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The beautiful five-star Merrion Hotel, in the center of Dublin, really knows how to "do" Christmas. Photo by: MerrionHotel.com

The top ten places to celebrate Christmas in Ireland (PHOTOS)

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The beautiful five-star Merrion Hotel, in the center of Dublin, really knows how to "do" Christmas. Photo by: MerrionHotel.com

The pantomime is an distinctly Irish and English comic theatre style where a well known fairy tale can turn into the most pointed attacks on the government and society figures of the day. Ostensibly for children, these shows come larded with sentimental songs and vicious political satire that will keep adults chuckling too.

In Dublin the Gaiety and the Olympia theatre’s are the two celebrated venues for this kind of seasonal theatrical fun. If you want to celebrate Christmas the way the Irish themselves do be sure to book your tickets when you arrive.

7. Funderland at the RDS

From December 26 Funderland at the RDS is the world’s largest travelling amusements show. Go along and you’ll discover that all Dublin stops by although the place itself never feels too crowded.

Featuring five roller coasters, two giant Ferris wheels, and all manner of thrilling attractions this show is an annual hit with kids and all kids at heart. http://www.rds.ie/events/funderland

8. The Abbey Theatre

Abbey Theatre, in Dublin

This Christmas Ireland’s national theatre, the Abbey, will stage an enduring world masterpiece – J.M. Synge’s unforgettable comic satire The Playboy of The Western World.

When the original show was staged in the same venue in 1907 it caused a riot that even the mighty W.B. Yeats himself had trouble subduing. “Ireland you have disgraced yourselves once again!” he thundered at the restive audience, but interestingly he didn’t elaborate on which previous disgraces he was thinking of.

The play endures, as does this elegant theatre, and this may well be the highlight of your Dublin stay this Christmas (be sure to pop into the nearby bar The Flowing Tide for a quick constitutional after the show and you’ll be having a night out like a true Dubliner.

9. An authentic Irish country house

The beautiful Muckross House, in Killarney, County Kerry

What could be better than Christmas spent in a country house in Ireland? With roaring fires, afternoon teas, hot chocolate and lively guests to meet? The worldwide recession means that this is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to live your dream and take that winter break you’ve always dreamed of. Start by exploring one of Ireland’s best tourist guides and soon you’ll have your feet up in resplendent surrounds – in a country where a white Christmas is always a distinct possibility. http://www.discoverireland.com/us/

10. Christchurch Cathedral

Ring in the New Year at Christchurch Cathedral, at the heart of the city of Dublin for almost 1,000 years. The cathedral of Holy Trinity, commonly called Christ Church, was founded by the Vikings, rebuilt by the Anglo-Normans and restored by the Victorians.

Architecturally, it is famed for its Norman crypt (the second largest in Britain or Ireland) and for the arcading of the nave, which is considered to be the finest example of Early English in the country.

The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church cathedral to its present location around 1030. Dunan, the first bishop of Dublin and Sitriuc, Norse king of Dublin, founded the original Viking church, which was probably subject to the archbishop of Canterbury. It’s the perfect venue to appreciate the long history of the nation. And afterwards you can sample the finest Fish and Chips you’ll ever taste at the nearby Leo Burdock’s chip shop (a famous Dublin landmark not known to tourists).

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