Complete Guide – Top Tourist Places in Ireland

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A Brief History

On December 6, 1922, The Irish Free State was a state established as a Dominion of the British Commonwealth of Nations.  Ireland can be described as a perpetual tourist destination because of its evergreen countryside, friendly natives, and vibrant pubs. To sweeten up the deal, you will love Guinness drawn straight from the source and a variety of farm-fresh cuisines. The country’s unspoiled sceneries and deep culture offer exciting experiences that will last in your memory for a lifetime. Despite its small size, you will be amazed by a host of attractions Ireland has to offer. Primordial relics and ancient abbeys dot its landscape. You will discover prehistoric churches, aplenty stately castles, and breathtaking natural wonders on this island.  

Such a country with so much to offer can leave you confused as to where to visit first; however, do not worry as this post got you covered.  The following is a comprehensive guide with a list of 11 places you need to visit and discover while in the Republic of Ireland.

Digging Deeper

1. Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle, Ireland.  Photograph by Tolivero~commonswiki.

Ireland is a place with its fair share of amazing castles; however, the beautiful Kilkenny Castle claims its position at the top of them all. Conscientiously furnished, open for public exploration, and meticulously restored, this is a place you can’t afford to miss. It was first built by the Normans in 1195 and has undergone various upgrades by different occupants over the years. For only 50 pounds, it was sold to Kilkenny natives in 1967 and has become a popular tourist attraction for visitors within Ireland and beyond.

2. Donegal

Donegal is one of Ireland’s distinctive counties, and you must be wondering why it made it to our list of top tourist attractions. Well, this is because of its uniqueness – isolated from the rest of Ireland – and for good reasons, Donegal is described as “Irelands wild child.” This mysterious place boasts of a 300-mile coastline, incredible castles, and well-crafted cottages. To learn more about the thatched cottages, visit  donegalthatchcottages.com and see for yourself. On a historical viewpoint, Donegal has so much to offer than any other part of Ireland, from Neolithic tombs to old abbeys.

3. Powerscourt Estate

The facade at Powerscourt.  Photograph by Amanda Susan Munroe.

Lying on a 47-acre beautiful terrain, the indescribable grand Powerscourt Estate is located 20km from Dublin. Its gardens, created a century and a half ago seamlessly blend with the surrounding landscape elegantly. These gardens host 200 different varieties of tries. Additionally, you will come across an Italian garden, a massive kitchen garden, and a rose garden. You’ll discover a myriad of trails leading through the expansive landscape – one that directs visitors to the country’s biggest waterfall, the Powerscourt Falls that is 121metter high.

4. Kinsale Port

This archaic fishing port features plenty of hidden medieval gems. You will find it exciting to walk along the coastal winding roads laced with different art galleries, excellent local restaurants, shops, and friendly pubs. This place is quite interesting that it hosts its own Gourmet Festival annually. While here, you will enjoy fishing, yachting, and walking on the incredible scenic landscape.  

5. The Guinness Storehouse 

Take a trip to the heart of Dublin to experience the phenomenal Guinness Storehouse. The brewery has been operational since 1969 after Arthur Guinness, its founder, signed a 9,000 years lease. Today, it has turned out to be a modern tourist attraction center. Here, you can be schooled on the process of making the black beer, its history, and sample some Guinness. 

6. The Kylemore Abbey 

Built 1867, the gigantic Kylemore estate was meant to be a romantic gift given by a wealthy doctor to his wife. After some time, the Benedictine Nuns purchased the castle after escaping Ypres in 1920. These nuns later on instituted a Catholic school for the local and multinational Catholic girls. The colossal castle located on the shores of Lake Kylemore has since become a tourist attraction. Visit this majestic building and take a look at the luxuriously decorated corridors, impressive gardens, and stroll down in the 1000-acre yard. 

7. The Dun Aengus Fort

You will be left baffled at this prehistoric stone fort clasping on the steep edge of a 100-meter high cliff. The Dun Aengus fort was built on the rugged coastline of Inis Mór and dates back as early as 1100BC. It is made up of limestone blocks erected in the colossal grounds. Its primary purpose was to act as the island’s shield from possible invaders. Go back in time and take a walk along these ancient walls to find out how it would just have been witnessing approaching invaders from across the Atlantic Ocean. 

8. Skellig Michael 

If you are a Star Wars science fiction aficionado, make a point of visiting Skellig Michael, but if not, visit it anyway because it’s jaw-droppingly wonderful. Experience the rocky island emerging from the Atlantic Ocean a stone-throw away from the Iveragh Peninsula. Here is precisely where the ascetic monks settled and worshiped from the 6th to the 8th century. You’ll be impressed by just how remarkable the island is, from its striking surroundings to the spectacular feats of the last surviving monks. Additionally, the existing monastic structures built by these monks will leave you astonished.   

9. The Dingle Bay 

The Dingle Bay marks the westernmost part of Ireland’s mainland. A broad expanse of nature surrounds this picturesque bay and its part of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way. While here, you will be mesmerized by the deep blue Atlantic Ocean views as well as the contorted stone huts built in the middle ages by the monks. You will also get in touch with the local Gaelic traditions and cultures.

10. The Glenveagh National Park

Twenty-five miles from the thatched cottages in the Derryveagh mountains lies the Glenveagh National Park. This park is the biggest in Ireland and was acquired by the republic from Henry Mc1lhenny in 1983. It features an impressive Scottish-style castle, a great restaurant, and some of the most exquisite gardens in the entire nation. Recently, the republic introduced the golden eagle that is just a fascinating beauty to behold.  

11. The Glendalough Monastic Site 

This monastic city that dates back to the 6th century lies in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. You will enjoy exploring the ancient stones, crumbling churches, mystic relics, and the well-maintained Round Tower. You will also be enticed by the ancient lakes and woodlands around the site. Do not forget to wrap up your trip in the enigmatic landscapes where the celebrated monks once wandered. 

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, the complete list of premier sites to visit while touring Ireland. All sites provided in this guide will guarantee an exciting trip. There is no place in the entire world you’ll feel the beauty of nature like Ireland. We hope this definitive guide has impacted inspiration upon you to schedule your next Irish trip.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Brown, Eric.  Irish History: A Concise Overview of the History of Ireland From Start to End.  Independently published, 2019.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by EHRENBERG Kommunikation of Tourism Ireland, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on  by the administrator or reviewer File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske), who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.

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Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland