At first glance, the island of Ireland might look small enough to digest in a single visit. But be warned, it’s a good 350 miles from north to south and there is so much to do and see in its 33,000 square miles that you’d need multiple trips to explore it properly.
The Irish landscapes variety is one of the most striking features. Being an island, of course, its 1,700 miles of coastline is one of the first things people think about. But spectacular as the coast is, it is amply complemented by lush meadows and rivers and dramatic mountain ranges inland.
A good way to get a mental grip on the place is to divide it into west and east.
The west coast borders the Atlantic Ocean, and the wildness of the landscape here seems appropriate when you recall that this was the limit of the westward migration of the Celtic people. The Wild Atlantic Way, claimed to be the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, runs up the western side of the island, from the city of Cork and the five great peninsulas in the south (including the famous Ring of Kerry) via Limerick and Galway and all the way up to Donegal’s Malin Head on the northern tip of the island.
This is the place for lovers of the great outdoors.The area between Mayo and Galway, known as the Bay Coast, is famous for its beaches. Lahinch and Donegal Bay are well-known surf spots, while scuba diving is increasingly popular in the more sheltered areas.
The landscape of the eastern side of the island is more lush and the coast, bordering the Irish Sea, is calmer than the Atlantic west. This is the land of castles, monasteries, cairns and prehistoric monuments such as barrows and stone circles, appealing to those fascinated by ancient lore and myths. There are too many sites to mention, but the ancient Celtic capital at Tara (between Dublin and Wexford) is just one example. The Hill of Tara can claim to be Ireland's most sacred stretch of turf as the home of the druids, the priest-rulers of ancient Ireland, who practised their particular form of Celtic paganism.
And, of course, this is where you’ll find Ireland’s largest city, Dublin with its bars restaurants and myriad other distractions, including the iconic Book of Kells.
As well as admiring the scenery and historic monuments, there are plenty of other ways to pass the time. We’ve already mentioned surfing and scuba diving and for those of an active disposition you can also add golf and fishing to the mix. If watching sport is more your thing, choose from Gaelic football, shinty or one of the many horse racing and greyhound racing events. And if even that's too energetic, a whiskey tour might be just the thing.
Read more about other travelling to Celtic Regions:
READ MORE ABOUT FOOD AND DRINK IN THE OTHER CELTIC REGIONS:
- Cornish Food and Drink
- Breton Food and Drink
- Irish Food and drink
- Scottish Food and Drink
- Manx Food and Drink
- Welsh Food and Drink