Ireland for the Visitor
The island of Ireland offers the visitor a rich tapestry of history, culture and places to visit with one of our custom tours.There is something to be found in Ireland for everyone!
Cliffs of Moher
An overview of Irish history
Human occupation dates back to 7000 BC. The Celts arrived about 700 BC. A monarchy was established around the 1st/2nd centuries AD which produced the legendary Finn Mac Cool.
St. Patrick introduced Christianity in the 5th century AD which led to building of monasteries in the 6th century and ultimately to illuminated manuscripts such as the 9th Century Book of Kells. The violent Viking incursions occurred during the 8th-10th centuries but, on the plus side, the Norsemen did found Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford. The Norman-English arrived 1170 which proved a precursor to a long period of English influence and entanglement in English upheavals such the 15th century Wars of the Roses and the 17th century Civil War when Oliver Cromwell left such a bitter legacy.
Some famous conflicts include the Siege of Londonderry in 1688-1689 and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, both of which being products of the Catholic-Protestant struggles of the times.
Site of Battle of the Boyne
In the 19th century there were crop failures which culminated in the potato famines of the late 1840s which acted as catalysts to mass emigration which in turn has led to some 44m Americans claiming Irish ancestry. During the 1870s and 1880s Charles Stewart Parnell led a movement for Home Rule which led to the 1916 Easter Uprising, the War of Independence and the 1921 splitting of the island into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State with the former aligned to the United Kingdom and the latter evolving into the modern-day Republic of Ireland.
Not to be overlooked are the violent ‘troubles’ which occurred in the North during the 1980s and 1990s but which have been subsequently settled.
Reconciliation in Derry/Londonderry
Information on planning a tour of Ireland
For illustration purposes, the island should be viewed as a saucer with key visitor sites on or close to the edge. Here is a listing of the key sites predicated on an anti-clockwise tour starting and finishing near Belfast in the North-East:-
- Carrickfergus Castle, a well preserved medieval castle dating back to the 12th Century.
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
- Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site.
- Old Bushmills Distillery. Triple distilled Irish whiskey from a distillery dating back to 1743. Tours are available.
- Derry or Londonderry, founded by St. Columba on the River Foyle in 546 and famous for its City Walls and St. Columb’s Cathedral.
- Donegal, founded by the O’Donnells and dominated by the restored Donegal Castle.Bundoran, a seaside town.
- Glencar Lough (lake) and Waterfall, about 11km west of Manorhamilton.
- Sligo, a port founded by the Normans on the mouth of the River Garavogue. Famous for its 13th C Abbey, Art Gallery and Museum.
- Westport, a prosperous and pleasant small town dating from the 18th century which straddles the Carrowbeg River.
- Aughagower Tower and religious site with its St. Patrick connections.
- Clifden, capital of Connemara and framed by the Twelve Bens mountain range.
- Aasleagh Falls
- Galway, a university city situated on banks of the River Corrib, known for its Eyre Square, Browne Doorway, Lynch’s Castle, Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas and Galway Hookers (sailing boats).
- Cliffs of Moher. A popular natural attraction rising up to 702 feet on the coast of County Clare.
- Aran Islands. A group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay.
- Limerick, founded by the Vikings and third largest city (Republic). Places to see include King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hunt Museum and Limerick Museum.
- Ring of Kerry taking in Ballymalis Castle, Killorgin, Glenbeigh, Kerry Bog Village, Cahersiveen, Sneem, Ladies View, Molls Gap, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House
- Killarney, famous for its jaunty cars (horse and buggy) and golf.
- Cork, which is close to the River Less, was founded in the 7th century and famous for its Georgian architecture. Places to visit include St. Ann’s Shandon, Cork Butter Museum, Crawford Municipal Art Gallery and St. Finbarr’s Cathedral.
- Cobh (Cove). Formerly known as Queenstown this town benefits from a superb natural harbour. It was from this port that some 2.5M Irish emigrated, mainly for the U.S.A. and Canada. There is an information centre dedicated to the emigrants.
- Blarney Castle which is very popular with visitors from around the world who wish to see and kiss the famous Blarney Stone.
- Waterford. Founded by the Vikings and positioned on the estuary of the River Suir. Best known for Reginald’s Tower, Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Waterford Crystal showroom. Visitors interested in prehistory can embark on the Dolmen Drive from Waterford.
- Kildare and the Irish National Stud. Latter is a visitor attraction which also includes gardens and the Horse Museum.
- Dublin. This is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland which has many attractions including; Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Nassau Street, St. Stephen’s Green, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Guinness Storehouse (Brewery), Kilmainholm Gaol, Museum of Modern Art, National Museum, Parnell Square and Molly Malone’s statue. Possibly best seen by open-top bus tour.
Statue of Molly Malone in Dublin
- Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre. Learn about decisive 1690 battle.
- Newgrange, a 5000 year old prehistoric site and one of the most important passage graves in Europe. Irish name is Bru na Boinne.
- Belfast is a former industrial city and capital of Northern Ireland. Places to visit include the City Hall, Grand Opera House, St. Anne’s Cathedral, Linen Hall Library, Botanic Gardens, Murals of West Belfast and Queen’s University.
Other Activities and visitor sites include:
- Jerpoint Abbey, near Kilkenny in south-central Ireland.
- Rock of Cashel in south-central Ireland.
- The Wild Atlantic Way driving route from Donegal in the N.W through Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork on the south coast.
- The Ring of Gullion route, centred on the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.