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Things to Do in Ireland - page 3

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National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History
5 Tours and Activities

As one of the four branches of the National Museum of Ireland, the Decorative Arts & History Branch offers visitors the chance to view antique crafts from Ireland and around the globe. The rare collection is wonderfully eclectic, and features everything from rare, Chinese porcelain that dates back to the 13th century, to a ceremonial, Japanese bell that’s over 2,000 years old. There’s a large collection of Irish silver as well as clothing from the 17th century, and an impressive medieval coin collection that showcases over 1,000 years of currency that’s changed hands during Ireland’s history. Also, if you don’t have time to make it to the countryside, the collection of traditional Irish furniture not only mimics a rural home, but also exhibits the exceptional skill of Irish woodworkers and craftsmen.

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O’Connell Bridge
7 Tours and Activities

One of Dublin's most attractive bridges, O'Connell Bridge spans the River Liffey from O'Connell Street to D'Olier Street, and since its inception in 1792, the bridge has been part of the most fashionable route through the city. Though back in the 18th century, it was called Carlisle Bridge, after the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and initially it was a controversial bridge, as traders from the medieval quarter were worried that the bridge would mark the unstoppable shift of the city's power toward the south.

And that's exactly what happened. In fact, the bridge was almost too popular — congestion getting so bad that by 1852 it was known as “the most dangerous bridge in the empire.” So between 1877 and 1880, it was reconstructed to be 50 meters wide and 45 meters long — dimensions that are said to make it unique in Europe as the only traffic bridge wider than it is long.

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Cork English Market
6 Tours and Activities

In 1610, during the reign of King James I, the first charter was granted for what has become Ireland’s most famous covered food market; it has been officially in business since 1788. Housed within a Victorian facade with vaulted ceilings and grand columns, the market is packed with vendors — many family-run for generations — selling regional delicacies alongside fresh produce and imported goods. Market visitors hoping to sample some local flavors will find, among other things, blood sausage, tripe, pig trotters, buttered eggs and spiced beef. Those with a less adventurous palate will also find deli meats, cheeses, fruits and baked goods on offer.

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Dublin Custom House
5 Tours and Activities

Built in the 18th century on the north bank of the River Liffey, Custom House is one of the grandest neoclassical buildings in Dublin. Designed as part of a city-wide plan to enhance the streets and public buildings of the Irish capital, it took over a decade to build: all the city's masons got roped in, and altogether Custom House cost £200,000 to construct; a princely sum for the time. Originally the headquarters of the Commissioners of Custom and Excise; by the beginning of the 20th century, the role of Custom House was to house the offices of local government, and today it's home to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Designed by the English architect Thomas Cooley, during the Irish Revolution, Custom House was seen as a symbol of British power in Ireland, and so on May 25, 1921, the Dublin Brigade of the IRA set fire to the building, destroying the grand dome and entire interior.
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Blasket Islands
3 Tours and Activities

Dingle Peninsula lie a group of abandoned sandstone islands rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. The Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodaí in Irish) have all been occupied at one point or another, but it was the tiny community on the largest island, The Great Blasket, that gained fame for its tradition of folklore and storytelling.

At its peak, the island boasted 175 residents; by the time the Irish government decided the islands were too dangerous for habitation and ordered a mandatory evacuation, there were only 22 people remaining.

Visitors to The Great Blasket find the ruined remains left behind by the island’s former inhabitants. An 8-mile (13-kilometer) walking path takes visitors past some of the island’s most spectacular scenery — sea cliffs and white sand beaches — with the opportunity to spot shorebirds and a colony of seals who now call the islands home.

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Dublinia
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4 Tours and Activities

Medieval Dublin was a disease-riddled era of slavery, Vikings, and torture, where Bubonic Plague and bloody warfare were parts of everyday life. Though Dublin isn’t often equated with Vikings, the conquering seafarers played an important role in Dublin’s Medieval past, and at the popular Dublinia heritage center, this grisly period is on entertaining display with their interactive exhibits. Take a walk down a street from the days of Medieval Dublin, smelling the aromas of streetside merchants and hearing their tales of woe. Wrap yourself in the heavy chains of a hapless Irish slave, and walk through the dark, smoky interior of an authentic Viking household. Learn about the savage and primitive weaponry that Vikings would use in battle, and board a replica Viking warship to experience conditions at sea.

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Famine Memorial
4 Tours and Activities

At Custom House Quay in the Dublin Docklands, the Famine Sculpture was commissioned by the City of Dublin in 1997 as a way of remembering the victims of the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1849, when over a million Irish men, women, and children died as a result of the problems exacerbated by the potato blight.

The bronze sculptures were designed by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. Portraying a group of starving figures trying to reach Dublin port and a chance of escape to the New World, a visit to the docklands is a time for reflection and remembrance for those who died just 150 years ago. Some of the text accompanying the Famine Sculpture reads, “A procession fraught with most striking and most melancholy interest, wending its painful and mournful way along the whole line of the river to where the beautiful pile of the Custom house is distinguishable in the far distance...”

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Dublin Writers Museum
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3 Tours and Activities

The Dublin Writers Museum features unique works and memorabilia from famous writers heralding from this city. Letters and personal items from such icons as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett allow visitors to connect with their favorite Irish authors on a more personal level while also admiring their works, which are also on display. Over 300 years of historical memorabilia and literature are displayed in this charming Georgian house-turned-museum, complete with a library, gallery and lecture rooms. There are also an adjoining bookshop and cafe as well as a basement restaurant that all follow the literary theme.

Built as a centre to honor past Irish literary figures, the museum has also become a place for young aspiring writers to gain perspective and inspiration for their own works. The headquarters for these authors, the Irish Writers' Centre, is conveniently located next door to the museum, providing them a respite to work and share ideas.

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More Things to Do in Ireland

James Joyce Centre

James Joyce Centre

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2 Tours and Activities

Since James Joyce was one of Ireland’s most beloved novelists and poets, it only makes sense that an entire center is dedicated to his life and work. Though Joyce never lived in this Georgian-era house not far from Parnell Square, it’s very similar to the one where he was raised, and was actually the home of Denis Maginni—the dance instructor who is prominently mentioned in Joyce’s famous Ulysses. The center contains pieces of Joyce’s furniture that were moved from his studio in Paris, and also has the door of 7 Eccles Street—the home of Leopold and Molly Bloom that also appears in Ulysses. Though the number of period artifacts is thin, Joyce fans will enjoy the interactive displays that include documentaries and computer programs explaining his life and works. In addition to touring the center itself, the James Joyce Centre also hosts walking tours around the streets of Dublin.

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Salthill

Salthill

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One of Ireland’s premier seaside resorts, on the cusp of Galway Bay, Salthill has been drawing in tourists since the early 20th century and remains a hugely popular vacation spot during the summer months. Sandy beaches, surrounded by windswept rocky coastline, are the main attraction at Salthill, but its not just swimming and sunbathing that’s on offer - jet skiing, boating, sail-boarding and sea angling are all popular activities; there’s a dedicated high board diving area; and snorkeling and scuba diving sites abound along the coastline.
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Elizabeth Fort

Elizabeth Fort

2 Tours and Activities

Elizabeth Fort has played a part in Ireland’s tumultuous history since 1601; it was constructed in timber on the orders of British politician Sir George Carew to defend British military interests in Ireland and named after Queen Elizabeth I. Built on a limestone outcrop just south of Cork’s walls, it was expanded into its present stone star-shape in 1624–26 under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell and saw much action for the next two centuries withstanding sieges between Britain and Ireland.

By 1719 the fort was a military barracks for 700 British soldiers but after they moved to a larger base in 1806 it served many functions, including a deportation center for criminals being sent to Australia; a food depot during the Great Famine of 1845-52, when the potato crop failed; and an air raid shelter in World War II. Latterly it became a Garda (Irish police) station before being opened to the public in 2013.

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Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum

3 Tours and Activities

Overlooking the famous Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum has been devoted to preserving the history and heritage of Galway since it opened its doors in 1976. The award-winning building is worth a visit for the views from the roof deck alone – spanning the Claddagh, the River Corrib and Galway Bay, as well as the iconic Arch – but those looking to understand the city’s unique cultural roots will find plenty of intrigue inside.

Three floors of exhibitions focus on contemporary Galway and the importance of the Arts, medieval Galway, and the Claddagh village, featuring among them a collection of local artworks, historic photographs (including one of President John F Kennedy's 1963 visit), artifacts dating from Prehistoric and Medieval times and personal items chronicling the history of the people of Galway.

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St. Audoen's Church

St. Audoen's Church

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Often erroneously overlooked in favor of more “popular” churches, St. Audoen’s Church is the oldest medieval church still used in Dublin today. Constructed back in the late 12th century, the church is named for St. Audoen (Ouen), a patron saint of Rouen (Normandy) who lived in the 7th century. Though some parts of the church are in literal ruins, others have been restored and now host guided historical tours. When wandering the shadowy and ancient hallows of this stone and wooden compound, hear the tales of what life was like for residents of medieval Dublin. There is a Catholic Church by the same name that was built in the 19th century, so in order to bypass any confusion, be sure to visit the St. Audeon’s that’s nearly 1,000 years old. Next door to the church, a set of stairs leads to the only remaining gate from the original city wall.

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Titanic Experience Cobh

Titanic Experience Cobh

2 Tours and Activities
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Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium

2 Tours and Activities

Dublin residents are passionate about sport, and the Aviva stadium is the pulsing epicenter of Rugby Union and football (soccer). This 51,700-person stadium holds Ireland’s largest sporting events and concerts, and tours are available on days that don’t have a concert or large-scale event. Aside from being a popular venue, Aviva Stadium also holds a bit of Dublin history, as back in 1873, this was the site of one of the world’s first international sporting contests. Rugby matches were held on the grounds between regional teams in Ireland, and the Lansdowne grounds held international contests in 1878. Originally built as a multi-purpose venue for cricket, rugby, and athletics, Aviva Stadium is best known today as the site of Irish football. It’s also the site of superstar concerts, with big name acts such as Rihanna, Neil Diamond, and Michael Jackson having performed at Aviva’s grounds.

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Viking Triangle

Viking Triangle

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