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Amazing attraction awaits you in Ireland

It’s more than just a stereotype: Ireland’s highlights are indeed the stuff of knight’s tales. That’s at least true for its myriad of fascinating castles, dramatic cliff shores, lush rolling pastures and rugged hills. Many of the country’s main attractions are of a sturdy kind of beauty. There’s the megalithic tombs of Brú na Bóinne, older than the Egyptian pyramids and the inspiration for some of the famous Celtic symbols of later times. Of much later date is the beautiful Blarney Castle in County Cork, known for its “Blarney Stone.” According to tradition, kissing the Blarney Stone will bless a person with “the gift of the gab”, or a remarkable eloquence. Achieving it requires lying back while a castle employee holds you and a photographer captures the moment. Equally interesting is theRock of Cashel, the remains of a majestic 12th century castle overlooking the green surrounding plains.

The island’s rough coast line is one of its main tourist brochure draws, and rightfully so. Despite the modern tourist industry that surrounds them, the stunning 230m high Cliffs of Moher remain a spectacular place and the most popular of the cliffs to visit. It’s surely among the most dramatic spots, but only one of many scenic parts of the Irish coast. Head to Achill Island to see the Croaghaun, the highest of them all, as well as they lovely Keem Bay and other beaches. Visit the beautiful Aran Islands, where local culture has survived the test of time and green pastures are dotted with castles and churches. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way to take in more of the scenic shores, stopping for breaks in charming coastal towns. More inland there are a number of national parks worth exploring, including the limestone karst landscapes of the rest of the Burren (of which the Cliffs or Moher are part). The vast peatlands of Ballycroy National Park offer another great place for hikes, as do the lakes and forests of Killarney National Park. The pleasant town of Killarney itself is home to Ross Castle but also serves as a popular starting point for the Ring of Kerry.

The Medieval Capital Kilkenny is easy to reach from Dublin and one of the country’s favourite tourist spots. Its beautiful buildings and of course imposing Norman Castle – not to mention the numerous festivals including the Arts Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival — make Kilkenny a most desirable location. If you have or can rent your own vehicle, explore the amazing area of Co. Donegal Expect to see plenty of low stone walls, thatched roof houses, rugged hills, cliffs and golden sand beaches in this traditional region. Best visited during Spring or Summer, there are plenty of hill walks and photo opportunities waiting to be discovered.

Limerick has the majestic King John’s Castle, but also Cork and Galway make for popular summer destinations full of lively nightlife and historic heritage. And then… there is of course Dublin. Quintessentially Irish and a fine place to sample the country’s famous beer culture, it’s also home to some excellent sights. Dublin Castle is a fine choice, and Trinity College has a wonderful library where you can see one of the oldest manuscripts in the world, the Book of Kells. While any sightseeing should be topped-off with a pint, serious beer lovers should probably consider doing so at the Guinness Storehouse.

Written by The Travel Valet

Photo courtesy of Fáilte Ireland

By Sandy Karwacki-farber, BA about Ireland

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