Are you planning a trip to Ireland any time soon? Perhaps you’re going to visit family, get in touch with your roots or just travel through the Emerald Isle’s famously verdant countryside.
For those of you who intend on making your way over the Atlantic, we’ve prepared a list of ‘must-sees’ that we think every visitor to Ireland should experience at least once, starting with:
1. Blarney Castle, County Cork
The magic of the Blarney Stone is a legend that has been told far and wide over the centuries; visitors to Blarney Castle are invited to hang upside down, lean out over a vertical drop and kiss the stone. Those who brave it are granted the gift of the gab. It’s what gave the stone its other name, the Stone of Eloquence.
While the Stone may be famous, however, it’s far from the only reason to visit Blarney Castle. A fortification of some sort has stood on this site since 1200, and the current Blarney Castle is rich in history, surviving siege, sacking and seizure. If you’ve followed the tourist trail south, Blarney Castle should be high on your list of places to see.
2. Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol’s fearsome notoriety is something that lives on to this day, the building’s foreboding walls having housed squalor, executions and overcrowding. Kilmainham Gaol has played host to a cross section of Irish society, from 7 year-old children to revolutionaries like Joseph Plunkett and Éamon de Valera.
Operating as a museum since the ‘70s, a visit to Kilmainham Gaol is a must for anyone interested in modern Irish history. If exploring your family history has brought you to Kilmainham Gaol, you may find your research is enhanced by the Irish Prison Registers on findmypast.com.
3. Guinness Storehouse
Clichéd though it may be, no tourist trip to Dublin is really complete without a visit to Arthur Guinness’ Storehouse. A shrine to the black stuff, the Storehouse is built around a central atrium that is shaped like a pint of Guinness.
Within it, you’ll find a comprehensive history of Guinness, as well as ample opportunities to sample Dublin’s finest including a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar on the building’s top floor, included in the price of admission. Not to be missed.
4. Rock of Cashel
Steeped in mythology and legend, the Rock of Cashel is a site in County Tipperary that was the seat of the Kings of Munster over 1,000 years ago. In fact, St. Patrick is said to have converted the King of Munster at the Rock of Cashel in the 5th century, which means that the story of Ireland’s ancient history has been played out in part at the exact spot.
With buildings still standing that date back almost a millennium, the Rock of Cashel is perfect for anyone interested in learning about Ireland’s history, or just travellers looking for breath-taking views. Were your ancestors Ireland’s ancient inhabitants? You can find out more in the millions of records at findmypast.com.
5. Brú na Bóinne
Situated around 25 miles north of Dublin, Brú na Bóinne is, according to World Heritage Ireland ‘one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes’. The site has been home to human societies or settlers since at least 6,000 years ago, and today Brú na Bóinne is littered with incredible relics of prehistory, including the famous passage grave at Newgrange, that attracts visitors the year round.
For more stories on tracing your Irish heritage from Findmypast click here.