Fáilte Ireland! A Travel GuideIdeas, Ireland — By Lost Girls on September 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm
By Isabel Eva Bohrer
Special to The Lost Girls
The country of Ireland is known for its rich Irish heritage, beautiful scenery, and the friendly locals who are quick with a warm Irish welcome—Fáilte Ireland! The island itself boasts both entertaining cities and enthralling countryside. In terms of cities, the highlights without a doubt are Dublin and Belfast. Here are some things to do in both:
Dublin is the UNESCO City of Literature. From James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, it has been home to some of the greatest authors of all time. There are numerous literary festivals happening at different times of the year. June 15th, for example, is notorious for the Bloomsday celebrations that commemorate Joyce’s Ulysses.
But really, you can experience literature on any given day in Dublin. The Dublin Writers Museum is perhaps the best place to get started. Tour the numerous statues of writers that are interspersed throughout the city. As you go along, be sure to see the Molly Malone statue, too; it’s a touristic spot that fills up every day.
After a day of literature, wind down at the Guinness Storehouse. Ireland is famous for its beer, and the Guinness Storehouse traces the history of the beverage (in addition to letting you sample some!). Then, you can hit a pub for some real Irish food.
The year 2012 will be a historical benchmark for the city of Belfast. It’s the anniversary of the Titanic, and a new, spectacular museum will be opened to showcase the ship’s history. You won’t be able to miss the building—the shape will mirror that of the front of the Titanic itself.
Other museum highlights include the Ulster Museum and the Ulster American Folk Park. If you’re into food, you should definitely stop by St. George’s Market where you’ll find a wide variety of foods not only from Ireland but all over the world.
Cliffs, Plains & More
Once you leave the big Irish cities, the natural splendor of the island takes over. Ireland is replete with national parks that are well worth visiting. Here are some to choose from:
- Ballycroy National Park
- The Burren National Park
- Connemara National Park
- Glenveagh National Park
- Killarney National Park
- Wicklow Mountains National Park
In addition, those interested in horses will find the Irish National Stud particularly interesting. Here, you can combine your visit to the Japanese Garden with seeing some of Ireland’s finest horses—people pay thousands of dollars so that their mare can mate with one of the studs from right here on the premises. Just don’t get too close to them; the horses can be fierce!
Don’t Leave Ireland Without…
Visiting some of its castles. Ireland has a long tradition of castles, and nowadays, some of them are open to tourists while others have been converted into luxury hotels. Ashford and Dromoland Castle, for example, are spectacular (if you can afford to stay in them). Then there are others that you won’t need to splurge so much for, such as Blarney Castle.
Don’t Forget to Fill Up on Energy
Ireland is known not only for a lot of tea, beer, and whisky, but also for rich, hearty food. Meat-based dishes, such as the traditional Irish stew, are staples. Fish, such as smoked salmon, is also served at almost every restaurant. Especially near the coast you can get some great, fresh fish. Vegetarians need not despair, however; there are vegetable side dishes and salads available. And don’t forget the Irish homemade breads, such as sourdough. Slather on some Irish butter, and you’ve topped off a great meal. Slainte!
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