What to see in Ireland?

Ireland is an island located in the northwestern part of Europe, and it is part of the British archipelago. When we talk about this island, we must take into account that it is divided into 2 countries:

  • The Republic of Ireland to the south, occupying the largest area and whose capital is Dublin. It became independent from the United Kingdom in 1922, to become what it is today, a Republic since 1949.
  • The other country is Northern Ireland, whose capital is Belfast and which is part of the 4 countries of the United Kingdom. Ireland is also known as the Emerald Island, due to its beautiful landscapes and green areas. Both countries have very interesting places to visit.

Therefore, in this article we will name some of these places including the 2 territories. Ideally, you should have several days to visit them, but if not, Ireland still offers a wide range of opportunities.

Why did Ireland split into 2 countries?

History tells that this turbulence between London and Dublin had its beginnings in 1167, with the beginning of the Cambro-Norman intervention in Ireland, consolidating later with the landing of the army of King Henry II in 1171. At that time Northern Ireland was part of Ireland, but in the sixteenth century there was a change, because England wanted to conquer it, and they had their victory in the seventeenth century.

Subsequently, the island became governed by the British monarchy and then by the Kingdom that was founded in 1800, called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This was thanks to the passing in Dublin of the Act of Union by the Irish parliament. But it led to wars and clashes for decades of the people of Northern Ireland; between those who wanted to return to their origins and those who wanted to remain part of England.

Then, still in the early 1920’s, Great Britain and Ireland were one country, until in 1921 the partition was achieved by means of a referendum of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, but in 1922 the separation was signed. However, tensions continued for decades, and in 1968 they intensified for 30 years more, until they reached an agreement on Good Friday 1998, which put an end to all this fight.

Some important places to visit in Northern Ireland

The city of Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland

In this city there are important places to know, as it tells the story of the armed conflict between the Unionists and Republicans, which has left traces and has been represented in murals or Walls of Peace. But we have many other interesting places.

For example, the famous Belfast Castle, although it is located towards the outskirts of the city; also St. Anne’s Cathedral, The Big Fish, the Ulster Museum, as well as the Belfast Botanic Gardens, St. George’s Market, the Belfast Grand Opera House, the City Hall, among others.

We could not miss the famous Titanic Museum, which is located in the same place where the Woff and Harland shipyards were located, where both the Titanic and her twin, the Olimpic, were built. In this museum you can observe certain original pieces, besides learning through audiovisuals of details about its construction.

The famous Giant’s Causeway and its columns

One of the most visited places in Northern Ireland. It is said that this roadway has about 40,000 basalt stone columns, with different polygonal shapes and forming a staircase that then goes down to the sea. The legends tell that this landscape was made, thanks to the volcanic activity of millions of years ago, by the expulsion of lava that was cooled by the sea.

But another legend says that it is due to the fight between giants, who lived in Scotland and Northern Ireland; that is, between a Scottish giant and an Irish one, who threw these huge stones at each other and thus began to form the roadway. Be that as it may, it is a spectacle not to be missed. It is also the only place in Northern Ireland that is a World Heritage Site.

In County Antrim, the Carrick-a-rede Bridge, the Carrick-a-rede

A few meters from the Giant’s Causeway, in County Antrim, is located this suspension style bridge: the Carrick-a-rede. It is 20 m long and 30 m high over the sea; an ancient bridge of salmon fishermen that connected Northern Ireland with the island or islet of Carrick-a-rede, but at that time the bridge was made of ropes and planks.

It is currently a tourist and protected area, thanks to the great diversity of both marine and bird life. The landscape has attracted so much attention that scenes from movies and series, such as Game of Thrones, have been filmed there.

The Gobbins Trail

This is a trail that runs along the cliffs, using walkways that are suspended over the sea and that allow you to reach certain caves and other suspension bridges.

It is an activity for all ages, although it is necessary that you are not afraid of heights and have some physical fitness. These landscapes along the coast of Northern Ireland are wonderful, where you can observe the famous puffins.

In County Antrim, the Dark Hedges Road

Also in the county of Antrim is located this road, as if it were a fairy tale. A beautiful road flanked by beech trees and leading to the old mansion of the Stuart family, with the name of Gracehill, which was built in the eighteenth century. About 150 trees were planted on this road, but today only about 90 remain.

These trees have been twisted with the passing of time. There is a legend that talks about this road and what happens at night; it speaks of a woman who wanders aimlessly through this place and suddenly disappears if a vehicle passes by. It is said that this woman could be the daughter of the Stuart family or the maid who died under strange circumstances.

Some important places to visit in the Republic of Ireland

Dublin, the capital of the Republic

Located towards the east of the island, this city is full of bustle, energy and vitality, full of young people and many places to visit, such as Dublin Castle, the Protestant Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as Trinity College.

In addition, it also has beautiful green areas and parks where you can spend some quiet time. You can also visit the famous Guinness Factory, where the typical Irish beer is brewed. Another place to visit is the Kilmainham Jail, where some scenes of the movie “In the Name of the Father” took place.

Picturesque Galway City

It is located towards the west coast of the Republic, with a population of more or less 80,000 inhabitants, where most of them are young people. The city has 2 universities. Therefore, the atmosphere is very lively, somewhat bohemian and music lovers of the region, which animates the streets and the various pubs. It is also characterized by its colorful houses.

You can also walk along the famous promenade and get to know the village of Salthill, or if you prefer you can cross any of the 4 bridges of the Corrib River. Also, you can approach the Dunguaire Castle or also approach the Cliffs of Moher; since it has them nearby. The city is famous for its Art, Oyster and Film Festivals.

The impressive Cliffs of Moher

These cliffs are located towards the southwestern part of The Burren, a region famous for its caves, castles and much Celtic history; in County Clare, Ireland. It is recommended to stay in the city of Galway, since it only takes 1:30 hours to get there by car; in addition, it has parking located in front of the cliffs.

So, you can take the 8 km coastal walk along the coast of these cliffs, with a height of 214 m, but what is most impressive is the verticality of the cliffs. They are natural rock structures that open towards the Atlantic and are considered the oldest in the country; approximately 300 million years ago.

Connemara National Park

This park is one of the 6 parks of the Republic of Ireland, and is located towards the west of the country and within County Galway. Within this Connemara Park there are many interesting places to visit, such as the area of lakes and hills called Maam Cross. Also, it is located the most beloved and famous mountain among mountaineers: the Twelve Bens.

The tour also takes you through the Killary Fjord, through Kylemore Abbey, a castle built in 1863 and then in 1920 was converted into a convent, but today you can only see its gardens, as it is closed since 2010. You can also take a boat trip on Lake Corrib.

Wicklow National Park

This park is known as the “Garden of Ireland”, as well as the lung of this island. A place of perfection and natural beauty, about 50 km south of the capital of the country. It consists of some 20,000 hectares full of beautiful mountains, lakes and meadows; in addition to the diversity between flora and fauna, such as deer, goats, red foxes, badgers, among others.

It is also famous for the ruins of a monastery called Glendalough, the oldest in Europe and dating from the sixth century, later attacked by the Vikings, to finally succumb in 1398 to the Normans.

Posted in Europe, Ireland.