Ireland’s top ten travel tips - see gallery
Just ten of hundreds of great experiences to be had in the Emerald Isle
8. See the Sun Go Down on Galway Bay
If you plan to “see the sun go down on Galway Bay,” head to Connemara (www.connemara.ie) overlooking Galway Bay in the western part of County Galway. Named from the Irish words, Cuain na Mara, “Connemara” means “harbors of the sea.” And Connemara is one continuous panorama of harbors and seascapes, plus the awesome Twelve Bens mountains and endless boglands. Beyond the Galway Bay views, sheep graze on the rocky hillsides, the sweet aroma of turf fires permeates the air, and road signs are painted in the Irish language. For more information: www.discoverireland.ie/west.aspx
9. Venture off the Beaten Path
Be a trendsetter. Go to Donegal (www.dun-na-ngall.com). Only 10% of Americans who visit Ireland ever get to this isolated area, in the remote northwest corner of Ireland, but it is well worth the extra effort to drive up from Dublin, Shannon, Galway, or other more popular tourist hubs. Tweed is the lifeblood of Donegal. No one knows exactly when the industry began but one thing is certain – the making of colorful hand-woven tweed has put Donegal on the map – and visitors are welcome to watch tweed being woven at enterprises such as Magees (www.mageeshop.com) in Donegal Town or Studio Donegal (www.studiodonegal.ie) in Kilcar. Once people come here for the tweed, they find many other reasons to be glad that they have made the long journey. This area not only offers heaping measures of natural scenery and unspoiled beauty, but it is also rich in Irish culture and tradition. Many road signs are in Irish, too, so it is easy to get lost, but that is part of the fun, because the locals will come out of nowhere to help and set you on the right road, or maybe even invite you home for tea. For more information: www.discoverireland.ie/northwest.aspx
10. Sample the Northern Delights
The Northeast corner of Ireland – otherwise called Northern Ireland or simply The North – is enjoying a new emphasis on political progress and harmony. Peace and prosperity have arrived, and Northern Ireland is a now a magnet for visitors. Two focal points are Belfast, quickly becoming Europe’s new “in” city, and Derry (www.derryvisitor.com), one of Europe’s finest intact walled cities. Scenic areas include the Glens of Antrim (www.northantrim.com/theglensofantrim.htm), Mountains of Mourne (www.mournemountains.com), and the silvery shorelines of Lough Erne (www.fermanaghlakelands.com), but the top attraction by far is the Giant’s Causeway (www.giantscausewayireland.com), a natural rock formation stretching for three miles along the coast. Formed millions of years ago, the causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site and often called the 8th wonder of the world. For more information: www.discovernorthernireland.com.
Patricia (Pat) Preston has written 23 travel books (15 about Ireland). Her latest book, Ireland Travel 101 (http://www.IrelandTravel101.com) won 1st Place in the Travel Guide category of the North American Travel Journalists Association annual competition this year. Visit Pat’s web site (http://www.IrelandExpert.com).