Ireland : Irish Experience
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Set almost midway along Ireland’s east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, Ireland’s capital, Dublin, is an intriguing melting pot of international cultures, eclectic architecture, and welcoming locals. With its ever-growing immigrant population, Dublin is now home to a wealth of ethnic restaurants serving up an array of exotic culinary delights. Despite this multiculturalism, Dublin has managed to preserve much of its traditional Irish culture, particularly evident in its fine literary history and fascinating folklore. While the city is over a thousand years old, it has a decidedly 21st-century feel: glitzy shopping centres and state-of-the-art skyscrapers exist alongside the city’s myriad ancient cathedrals, Georgian squares, castles, and historical monuments. Make sure to pop into one of Dublin's legendary pubs, order a Guinness, and strike up a conversation with one of the friendly locals.
Set on the spectacular north shore of Galway Bay, where the River Corrib flows from Lough Corrib to the sea, Galway is a large, sprawling university city, commonly referred to as the 'most Irish' of Ireland's cities. Despite Galway’s considerable size, the historical city centre is tiny, with a bohemian atmosphere emanating from its colourful facades, buzzing markets and laid-back inhabitants. Dubbed ‘the city of festivals’, Galway is known as the liveliest place in the republic with its internationally acclaimed theatre scene, vibrant nightlife bolstered by a spirited student population, and plenty of quirky hidden cafes and restaurants with some truly excellent food. Highlights include: the constant impromptu performances of traditional music, the pretty Salthill beach with waters suitable for swimming, and beautifully wild surrounding nature.
Connemara, in the northwest of County Galway, West Ireland stretches from Galway Bay in the south to Killary Harbour in the north. Famously described by Oscar Wilde as ‘a savage beauty’ this region is regarded as one of the most spectacularly wild, rugged and unspoiled pieces of wilderness in the world. Boasting secluded beaches, rocky hills, windswept bogs and innumerable shimmering black lakes, the area is perfect for horse riding, cycling and hiking through the towering Twelve Bens mountains; as well as fishing, golfing and various watersports. Connemara is strewn with some fascinating historic attractions such as the Alcock and Brown Memorial, Kylemore Abbey and the Walled Victorian Gardens, Connemara History & Heritage Centre in Clifden, Glengowla Mines in Oughterard, and the 40,000-acre Connemara National Park.
The picturesque, historic port town in of Kinsale in County Cork, Ireland, is a popular holiday resort. Famous for its large, safe harbour; its impressive yachting marina; and its lovely beaches, Kinsale is an the ideal destination for a variety of outdoor sport and leisure activities. The charming compact town centre has an undeniable air of antiquity with its narrow winding streets lined with prominent historical buildings many of which host some lovely little galleries, gift shops, lively bars and superb cafes. Visitors come from far and wide, to enjoy Kinsale’s charming Georgian and Victorian architecture as well as some of the best restaurants Ireland has to offer.
The Irish city of Cork is situated in the province of Munster in south-west Ireland. The city’s compact centre rests on an island in the River Lee, surrounded by a maze of intricate waterways and reclaimed marshland islands linked by limestone bridges, grand Georgian avenues, and quaint 17th-century alleyways lined with gorgeous Georgian facades. An eclectic range of arts and culture is on offer, as well as a slew of atmospheric tapas bars and exotic restaurants. Popular attractions include the Crawford Art Gallery, with its fine 18th-20th-century collection, and the hi-tech cosmological displays of Blackrock Castle Observatory. However, the main drawcard is the chance to pull up a chair in one of Cork’s cosy traditional pubs, order a locally brewed Murphy’s or a Beamish stout, and engage in some lively banter with the city’s friendly locals.
Stretching along Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland, County Dublin is home to the vibrant city of Dublin, the country’s colourful capital. Aside from the lively capital, the county features rolling green hills scattered with a collection of character-filled villages, an array of beautiful beaches and a rich history. Visitors can enjoy an iconic black beer - the traditional Guinness; learn about Viking history at the Dublinia, a heritage centre; and discover the seaside towns of Malahide and Howth, which both offer scenic coastal paths to explore. Other highlights include the Ardgillan Castle and Demesne in the seaside town of Balbriggan, the charming seaside town of Skerries, and the bustling town of Swords.
Situated in the province of Connacht on Ireland’s western seaboard, County Galway features lush rolling hills, hidden historical treasures and a rich cultural heritage. Its scenic landscape is a rocky wilderness with the remote valleys, heathered hills, glassy lakes and the towering mountains of the remarkably beautiful Connemara region. Roads meander along the coast dotted with charming villages, pristine white-sand beaches, and the offshore Aran islands boasting a traditional Irish nostalgia. Visitors can discover prehistoric megalithic tombs at Connemara National Park, explore the lively county capital of Galway and enjoy local Irish music sessions while grabbing a pint at a wide selection of local pubs.
Extending over much of Ireland’s southwest, County Cork boasts a wonderful array of historical buildings, scenic landscapes and a rich history. The capital city is a thriving metropolis boasting a fantastic, ever-evolving culinary scene, and an array of excellent clubs and art galleries. The city also boasts fascinating historical architecture such as the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a neo-Gothic structure with tall spires and stained-glass windows. Heritage can also be explored further afield at Blarney Castle, home to the Blarney ‘kissing’ Stone; and by discovering a collection of quaint Irish villages dotting the lush rolling hills of the county. The area is rich in natural scenery such as Mizen Head, Sheep's Head and Beara Peninsulas, where visitors can hike wild hills. Don’t miss the opportunity to take in the picturesque views at the yachting harbour of Kinsale.