IrishCentral's top ten places to see in Ireland in honor of St. Patrick's Day
From the Cliffs of Moher to the Hill of Tara what better way to celebrate Irishness than with the beauty of Ireland
4. Giant’s Causeway
The Giant's Causeway, a coastal area of about 40,000 basalt columns near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.
Folklore tells us that an Irish giant named Finn MacCool once lived in the area, and from across the sea he could see a Scottish giant, Benandonner, his rival, whom he had never met.
Finn challenged Benandonner to come to Ireland to fight. Because no boat was big enough to carry the giant, Finn built a causeway of stones in the water so that Benandonner would be able to make it across.
When Finn realized the Scottish giant was far bigger than he had expected, he fled to the hills where his wife disguised him as a baby. This move foxed Bennadonner because he thought that if the child was that big, the father would be even bigger. Benandonner fled back to the Scotland, ripping up the causeway behind him, so that Finn wouldn’t be able to follow him.
In truth, Giant’s Causeway was created by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago – an interesting fact, but the Finn MacCool myth is a bit more fun to believe.
No matter how it came to be, the Causeway is one of the best places to walk through in the North.
5. Aran Islands
A trip to Galway would be incomplete without a visit to the Aran Islands, the collective name for the small islands, Inishmór, Inishmaan and Inisheer. The mystical, frozen-in-time islands are famous for their preservation of a rural existence largely unchanged, at least culturally, over the centuries. There may be some electricity there these days, but the ways of the past are carefully preserved among locals who make their living much the same way their ancestors did.
The residents of the islands are happy to accommodate guests, whether by raising a pint in friendship or unraveling the folklore of the enchanted isles.
Elizabeth Zellinger, a Swiss citizen, moved to Inishmór, the largest island of the three, in 1974 and grew to love it so much that in 1996 she founded Celtic Spirit (www.irish-culture.ch), an organization that runs cultural vacation experiences on the island every summer. Groups of eight to 14 people shuttle back and forth to classes and workshops held at the Creig-an-Chéirín Centerin Inishmór, overlooking the sea and the mountains of Connemara. The program is a great way to explore and learn about this fascinating island group.
If you’d rather explore Inishmór on your own, rent a bike and make a loop around the entire island. On your one-day cycling tour, you’ll encounter ancient ruins, lots of livestock and even miniature houses for leprechauns (or is it for the tourists?).
6. Guinness Storehouse
A trip to Dublin's most popular tourist attraction is pretty much compulsory for any self-respecting tourist in Ireland's capital. Or, at the very least, it should be.
The Guinness Storehouse tells the story of how Guinness is made and how this famous drink came to be one of Ireland's best-known exports.