Hi, I’m Patty Kim. Ireland: it’s an exciting mix of the old and the new. Here you’ll find the quiet of the countryside and the exuberance of the city. But Ireland is still well stocked with those glorious castles and windswept landscapes. It really is a jewel of a destination… deserving of its nickname, “the Emerald Isle.”
Historically, Ireland was divided into the four provinces of Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster. Today most of Ulster is now Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland covers five-sixths of the island. Its capital is Dublin.
In Dublin, start along the River Liffey for tours of Dublin’s architecture. Visit Trinity College and explore Ireland’s oldest university and its vast libraries.
But for a real brush with history, travel to the Boyne Valley in County Meath and see Newgrange. This massive tomb is similar in purpose to the Pyramids of Giza, though it was built over five thousands years ago, before the Pyramids were even a twinkle in a Pharaohs’ eye. Ireland’s Stone Age inhabitants built it to house their honored dead…and perhaps for something more. At sunrise on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, a beam of light enters the central chamber. What significance this had for the builders is a still a matter of debate. Enter the tomb and decide for yourself. The experience is illuminating.
Ireland has produced a plethora of castles, churches and towers. Its monasteries became important centers of learning during the Dark Ages and its fortresses were strategic battlegrounds against the island’s frequent invaders. The Rock of Cashel, near Tipperary, served both a secular and religious function. According to legend, this fortress of the Munster kings was visited by St. Patrick himself and eventually became an important medieval cathedral.
If your tastes cater more toward scenery than history, you’re in luck. Opportunities abound. Near Galway, the Cliffs of Moher rise more than 650 feet from the sea providing dramatic views of the coast. Also nearby are the surreal landscapes of the Burren with its cracked limestone and brooding ruins.
When it’s time for more leisurely pace…you can travel along the River Shannon…ride horses in the Connemara…or stroll through quaint towns and lush countryside, colored in Ireland’s forty shades of green.