We all travel to a foreign country armed with a bucket list of “must see’s”. In Ireland it is Guinness Storehouse, The Jameson Distillery Experience, Book of Kells, Giants Causeway, Titanic Experience, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Stone & Castle, Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Glendalough. All are well worth the time, cost and effort. But hold on to that thought, what if you could see all these and more? Lots more there is much more to be seen and experienced and even the likes of the Cliff’s of Moher can be experienced in a different more meaningful way. So armed with these toughts try the following “10 Hidden Irish Gem’s”.
1.) Dublin City – should the book of Kells be booked out, try the Chester Beatty Gallery and Library of World Treasures in Dublin Castle, the library houses a stunning collection of priceless manuscripts from around the World. This awe in spiring collection will leave you breathless by the asian and Middle eastern manuscripts of exquiste beauty.
2.) The Dublin Liberties Distillery – what an experience! set in the heart of the Liberties area in the oldest part of the City. Not only do you get to taste modern whiskies of outstanding taste, but which are steeped in and named after the evocative ancient street names. Copper Alley, The Blackpitts, Murder Lane etc so not only do you get a tasting, you get a tour de force of Dublin’s history. With Dublin’s long tradition of brewing and distilling in the Liberties you get much more than a tasting and food. Superb offering!
3.) Swords Castle – just two miles North of Dublin Ariport, this beautifully restored castle, ancient chapel and defensive walls and towers make for a fascinating half-day out – for free! Huge sums spent on it’s sympathetic restoration has led to its use as a medieval film location. In the heart of a busy satellite toen Swords has much to offer the visitor, shopping, food and easy parking and accessibility, well worth a visit.
4.) Corlea Trackway and cycle greenway – County Longford set in the Irish midlands near the banks of the majestic Shannon is the enigmatic Corlea Trackway. The Corlea Trackway and the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre presents an ancient trackway of great significance. An excavated part of this unique Iron Age bog road which is dated to the year 148 BC has been restored for the visitor. The track crosses bogland close to the Shannon river. In 1984 this pre-historic trackway of very large oak planks was discovered in the raised bog at Corlea near the village of Kenagh in County Longford. The track was in a Bord na Mona owned bog and was in an advanced stage of decay. The track has been radio carbon dated to the year 148 BC in the early Iron Age. The significance of this trackway can’t be overstated. the use of Oak is important as this was a sacred wood. It appears to be aligned from the royal site at Croghan, Co Roscommon, to the Hill of Uisneach in Co Westmeath. The purpose of the track appears to enable people to get into the bog and not as a means of transport over it. The trackway connects with the magnificent Royal Canal Greenway – so make sure you rent a bike and discover this true hidden gem.
5.) Want to stay in a haunted castle? an authentic castle of ancient beauty with a “colourful” past? One that won’t break the bank? Welcome to Kinnity Castle in County Offaly ancient seat of the power Lords of Ely – The O’Carroll’s. This warlike firebrands terrorised, the Vikings, the Normans, the English and indeed their rival Irish clans. A stay in this castle with enable you to immerse yourself in the ancient luxury of this old stylish castle. All around the area are equally wonderous castles, if castles are your thing! Clonony Castle, Leap Castle and Kilkea Castle dominate the area and all are worth a few days browsing and what a discovery you will make. All the while in the luxury of Kinnity Castle.
6.) The three best places to stay in Ireland:
Fullerton Arms in Balintoy/Ballycastle County Antrim – this old wonderful Inn offers splendid accommodation, magnificent food and wonderful traditional Irish music session all in front of a superb blazing fire. Nearby is the Carrick-a-Reade Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, The Dark Hedges, Giants Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery. A great place to base yourself on the magnificent Antrim coast.
The Rusty Mackeral in Teelin County Donegal – like the Fullerton this offers the traveller everything, a great bed, food and entertainment. Set in the tiny lively fishing village of Teelin at the foot of Europe’s highest Cliffs – Sliabh League. Spend a day or two here, climb the majestic cliffs, or sail in boat to the foot of the cliffs either way this area is of truly awesome outsatning beauty sunsets/rises to die for!
The Klyemore Pass Hotel – set in a beautiful valley in the mountains of Connemara, each room a balcony and what views! Food, Accommodation and entertainment all to be had in this off the beaten trail hotel. So much to see and do, hill walking, climbing, exploring in magnificent scenery this Hotel nestling in the very heart of Connemara enables the traveller to live for a while in the beauty great Irish outdoors.
7.) Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher – OK the Cliffs of Moher are on everyone bucket list right? well try seeing it this way. First base yourself in Doolin in Glasha Meadows Guesthouse, next to a one for Ireland’s best pubs Gus O’Connor’s, tasty food and great music. So you have a choice of seeing the Cliffs’ two unique ways, hike up from the Doolin the cliff path – preferably early evening, hike up and take in the majestic views and invigorating climb. On way back you will be gifted magnificent sunset views from the cliffs. Or you can dispense with the hike and take to the boat – Bill O’Briens Cliffs of Moher Sea Cruise, right to the foot of these tower walls of stone. Watch the the huge colonies of sea birds and catch glimpses of Dolphins and Whales in the magestic wild atlantic Swell – unforgetable.
8.) The Skellig Ring County Kerry – well the Ring of Kerry is truly worth it, but it can get congested, over priced and very tiring in slow moving traffic at busy times. Ok, well head out to beautiful Portmagee the gateway of the Skellig Ring. Take a boat out to the Skellig’s even if closed the sea journey is to die for. Enjoy the Skellig Ring, beautiful St Fionan’s Bay, Skellig Chocolate factory, Portmagee Distillery and a stay in the fantastic Moorings Guesthouse, restaurant and bar. This area is off the beaten trail, take a trip out to Valentia Island, travel the Skellig Cliff route and most of all enjoy the majestic scenery.
9.) A magnificent alternatice to bustling, overcrowded Kinsale is the Town of Youghal in East Cork. This lovely ancient Irish town was the home of the Earl of Desmond who fortified it with its still impressive intact defensive medieval walls. It was also the home of Sir Walter Raleigh whose Tudor house still remains in Youghal called Myrtal Grove. Youghal has splendid bars and restaurants and it can be used as a base to visit places like the Jameson Midleton Distillery and the Blarney Castle as well as the fantastic King Charles Naval Fort. Much to see and do and enjoy in this wonderful sea town.
10.) Well off the beaten trail – Walsh’s Distillery County Carlow, home of international award winning whiskies like The Irishman and The Writers Tears. A visit to this beautiful family run Distillery is richly rewarded. Carlow Castle, now a ruin stands on the eastern bank of the River Barrow. Built by William de Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster between 1207 and 1213, these magnificent ruins are worth the visit for the views alone. Try the Carlow Blackstairs Ecotrail magnificent mountain scenery and intrigueing hiking trails. Carlow is near to everything, Waterford City, Wicklow, Kilkenny more than a base a great place to explore.