Located in northwestern Europe, the Republic of Ireland is bordered by the United Kingdom, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Irish Sea. It is a land steeped in history, but not particularly well endowed with historical marvels. Ireland is known for its misty green countryside, its culture and tradition (including legends and folklores), and its warm-hearted and friendly people.
The Hibernia of yore, Ireland was too cold and bleak a country for the Romans to colonize. However, the native Celtic people continued to worship the sun till they were converted to Christianity by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The invasions by the Vikings in the 9th century and by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century were two significant events in Irish history. The British began concerted efforts to colonize Ireland in the 17th century but succeeded only a century later. Ireland united with Britain as part of the United Kingdom by Act of Union in 1801. The potato famine of 1845-1849 and the Easter Rising of 1916 were two other turning points in Irish history. In 1921, the Irish Free State was born as a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, though six northern counties which had a Protestant majority voted to stay part of the United Kingdom. The Irish Free State adopted a psuedo republican constitution in 1936 and was renamed Eire. It remained neutral during the Second World War. In 1949, it declared itself as the Republic of Ireland and withdrew from the Commonwealth. It joined the European Economic Community in 1973, now the European Union.
Ireland is a small country with picturesque countryside. If you want to explore some tourist destinations that are off-the-beaten-track, Ireland has plenty of them. To begin with, the Burren region is an extraordinary place with underground springs, caverns, chasms, and cracks. The Ring of kerry and the area around Killarney are great for hiking and biking as well. Add to it the Aran Islands particularly Inis Meain, Clonmacnois , and Connemara, Galway and Sligo and you are sure to have a wonderful time close to nature.
Ireland is one of those ideal traveling destinations except for one thing: the weather. But you would be foolish to let this stop you. If is should pour down, you can always take refuge in one of the small cities or in Cork the biggest city of the south.
Recommended things to do and places to go
Dublin city - Hop on the city tour bus (there are two kinds, pick any of them) which will give you a tour of the city
Places to visit:
- Temple Bar - lots of bars and has a decent night life
- The Guiness Factory and/or the Jamesons Factory
- Shops - St Stephens Green ( a great shopping complex), Pennies (think that is spelt right) it is a bit like the irish version of premark
- Trinity College - its a lovely place to walk round, and you can visit the book of kells while you are there
- St. Michans church - it has mumified bodies underneath, which you can go and see (and touch if you wish )
- Chimney Viewing Tower - you can see out across dublin from the top of the tower
- Dublin Castle
- Chester Beattie Library - has lots of old manuscripts from various religions ... a bit of culture to the trip
Outside Dubin city -
- Take the DART train to the south and visit Dun Laoghaire (the port), Killiney/Dalkey (the beach and loads of mansions where Irish celebrities, such as Enya, Bono, Eddie Irvine, Chris de Burgh) live, Bray (mountains and sea)
- Available at every hostel/hotel, you can book a day tour to visit Powercourts Gardens, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, very beautiful!
Recommended hostels/places to stay
Isaac's Hostel - friendly staff, meet lots of people; 10 euros a night; 5 minutes away from Grafton Street.
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