+ VISIT DUBLIN
Invaders and bloodshed, empire and rebels, scandal, beauty and culture – if it’s colourful history you’re after, Dublin has the lot. Handel’s Messiah, rebel gunfire, the harsh lives of the poor and the swish of silk-clad aristocrats, and all within an incredibly small area. Follow the story-filled Dublin Discovery Trails – each will take about two hours on foot – around the city, from Kilmainham Gaol and Trinity College up to Parnell Square. You'll almost hear the whispers of the past on your journey. The Vikings had good taste – they certainly liked the look of Dublin in 841AD and it’s been a popular spot ever since. Over the centuries, the city has been a magnet for saints, scholars, poets, playwrights and dreamers – and, of course, a sprinkling of dissolute aristocrats. Explore these ancient streets and find out where holy relics pulled in the pious, where speculators gambled, where scandals were hushed up, and where culture flourished. Amid gracious Georgian architecture, Handel premiered his Messiah and rival gangs of apprentices and butcher boys fought in the streets; and as some of the finest literature in the world was being written in fashionable salons, Dubliners rioted against oppressive laws. Follow the Stories of Dublin Discovery Trail where you can revel in the city’s glories – and uncover its occasionally disreputable past.
- 5 HIGHLIGHTS
2. Smock Alley
3. Tailors' Hall
4. Dublin Castle
5. Christ Church Cathedral
- 5 HIGHLIGHTS
1. Dublin Castle
2. Leinster House
3. St Patrick’s Cathedral
4. Bank Of Ireland on College Green
5. Trinity College
- 5 HIGHLIGHTS
3. Trinity College
4. St Stephen’s Green
5. The Garden of Remembrance
+ VISIT WEST CORK
Beara Peninsula and Garinish Island
The Ring of Beara on the Beara Peninsula is a route less travelled, which means all the more time and space for you! So you’ve heard of the Ring of Kerry. But what about the Ring of Beara – one peninsula to the south? In a nutshell, the Ring of Beara is the scenic route from Kenmare to Glengariff (or vice versa), a 138km loop taking in some of the wildest nooks and crannies in the southwest.
Garinish Island, Bantry Bay, County CorkGarinish Island, Bantry Bay, County Cork
You can circuit the Caha Mountains entirely, or take corkscrew roads through the breathtaking Healy Pass. Time-permitting, you could even divert to Bere Island (by boat) or Dursey Island (by Ireland’s only cable car). In other words, it can be as long or short as you make it. Highlights? No shortage here. They include seaside towns such as Castletownbere and Allihies, where a Copper Mine Museum tells the unlikely story of an industry that once dominated the area. Artefacts like old drills, boots and the remains of abandoned towers and engine houses lie in stark contrast to the surrounding fields, beaches and fuchsia-strewn country roads.
A tale of two towns
Kenmare is more of an understated proposition than nearby Killarney, but this classy town has a knack for winning visitors’ hearts. Nestled at the mouth of Kenmare Bay, its collection of colourful shopfronts, sizzling seafood restaurants and luxury hotels is remarkable for a town of its size. Our tip? Stay over. Kenmare is the kind of place where you can kayak on the estuary, sup afternoon tea, lose track of time in a gallery and crack open a lobster – all in the same day.
Glengarriff is the Beara Peninsula’s other gateway town. Translated from the Irish for “rugged glen”, it’s ensconced in ancient woodlands, and has been a tourist stop since Victorian times. The summertime buzz is infectious, there’s a tempting clutch of pubs, and Glengariff also makes a great base for hiking in the Caha Mountains. If hiking isn’t your thing, try a gentler stroll like the ascent to Lady Bantry’s Lookout – leading to a mouth-watering panorama of West Cork.
Garinish Island (also known as Garnish and Ilnacullin island) is Ireland’s Garden of Eden. Squirreled away in Glengariff Harbour, the island is home to a series of ornamental gardens first planted by former-owner John Annan Bryce and the Edwardian garden designer Howard Peto. Thanks to its sheltered position and almost subtropical climate, a rich variety of plants can still be seen today – along with a colony of basking seals on its southern rocks. Oh, and plenty of quiet solitude. Just like the rest of the Beara.
+ THINGS TO DO
5 to try: Food Festivals
Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival: shucking since 1954, this is one of the biggest seafood events on the food calendar.
Burren Slow Food Festival: this is all about celebrating local food and producers and taking time to enjoy your food
Só Sligo Festival: expect wild food, workshops and a celebration of WB Yeats
|Nightlife||Bars, Irish / European Pubs, Landmarks, Astronomy, Ritual, Night Scenery, Live Theaters|
|Climate||Tropical Wet, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Highland|
|Wildlife||Large Mammals, Amphibians, Aquatic Wildlife, Birds, Urban Myth|