Historic Sites of Ireland
Posted by Ola Kosakowska on the 4th of December 2015 at 08:36:19
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Ireland’s vast and impressive History is just one of the many things that attracts visitors to her emerald shores and it would be nearly impossible to ignore Ireland’s epic past as you walk through her Viking cities or drive past her ancient burial sites and historic castles. This rich tapestry of history from pre-Historic times to the Vikings and the Normans has left an indelible mark on Ireland’s people from our myths and legends, to our music and literature to the architecture dotting the landscape and street-scape.
But with so many sites to pick from which are the ones that you should visit on your tour of Ireland? Well, here are some of my suggestions!
Ceide Fields, County Mayo
– this is a most unique and ancient site dating to the Stone Age. It is a series of field systems, megalithic tombs, walled fields and dwellings which are approximately 6,000 years old and the world’s oldest known field system. This unique site was preserved by a blanket of peat and has enabled archaeologists and historians to gain a real insight into the lives of early Irish people. Located close to some spectacular cliffs, this really is a must see – a real glimpse into pre-historic times!
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
- this ancient monastic site was once a powerful and wealthy community situated along the banks of the River Shannon. Founded in 546 by St. Ciarán, it was a major epicenter for craft and religious teachings and had close dynastic links with the kings of Meath and Connaught. Today, you can take a tour of the site and see some wonderful examples of early Irish high crosses which highlight the skill of the craftsmen even today. The interpretive center guides you through the history of the site and surrounding area with a great coffee and gift shop attached too!
Dunluce Castle, County Antrim
– this castle teetering on the wilds of the Antrim coast is for me one of my most favorite places. Rugged and windswept this ruined Medieval castle is located on a rocky outcrop and is reached via a windswept bridge from the mainland. It is a castle with a vast history – constantly being fought over for its strategic position both geographically and politically – it has survived into the 21st century despite battles from both man and nature. In a gorgeous location, take a tour of the castle which dates to 1500’s and imagine what once was. Magical!
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
- located just 20 minutes from Dublin’s city center, Glasnevin has over 1.5 million people interred within her grounds from poets to presidents, musicians to singers and everyone else in between! The cemetery has undergone some changes in recent years – grave stones have been carefully restored, older areas of the cemetery tidied up and repaired and an interpretive center built where you can sip on a coffee as you look for any relatives buried with Glasnevin’s walls. It is a great all round attraction with wonderful tour guides, and with a gate just opened to link the cemetery to the Botanic Gardens –you get two great visits in one!
Newgrange, County Meath
– this prehistoric site pre-dates both Stonehenge in England and the pyramids of Egypt. Situated in the Boyne Valley or Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange is just one of several similar such sites in the area, and the only one open to visitors. It is primarily a burial tomb, but was also most probably a setting too for ceremonies and various festivals and gatherings throughout the year. In a magnificent feat of engineering, on December 21st – the longest day of the year, the inner tomb of Newgrange becomes illuminated by the light of the Wintery Sun, an enthralling, wondrous experience - a lasting testament to the ingenuity of pre-historic man.
Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, County Clare – a dominating presence on the Burren landscape this magnificent portal tomb was once a site of much importance to pre-historic man. Dating to between 3,800 BC to 3,600 BC, an excavation in the 1980’s revealed the bodies of several men, women and children along with some small artefacts such as an axe and beads. Standing at 6 feet tall, two thin standing stones support a 12 foot slab/capstone – an amazing feat as to how this was achieved during the Neolithic period!
Skellig Michael, County Kerry
– is the larger of the two Skelling Islands which lie of the Kerry coast. The island was once home to a monastery, founded between the 6th to 8th centuries by some hardy monks and was inhabited right up to the 12th century - amazing really when you feel the exposure from the relentless onslaught of the tempestuous Atlantic! Today, you can visit this rocky island and marvel at the beehive stone huts which the monks built, lived and worshipped in. Access to the site is limited – 618 steps will take you to the top so not everyone will make that journey up. However, you can just take a boat trip around the islands and just soak up all that beautiful scenery!
So have a look at our Ancient and Historic Tours
today and include some of these sites to your tour itinerary! Or perhaps just Get a Quote
from one of our friendly travel experts and ask them to incorporate some or all of them into your tour of Ireland!