Travel & Places Other - Destinations

Must See Ireland Travel Guide

A driving tour of Ireland's countryside, lushly green and dotted with sheep and castles, will leave no doubt about the origin of the country's nickname, "The Emerald Isle." Practically the entire country has beautiful scenery, but some special highlights include the dramatic sea cliffs of the west coast and the beaches near Sligo, home to the beloved poet W.B. Yeats.

The Giant's Causeway, a formation of stone columns resulting from volcanic activity, is a popular sight. Visitors to the Northern Ireland destination can walk along the cliff-side formation to the sea, where the uniquely shaped rocks and crashing waves promise beautiful pictures for even the most amateur photographers.

No trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the Blarney Castle near Cork. Legend has it that an old Celtic goddess with the "gift of gab," meaning that it has the power to turn anyone who kisses it into a skilled and charming liar, blessed one of the stones in the castle. The stone can only be reached by ascending a steep stone staircase and leaning precariously out of a window, though, so those with a fear of heights may have to remain honest.

Ireland's capital city, Dublin, boasts world-class architecture and museums. The sumptuously illustrated manuscript of the Book of Kells, which illuminates the Biblical gospels, will be a draw for those with an interest in rare books or history.

Fans of James Joyce, arguably Ireland's best-loved author, can retrace the steps of the characters in his most renowned book, Ulysses, which is so detailed and precise that Joyce famously said it would be enough to re-create the city again if it were to disappear. Eccles street, Davy Byrne's pub, George's Quay, and the National Library can all be found using the book's descriptions.

A less intellectual option is a tour of the Guinness brewery, where beer enthusiasts can learn about the history and making of the famous beer and enjoy a pint while looking at top-notch views of the city from the highest floor of the brewery building.

Perhaps the most fitting way to round out an Ireland travel trip is with a few pints in a local pub, either in Dublin or the countryside. Guinness, Smithwick's, and Killian's Irish Red are all popular beverages throughout the nation. Ireland is also fond of whiskey, of course. Though they are not as renowned as Scotch whiskeys, Irish blends such as Bushmills, Tullamore Dew, and of course the old standby of Jameson's will all satisfy whiskey enthusiasts.

The next morning, a full Irish breakfast will be just the thing to bring you back to life. After you enjoy a healthy platter of blood sausage, eggs, potatoes, fried tomatoes, and good Irish brown bread, you will surely be in good shape for another day's exploration--or at least a happy nap by a roaring fire. If you want to impress the chef, ask for a pot of tea instead of coffee. But be ready to engage in a thorough discussion of the proper methods of tea brewing--the topic seems irresistible to most Irish people.
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