THE TOP HIGHLIGHTS OF MY TRIP TO IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND

Ireland is such an amazing country and the Irish are just some of the friendliest people on Earth. Ireland is a beautiful island that is politically divided into two separate sections. The southern part of the island is the Republic of Ireland (officially also named Ireland). The northern part of the island is part of the United Kingdom and it is called Northern Ireland.  Now I know why the whole island is called the Emerald Isle or the Land of the Green! The stunning scenery left me breathless and I want to share what I think are must see places. This list will include places in Ireland and Northern Ireland. I hope ya’ll enjoy!

wikipedia.org

Political map of Ireland, showing the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland

1) Giant’s Causeway – The scenic view of the Northern Coast is one of the most amazing views you will ever see. The hexagonal rock formations are very unique and you won’t see something like this anywhere else in the world. I loved hiking through the trails and the view of the coast is priceless!

2) Dunluce Castle – The castle is located at the edge of the north Antrim coastline, which gives it a very dramatic feeling and view. This castle has the best view of the northern coast! This has been one of favorite castles that I visited because the view left me speechless. No words can describe how amazing the landscape looked from here.

3) Take a tour of Belfast’s Murals – These murals were painted by Catholics (Nationalist) and Protestants (Unionist). You will learn a lot about the history of Belfast and view the colorful murals of this vibrant city. If you are planning on visiting Belfast take a look at my post of the Top Things to Do in Belfast.

4) Carrickfergus Castle – This castle is located in the town of Carrickfergus. It is a beautiful and well preserved castle. There are cannons from the 17th to the 19th century. I had a great time because there is a lot to explore and the view over the water is stunning.

Ireland

5) High Crosses of Monasterboice –  You will see a cemetery, round tower, churches and high crosses.The monks used these crosses to educate people a long time ago about the gospel of God. This was my first time seeing high crosses and I was amazed at how beautiful they were carved.

6) Holy Cross Abbey – The abbey is charming. The church of the abbey is very lovely because the stained windows are colorful and attractive. It’s worth the trip for the beautiful countryside, the history of the abbey, and the tranquil setting.

7) Cliff of Moher – This place is breathtaking, words cannot describe the beautiful landscape of the cliffs. You cannot miss this place when you travel to Ireland. You can climb to the top of a little tower to get a better view of the cliffs. The day that we went to the Cliffs of Moher it was very windy, misty, and cold so I recommend that you take warm and comfortable clothes.

8) Dublin – I really enjoyed Dublin and I want to go back there soon. This city has a lot to offer and the Irish people are very friendly and sweet. In the two days that we spent there we visited an old prison, walked through the streets while admiring the colorful doors, and I visited Saints Patrick’s Cathedral. We spent a whole night watching river dancing and listening to Irish music at the different pubs of Temple Bar and had some of the best Fish & Chips at Leo Burdock.

Have you been to Ireland or Northern Ireland? If yes, what were some of your favorite places that you visited? If no, what places would you like to visit?

THINGS TO DO IN THE COUNTY OF TIPPEARY, IRELAND

After exploring the Monastery of Clonmacnoise we headed to the town of Cashel, which is a really nice town to visit in Ireland on the county of Tipperary. We stayed one night at the Baileys Hotel, it is a beautifully Georgian building ideally situated in the heart of Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel

This town is very well known because of The Rock of Cashel, it was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. Most of the buildings of the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. One of the High Kings of Munster donated the rock to the Catholic Church. The site is very historical and unique since the church is located on the top of a hill it overlooks the whole town of Cashel. There are a number of high crosses on the graveyard that surrounds the building. On the day that we visited The Rock of Cashel the temperature was very cold and it was windy. To top it off it started to rain on our guided tour so we decided to walk down the hill to the Bru Boru Centre, where we had a delicious traditional Irish lunch.

Cahir Castle

After lunch we headed to Cahir Castle. The castle was pretty amazing because it is well preserve and one of the largest ones in Ireland. The Castle is on a very lovely setting on the water. It had a lot of stairs and towers that you needed to climb up, so it looked exactly like a castle from a movie. I felt like a princess! We also saw a few cells where they used to lock up people. It was a little scary to see them since they were very dark and small.

Swiss Cottage

After finishing our tour in the castle we headed to the Swiss Cottage. The Swiss Cottage was truly a highlight of my day because it was is very unique and kind of peculiar to see something like this in Ireland.  The cottage is located on an elevated site with access by a path with stone steps. The interior of the cottage is marvelous since it has a graceful spiral staircase and the rooms are decorated very elegantly.

Swiss CottageSwiss CottageSwiss Cottage

EXPLORE AN ANCIENT MONASTERY IN IRELAND

As we left Northern Ireland and traveled back to the Republic of Ireland we stopped at the monastery of Clonmacnoise. The monastery is very pretty and the landscape is spectacular since its right next to the Shannon river. I found a little pathway that takes you to the river while I was taking pictures of the monastery. It was very peaceful to walk along the riverbank because the view was breathtaking. Everything around me was very green and lush.

The monastery has a center where you can see different exhibits describing the history of Clonmacnoise and the area. I learned that the strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major center of religion, learning, and craftsmanship. Moreover, many of the high kings of Tara were buried here. There is also an original stone cross inside the center. We watched a documentary in the theater that talked about the history of the monastery and how people used to live there before.

High Cross

High Cross

After leaving the monastery, we headed to the town of Cashel, where we stayed for two days. There will be more information about the town of Cashel on my upcoming post.

Visit an Old Prison in Dublin

Kilmainham Gaol used to be a prison during the civil revolution time of Ireland and it held many political leaders that were were incarcerated, tortured and executed. Some of these political leaders were Edward Emmet and Valera. After being set free and becoming president of the Republic of Ireland, Valera returned to the prison in 1966, as it became a museum. I was also amazed to learned that Kilmainham Gaol also held many women who were revolutionaries. During the earlier times that the prison was open there was no heating system. The place felt very cold and dark. I could never imagine myself living there or any other person. The cells were very compact and had a very tiny window.

There was a lot of graffiti in the hallways and I learned that during the earlier times of the prison, rules were not that strict and prisoners could walk into the hallways and mingle with other prisoners. They were also allowed to pain inside their cells and were given paint. It was very interesting to go into a private tour with Niall and being able to see everything that other people can’t see like the cells that had a lot of graffiti in them. They were kind of creepy, but I was curious to see them.

Niall also explained that during the femine a lot of children were put into the jail for petty crimes. A total of 10,000 people passed throughout the jail during the femine. I was shocked when I heard this because I could not believed that the government placed children in prison for committing a small crime, like stealing a piece of bread.

Have you ever visited an old prison? If yes, which one?

Newgrange, Hill of Tara, and High Crosses of Monasterboice

As we left Dublin and on our way to Belfast we visited Newgrange, Hill of Tara, High Crosses of Monasterboice.

Newgrange

Newgrange was an delightful site. There is a museum that explains how Newgrange was built and why. I imagined the site a little different from what I saw in real life. We went inside the little cave and I was a bit disappointed to see that the sunlight did not illuminate the whole cave, just part of it. However, it was fascinating to see how the ancient people built it, because it was constructed in a very brilliant way. The view of the country is breathtaking since you can see the richness of the green landscape.

Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara was a impressive site to visit since it contains a number of ancient monuments where the High Kings were crowned. It was very interesting to see the Stone of Destiny in the middle of Tara.  I really thought we were going to see more ancient monuments at the Hill of Tara, but it was mostly just hills and caves.

High Crosses of Monasterboice

These crosses were really big and have stories of the bible in them. The monks used these crosses to educate people a long time ago about the gospel of God. There is also a tower and it is believed that it was constructed to protect the monks against attacks.

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse was very modern and informative. It has a lot of fun activities. My favorite part of the storehouse was the Gravity Bar because you can see the whole city of Dublin. However, there were a lot of people inside the bar so it was very pack, but totally worth it! You get one free drink with your ticket, so I would save it for the Gravity Bar.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

The Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is a very special place to visit in Dublin, since it was built to honor Ireland’s patron saint . The cathedral was very pretty and impressive! The stained glass inside the cathedral was very beautiful and colorful. There is a park right behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral were people can enjoy a nice picnic or just relax in the benches.