Places to Visit

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Inismore

Inishmore

The largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore is famous not just for its rugged beauty but for its rich store of megalithic remains, in particular its four ancient forts.

Unfortunately its popularity as a tourist destination has had some negative effects, and it is no longer the sleepy slow moving place it once was. Is it becoming a tourist trap?

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dublin-castle

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was the centre of British rule in Ireland for centuries and scene of many contentious events over the years. It now houses state offices, but guided tours are available.

Recent excavations have exposed parts of the original 13th century castle, built at the ‘black pool’ that gave Dublin its name.

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Stone Circles

These ancient arrangements of stones, found all over Ireland, date back thousands of years and are believed to have had religious or ceremonial significance.

Many are located in out of the way and very beautiful locations and there are often other megalithic remains in the same area.

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Achill Island

Achill Island

Although no longer strictly an Island since the construction of a road to the mainland, Achill retains the sense of being a place apart.

There are beautiful secluded beaches, good places to stay and eat and many historic places to visit, including a deserted and ruined ‘famine village’.

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Thoor Ballylee

Thoor Ballylee

This small tower in a secluded location was once home to the poet William Butler Yeats, who restored it as a home for his family.

Following his death it fell into disrepair (as he predicted) but has now been returned to the way it was when the Yeats family lived there in the early part of the 20th century.

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Cogh Heritage Centre

Cobh Heritage Centre

This fascinating centre tells the often tragic story of Irish emigration in a most vivid way and also commemorates the departure of the Titanic from Cove on its final voyage.

Not a traditional museum, it has reconstructions of what life was like in an emigrant ship and is located in the train stations which was the their last stop in Ireland.

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Galway Cathedral at Dusk

Galway Cathedral

This modern cathedral, completed in 1965, is to say the least eclectic in design, mixing Romanesque, Gothic and Moorish influences in a way that, somehow, works.

Inside there is some good church art and in particular lovely stained glass windows.

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Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo

Perched high on a hill overlooking Belfast, this is a small zoo but a well run one, which is actively participating in breeding programmes for several endangered species.

There is a very active events calender, with varied activities suited to all ages, including the popular if pricy “Keeper for a Day” programme.

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Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

One of the earliest and most important Norman castles in Ireland sits high on a hill overlooking the river Nore at the heart of the city that grew up around it.

There are impressive grounds and gardens surrounding it and many of the other buildings in the area were in one way or another linked to life in the castle over the centuries.

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Irish National Stud

The National Stud and Japanese Gardens

If Kildare is the home of the horse in Ireland, this is it’s headquarters. With stallions, mares and foals to see and a museum celebrating the history of the horse in Ireland, its a must for any horse lover.

But a visit to the Irish National stud is not just about horses, there is also two beautiful gardens to see, the Japanese Garden and one which commemorates the patron saint of gardeners.

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Rag Trees

The custom of hanging rags from the branches of trees is an ancient one in Ireland, its origin lost in the mists of time.

The trees are usually hawthorns situated close to holy wells, and the custom remains strongest among Ireland’s travelling people.

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Stone Walls

The ubiquitous stone walls or fences seen in Ireland are the object of much curiosity from visitors, particularly those built without mortar in the west and south.

They are however a practical and useful way to divide land, especially when money is scarce and land is poor. They are also historically interesting and geographically diverse, in fact a lot of Ireland’s history is in those stones.

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