Dublin Bay with its great sweep of coast from the rocky brow of Howth
in the north to the headland of Dalkey in the south is a fitting introduction
to one of Europe's finest capitals. The city is spread over the broad
valley of the River Liffey, with the Wicklow Hills sheltering it on
the south. In addition to its splendid public buildings such as Trinity
College where the famous Books of Kells is housed, Dublin is particularly
rich in domestic 18th century architecture. There is a wealth of interest
for the visitor to Dublin. The booming quarters of Smithfield and Temple
Bar showcase that Dublin is fresh and modern as well as historic. Galleries
and museums all provide a sense of Irish natural and cultural history.
Dublin is blessed with a variety of theatres bringing Irish and international
plays to the city.
County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland is home to Powerscourt, one of Ireland’s finest estates, with its Palladian-style main house and its waterfall.
Waterford city is the home of Waterford Crystal, which is the largest crystal factory in the world. Factory tours are available on a daily basis. The town of Dungarvan in County Waterford has breathtaking views, its glacial mountains overlooking the sea. The town of Kilkenny is home to a medieval castle and a monastery.
Cork is the largest county in Ireland with an area of 2,880 sq. miles.
The long coastline has magnificent scenery, especially in the southwest,
where rocky peninsulas jut into the Atlantic Ocean. Blarney Castle is
a 30-minute drive north of Cork city and Cobh, where 2.5m emigrants
sailed from, and the last port for the Titanic, is 30 minutes south
of Cork city.
The Ring of Kerry, starting and ending in Killarney, is Ireland’s most popular scenic drive, 110 miles long – a panorama of mountains, lakes, valleys, seacoast and bogland interspersed with colourful villages.
Much of Limerick city, on the River Shannon, is low and undulating, particularly in the east where it forms part of the rich plain known as the Golden Vale. The county is quiet and has a rural charm, offering good sport to the angler and golfer and some of the finest hunting country in Ireland. The Hunt museum is located in the centre of the city, with the Shannon Folk Park and Bunratty Castle, located east of the City in the county of Clare, near Shannon Airport.
Lough Corrib divides Galway into two contrasting regions. To the west is Connemara, a region of superb scenic beauty dominated by the rocky mountain range, the Twelve Bens. The Quiet Man was filmed in Cong in Connemara. A great many of the residents are Irish speakers, and much of the ancient Gaelic culture has been preserved. East of Lough Corrib is a fertile limestone plain which extends to the Galway/Roscommon border and the River Shannon. It is an important tourist centre and the gateway to the Aran Islands. Galway city’s highlights include the Spanish Arch, Eyre Square, Galway Crystal Heritage Centre, Galway Cathedral, and the Church of Saint Nicholas where Columbus is reputed to have prayed before sailing to America.
County Sligo has a variety of mountain, lake and coastal scenery. Near Sligo Town, in Lough Gill, one can see the lake-isle of Innisfree, immortalized in W.B. Yeat's poem. There is a 65-mile signposted tour of Yeat's country featuring many of the places referred to in his poetry. Donegal, the most northerly county in the Republic of Ireland, extends along much of the northwest coast. The region is famous for its scenery, with great areas of mountains, deep glens, many lakes and many opportunities for the fisherman. Situated on the banks of Lough Veagh, is the magnificent Glenveagh National Park. With 25,000 acres, it is open all year and the Castle and gardens are open at specific times during the year.
The town of Derry is one of the finest walled cities in Europe. Highlights of the town include; the Guildhall, the Tower Museum, St.Columb’s Cathedral and the Craft Village. County Antrim is home to Ireland’s top tourist attraction and World heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway. The dramatic ruins of Dunluce Castle on the Antrim coast are breathtaking. The town of Bushmills offers tours of the Old Bushmills distillery. In County Tyrone, the Ulster American Folk Park, reconstructed homes, churches and shops depict the way of life of the 19th century emigrants who departed thereafter for the United States for new beginnings.
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, was sometimes referred to as the “Big Smoke” because of the former preponderance of heavy industry in and around it. Today, the city is elegant. Highlights of the city include; Belfast City Hall, Linen Hall Library, Lagan lookout and the Ulster museum. Other places of interest include Queen’s University Visitors Centre, Stormont Parliament Buildings, Odyssey, Ireland’s biggest single visitor attraction and W5, whowhatwhenwherewhy, Ireland’s first interactive discovery centre located in the heart of Belfast. Belfast’s classic pubs include White’s Tavern, claimed to be the city’s oldest, the ultra-ornate Crown Liquor Saloon, with its restored stained and painted glass, marble, mosaics, ceiling with scrolled plasterworks and comfy snugs with their original gas lamps.