aquarium – County Londonderry: A free attraction with marine and freshwater fish and shellfish
Clare Heritage & Genealogy Centre – County Clare: Houses genealogical material enabling people with Clare roots to trace their forebears
Westport House, Gardens & Pirate Adventure Park – County Mayo: Home to a pirate queen with stunning scenery and beautifully manicured gardens
Lough Key Forest & Activity Park – County Roscommon: A beautiful landscape and historic buildings also include a tree canopy walk, 19th century servant tunnels and adventure play kingdom
National Sealife Centre, Bray – County Wicklow: One of the country’s largest all-weather marine and freshwater aquaria
Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park – County Kildare: With indoor and outdoor exhibits, play areas, train and woodland gardens – a great mix of fun, leisure and education
Dublinia & The Viking World – Dublin: Experience Viking and Medieval Dublin brought vividly to life
Dublin Zoo: This modern zoo is set in 30 acres and has conservation and education at its heart
Aillwee Cave – County Clare: Guided tours take you through large caverns, alongside thunderous waterfalls and over bridged chasms
Clare Equestrian Centre – County Clare: Set in 70 Acres of unspoiled countryside, for trekking and cross county horse riding
Blackrock Castle Observatory – County Cork: A 16th century castle housing “Cosmos at the Castle”
Fota Wildlife Park – County Cork: 70 acres of free roaming animals and birds on the scenic Fota Island
Cork City Gaol: A restored 19th century prison with cells, wax works and sound effects bringing the past to life
Crag Cave – County Kerry: A magical wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites in vast caverns with sound and lighting effects
Seafari Seal Watching Cruises – County Kerry: A ten mile cruise where you will see seals and other wildlife amongst spectacular scenery
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS AREA
A benign land where the pace is gentle. A land of soft focus and wild spirit. A land where hedges of roses and fuchsias lead to mountains and lakes made famous by song.
We’ll take to Ireland arm in arm with what one of its great writers, James Plunkett, described as “the Strumpet City”. Dublin is certainly looking her best. Cosmopolitan with an Irish accent as rich as the brew at St James’s Gate. A visit to the Guinness Storehouse offers unparalleled views across the city.
From the savagery of Viking invasion was born Christ Church Cathedral. Founded by Sitric, King of the Dublin Norsemen, the cathedral and its treasures reflect 1,000 years of history, architecture and worship.
The horrors of the 1916 Easter Rising are remembered at the General Post Office building, in O’Connell Street. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was made on its steps.
On past the Georgian beauty of Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square to the tranquillity of Trinity College, founded by Elizabeth I. Its vast library includes the eighth century illuminated manuscript, The Book of Kells.
Poets, dramatists, storytellers and novelists are celebrated in cultural tours of Dublin…an excuse to visit The Brazen Head, the city’s oldest pub and James Joyce’s favourite.
The glorious countryside of the southeast – County Wicklow is known as the Garden of Ireland with its sylvan valleys – reflects its fine musical, artistic and architectural heritage.
Through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough where, in the 6th century, St Kevin founded a monastic settlement that became a renowned seat of learning. The 108 ft spire-like Round Tower is perfectly preserved.
New Ross, on the River Barrow, has been a port since the Middle Ages. It’s home to a reminder of the Great Famine and the years of emigration that followed…the Dunbrody, a full-scale replica of the original emigrant ship.
And it was from Cobh that two and a half million people emigrated. It is one of world’s finest natural harbours and was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. Now up the River Lee to the city of Cork, dominated by the extraordinary Gothic St Finbarr’s Cathedral.
Let’s ‘talk the talk’ and look in on Blarney Castle. It’s said that those who kiss the stone are conferred with the gift of eloquence.
The Ring of Kerry – or the Iveragh Peninsula – with its sea-carved promontories and glacier-scoured landscape offers a stunning insight to Ireland’s past.
The Gap of Dunloe, with breathtaking views of lakes and valleys, is a narrow, seven-mile mountain pass said to have been cut by the mighty Gaelic hero, Finn MacCool, with one blow of his sword.
The Shannon region sees off the Atlantic’s advances with the staggering 650 ft high Cliffs of Moher.
Inland to The Burren. This eerie, lunar-like 100 square mile limestone plateau is scattered with cairns, ring forts and tombs and there are caves to explore at Ballyvaughan and Castleisland.
Limerick, with the 13th century King John’s Castle and the even older St Mary’s Cathedral at its heart, was founded by the Vikings around 900 AD. It sits at the top of the estuary of Ireland’s longest river…the Shannon. For the record, the river rises in north west County Cavan and flows 240 miles to Limerick and a further 70 miles to the ocean.
People will dispute its claim to fame, but Adare – “the prettiest village in Ireland” – is just south west of Limerick.
The Aran Islands are part of a limestone outcrop that forms a barrier across the approaches to Galway Bay. Inishmore – the Great Island – has a prehistoric fort perched 300 feet above the sea. There are also ferries to Inishbofin and Clare islands and a road bridge to Achil.
Back ashore, the Connemara National Park encompasses mountains, bogs, heathland, grassland and deep glens. And it’s home to red deer and the native Connemara ponies.
One of the great Marian shrines of the world, Our Lady’s Shrine, at Knock, attracts nearly two million visitors a year.
Ireland has 9,000 miles of waterways and many hundreds of lakes…a fisherman’s dream and a boating bonanza. And Kildare sums up what inland Ireland has to offer…racing, sporting, hunting and great golf, set in rolling grassland and lush meadows…all emerald green.
To the north west…a rugged coast softened by tranquil lakelands. Ben Bulben raises its flat limestone head above the town of Drumcliffe, the burial place of the great poet, W.B. Yeats. He asked to be buried “under bare Ben Bulben’s head”.
Surrounded by the Derryveagh mountains, the Glenveagh National Park is 25 thousand acres of lakes and glens with golden eagles and red deer.
The traditional Irish pub is alive and well in this neck of the woods and it’s a stronghold of Irish music.
Derry is one of Europe’s finest walled cities and is steeped in history. The 390-year-old, mile-long walls encircle its heart, providing great views across the city and River Foyle.
Along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route to – you guessed it – the Giant’s Causeway. It’s a World Heritage Site with its amazing 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Then the nine glens of Antrim show off during the run into Belfast.
The nearly 200 feet high Wheel of Belfast sums up the new city with amazing views across the four quarters of what was once Northern Ireland’s industrial heart. Queen’s Quarter – after Queen’s University – has the botanic gardens and the Naughton art gallery. The Titanic Quarter is home to the W5 science centre. It’s dominated by Sampson and Goliath, the two giant cranes at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, which was the birthplace of RMS Titanic. The Cathedral Quarter is centred on the Cathedral Church of St Anne, whose marble floor offers two paths – virtue and sin. The former leads to the church’s sanctuary; the latter to a dead end.
An appropriate place to finish our tour of this amazing land of saints and scholars.