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Things to Do in Ireland - page 6

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Dublin Cruise Port
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Ireland’s most popular cruise destination, Dublin sees nearly two million cruise and ferry passengers come through its port each year. A UNESCO City of Literature since 2010, it is also a very green city, boasting more green space per square kilometer than any other European capital. With a thousand years of history behind it, Dublin truly has something to offer everyone, from historic churches and theatrers to trendy boutiques and lively pubs.

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Doolin
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With allegedly more musicians per square mile in this county than anywhere in the world, it’s unsurprising that this small fishing village is hailed as the capital of Irish folk music. Musical traditions still reign strong today, and those looking for an authentic taste of traditional Irish music won’t have to look far in Doolin. The village’s three historic pubs, Gus O’Connor’s, Mcdermott’s and Mcgann’s, all host nightly music sessions, where you can hear Gaelic poetry set to music and admire the soulful timbre of traditional instruments like Celtic harps, tin whistles, fiddles and Irish flutes. Musicians from all over the globe visit Doolin in search of the genre’s roots, and a number of events throughout the year bring together local and international musicians for impromptu jam sessions. With nearby tourist attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and the Aran islands, this northwestern town in County Clare also makes a popular base for travelers.

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Connor Pass (An Chonair)
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Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland at 1,345 feet above sea level. It is on the Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland, and it is located along the road that runs from Dingle on the southern end of the peninsula towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory. The road is narrow and twisting as it weaves its way through steep cliffs. Those driving on Conor Pass will have spectacular views of the glaciated landscapes, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and the coast. It is considered one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Ireland.

Starting from Dingle Town, the road rises 1,500 feet as it approaches the pass. There is a parking lot at the highest point where you can stop and admire the views of the coast. Then as you continue along the road, you will pass Brandon Bay and more cliffs, waterfalls, and lakes. The road also crosses the Brandon Mountains with Ireland's second highest peak, Brandon Mountain at 3,217 feet tall.

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James Joyce Tower & Museum
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The James Joyce Tower is known for being featured at the beginning of James Joyce's Ulysses. Today it is a museum which houses letters, photographs, and other personal possessions from Joyce. The museum also contains rare editions of his work and other interesting items such as the original key to the tower, a plaster bust of Joyce made by Milton Hebald, and two plaster death masks of Joyce made by Paul Speck.

Visitors can also visit the living quarters which still show signs of the tower's original purpose, defense against Napoleon. Though the tower never saw any action, the massive outer door, reinforced against attackers with sheet metal, bolts, and bars, still stands here. You can also see a trap door leading to the artillery storage room below. The only windows are narrow and angled to protect from cannon attacks. A narrow winding staircase leads to the roof where there is a circular gun deck. From the roof, you can enjoy panoramic views across the Dublin Bay.

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Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre
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Just outside of Dublin, Dalkey Castle entertains and informs with live actors from the Deilg Inis Theatre Company who reenact typical scenes from what life was like in Ireland in the 1500s. You might see an archer shooting a longbow, a barber offering haircuts, or a cook making traditional meals of the day. There is also an interactive time line in the Heritage Center that begins from the early Christian era and works its way through the Viking period, Medieval times, the Victorian era, and finally modern times in Dalkey. The Writers' Gallery features literary and creative connections to Joyce, Beckett, Bono, and Maeve Binchy.

From the castle battlements, visitors can admire panoramic views of the sea and the mountains. You can also explore an early Christian church and graveyard dedicated to St. Begnet on the castle grounds. Historical and literary guided tours of the castle are available, and they will walk you through the fascinating history of Dalkey Castle.

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Kildare Village
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If you forgot your favorite rain jacket at home, or need to pick up some gloves or a windbreaker for a trip to Western Ireland, Kildare Village is Dublin’s most popular outlet shopping experience. Over 60 different big name brands are found in the shopping village, with stores often offering a 60% discount off of the retail price. What makes Kildare such an experience, however, is that visitors don’t feel like their rummaging through the leftovers that brands just wanted to discard. Everything about the village—from the clean, modern, and comfortable facilities to the trendy cafés and free Wi-Fi—has the feel of a luxurious shopping outing at prices that thankfully don’t match. Once you’re finished with the shopping experience, explore the museums, restaurants, and shops in the surrounding Kildare area, which is located 35 minutes from Dublin when conveniently arriving by train.

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More Things to Do in Ireland

Skerries Mills

Skerries Mills

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Doolin Cave

Doolin Cave

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SEA LIFE® Bray

SEA LIFE® Bray

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Birr Castle

Birr Castle

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Hook Lighthouse

Hook Lighthouse

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Mizen Head

Mizen Head

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Castletown House

Castletown House

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In 1775, the Dutch author Richard Twiss remarked that Castletown House “is the only house in Ireland to which the term palace can be applied.” Though not to detract from the country’s other standouts, it’s indeed true that the Castletown House is a piece of architectural wonder. Situated in County Kildare about 30 minutes west of Dublin, this palatial, Palladian-style mansion was constructed during the 1720s for William Connolly—who, in addition to being the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, was also the wealthiest Irish commoner of the time. It was Ireland’s first and largest Palladian-style home—an architectural style inherited from the grandeur of Renaissance-era Italy. On a guided tour of the historic home, stroll beneath towering Ionic columns that connect the adjacent wings, and peruse the artifacts of one of Ireland’s most political and military families.

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Avoca

Avoca

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Even though it’s only an hour from Dublin, Avoca is a town where visitors feel like they’ve traveled back 400 years. Much of that feeling can be attributed to the historic Mill at Avoca Village, which has been weaving rugs, throws and scarves since 1723. Today, Avoca Handweavers is renowned throughout Ireland for their woven women’s clothing, and in addition to being Ireland’s oldest mill, is also considered to be the oldest business still operating in Ireland today. The multi-generational business aside, Avoca village is so visually charming that’s it been chosen as the set for numerous movies and local Irish television. When strolling the pastel-cottage lined streets—which themselves are backed by rolling green hills that define the Irish landscape—you truly feel that you’ve left the city for an authentic Irish village. It’s little wonder, given its beauty, that Avoca is a popular weekend getaway or long day trip from Dublin.

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St. Anne’s Park

St. Anne’s Park

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If the constant buzz of Dublin’s streets leaves you seeking a moment of solace, escape to sprawling St. Anne’s Park in the city’s northern suburbs. In this area formerly owned by the Guinness family, the rose gardens, playgrounds, soccer fields, and walking paths form a green and spacious urban retreat that’s popular with locals and visitors. On Saturday mornings, peruse the local farmers market that’s held in stables once belonging to Lord Ardilaun, aka Arthur Guinness. Though the Guinness mansion was destroyed back in 1943, the extravagant garden surroundings they created are what form the park today. 18 tennis courts and a par-3 golf course are included in the park’s 450 acres, as is the forested Millennium Arboretum that’s planted with 1,000 different trees. St. Anne’s Park makes a convenient stop when traveling between Dublin and Howth, and is arguably one of the most popular green spaces in Ireland’s happening capital.

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Gougane Barra

Gougane Barra

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When strolling through the trees of the Gougana Barra National Forest Park, and gazing out at the placid waters of Gougana Barra’s lake, you can see why this corner of southwestern Ireland was a place of historical solace. It was here on the island in the middle of the lake, that St. Finnbar—patron saint of Cork—founded a monastery in the 6th century before eventually moving to Cork.
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Wicklow Way

Wicklow Way

With its windswept coastlines and bucolic landscapes, Ireland abounds with hiking routes and the Wicklow Way remains one of the most popular. Boasting notoriety as Ireland’s first waymarked trail, the Wicklow Way opened back in 1980 and attracts nearly 24,000 walkers each year, making it the busiest National Trail in the country.

If you’re looking for a long-distance trail that offers some spectacular views along with constantly varying terrain, the Wicklow Way offers up an array of Irish countryside. This is storybook Ireland at its best: gently undulating foothills and trickling brooks; lush farmlands dotted with sheep and separated by rickety wooden stiles; mist-covered bogs and heather-carpeted moorlands. The Way starts in the southern suburbs of Dublin and runs to County Wicklow – aptly nicknamed the ‘Garden of Ireland’ - through the scenic Wicklow Mountain range.

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