That the four provinces of Ireland began as loosely bordered kingdoms is something of an afterthought to most tourists, but each province is rich in a history that unlocks and often predates the time of the High Kings’ reign. Today, provinces split Ireland’s counties into sections that are different but share the common ground of beautiful landscape, ancient history and a myriad of attractions for first-time and seasoned visitors alike.
Connacht, the western province of Ireland, is famous for Galway City, the third largest city in Ireland, but also for its breathtaking natural landscape, evoking the ethereal poetry of W.B. Yeats in Sligo and the unparalleled portrayal of life on the Aran Islands by J.M. Synge. Leinster, as our guide points out, is rich with medieval castles, sport, and theater, and is of course home to Ireland’s capital, Dublin City. Munster, being the birthplace of the modern Gaelic games, has a strong sporting heritage, especially hurling and rugby. There are many ancient castles and monasteries in the province; this coupled with the vast green countryside and three cities makes it a feature of the tourism industry. Ulster, which includes the six counties of Northern Ireland, draws visitors to its unique coastline of basalt columns, the Giant’s Causeway, as well as to Belfast, its youthful city.
The four provinces are diverse, so we have broken them down by county, highlighting familiar attractions as well as lesser-known sights to delight history buffs, golfers, nature lovers, and fans of the arts and leisure alike. Whether Ireland is a destination of relaxation or of adventure, each county always has something new – or thousands of years old – to discover.