Connemara has a desolate, wild beauty that will steal your heart and have you dreaming of living in a little stone cottage in the shadows of the Twelve Bens mountains, owning a few Connemara ponies, and working the land. From the rust-coloured bog landscape inland and glorious white-sand beaches and coves to the hundreds of small lakes and the intricate maze that is Connemara’s wild coastline, everything about this place is wild and rugged and breathtaking.
Fungie is Ireland’s pet. He’s a gregarious bottle-nosed dolphin who chose Dingle Bay as his home way back in the early 80s. Since then he’s been charming the heck out of fishermen, locals, and thousands of tourists who come to see his cheeky little smile and his aquatic hi-jinks. He’s great, and he chose a very beautiful part of the world to call home – there’s a lot more to the Dingle Peninsula than just its resident dolphin.
Skellig Michael is a jagged sea crag that spikes dramatically out of the Atlantic about 12km off Kerry’s windswept coast. At some point between the 6th and 8th centuries, a monastery was built out on this remote and incredibly inhospitable rock. It’s genuinely baffling to try and imagine the logistics of building and inhabiting the place. I wonder how the monks would feel if they knew it was used as a Star Wars film set…
The Slieve League Cliffs are on Donegal’s south west coast, and they are awesome. They’re actually among the highest cliffs in the world, and if you want that feeling that you’re standing on the edge of the world, this is the place to go and get that feeling.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb that dates back to between 2900BC and 4200BC, is situated in Co. Clare’s beautiful Burren region. Like Skellig Michael, it’s amazing to think about it being built so long ago, without any machinery yo help them lift that massive capstone onto the portal stones. Don’t go to the Burren without seeing this.
Just 2km outside Dublin’s city centre, the Phoenix Park is a massive recreational space where not only can you go and chill out, but you can go and chill out in the company of some inquisitive Fallow deer. They’ve lived in the Phoenix Park since around the 17th Century, when they were hunted for sport by rich folk. This is their park now. Respect it.
Everything about the Giant’s Causeway is magical and spooky and beautiful, and if you happen to see it on an evening like the one above, with a sunset like the one above, you’ll forever be in love with this incredible stretch of Northern Ireland’s coast.
This particular beauty of a sunset is happening in Easky, a lovely village in County Sligo on Ireland’s west coast. You could probably choose any picturesque spot along Ireland’s ridiculously beautiful west coast though, and you’d be treated to an equally stunning show.
Find a good pub in Ireland, and no pub will ever be the same thereafter. What you need to look for is decent music and a decent pint. Don’t worry, they’re not too hard to find. If you’re in Dublin, The Cobblestone is a pretty safe bet for awesome traditional Irish music and great Guinness.
The Grianan of Aileach fort in Donegal is an ancient ring fort that has been carefully restored so that you get a sense of what it might have been like way back in 1700BC when it was first built. It’s not just the fort you’ll love though, but also the views from up there, of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly.
The rock of Cashel in Tipperary is the site of some of the best ancient ruins in Ireland. It was the seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years, and it contains an incredible amount of important Celtic art and medieval architecture. If you can, it’s really nice to see it at night when it’s lit up.
The Cliffs of Moher are among the most popular tourist attractions on this gorgeous green Island, and it doesn’t surprise us one bit that that’s the case. They are incredible, and wild, and a bit scary, and they will make you feel absolutely tiny. Even the most incredible images of the cliffs can’t do them the justice they deserve. You just have to go there.
Mount Errigal, near Gweedore in Donegal, is the tallest of the Derryveagh Mountains and was voted Ireland’s most iconic mountain by hikers and walkers. It really is a beautiful one, particularly if you catch the sun setting behind it like this.
- Dee Murray