Every corner of Ireland has its own unique charm, but some features stand out as magnets that draw multitudes of visitors year after year. Below you will find details of some Irish tourist attractions that you really should not miss.
Dublin Zoo is one of Ireland’s top attractions, with visitor numbers reaching 960,000 in 2010. Open since 1813, Dublin Zoo is Ireland’s biggest zoo, covering 24 hectares (59 acres) of Phoenix Park.
In May 2011, the zoo delivered a record 12 new arrivals, including a blackbuck calf, a Sulawesi-crested macaque, a giraffe, and a gorilla.
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Teetering 23 meters over the Atlantic, a light rope bridge links Carrick-a-Rede island to mainland Northern Ireland. Watch seabirds including fulmars, kittywakes, and guillemots wheel and dive above and below, and be prepared for some dizziness as you look across at Rathlin Island and Scotland!
The bridge is connected to the main road via a short coastal footpath, which offers excellent viewing points of the breath-taking local scenery.
More than 4 million people have visited the Guinness Storehouse, at St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, in the past decade. The Storehouse celebrates the beer’s four ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast, and commemorates the brewery’s founder, Arthur Guinness.
Exhibitions on other floors showcase the history of Guinness advertising and feature an interactive exhibit that promotes sensible drinking. A wing opened in 2006 houses a live installation of the present day brewing process.
In the seventh-floor Gravity Bar, visitors may enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness and savour the 360° views over Dublin City.
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Extending across many acres and into adjoining townlands, Carrowmore represents the largest grouping of megalithic monuments in Ireland. The immense Neolithic burial ground may once have hald more than 100 tombs.
Recent controversial dating by a team of Swedish archaeologists suggests that several of the tombs may predate 400 BC.
The cairn-crowned hill of Knocknarea (1,014 feet), traditionally held to be the burial place of Queen Maeve of Connacht, lies to the north-west of the Carrowmore group.
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Garnish Island is a subtropical paradise located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, in Southwest Ireland. With the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, the climate is generally balmy. Accessible only by boat, the island houses the fairytale gardens of Ilnacullin and offers the Kerry mountains as a backdrop.
College Street, Dublin 2, Dublin
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is the oldest in the country and is situated in an enviable position in the very heart of Ireland’s capital. The college has produced such famous graduates as Edmund Burke, Oliver Goldsmith (whose statue stands outside), Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker.
The College distinguished itself by admitting female students to degrees as early as 1903. With its wide squares and gracious buildings, Trinity is an oasis of quiet encircled by busy streets. Its oldest surviving block, the Rubrics, dates from Queen Anne’s time. Today the college population exceeds 12,000 students and 1,200 staff.
Ireland’s premier monastic site is set in tranquil and inspiring surroundings on the banks of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, two round towers, eight churches, three high crosses, as well as a large collection of early Christian grave slabs.
Features include a visitor centre and museum display, a multi-lingual audio-visual presentation, a coffee shop, and a tourist information office.
During the Bronze Age, people protected themselves against marauding invaders by building their homes on lakes. These lake dwellings, known as “crannog,” have been recreated at Craggaunowen Castle. The Castle itself was restored by art historian John Hunt and now contains a part of his collection of medieval art.
The project also includes a ring fort, a reproduction of a farmer’s house dating from the 4th or 5th century, an Iron-Age roadway, and an outdoor cooking site or “Fulacht Fiadh”.
A key feature is the Brendan, the hide boat in which Tim Severin re-enacted the voyage of Saint Brendan from Ireland to America.
One of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange is older than Stonehenge, Mycenae, or even the pyramids in Egypt. Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre is the starting point for a tour of Newgrange.
Bunratty, Bunratty, Clare
Ireland’s most popular attraction, Bunratty Castle is also the most complete and authentic medieval castle in Ireland.
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