Ireland is beloved worldwide as an enchanting land where legend and reality mingle. With the richest store of mythological traditions in northern Europe, Ireland adds further interest to the landscape through the sacred associations of so many of its physical features – few counties do not shelter a pile of stones called “Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Bed”, where the star-crossed lovers are said to have slept together on their flight from the great warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Haunted, gothic, stately, or imposing, Irish castles radiate the romantic feel of this beautiful country. Cahir, Kilkenny and Dunguaire Castles all evoke magical visions of fair maidens, brave kings and frightful dungeons. Blarney Castle in County Cork (shown here) is one of the most visited castles in Ireland. Famous for the Blarney Stone-legend states that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll receive the gift of eternal eloquence-visitors literally bend over backwards to plant a smooch on this fabled rock set into the castle’s wall. Amorous acrobatics aside, this 15th century castle offers battlement views, vibrant gardens and mysterious underground caves.
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The Emerald Isle is a fascinating country with roots of Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Norman cultures deeply embedded and intertwined throughout its incredible history. With beautiful landscapes, charming locals and a furious passion for music and partying, the international love affair with Ireland is easy to understand.
In an island so small, some may think there is little to see or do. However, those who do venture here will discover there are plenty of hidden gems. Whether you’re a nature lover or an adrenaline junkie, a history buff or an Irish music fan, there’s something here for everyone.
If you have visited here you will more than likely understand some of the below, and if you haven’t visited then these are the exact reasons why you should! These are ten reasons why we think everyone should visit Ireland in their lives at least once:
THE IRISH PEOPLE
Honestly, the people in Ireland are beyond friendly. We have no hidden agenda, we don’t want to tell you our life stories and we don’t want anything in return. Be sure if you are in a predicament in Ireland there will be someone there willing to give you a helping hand. In 2017, Travel and Leisure named three cities in Ireland in their top 20 friendliest places in the world!
A PINT OR TWO OF GUINNESS
We’ve love Guinness. It’s an thick full drink of beer – a big pint serving of black stout – but you won’t regret trying it at least once and note this point — Dublin Guiness is not the same as the Guiness you have had in the States! If you visit Dublin you can even visit the Guinness Storehouse where you can find out how the beer is made, immerse yourself in their years of marketing and enjoy a pint with the best view in Dublin.
THE WORLDS LONGEST COASTAL DRIVE
From the wind-whipped tip of Malin Head to the safe haven of Kinsale Harbour, wrap yourself in the wilderness of the west coast of Ireland on the world’s longest defined coastal touring route. The Wild Atlantic Way is a sensational journey of soaring cliffs, buzzing towns, hidden beaches and epic bays. So whether you drive it from end-to-end, or dip into it as the mood strikes, it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
ONE OF THE OLDEST LANGUAGES IN THE WORLD
Although many people don’t speak Gaelic and only a handful of places in Ireland speak only this language it is still one of the oldest in the world. Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge nah Eireann) is a Celtic language spoken by 138,000 people as a first language, and by another 1,000,000 people as a second language in Ireland with 276,000 first-language speakers worldwide (Ethnologue).The language is sometimes referred to as Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, or Erse, but in Ireland it is simply called Irish. Irish was the only language spoken in Ireland until the 17th century, but the dominance of English and the effects of 19th-century potato famines and emigration led to a sharp decline in the population. Today, Irish is spoken as a first language by a small minority of the population of Ireland. The main concentrations of native Irish speakers are scattered along the west coast of Ireland. An Irish-speaking area is called Gaeltacht.
When the Republic of Ireland was established in 1922, Irish was adopted as an official language, along with English. Since then it has been a compulsory subject in government-funded schools. A relatively recent development is the spread of gaelscoileanna, i.e., schools in which Irish is the medium of instruction. Irish is also used in radio broadcasting (Raidió na Gaeltachta), television (Teilifis na Gaeilge), in newspapers, magazines, literature, theater, and the arts. In spite of all these efforts, the future of the Irish language remains uncertain. Although the number of speakers of Irish is rising in urban areas due to Irish-medium instruction, young people in Gaeltacht tend to use the language less than their elders, preferring to communicate in English.
THE GIANTS CAUSEWAY
The Giant’s Causeway has long been a top attraction on the tourist trail of Ireland. Nestled on the Antrim Coast, the one and only UNESCO Heritage site in Northern Ireland continues to lure visitors from around the globe who come to marvel at the incredible puzzle-like formation of interlocking rocks. Many people subscribe to the scientific theory that the Giant’s Causeway is the result of millions of years of volcanic activity. Others, with an imaginative spirit, prefer the legend of the Irish giant, Finn McCool, who allegedly built it so he could reach his Scottish rival Benandonner.
While the striking Causeway Coastal Route was already a site to behold, the region has seen a boom in tourism in recent years thanks to more fantasy. The TV series behemoth Game of Thrones is filmed around these parts, so now many fans make the journey from far and wide to get perfect Instagram images in iconic locations from the show. The Dark Hedges area along the Bregagh Road is one of the most admired sites. When you see its haunting atmospheric beauty in person, you’ll understand why.
The popular Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge is a great place to visit in Ireland to capture the beauty of the Irish coastline. Along the Causeway Coast you can visit historic sites such as Dunluce Castle and enjoy wonderful scenery along Ballintoy and Murlough Bay. Indeed there are many highlights in an area that Lonely Planet has named the best region in the world to travel in 2018. Check out this kick-ass guide to the Causeway Coast to plan your trip!
For anyone who doesn’t understand this term it basically means ‘fun’ – but fun just doesn’t encompass how much enjoyment us Irish have in everything we do. During the day we have ‘the craic’ in the office, at night we have ‘the craic’ – we basically made up a whole new word to describe how much we enjoy everything and it’s great!
THE AMAZING COASTAL VIEWS
We have been to beaches all over the world and we don’t know if we enjoyed any of them as much as a beach in Ireland on a hot day. Now, getting weather over 20 degrees happens only a few times a year (if even!) but when we do it’s majestic. The best part is you only need that weather if you want to enjoy a swim, but our clear blue skies from Winter to Summer allow you to take in the coastal views no matter the temperature.
ANCIENT RUINS & CASTLES
Apparently the first people arrived to Ireland over 9,000 years ago. This means the country is incredible old and there are buildings and ruins sprinkled around the country to prove it. I don’t know many other countries you can visit where you can stay in a castle as majestic as the ones that adorn our lands.
THE AMAZING ISLANDS OFF OF IRELAND
There are so many islands off our amazing island that are beautiful beyond belief. The Aran Islands for example are three small islands off the coast of Galway that boast their own amazing communities, coastal views and eco systems. Skellig Michael is another island just off Kerry most famously known for it’s appearance in Star Wars.
You can’t stroll through Temple Bar without hearing a tin whistle being blown or a bodhran being beaten. Irish Traditional Music is unlike a lot of music out there but it really has it’s own beauty. The beat is somewhat infectious, and while I know plenty people whose fancy it doesn’t tickle – it certainly ticks mine!