The top ten most beautiful places to visit in Ireland
Make your next vacation to the Emerald Isle special and visit these favorites
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.