Home to stunning landscapes, breathtaking water masses and picturesque villages, Ireland should definitely rank up there on your list of places to see. The rise in Ireland’s popularity as a tourist destination may be attributed to famous films and television series such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Star Wars using different places in the country as film locations. But with human evidence being found in Ireland as early as 10,500 BC, this country boasts of fascinating history, rich heritage, and vibrant culture. The best trips to Ireland should offer not just contemporary spots but historical sites that capture the very essence of the Irish narrative.
1. Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone
Located in County Cork, the Blarney Castle of today is the third building to be erected in its site. With the first one dating back to 110 AD, the current stone structure was built by the King of Munster, Dermot McCarthy in 1446. It houses the Blarney Stone which legend says bestows the gift of gab to anyone who kisses it—leaning backward, atop the castle tower, 37 feet high.
2. Hill of Tara and the Stone of Destiny
Yes, another stone! An ancient Irish myth identifies the Hill of Tara as the sacred place for the dwelling gods and a passage to the otherworld. A number of earthen structures believed to be built around 500 BC surround the area and at the summit stands the Stone of Destiny, where high kings have been crowned and whose screams can be heard all over Ireland when touched by the rightful king.
Dating back to 300 BC, this passage tomb was built by Neolithic farming communities as a burial ground for tribal leaders. Its entry door aligns with the sun during the winter solstice, allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate the tomb and light up its central chamber. At 5000 years old, Newgrange is centuries older than the great pyramids of Egypt and a thousand years older than Stonehenge.
4. Skellig Michael
Home to a few of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland references to this enchanting sandstone can be traced back to 1400 BC. Largely uninhabited due to its remoteness, the Augustinian monastery built here remains well preserved. Not to mention the abundance of bird life in the area. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, and to this day, the island receives an average of 11,000 visitors per year.
5. Down Cathedral
A significant place of Celtic worship long before St. Patrick brought Christianity into Ireland, the cathedral stands on top of a hill, on the site of a Benedictine monastery built in 1183 surrounded by trees and water. It boasts of one of the finest pipe organs in the British Isles and magnificent stained glass windows. Home to the graves of Ireland’s patron saints, this historic place gives rise to the famous couplet “In Down, three saints one grave do fill, Patrick, Brigid, and Columcille.”
And that’s just five of the many places you can go to. So book a trip now and experience not only the captivating beauty and history of Ireland but also the warmth and positivity of the Irish.