Ireland’s best Attractions – “Our 7 Wonders”
Ireland has so many places to see and visit that to make a short list of Seven of Ireland’s best attractions is not an easy thing to do but I’ll give it a go.
Number one on the list has to be the Cliffs of Moher. This is the most visited natural attraction in Ireland with over a million visitors last year and this years numbers are bound to exceed this. The Cliffs tower 214m above sea level at their highest point and stretch for 8km. They create a magical vista that has been enjoyed by many over the centuries. Cornelius O Brien built a viewing tower in 1835 which was the first visitors center as he realised the beauty of the area and its potential as a tourist attraction. The views of the cliffs change on an hourly basis, sometimes the blue skies and calm weather make it seem one of the most serene places on earth while stormy seas and grey skies can give it an air of forbodence, sunset at the cliffs can be awe inspiring.
Number Two on my List is man made, Skellig Michael is nothing short of Stunning. A twenty minute boat ride from the mainland of Kerry. The monastery on this desolate island dates back to the 6th century and was abandoned in the 12th century. There are many beehive huts and a chapel on the island many of them in surprisingly good condition. It is hard to imagine how the monks survived on this barren rock in such a harsh climate. The site of Skellig Michael was deemed a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. The skellig islands are home to a large population of Puffins who thrive on the cliff edges.
Number 3; For number three I am returning to a natural attraction The Giants Causeway. This was deemed Ireland’s first UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. It was formed 50 million years ago by volcanic activity and comprises of 40 thousand interlocking column’s. This is a truly amazing spectacle. In Irish mythology there is a story of the giant Finn Mac Coole building a bridge to Scotland and many of the formations are named to fit in with this, the Chair, the Giants Boot and the Chimney stack to name but a few.
Number 4 Blarney Castle ; We have to include Blarney castle not just for its international reputation with its famed blarney stone which gives you the gift of the gab but the gardens and the other highlights to be explored including the wishing steps and the witches kitchen. Of course no visit to Blarney is complete without hanging over the edge and kissing the Blarney stone.
Number 5 is the Boyne valley: The Boyne valley is the most historically important area in Ireland. It has the best preserved examples of passage tombs dating back 5000 years. The different constructions line up with the sun on specific days of the solar calendar Newgrange with the winter solstice, Loughcrew with the equinox in spring and Summer, We take a jump forward in Time to the Hill of Tara which was the seat of the high kings of Ireland during the Iron age. This was an area of great importance for Irish and international politics and relations. The buildings were wooden so only the mounds and the general layout of the settlement remain. Another jump forward in Time and we go to the 6th century when Monasterboice Abbey was founded. It is home to the finest examples of high crosses and the second highest round tower in Ireland. Another jump forward in time and we visit the best preserved Norman castle in Ireland Trim castle. This Norman castle dates to 1176 The castle and its grounds are nothing short of spectacular.
Number 6 The Rock Of Cashel: This was the seat of the High King of Munster until Muirchertach Ua Brian handed it over to the Church. The existing remains of the fortress date to the 12th and 13th century and are some of the best examples of medieval architecture anywhere in Europe. The castle houses tapestries and some fantastic celtic pieces. This is truly a Gem in the crown that is Ireland.
Number 7 The Peace walls in Belfast ; I struggle with including this in my list as there are so many other things like the Slieve League sea cliffs in Donegal, Connemara national park and the ring of Kerry to name but a few but the Belfast peace walls with their murals are unique to Ireland and an important piece of our (recent) history. The Murals tell a tale of two sides and the walls still serve a purpose in keeping opposing religious factions apart They are visited by everyone visiting Belfast and aid in the visitors understanding of the troubles.
This list is only my personal opinion so if I haven’t included anything that you think should be there I can only appologise.