Top Ten Irish Attractions

Top Ten Irish Attractions

IrelandGalway City2Dublin1Brú na Bóinne2

       Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the 3rd largest island in Europe and the 20th largest island on Earth. To its east is the larger island of Great Britain, from which it is separated by the Irish Sea. Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. The population of Ireland is approximately 6.4 million. Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just under 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland. Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain epitomize Ireland’s geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 17th century. Today, it is one of the most deforested areas in Europe. There are 26 extant mammal species native to Ireland. A Norman invasion in the Middle Ages gave way to a Gaelic resurgence in the 13th century. Over 60 years of intermittent warfare in the 1500’s led to English dominance after 1603. In the 1690’s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. In 1801, Ireland became a part of the UK. A war of independence in the early 20th century led to the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades. Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK and saw much civil unrest from the late 1960’s until the 1990’s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973, both parts of Ireland joined the European Economic Community. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, particularly in the fields of literature and, to a lesser degree, science and education. A strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed for example through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language, alongside mainstream Western culture, such as contemporary music and drama, and a culture shared in common with Great Britain, as expressed through sports such as soccer, rugby, horse racing, and golf, and the English language.

  1. Dublin
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    Dublin, meaning “town of the hurdled ford,” is the capital and most populous city of Ireland. Dublin is situated near the midpoint of Ireland’s east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, and at the center of the Dublin Region. Originally founded as a Viking settlement, it evolved into the Kingdom of Dublin and became the island’s principal city following the Norman invasion. The city expanded rapidly from the 17th century, and was briefly the 2nd largest city within the British Empire and the 5th largest in Europe. However, Dublin entered a period of stagnation following the Act of Union of 1800, but remained the economic centre for most of the island. Following the partition of Ireland in 1922, the new parliament, the Oireachtas, was located in Leinster House. Dublin became the capital of the Irish Free State, and later the Republic of Ireland. Similar to the other cities of Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford, Dublin is administered separately from its respective county with its own city council. The city is listed by the GaWC as a global city, with a ranking of Alpha-, placing Dublin among the top 30 cities in the world. It is a historical and contemporary cultural centre for the country, as well as a modern centre of education, the arts, administration, economy, and industry.
    Links: Cities, Sculptures, Top Ten Libraries, Top Ten Bridges, Top 100 Bars, Top Ten Irish Pubs, Top Ten Arenas, Top Ten Soccer Stadiums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin,
  2. Belfast
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    Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th largest city in the UK and 2nd largest on the island of Ireland. It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly. The city of Belfast has a population of 267,500 and lies at the heart of the Belfast urban area, which has a population of 579,276. The Larger Urban Zone, as defined by the European Union, has a total population 641,638. Belfast was granted city status in 1888. Historically, Belfast has been a center for the Irish linen industry (earning the nickname “Linenopolis”), tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city’s main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the well-known RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial center until the latter half of the 20th century. Industrialization and the inward migration it brought made Belfast, if briefly, the biggest city in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century and the city’s industrial and economic success was cited by Ulster unionist opponents of Home Rule as a reason why Ireland should shun devolution and later why Ulster in particular would fight to resist it. Today, Belfast remains a center for industry, as well as the arts, higher education and business, a legal center, and is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. The city suffered greatly during the period of conflict called the Troubles, but latterly has undergone a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, and substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast city center has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, notably around Victoria Square. Belfast is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport in the city, and Belfast International Airport 15 miles (24 km) west of the city. Belfast is also a major seaport, with commercial and industrial docks dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard. Belfast is a constituent city of the Dublin-Belfast corridor, which has a population of three million, or half the total population of the island of Ireland.
    Links: Top Ten Ships, Top Ten Sunken Ships, Castles, Top Ten Clock Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfast,
  3. Brú na Bóinne
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    Brú na Bóinne (Palace of the Boyne) is located in County Meath, Ireland and is the largest and one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%BA_na_B%C3%B3inne,
  4. Kilkenny
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    Kilkenny is a city and popular tourist destination of the eponymous County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is built on both banks of the River Nore in the province of Leinster, in the south-east of Ireland. The borough has a population of 8,661, however the majority of the population live outside the borough boundary, the 2006 Irish Census gives the total population of the Borough & Environs as 22,179. In 2009 the City of Kilkenny celebrated its 400th year since the granting of city status in 1609. Kilkenny’s heritage is evident in the city and environs including the historic buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Town Hall, St. Francis Abbey, Grace’s Castle, and St. John’s Priory. Kilkenny is regarded for its culture with craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Annual events include Kilkenny Arts Week, the Cat Laughs comedy festival and music at the Rhythm and Roots festival and the Source concert. It is a popular base to explore the surrounding towns, villages and countryside. Kilkenny began with an early 6th century ecclesiastical foundation. Following Norman invasion of Ireland, Kilkenny Castle and a series of walls were built to protect the burghers of what became a Norman merchant town. William Marshall, Lord of Leinster, gave Kilkenny a charter as a town in 1207. By the late 13th century Kilkenny was under Norman-Irish control. The Statutes of Kilkenny passed at Kilkenny in 1367, aimed to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland. In 1609 King James I of England granted Kilkenny a Royal Charter giving it the status of a city. Following the Rebellion of 1641, the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the “Confederation of Kilkenny,” was based in Kilkenny and lasted until the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. Kilkenny was a famous brewing center from the late 17th century. Nearby larger cities include Waterford 45 km (28 mi) south-southeast, Limerick 93 km (58 mi) west and Dublin 101 km (63 mi) northeast.
    Links: Castles, Top Ten Cathedrals, Top Ten Abbies, Top Ten Comedy Festivals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilkenny,
  5. Cork
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    Cork is the 2nd largest city in Ireland and the island of Ireland’s 3rd most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative center of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban areas contained in the county brings the total to 190,384. Metropolitan Cork has a population of approximately 274,000, while the Greater Cork area is about 380,000. County Cork has earned the nickname of “the Rebel County,” while Corkonians often refer to the city as the “real capital of Ireland,” and themselves as the “Rebels.” The city is built on the River Lee which divides into two channels at the western end of the city. The city center is located on the island created by the channels. At the eastern end of the city center they converge; and the Lee flows around Lough Mahon to Cork Harbor, one of the world’s largest natural harbors. The city is a major Irish seaport; there are quays and docks along the banks of the Lee on the city’s east side.
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten Angel Statues, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_(city),
  6. Skellig Michael
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    Skellig Michael, meaning Michael’s rock, also known as Great Skellig, is a steep rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean about 14.5 km (9 miles) from the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. It is the larger of the two Skellig Islands. After probably being founded in the 7th century, for 600 years the island was a center of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. The Gaelic monastery, which is situated almost at the summit of the 230 m high rock, is one of Europe’s better known but least accessible monasteries. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved. The very spartan conditions inside the monastery illustrate the ascetic lifestyle practiced by early Irish Christians. The monks lived in stone ‘beehive’ huts (clochans), perched above nearly vertical cliff walls.
    Links: Monasteries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skellig_Michael,
  7. Killarney and the Ring of Kerry
    Killarney and the Ring of KerryKillarney and the Ring of Kerry1Killarney and the Ring of Kerry2Killarney and the Ring of Kerry3Killarney and the Ring of Kerry4Killarney and the Ring of Kerry5Killarney and the Ring of Kerry6Killarney and the Ring of Kerry7Killarney and the Ring of Kerry8
    Killarney is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is located north of the MacGillicuddy Reeks, on the northeastern shore of the Lough Lein/Leane which are part of Killarney National Park. The town and its surrounding region are home to St. Mary’s Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, Lakes of Killarney, Torc Waterfall and the Gap of Dunloe. Killarney was awarded the prestigious “Best Kept Town” award in 2007 in a cross-border competition jointly organized by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Amenity Council. Owing to its natural heritage, history and proximity to the Dingle Peninsula, Skellig Michael Island and its location on the Ring of Kerry, Killarney is a popular tourist destination. On Sep 5, 2011 Killarney was named Ireland’s tidiest town.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killarney,
  8. Galway City
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    Galway or City of Galway is a city on the west coast of Ireland. It is located on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay and is surrounded by County Galway. It is the 3rd largest city within the state (after Dublin and Cork), though if the wider urban area is included then it falls into fourth place behind Limerick. The population of Galway city was 75,414 (2011).
    Links: Top 100 Photographs, Top Ten Cathedrals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galway_City,
  9. Connemara
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    Connemara is a district in the west of Ireland of which the boundaries are not well defined. Some define it to be the land contained by Killary Harbour, the Maam Valley, Lough Corrib (as far as Moycullen); a line from there to the sea at Barna, and the Atlantic ocean. Others draw the eastern boundary line from Killary Harbour to Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connemara,
  10. Carrowmore
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    Carrowmore, County Sligo (“Great Quarter”) is one of the four major passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland. It is located at the center of a prehistoric ritual landscape on the Cúil Irra Peninsula in County Sligo in Ireland. Around 30 megalithic tombs can be seen in Carrowmore today. The tombs (in their original state) were almost universally ‘dolmen circles’; small dolmens each enclosed by a boulder ring of 12 to 15 m. Each monument had a small leveling platform of earth and stone. One of the secrets of the dolmens longevity was the well-executed stone packing set around the base of the upright stones. The combination of 5 of these orthostats and a capstone enclosed a pentagonal burial chamber. The boulder circles contain 30-40 boulders, usually of gneiss, the material of choice for the satellite tombs. Sometimes an inner boulder circle is present. Entrance stones, or passage stones, crude double rows of standing stones, emphasize the direction of the small monuments; they generally face towards the area of the central tomb. The ‘satellite tombs’ or dolmens are distributed in a roughly oval shape about 1 km x .6 km, with the largest monument at the highest point at the center, a cairn (now restored) called Listoghil.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrowmore,
  11. Trim Castle
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    Trim Castle Trim on the bank of the Boyne has an area of 30,000 m². It is the remains of Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle. It was built primarily by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter.
    Links: Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trim_Castle,
  12. Cliffs of Moher
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    The Cliffs of Moher are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 120 m (390 ft.) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 m (702 ft.) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, 8 km to the north. The cliffs receive almost one million visitors a year. O’Brien’s Tower is a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien to impress female visitors. From the cliffs and from atop the watchtower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south.
    Links: Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliffs_of_Moher,
  13. Giant’s Causeway
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    The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the 4th greatest natural wonder in the UK. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 m (39 ft.) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 m thick in places. The Giant’s Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
    Links: Top Ten Natural Wonders of the World, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant%27s_Causeway,
  14. Uragh Stone Circle
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    The Uragh Stone Circle is a Neolithic stone circle near Gleninchaquin Park, Tuosist, County Kerry, Ireland. Situated near Lake Inchiquin, it consists of five megaliths. The largest stone is ten feet (3 m) high and the circle is eight feet (2.4 m) in diameter.
    Links: Top Ten Stone Circles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uragh_Stone_Circle,
  15. Links: Top Ten Irish Hotels, Top Ten Irish Restaurants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland,

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