Ireland has a rich history, not to mention the culture. If you hear ‘Ireland’, you will immediately think of the colour green, 4-leaf clover, Leprechaun and Celtic music. These things are synonymous with Ireland. The country has been noted as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A traveller’s bucket list will never be complete without listing Ireland.
A few months ago, we listed ten countries that South Africans can visit without having to obtain a Visa before travelling and luckily (luck of the Irish?), Ireland is one the list.
You will most definitely lose yourself in Ireland’s most inspiring countryside and vibrant cities. Herewith a list of the places that is a must visit when travelling to Ireland.
The Rock of Cashel
Formally known as St. Patrick’s Rock, the Rock of Cashel is located in the heart of Tipperary. It is said that Aenghus, the King of Munster, was converted to Christianity in the 5th century AD by Saint Patrick. The Rock of Cashel is one of the most spectacular and most visited tourist attractions in Ireland. Although there is not much proof, it is believed that this was the seat of the High Kings of Munster, long before the Norman invasion. The Rock of Cashel is the perfect place to view one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and to experience medieval architecture at its best.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
First erected by salmon fishermen in 1755 the bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. Spanning 20 metres in length and 30 metres above the rocks below, the bridge can take a maximum 8 pedestrians at a time. The bridge is maintained by the National Trust and serves as a popular tourist attraction.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher is located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare. The cliffs stand 214 meters high and stretch for 8 km along the Atlantic coast. On clear days, you are able to see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Twelve Pins, Maum Turk mountains, Loop Head, Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Island. Near the highest point stands O’Brien’s Towers, which has served as a viewing point for visitors for hundreds of years.
The Ashford Castle is a medieval castle located on the shores of Lough Corrib. The castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke. In the early 20th century the castle has become a Hotel. Numerous well-known guests such as King George V, John Lennon, former President Ronald Regan, Earl of Wessex, John Wayne, Brad Pitt and Prince Rainier III of Monaco has had the luxury of being guests at the Ashford Castle.
A View of Ireland’s Coast
The coastline of Ireland is a magnificent view on its own. Don’t expect weather conditions near the coasts as you would find in Durban. The Irish loves their beaches and on days when the weather is good, you will find them either swimming, walk along the beach or participate in some water sports.
The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is unique as it contains about 40 000 interlocking basalt columns. The columns were created by an ancient volcanic eruption. In 1986 the Giant’s Causeway was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the UK, the Giant’s Causeway columns forms steps from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea.
The Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands are two rocky islands that is located on the Iveragh Peninsula in Country Kerry. The larger island is called ‘Skellig Michael’, while the smaller island is named ‘Little Skellig’. The old Christian monastery on Skellig Michael has been featured in the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The final scene of the movie was shot on Skellig Michael and the Christian monastery can be seen, representing an ancient Jedi temple.
Dunluce Castle Ruins
The history of Dunluce is a long and turbulent one. First build in 1500 by the MacQuillan family, the castle was seized by the famous Sorely Boy MacDonnell in the 1550’s. Dunluce still belong to the MacDonnell-family to this day. The castle was the seat of the earls of Antrim during the 17th century. In 1608 the city of Dunluce was established near the castle. The story of Dunluce Castle is known for the tales of a banshee and about the castle’s kitchen that broke off from the castle on a stormy night in 1639 and fell into the sea.
The Dingle Peninsula is located on Ireland’s south-west coast and stretches about 48km into the Atlantic Ocean. Mountains, that ranges from Slieve Mish to Mount Brandon, makes up the spine of the Dingle Peninsula. The peninsula’s coastline is mainly made up out of steep sea-cliffs. Smaller sandy beaches and two larger beaches, Inch in the south and Maharees in the north, forms part of the peninsula’s coastline.
Dingle Peninsula is rich with activities and events for locals and tourists alike. The peninsula offers some safe swimming spots, walking routes, rich Irish musical tradition, fishing and angling, some of the best surfing spots in Ireland and a thriving Irish language community.
As the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is well-known for its wonderful nightlife. It is said that Dublin is the envy of many cities around the world due to its high pub-to-person ratio. The legal drinking age of Ireland is 18, the same as in South Africa.
Some clubs don’t provide entry for individuals that is too casually dressed. So if you’re planning a trip to Dublin and want to check out the nightlife, make sure you pack some more formal clothes for the more upmarket clubs and bars.
Wicklow’s origin can be traced back to the middle of the 9th century when the Vikings established a base here. The natural harbour by the river and the fertile lands was the selling-point for Wicklow’s origin. Wicklow is derived from the word “Vikinglow”, which means ‘Viking meadow’ or ‘Viking’s lake’.
Doonagore Castle was built in the 16th century. The name of the castle may mean ‘the fort of the rounded hills’ or ‘fort of the goats’. As a navigation point for boats that approaches Doolin pier, the castle is currently privately owned and inaccessible for public.
In 1588 about 170 survivors from a Spanish Armada ship that was wrecked below the castle was caught, hanged and then buried in a barrow near Doolin. The castle was restored in early 19th century but again deteriorated by the middle of that century. Now owned by an Irish-American, John C. Gorman, the castle was restored in the 1970’s by Percy Leclerc, an architect.
Also known as County Sligo’s “Table Mountain”, the Benbulben Mountain is a large rock formation and a County Geological Site. The mountain form part of the Dartry Mountains. Benbulben Mountain is also the setting of several Irish legends. The mountain overlooks Mullaghmore where Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRS in 1979. The mountain features a great and unique variety of flora.
Kylemore Abbey was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle by Benedictine nuns who fled Belgium during WWI. Today, it still serves as a Benedictine monastery. The estate has been opened to the public for tours and ‘nature’ walks since the 1970’s. The abbey’s garden and Cathedral are cared for by the Benedictine community with donations and local artisans, which makes the Kylemore Abbey a self-sustaining estate.
This is just a few of the wonderful attractions that Ireland has to offer. A Visa is not required for South Africans that wish to travel to Ireland. Just book a flight to Ireland on Flywise South Africa, hop on a plane and experience this wonderful country.
Have you been to Ireland? What about Ireland did you enjoy the most? Tell us by leaving a comment below.