Emerald Isle of beauty and legend
The independent Republic of Ireland is made up of 26 counties, split between the East Coast and Midlands, Southeast, Southwest, Shannon Region, West, and the Northwest and Lakelands districts. The vibrant capital and largest city, Dublin, is the heart of Ireland on the East Coast, beloved throughout the world for its fine architecture, welcoming atmosphere, Irish pubs and shopping. Waterford in the southeast is Ireland’s oldest city, renowned for its crystal. The scenic southwest is home to County Cork, the Ring of Kerry and the famous Blarney Castle – kiss the Blarney Stone and you’ll never be lost for words again! Cork boasts a striking coastline with mountains, coves, islands and beaches. Visit the Shannon Region for its historic castles and dramatic Cliffs of Moher or head west to Galway, famed for its summer festivals and the beautiful Aran Islands. Finish your tour in Sligo, birthplace of poet W.B. Yeats.
Quite simply, go for the ‘craic’ – Ireland is one of the most inviting countries in the world; the Irish love of song, dance and general merriment draws millions to its annual festivals. Ireland’s natural beauty also never fails to stimulate and has inspired generations of poets, musicians, artists and writers.
When to Go?
Ireland’s climate is unpredictable, so it’s always best to take something warm and waterproof. Summer temperatures average 16°C but can reach the mid-twenties and winters are usually above freezing, but you can never be sure it won’t rain. June to August see the warmest and longest days with most of the festivals scheduled during these months, however crowds and prices increase accordingly. Spring and autumn are quieter alternatives.
How to get there?
Most international airlines use Dublin International Airport (DUB) as their hub within Ireland. Scheduled nonstop flights operate from the UK, continental Europe and North America to Dublin and Shannon and from Britain and continental Europe to Cork. Low cost Irish airline Ryanair have made travelling to Ireland very affordable and fly from most regional airports in the UK. You can also travel to Dublin by ferry from Holyhead and Liverpool.
Medieval Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s favourite tourist spots. Known as the Marble City, it’s worth a visit for the beautiful buildings, Norman Castle and regular arts, music and comedy festivals. Soak up the culture in James Joyce’s Dublin or catch an impromptu traditional Irish music session over a pint of peaty Guinness in a Galway pub. If the call of the wild beckons, head for the hiking trails through the Wicklow Mountains, traverse the Glen Gesh Pass in windswept Donegal, stroll or cycle the magical Aran Islands and prepare to be awestruck by the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.