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Ireland

Fast Facts

Country Name: Republic of Ireland
Capital: Dublin
Languages Spoken: English is official but Irish also spoken in some parts
Currency: Euros, but pound sterling is still valid at some outlets. US dollars are accepted at few outlets
Time zone: Western European time zone, which is same as the GMT
Religion: Christianity
Climate: Year-round temperate climate with warm summers and rain falls year round and snowfall is a rare phenomenon here.
Population Density: A 2006 estimate says it is about 60 per km2
Country Code: 353

 

In Europe, Ireland is the third largest island and also is the 20th largest island in the world. The name Ireland is originated from the word 'Eriu' along with the addition of the Germanic word land. The first official language of the Irish Republic is the Irish and it is the second common spoken language. Ireland is a multilingual country and English is the first common spoken language of the country. The economy of the country mainly depends on agriculture with livestock farming.

History

Around 300 BC the Celts from Eastern Europe reached Ireland and they kept the control of the country for 1000 years and left a legacy of language and culture that survives even today. Ireland became the outpost of European civilization mainly after the arrival of Christianity between the 3rd and 5th centuries. During the 9th century Vikings settled in Ireland and formed alliances with native families and chieftains. Vikings founded Dublin that was a small Viking kingdom in the 10th century. In 1169, the English came with Normans and captured Wexford and Dublin with ease. Henry II, an English king was recognized as Lord of Ireland by the pop. Henry captured Waterford in 1171 and declared as royal city. Lords of Anglo-Norman also set up power bases in Ireland.

Under the rule of Henry VII and Elizabeth I English power was merged together. In the English Civil war, the native Irish and the Old English Catholics supported the royalist. Oliver Cromwell came after the execution of Charles I (the victorious protestant parliamentarian) to Ireland. Harsh penal laws were imposed is known as the 'popery code' in the year 1695. During that period Catholics were banned from buying land, bringing their children as Catholics and also from joining the forces or the law. They banned all the Irish culture, music and education and the religion and culture were kept alive through secret open air masses and illegal outdoor schools.

The 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin made it possible for the independence of the Ireland and the Irish republicans won a large majority of Irish seats in Britain's general election in the year1918. Britain declared Ireland as independent and formed the first assembly under the leadership of the surviving hero of the Easter Rising, Dail Eireann. This resulted in the Anglo-Irish war that lasted from 1919 to the middle of 1921 and the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 gave independence to 26 Irish countries.

Geography

Ireland is separated from the Great Britain by the Irish Sea and is situated in the Atlantic Ocean. Except in the Dublin region, Ireland resembles a central plain bordered with mountains.

 

Attractions in Ireland

The astonishing diversity of the island with it spectacular scenery drags the tourists to this country. The diversity ranges from the Cliffs of Moher to the Fermanagh lakes, from the glories of West Cork to the sublime beauty spot of the Sally Gap. There are plenty of tourist attractions in Ireland will fill your days with enthusiasm and wonder.

The Connemara Countryside

The countryside is one of the Ireland's five national parks with two natural trails that are signposted. The natural trails starts at the Visitor Center in Letterfrack, provides the views of Ballinakill Harbour, Inishbofin and Inishark. This countryside is located in Letterfrack in Galway County.

The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher are located to the north of Lahinch, on the coast of West Clare and it is one of the most beautiful attractions in Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are the highest cliffs in Europe and the cliffs are also the site of ancient building which are once used as watch towers to warn of invading Vikings. You can see the Clare coastline from its vantage point, the Aran Islands and mountains as far apart as Kerry and Connemara. Opening times in March to October 29th from 9.30 to 6.00pm and there are no admission fees.

The Burren

It is a huge are covered in limestone and plants grow at the Burren will not grow anywhere else in the world. The rain and rivers have intricately carved holes and caves. Among these caves Aillwee cave is the most spectacular one. Rock climbing is possible through its spectacular rock faces, canoe its lakes or crawl through its caves. This tourist attraction is situated in the South County Clare and North County Kerry. Opening time of the cave is from March 8 to November 8 and is open on all days from 10 to 17.30 and is also open from July to August 10-18.30. There are no entrance fees.

Blarney Castle and the Blarney stone

This is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland and also one of the oldest and most historic castles is situated in County Cork. At the top of Blarney castle the famous Blarney stone is embedded in the Battlements.

The Lakes of Killarney

This is situated in the Kerry County and it occupies a broad valley stretching south between the mountains. The lakes and the mountains are all included in the Killarney National Park.

The Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands

Located in County Kerry, the Blasket Islands are red sandstone rocks are spread out in the Atlantic and can be found two mile beyond the westernmost tip of the peninsula. The ruined hermitages and forts on several of the islands show that they were occupied in early historic times.

Powerscourt Gardens

Powerscourt is one of the great gardens in the world and it is located to 12 miles south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. Richard Wingfield started the garden in 1740s and the garden covers more than 45 acres. These gardens are a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces and ornamental lakes. There are more than 200 varieties of trees and shrubs. The Palladian House of 18th century now provides a unique shopping experience, terrace café and house exhibition. This garden is located in the Wicklow County.

Newgrange

Newgrange is a building, which is 5000 years old and is situated in County Meath. This structure is older than the Great pyramids of Giza. The structure is covered in Celtic spirals and no body knows the use of the structure. Some people believes that it was a pagan holy building and some others think that it was a calendar as it only allows sunlight to enter the building one day of each year, the winter solstice.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway is situated in Northern Ireland in County Antrim. The Irish Giant Fionn Maccumhaill, according to Irish legend, hew huge stones in the Irish Sea to reach his wife in Scotland. The stones are known as Giant's Causeway. Nobody can believe that the strange polygonal basalt rocks are not man-made but are due to the result of an eruption. Visitors can walk along the basalt columns which are at the edge of the sea.

County Tyrone

County Tyrone has many attractions to attract every eager visitor is in Northern Ireland. Beaghmore has the most extensive concentration of stone circles in Ireland. It consists of seven stone circles and it is located to the North West of Cookstown. The High Cross at Ardboe is situated on the shore of Lough Neagh and is the remains of a monastery of 9th century. The cross is high and standing at 18feet is a national monument. Gortin Glen Forest Park is located just six miles from Omagh county town.

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty castle and Folk Park is one of the Ireland's popular attractions. Bunratty Folk Park occupies around 26 acres of land with the reproduction of traditional Irish country cottages and homesteads. The park also consists of typical houses, shops, stores and street scenes from Ireland of the Victorian era. The opening times of the castle are in June to August from 9am to 18.00pm and rest of the year it will be open from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Admission fees for adult is € 15, child €9 and for family €34.25.

Craggaunowen

Located in County Care and it offers a taste of Celtic life which is a reproduction of Bronze Age village and the 16th century Craggaunowen castle. The castle was built in 1550, which is standing on a crag overlooking the lake. The castle displays early crafts and farming techniques. The exhibition of Craggaunowen also displays the Brendan, the leather hulled boat used by the explorer Tim Severin to sail across the Atlantic in 1976-77. The castle is open during mid April to September from 10am to 6pm and the entrance fee for adult is €8.95, child is €5.25 and for the family is €21.50.

Dromore Wood

It is a natural reserve with diversity and richness of flora and fauna and richness comes from the different types of habitat. The place is open throughout the year from 10am to 6pm and there is no admission fee.

Scattery Island Center

This is an information center with a wonderful exhibition on the history of the monastery consisting of the round tower and several churches and on the wildlife of the area. It is opened in mid June to mid September daily from 10amto 6pm and no admission fees.

King John's castle

This castle was built between 1200 and 1210 during the first conquest of Ireland. There are a number of exhibitions in the castle depicts the history of the castle, of Limerick and of the personal life of the unpopular King John. An archaeological site is there to explore the excavated findings from 1900/01 showing that how the site of the castle was a Viking village.

Knappogue Castle

This is a castle of 15th century and is located in the center of the County Clare countryside and provides a new experience with fabulous grounds and walled gardens. In this castle medieval castle banquet are held from April to October.

Hunt Museum

This is one of the Ireland's premier museums with finest private collections of art and antiquities in the world. The collections include artifacts from Stone Age to the 20th century and are famous for its religious art. The most famous pieces in the collection are the personal seal of the King Charles I of England, bronze horse by Leonardo da Vinci, paintings of Picasso, Renoir and Yeats etc.

Things to do in Ireland

Cycling is an ideal way to explore the country. Golf courses in Ireland are special with an ambience and you can go for a horseriding as there are high quality riding facilities are available through the scenic and spectacular countryside. You can also reserve seats on intercity rail services with dining facilities and can go for water sports in the clean and unpolluted island country with hundreds of lakes and rivers. The country is a walker's paradise with spectacular walking in ancient and unspoilt landscape. You can also go for hiking and one of the wonderful places for hiking is the Mountains of Mourne.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Ireland is famous in the world and the country has cozy country pubs to lively city nightclubs and cafes. Pubs are the center of Irish nightlife which is a great place for talking, meeting people, catching up on some local gossip, eating, drinking and having a good time. The most common type of pubs is the traditional pubs with the basic pleasure of good beer, good conversation and few frills. The cities and town are having continental style café bars, disco bars and nightclubs. One of the most eventful nightlife scenes in Europe is in Dublin. Pubs are allowed to open till 1am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday s and 11.30am during the rest of the week. The opening hours of nightclubs have been extended from 2 to 3am in the morning. The nightlife in Galway and Cork are much influenced by the student populations. The pubs such as Brazen Head, Caheny's pub, Club Lapello, Cronin's Irish pub, Earth nightclub, Equinox, Finn's bar, Frank Owens etc are some of the clubs and pubs in Ireland.

Where to Stay?

Irish Hotels range from world-class to modest and there are guesthouses and self-catering holiday homes of all sizes and types suiting all wallets.

These are the list of some good hotels in Ireland:

Adare
Athlone
Ballyvaughan
Belfast
Cashel
Connemara
Dingle
Douglas
Dublin
Ennis
Glin
Killorglin
London Derry
Mallow
Middleton
Naas
New Town Mt. Kennedy
Park Nasilla
Ros Common
Ross Nowlagh Lower
Wexford

Tips:

Ireland is a very safe country in all Europe. Tobacco lovers may not appreciate this but they cannot smoke inside restaurants and cafés because smoking has been banned. Driving here is on left hand side so if you are coming from US you better hire a chauffer rather rent a car. Tipping up to 20% of the bill is common in restaurants and pubs.

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