Beyond Dublin – five things to add to your Ireland itinerary
written by Julia Hammond
Dublin’s a delight, with plenty of history and culture to impress any traveller. But to limit yourself to the Irish capital would be a mistake, as there’s so much to see in the rest of the country. Where should you go? Here are Mundana’s suggestions for five things to add to your Ireland itinerary.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
Kissing the Blarney Stone is a tradition that goes back centuries. It’s thought that by doing so, you’ll receive the gift of the gab. If you’ve ever found yourself tongue tied, you’ll appreciate what a fine gift that is. The stone is located at Blarney Castle, not far from the city of Cork. The stone is set into one of the castle’s towers. Once, visitors would have been held by their ankles and dangled over the battlements. These days, thanks to health and safety, you’ll just need to lean backwards from the parapet walk. You won’t look very elegant, but that’s a small price to pay for eternal eloquence.
Enjoy the view from the Cliffs of Moher
Ireland’s coastline isn’t short of dramatic vistas, but the Cliffs of Moher are a standout. Time your visit for fine weather and climb the lookout point called O’Brien’s Tower. From the top, you’ll enjoy views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins mountain range and the Maum Turk mountains. You might even catch a glimpse of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. The pretty flowers and lush grass make this a colourful spot and a firm favourite with Instagrammers.
Appreciate the culture, food and history of Galway
Galway is one of Ireland’s most charming cities. Boasting a number of festivals, try and time your visit for July to catch the Arts Festival or September to enjoy the Oyster Festival. Nightlife is another big draw. After dark its pubs are jumping with the best music and craic around. If you have a big night, try not to sleep all day, as this historic city is pleasant to explore on foot. Check out the imposing cathedral and also Lynch’s castle, which is in fact a mediaeval town house dating from the 16th century.
Catch a boat to Skellig Michael
Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) is home to a well-preserved monastery perched on a rocky outcrop surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Hop on board for a boat trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climb 500 steps up an ancient stone stairway to reach the monastery and its cemetery, stone crosses and beehive huts. In season, this remote place is an internationally renowned site to spot breeding seabirds, particularly puffins. It’s this combination of nature and history that makes Skellig Michael so enticing.
Learn how they make Waterford Crystal
Along with Guinness, Waterford crystal is one of Ireland’s best loved exports. The factory is open to visitors and it’s a fascinating tour. Learn how the famous glassware is made – watch the molten glass being blown and then see it take shape in the wooden moulds. Specialist craftsmen take hours, even days, to engrave intricate designs using copper wheels. Afterwards, pick up a souvenir glass, vase or bowl in the shop.