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Visit Ireland - Places to See
Dun Laoghaire is the departure point near Dublin for Ferries from Ireland to North Wales.

Rosslare: Rosslare Harbor is the departure point for ferries to Fishguard in Wales, and Cherbourg and Le Harve in France.

Wexford: This town is quite old, going back to the 2nd century. Its Irish name is Loch Garman, but it passed into the English language as Wexford because the Vikings couldn't pronounce the Irish. The town is proud of its long traditions and members of the Wexford Society will conduct visitors on walking tours. A Quay runs the full length of the town. Mid-way along the Quay is a statue of Commodore John Barry, father of the American Navy. Barry was born nearby and the statue was a gift from the U.S. Most of the harbor area here has now been silted up. The Guillemot on the Quay is a floating maritime museum. Walking up Wexford's narrow hilly streets you will see Westgate Tower, the only one of it's original 5 gates still standing. Nearby are the ruins of Selskar Abbey. Also in the center of town are two 19th century Gothic churches. They are known as the "twin churches" because their exteriors are identical. Wexford is also associated with opera, and a famous opera festival dating back to 1951. This town is also the country's largest mussel industry. Johnstown Castle, 3 miles south of Wexford contains the Irish Agricultural Museum. Reconstructed stables, a dairy and typical cottage interiors give a good idea of a way of life, which has only recently disappeared.

Waterford: This is a prosperous port with a number of industries. It is best known, however, for the Waterford Glass Factory, now the largest in the world. The Town goes back almost 1000 years ago when Reginald the Dane landed and built a circular guard tower with walls 10 feet thick, and a low conical roof. It is still standing and has served as a fort, a royal residence, a mint, an ammunition magazine, a prison, and now, a museum. The City Hall was built on the Mall in 1788 and has a beautiful Waterford glass chandelier. The Catholic Cathedral on Barronstrand Street is a graceful neo-classical building completed in 1796... and with a richly decorated interior. The Church Of Ireland Christ Church Cathedral in Cathedral Square near City Hall is mainly 19th century, but there are some remnants of the ancient crypt. A tower is virtually the only remnant of the 13th century Franciscan Friary. Another tower of the Dominican Priory is the only major surviving part of the original foundation, which dates back to 1266.

Waterford Glass Factory: This tour is a must! Informative guides lead the way so that you can see the skill of glass blowing, polishing and cutting. There is an excellent lobby display, but no glass is sold on the premises, but there are numerous shops in town.

Dungaryan: Picturesque fishing port.

Youghal: Picturesque fishing port with sandy beaches, seaside amusement facilities and seafood restaurants. There's a rather large bay at the end of the Blackwater River. "The first potato was planted here".

Blarney: Located 5 miles from Cork. Most visitors to Ireland want to kiss the famous Blarney Stone in the hope of acquiring the "gift of gab". All that is left of Blarney Castle, where the stone is located, is its ruined central tower. The castle dates from the mid 15th century, and Queen Elizabeth I created the word "blarney" when she disagreed with the Lord of Blarney, saying "This is all Blarney, what he says, he never means". The Kissing Stone is set in the battlements. To kiss it you must lay on the walk, grasp a rail, lean your head back and kiss. It isn't as dangerous as it sounds, and the stone is scrubbed with disinfectant 4 times a day. The view from Blarney Castle is most impressive. The castle is surrounded by craft shops offering knitwear, crystal, pottery, tweed and linen. The prices here are more competitive here than anywhere else in Ireland.

Tralee: Tralee is a busy, if not especially interesting town. It is associated with the song "Rose of Tralee", which was inspired by the annual Rose Festival, still held in September. Tralee is also the home of Siamsa Tire - the Folk Theatre of Ireland. 5 miles northwest is Ardfert, the ruins of a 13th century cathedral. Teampall Griffin, also nearby dates from the 15th century. Ruins of many forts indicate the early importance of Tralee.

Killarney is a market town which didn't even exist during the 17th century. It was not until the late 18th century that it appeared because of its "great scenic beauty". The lakes and mountains of Killarney are considered as awe-inspiring as anything in Switzerland. While in town, one might take time to see the Catholic Cathedral Of St. Mary, a fine example of the English Gothic. It was completed in 1855, using local limestone. Also see the impressive monument called An Speirbhean (Sky Maiden), which was erected in 1940 to commemorate 4 famous Kerry poets.

The Lakes of Killarney: The three main Lakes of Killarney lie in a valley running south between the mountains. The Lower Lake, largest of the three, is nearest the town. Lower Lake (Lough Leane) has many islands and Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle are located on its eastern shore. It is separated from the Middle Lake by the peninsula of Muckross. A narrow channel connects the Middle and Upper Lakes. Smaller lakes and tarns can be discovered in the depths of the mountains. The lakes are all surrounded by luxuriant woods, which thrive in Killarney's mild climate. Wild orchids are widespread. Birch, holly, mountain ash, and oak are complemented by a wealth of ferns and mosses. The effect of the Ice Age is largely responsible for the scenery. The mountain mass is made of old red sandstone, while the limestone of the valleys around the Lower and Middle Lakes has eroded into strange shapes by the action of the lake waters. Part of Killarney's Lake District lies within Killarney National Park. At the heart of the park is the 10,000-acre Muckross Estate. Cars are not allowed in the Muckross Estate, but it can be fun to take a little two-wheeled horse-drawn cart. The driver will talk non-stop, for you. Once inside the estate you will see Muckross Abbey, one of the best preserved ruins in Ireland... and what a setting.

Cahir is a busy market town built on the River Suir at the eastern end of the Galtee Mountains. The Suir offers good salmon and trout fishing. Cahir Castle, dating from the 15th century, has a massive keep, high enclosing walls and spacious courtyards. It is now used as an "interpretive center". If the castle looks familiar, the movie "Excaliibur" was filmed here. Cahir is also the first town to which the Italian Charles Bianconi introduced his wagons to carry people and mail around Ireland. His home is preserved five miles north of Cahir.

Rock of Cashel rises imposingly to a height of 200 feet above the surrounding plains, and is crowned with a magnificent group of ruins. The name "Cashel" means stone fort, and that was the basic concept of the group of buildings on the rock. The kings of Munster held it as their seat for 7 centuries and St. Patrick plucked the shamrock here to explain as he preached the doctrine of the Trinity. At the base of the rock is the Dominican Friary from the 15th century. The most prominent feature is the Round Tower, standing 92 feet high, having the distinction of a doorway 12 feet above ground level.

Tipperary is the largest inland county in Ireland, though it lays claim to some notable waterways. In the northwest, Tipperary borders on the shores of Shannon's Lough Derg. Similarly, the River Suir provides much appreciated recreational assets. The hills and mountains, plains and river valleys of the area provide a rich variety of scenery. In the south are the Galtee Mountains, extending into County Cork.

The Golden Vale in the middle of the country... are the rich limestone-based grasslands which provide excellent pasture for the thriving herds of cattle. It is also a great county for the breeding of horses, greyhounds, and the sports of soccer and hurling.

Ennis is the friendly capital of County Clare. It's a progressive business and marketing center, but of greater interest to the tourist are the remains of several abbeys in and around town. Ennis Abbey, from the 13th century, Clare Abbey, dates from the 12th century. Killone Abbey is from the 12th century. Ennis is located on the banks of the River Fergus.

Cliffs of Moher rise vertically out of the sea in a five-mile wall that varies in height from 440 to 700 feet, reaching its highest point at O'Brien's Tower, a circular structure erected in 1835. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible. In addition, there are large sea bird colonies of guillemots, puffins, razorbills, and kittiwakes on the cliffs.

Plateau of Burren is noted for its rock formations. At first glance the region appears barren and lifeless... like a moonscape. But below the limestone surface lie spectacular caves, streams, with many seasonal lakes. The flowers and plants of the Burren have made it famous among Botanists. The flora is at its peak about mid-May.

Galway City is located on Galway Bay at the north end of the Lough Corrib, is a busy, thriving seaport. It was founded by a Celtic king whose daughter drowned in the lake. To commemorate her, the king established a camp on the spot. That camp was transformed into Galway by the Normans. Galway City is compact, and easily explored on foot, using Eyre Square as a base. Down a narrow street to the left is Lynch's Castle, an interesting 16th century town house that is now a bank. It still bears the arms of King Henry VII. On Lombard Street, the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas Myra dates back to 1320. Its interior is unusual because the aisles are wider than the nave. It is believed that Christopher Columbus prayed here before sailing to the New World. On the west bank of the river is the Claddagh, said to be the oldest fishing village in Ireland.

Moycullen ... a stop to visit the Connemara Marble Factory. The famous marble is quarried nearby. The factory demonstrates how it is polished.

Connemara: is the name of the western part of County Galway between Lough Corrib and the Atlantic. It is dominated by the rocky Twelve Bens Mountains, and is sparsely populated. The scenery is superb with dramatic changes of color and mood. The constantly changing combinations of sea, sky, mountain and lake, have inspired many famous painters and writers over the years. Lough Corrib provides the largest free fishing waters in Europe. In addition, Connemara is noted for the famous Connemara Pony Stud Farm at Adrahan.

Kylemore is an enchanting valley with three lovely lakes. The wooded mountains rise almost perpendicular from the lakeshore. On the lower slopes is the magnificent, many-turreted castle, which appears to have come straight from a fairy tale. It is now a convent for Benedictine nuns.

Knock is located in County Mayo. Its most famous site is the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock. On 21 August 1879, local people saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John, on the wall of the parish church. Knock has been a shrine ever since. The church is huge... and is capable of holding 20,000 people.

Drumcliffe: One stops here to visit the churchyard where Yeats is buried. He actually died in the south of France, but his body was brought back to Ireland after World War 11, and was interred, as he requested, under a limestone slab "quarried near the spot". On the stone is inscribed the epitaph he wrote for himself, which ends with the lines "Cast a cold eye/On life, on Death, Horseman, pass by".

Bundoran is located on the southwestern shore of Donegal Bay... is one of Ireland's major holiday resorts... with excellent sandy beaches. Between the cliffs of Aughrus Head and Tullan Strand are the Fairy Bridges, strange, rock-formations caused by the action of the sea.

Donegal Town ... at the head of Donegal Bay was an early Viking settlement. That imposing ruin is Donegal Castle, and was rebuilt in the early 16th century, when the large tower was added. One-fourth mile south of town, on the banks of the Eske River are the ruins of a 15th century Franciscan Friary. Donegal's main fame, however, rests on its manufacture of tweed. One of the best places to see it made is at Magee's.

Boyle lies at the foot of the Curlew Mountains between Lough Gara and Lough Key. Lough Key is one of the most beautiful lakes in Ireland, measuring about 6 miles across and studded with enticing islands. It was once part of an estate, but when the estate burned down, the area was incorporated into a forest park. Beside Lough Gara on the north side of the town of Boyle are the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey. It was founded in the 12th century and took 60 years to complete. The nave, choir, and transepts are in a good state of preservation.

Longford: One stops here to see Carrigglas Manor, a splendid mansion built by Thomas Lefroy in 1831.

Kildare: This is the small town where St. Brigid, the patron saint of Ireland (along with St. Patrick and St. Colmcille), founded her nunnery in the 6th century. The Cathedral has been extensively restored but retains many features of the older buildings. The Round Tower nearby, also dates from the 6th century, and has battlements in place of a conical top. Ireland's National Stud Farm is the main attraction here (and its Japanese Garden). This farm was developed by Lord Wavertree who was rather eccentric, even consulting the birth signs and horoscopes of his horses to determine which he should train and when he should run them. In 1915 he presented his estate to the government. An interesting visit!
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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