Every traveler has a story to tell: a favorite place that exceeds their expectations, a comfort food that they always look for, outfits that they wear for travels, and handy dandy gadgets they never forget to pack. On top of these, every traveler still has dream destinations to explore and collect magical moments from. One of them is the island located west of Great Britain—Ireland.
Famous for castles, leprechauns, and St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland holds a rich and colorful culture that enthralls many tourists. One of its most historical markers includes the Viking invasions, which led to the founding of major cities like Dublin, Limerick and Waterford. Today, the island is divided between two nations: Northern Ireland (of United Kingdom), and the Republic of Ireland.
One can say that Ireland is really more than meets the eye, offering more than fascinating sceneries, eccentric arts and crafts, contemporary music, and gastronomic delicacies. It is a perfect destination for any wandering soul who is looking for another adventure to share.
Beginning of a journey
A fairy tale begins with “once upon a time.” It tells of the protagonist’s name, situation in life, location and, most importantly, her dilemma. And like any other story, I’d like to begin mine in a conventional way. So…
Once upon a time in Ireland, there was a city called Dublin. Owing to its many landmarks and strategic position, it has emerged as the capital and the most populated area in the Republic of Ireland. Its name comes from the Irish words Dubh (or black) and linn (pool). Unknown to many, the city’s modern Irish name is Baile Átha Cliath, which means ‘town of the hurdled ford’.
In Dublin, one can find architectural masterpieces like Trinity College. Built in 1592, it is among the seven ancient universities of the British Isles, together with the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of St. Andrews, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, and University of Edinburgh. It provides a very collegiate atmosphere through the mix of old and modern structures. Some of them are Rubrics, Graduate Memorial Building, Douglas Hyde Gallery, and the Campanile or bell tower.
Trinity College also boasts of the Trinity College Library, esteemed for being the largest research center in Ireland. Among its most popularly read books are the Book of Kells (a 9th century illuminated manuscript written in Latin), the Books of Durrow, the Books of Howth as well as the remaining original copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Another famous attraction in Dublin is the Ha’Penny Bridge, constructed across the River Liffey in 1816. Its name takes after the British ha’penny coin, which was also the toll fee when the bridge first opened. Locals also call the landmark Wellington Bridge and Liffey Bridge.
As we continue with the adventure, the fascination builds up as we visit Belfast Castle and St. Colman’s Cathedral.
There are three Belfast Castles known to Northern Ireland. The first was built by the Normans in the late 12th century, while the second was built in 1611 by Sir Arthur Chichester. Both castles didn’t last long until the third Marquis of Donegall decided to try erecting another castle of the same name at what is now known as the Cavehill Country Park. It was designed by architect John Lanyon and was finished in 1870.
The castle is now home to conference halls and reception areas for weddings and important gatherings. Belfast Castle offers sumptuous meals in the Cellar Restaurant and the Castle Tavern. You can also explore the nearby attractions such as Cave Hill Playground, Napoleon’s Nose (believed to be the inspiration of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels), Castle Antiques (a store selling eccentric jewelry, furniture and souvenirs).
Travelers can also visit St. Colman’s Cathedral located in Cobh. Named after the patron saint of the Diocese of Cloyne, the Cathedral was built in 1867 by architects E.W. Pugin, George Ashlin and Thomas Coleman. Set in the Neo-gothic style of architecture, its most dominant feature is the 47-bell carillon played every Sunday afternoon and on special occasions like weddings and funerals.
We find the peak of the journey in Cobh and Cork.
Esteemed as Ireland’s third major city after Dubin and Belfast, Cork City boasts of different landmarks which entice travelers to spend more than a day and enjoy its sceneries. One among many is the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a protestant Cathedral famed for its looming spires, gargoyles, and French gothic architecture. What makes it more interesting is a legend that tells how the Resurrection Angel on the sanctuary roof will blow its horn when the end of the world is near.
You’ll find English Market another exciting stop at Cork, providing a great selection of Irish delicacies, fish fruits, meat, and vegetables. Cork City Gaol is another must-see destination. It’s a castle-like building once used as a prison in 19th century. Offering a glimpse of how prisoners live during the century’s penal system, the establishment showcases refurbished cells with wax figures of prisoners, as well as the guards watching over them.
After exploring Cork City, get a glimpse of the Irish seaside scenery and head to the coastal town of Cobh. Check out by Cobh Heritage Centre for a quick look at the history and legacy of the town. Owning the port where Titanic docked last, the destination also has a Titanic Exhibit housed in the Cobh Museum. Travelers can also ride cruises that tour visitors around surrounding islands.
To wrap up our journey, we head to the various cliffs of Ireland that offer action-packed activities for the daring travelers.
Seductive and enigmatic—these may be the words that best describe the Dingle Peninsula. Lying in County Kerry, Dingle Peninsula also goes by the name Corca Dhuibhne which means ‘seed or tribe of Duibhne’. Aside from museums and parks found in the area, one of its well-known sights are the Gallarus Castle. You can also drop by the Gallarus Oratory (a stone chapel that’s shaped like an upturned boat) and Eask Tower (which guides ships into the harbor).
Another cliff range worth seeing is the Slieve League, located in County Donegal. Rising over 600 meters, the area also goes by the name Slieve Leag or Slieve Liag. Mountaineers love exploring the area as its rugged terrains offers a lot more challenge for adventure-seeking individuals.
Going to County Clare, another cliff is seen bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The Cliffs of Moher offers panoramic views of the surrounding area as well as giving a more naturalistic perspective for photographers. The area’s most eminent structure is the O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien. The stone structure was constructed for enticing people to visit the area and use it as an observation tower in viewing the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Hags Head, and Aill Na Searrach.
Moher’s majestic cliffs were also film locations in several movies such as The Princess Bride in 1987, Blind Pass in 2012, Into the West in 1992, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2009.
Every good story needs to end and there’s no better way to end your journey in Ireland than by taking some time to talk to their locals. Spending an hour or two just to get to know them better can spice up your Ireland adventure.
Lastly, and this goes with every country you visit, always make sure to tell your story in any way possible. Be it through blog, Instagram, Facebook or over coffee with loved ones, make your story be heard. It’s meant to be told and shared.
So fly to Ireland now and make your own Irish story.