But one thing not up for argument is the magnificent setting of Trinity: many of its majestic buildings are hundreds of years old. (The college was founded by England's Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1592.) Architecturally at least, Trinity is way above its nearest rivals.
Although the college is best known for the Book of Kells, it's also worth going there to check out the Long Room, the room that holds the Book of Kells. (Apparently, this room was the inspiration for a room called the Jedi Archives, in the movie, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.”)
It is also worth taking one of the guided tours around the college as nearly every building seems to have an interesting story. Many of the tour guides appear to be Trinity College drama school graduates: They always seem to add a little dramatic flair to their tours.
The best time of the year to visit this university is around the end of May, just after the students' exams are over. Then the whole college comes to life.
A popular activity among its students is to sit out outside the Pavilion Bar (known as "The Pav"), while watching a game of cricket. Join them and bring a few beers, if you get the chance.
8. The Burren
The Burren, which is formed by limestone karst plates that have been thrust to the earth’s surface - in other words, it's a great big rocky mass - is one of Ireland’s most famous natural attractions.
The limestone terrain holds a special fascination for geologists and botanists for its Mediterranean and alpine plants.
Described as a botanist's paradise, the Burren has one of the most diverse and beautiful floras in Ireland: 635 different plant species (including 22 of Ireland's 27 native orchids) have been recorded here.
The region also has a number of more rare and elusive species such as the carnivorous pine marten, the snake-like slow worm and the rare lesser horseshoe bat, as well as over 100 breeding birds and almost all of Ireland's native butterfly species.
The diversity of species is due to a happy coincidence of natural and cultural factors. As well as the unique growing environment provided by the thick limestone and thins soil, low impact traditional farming practices such as the ancient practice of winter grazing contribute to the presence of this rich flora. The European Union has designated most of the Burren as a Special Area of Conservation, a title reserved for the finest natural environments in Europe.
9. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral, Ireland’s largest church, is also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dublin.
In a well close to the cathedral, St Patrick was believed to have baptized converts from paganism to Christianity. To commemorate his visit, a small wooden church was built on the site. Later, in 1191, the present building was constructed, and St. Patrick's was raised to the status of a cathedral.
St Patrick's is also notable for being the first place where Handel's “Messiah” was performed, in 1742. Another interesting fact: Jonathan Swift, the author of “Gulliver’s Travels,” who was the dean of the cathedral from 1713-45, is buried here.
While this cathedral is replete with history, St. Patrick's is not, however, a museum. It's still very much a living building with services held every day of the year. There are also sung services six days a week. The choir sings two services every day during school terms - the only cathedral in Ireland or Britain to do so.
10. Croke Park
Croke Park is the stadium where Ireland's two national sports, hurling and Gaelic football, are played. It is also the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the sporting body responsible for these national games.
It is hard to belive that Croke Park is primarily designed for amateur sports - with a capacity of aroound 80,000, it is the fouth largest stadium in Europe.
But it's much more than merely a stadium: it has been described as the spiritual home of Irish cultural nationalism. Hurlers and Gaelic footballers - and indeed their fans - speak of Croke Park as if it were sacred ground.
"Croker" is something of a hidden secret for tourists. If you can get a tickets, the chances are that you will be one of the few tourists there. The best time to get tickets is usually around May at the start of the season. To go and see a game of either hurling or football at Croke Park is to sample a unique slice of Irish life.
While you're there, visit the GAA museum and for a tour of the grand stadium.
Log in with your social accounts:
Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:
Don't have an account yet? Register now !
Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:
Already have an account ? Log in
Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:
Make sure we gathered the correct information from you
You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.
Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: