The Giant's Causeway

In a matter of days the long awaited arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama on Irish soil will finally occur.

For months preparations have been underway in the small Co. Offaly village of Moneygall, where Obama’s great-great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney, the son of a shoemaker, hailed from.

Obama joins a long line of U.S. presidents with Irish ancestry. He is the 22nd U.S. president to claim Irish heritage.

To celebrate his arrival in Ireland here is a look at where some of the Irish American presidents have touched down on Irish soil during their term in the White House.

In June 1963, President Kennedy was welcomed by crowds on Dunganstown, Co. Wexford. The great-grandson of an Irish emigrant, he became the first U.S. president to visit Ireland.  As part of his visit he spent four days in the Emerald Isle visiting Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Galway and Limerick.

For the second time Air Force One arrived on Irish soil on June 1, 1984. During his four-day visit Ronald Reagan visited Ballyporeen in Co. Tipperary the home of his great grandfather Michael Reagan. Addressing the crowds gathered his ancestral home, he described his trip as “coming home from a long journey.”

President Clinton, who played a pivotal role in the Northern Irish peace process, arrived on Irish soil for the first time in November 1995. Landing in Belfast City, he was greeted thousands of people who lined the city’s streets. He has made several subsequent trips.

To celebrate President Obama’s trip to Ireland, in conjunction with Discover Ireland, here are 10 places you cannot miss when visiting the Emerald Isle.

1. Dublin City

No trip to Ireland is complete without stopping off in the nation’s capital to sample the sites and atmosphere on offer. There are few things better than relaxing in Stephen’s Green on a warm summer’s day or wandering around the cobble stones of Trinity College. There are hundreds of award-winning restaurants and bars to choose from to find that perfect pint of Guinness.

2. Golfing excursions

Ireland’s unique landscape makes it an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts. The rugged terrain means that every golf course in Ireland presents players with a varied backdrop and beautiful scenery.  There are also countless hidden gem golf courses spread throughout Ireland for the explorer.

3. 
Sun going down on Galway Bay

Galway City is the jewel of the west of Ireland, with the liveliest social scene in the whole country. Be there for the Galway Races or the Arts Festival and watch the city come to life with a million musicians, gamblers, actors and entertainers in one of the great scenes of life.

4. Yeats Country, Co. Sligo

Visit County Sligo to see the final resting place of William Butler Yeats, one of Ireland’s finest poets. Go see his grave at Drumcliffe under the majestic Benbulben Mountain, and visit Rosses Point and Strandhill. You can also visit the grave of Queen Maeve on top of Knocknarea which overlooks Sligo bay. Earth has nothing to show more fair.

5. The River Shannon

John F. Kennedy was captivated by the beauty of the Shannon region during his visit to Ireland in 1963, and it is easy to see why. The River Shannon, Ireland’s longest, encompasses both Limerick and Clare and stretches from glorious beaches like Lahinch and Kilkee to the rugged grandeur of the Cliffs of Moher and inland to wonderful little towns and villages.

6. The Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara is home to passage tombs and burial chambers that date back over 4,000 years. It was the center of the old civilization in Ireland, where kings were crowned and battles fought and won and tribes made merry. In County Meath, just 20 miles or so from Dublin, take a giant step back into the past.

7.  Giant's Causeway
Few places rival the beautiful Northern Ireland coastline north of Belfast. Unspoilt and untouched, the road north from Belfast is a magical mystery tour of the Giant's Causeway, quaint little towns and wonderful beaches. You can even spy Scotland in the distance.

8. Donegal

You take the high road to the Donegal highlands, again impossibly remote and unspoilt but well worth the effort. Towering mountains, wild seas and spectacular scenery, perhaps Ireland’s best-kept secret. The Glenveagh National Park and Castle in a must see.

9. Killarney

So much to see and do in Co. Kerry, one destination you cannot miss is Killarney town. If you want to embrace the great outdoors then head to this location, which offers a wide range of sporting activities and several blue flag beaches. If you are planning a visit during the summer months you should check out the annual Killarney Summer Fest.

10.
The Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains offer spectacular views of Co. Down. CS Lewis was inspired to write about his magical world of Narnia by the rugged landscape of the terrain. With over sixty individual summits, the mountains are 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. They are home to the Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Ulster.

For more information on the above destinations or to plan your trip to Ireland visit www.discoverireland.com