From the Cliffs of Moher to the Hill of Tara what better way to celebrate Irishness than with the beauty of Ireland
From the windswept Cliffs of Moher to the rain-soaked Aran Islands, there are a number of sites that no trip to Ireland is complete without. If ancient history is your thing, Ireland has plenty of it: try Newgrange or the Hill of Tara in County Meath. For sheer unadulterated, natural, beauty try the Giant's Causeway or the entire county of Kerry. But there is more to Ireland than countryside and rocks, as any number of attractions in Dublin, such as Trinity College and theGuinness Storehouse in Dublin, suggests.
To narrow this list down to 10 is quite a challenge. But it nevertheless reflects an array of tourist attractions from all corners of Ireland, that will have something for every one.
We compiled this list ourselves but we're open to change! What's your favorite place in Ireland?
1. Boyne Valley
Brú na Bóinne (the Boyne Palace) in County Meath contains some of the most important historic sites and monuments in Ireland, and is a designated World Heritage Site.
It features the massive megalithic ancient passage tombs - which are graves dating back to ancient times - of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. These tombs are older than both Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza inEgypt.
Newgrange, which was built about 5,000 years ago, is Ireland's most famous prehistoric site.
It's especially famous for a spectacular event on Dec. 21, also known as the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The tomb was built in such a way so that on this day, it is illuminated by a narrow beam of sunlight which shines through a specially designed roof box. Those who have seen this say its an unforgettable experience.
Nobody knows why the tomb was built in the way it was, or indeed how the stones were even transported to the site. But it does seem fairly certain that Newgrange was built before the invention of the wheel.
The tomb itself was almost lost to history itself. It was sunk into the ground for over 4,000 years, only rediscovered in 1699 when workers carried away building stones for the landowner. As they removed the stones they discovered the entrance. But they left it undisturbed as they thought it was a cave. Then, in 1962, archaeologists began to investigate the sinking mound. Newgrange was then excavated and restored to its former glory.
Today, access to Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth begins at a visitor center, from where you can take a guided tour of the site.
The Hill of Tara is also in Co. Meath. An archeological complex, it consists of a number of ancient monuments, including the Stone of Destiny, the Fort of the Kings and the Mound of the Hostages. Located on the River Boyne, it is said to be the actual seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
Nearby is the site of the Battle of The Boyne, one of the key dates in Irish history, in which protestant William of Orange defeated Catholic James II in 1690.
2. Ring of Kerry
For many people around the world, the Ring of Kerry drive encapsulates their image of Ireland: ancient monuments, romantic castles, spectacular gardens and colorful towns and villages. The spectacular scenery, dramatic coastline, colorful towns and villages and ancient archaeological treasures have been featured in postcards, film, poetry and song.
Here, the idealized pictorial of Ireland as a land of rural greenery and stunning natural beauty springs to reality. Tourists come to Kerry to experience this rare dip into a lifestyle foreign not just in language and nationality, but in pace, philosophy and spirit. Each twist and turn on a drive around the Ring of Kerry reveals new sights - windswept cliffs, breathtaking scenery, spectacular lakes, rich flora and fauna, green and yellow checkered hills and unspoilt beaches.
There is evidence of the region's unique heritage and culture everywhere, in the place names, the standing stones and the many archaeological sites. The 6th century beehive huts on Skellig Michael are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also worth checking out are the stone forts at Caherciveen and Castlecove, the Neolithic stone circle in Kenmare, the 15th century Ballycarberry Castle, the magnificent O'Connell Memorial Church, Derrynane House and Gardens or the pretty 19th century Heritage town, Kenmare.
The Ring of Kerry is also highly regarded for it culinary delights, such as the local cheeses, seafood and shellfish, lamb and homemade breads. The town of Kenmare, in particular, has a number of very highly regarded restaurants. (It is thought to be the only town in Ireland that has more restaurants than pubs.)
The area is a favorite among artists, writers and sculptors, and there are a number of craft shops and galleries such as Cill Rialaig showcasing their best works. It's also ideal for activity holidays, such as walking and cycling routes, diving and angling and adventures sports, to its array of championship golf courses - Waterville (An Coireán), Dooks, Kenmare and Killorglin.