Get your bearings
Floating on the fringes of north-western Europe, Ireland
is embraced by the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean and stroked by warm tradewinds. Its northernmost province, Ulster,
is defined by the daunting Donegal and Mourne Mountains, vast freshwater lakes, the walled city of Londonderry and the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. In the southeast of Ireland
is the province of Leinster
with Royal Meath’s fertile plains and bustling capital of the Republic Dublin. Munster
, in the south, is wild and untamed, renowned for rebel Cork and the Ring of Kerry trail. The Shannon River flows south through Connacht
in the west, home to The Burren limestone plateau, Galway City and the remote Aran Islands.
Celtic kings and Christianity
Visitors on holiday in Ireland taste ancient history at Newgrange
prehistoric passage tomb in the Boyne Valley, a World Heritage site. Irish myths are linked to the Hill of Tara ‘
ringforts’ nearby and the Navan Fort
ritual site in County Armagh. Discover Celtic Christianity at St Patrick’s Trian in Armagh City,
the saint’s burial place in Downpatrick
and former monastery Skellig Michael,
off the Kerry coast.
The medieval Rock of Cashel
in County Tipperary was once home to Munster’s kings and 12th-century Carrickfergus Castle
in Antrim was built by Norman conqueror John de Courcy.
City museums are rich in art but there’s a wealth of cultural attractions throughout Ireland. Experience 19th-century Irish life at Bunratty Folk Park
near Limerick, and the traditional houses rebuilt in North Down’s Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Guests at hotels on Ireland’s west coast from Donegal to Dingle get busy with the phrasebook in Gaeltacht
or Irish-speaking villages. Westport
is a favourite for traditional Irish music in pubs and, if you’re lucky, you might be invited to a ceilidh,
a lively celebration of
folk music and dancing.
Hiking, canoeing and golf
Miles of trails crisscross the Glens of Antrim
and Donegal’s Glenveagh National Park.
Keen walkers join the Wicklow Mountains
and nature lovers can explore the curious karst landscape of The Burren
in County Clare, home to many of Ireland’s floral species. Lough Erne
in Fermanagh is perfect for canoeing and sailing, and the Shannon for riverboat cruises. Complete your sports-filled holiday in Ireland on Newcastle’s championship Royal County Down
course or the K Club
in County Kildare.
Meat, potatoes and whisky
It’s hard to avoid a traditional Irish breakfast
, a filling plate of sausage, bacon, beans, eggs, potato, and black and white pudding. Tuck in to Irish stew
made from mutton, potatoes and carrot, hearty plates of bacon and cabbage
or sausage and champ
, or mashed potatoes with scallions and cream. Ireland also serves up fresh Dublin Bay prawns
and Galway oysters,
best accompanied by Guinness
stout or Bushmills Irish whiskey.
Look out for the new crop of chefs reworking traditional recipes to create modern Irish cuisine