Sightseeing in Ireland
Scenery in Ireland

 Ireland is about the size of Maine, yet for such a small country it encompasses a vast array of different landscapes. Green year-round, it is no wonder that it is called the Emerald Isle. Ireland is blessed by spectacular, poetic scenery and is rich in a long tradition of hospitality. It abounds in storybook castles, lush gardens and tiny fishing villages. Vibrant cities full of history resonate with 21st century activity and nightlife. Yet it is still possible to find the hidden Ireland where remote thatched cottages are surrounded by stone walls and sheep dot the hills that are quilted with forty shades of green. Magnificent cliffs, beaches and bays rim the island giving way to a gentler landscape inland. But wherever you wander you will be enchanted by Ireland's mystique.

It is possible to
see the whole island in just a few weeks but Ireland is a place that should be savored like fine old whiskey. Too many tourists speed through the countryside on a marathon tour, never spending more than a night in any one spot. Unfortunately, they only remember their trip as a green blur. When planning any trip to Ireland it would be wise to take the advice of the Irish themselves: "Slow down. The man who made time made plenty of it."

The Giant's Causeway (right) is a fascinating natural wonder. The wild, primeval landscape is the very best of sea and earth meeting in "a remnant of chaos". Over 40,000 prismatic basalt pillars march from the cliffs into the sea forming a tightly packed honeycomb of hexagonal stepping-stones. Legend credits the giant Finn McCool with building the causeway but scientists have other more mundane explanations.

Beautiful scenes of the Emerald Isle

The Ulster American Folk Park (right) near Omagh in County Tyrone Northern Ireland is an excellent way to experience the immigration of the Irish people during and after the great famine. You walk through time seeing how the Irish lived during the famine in Ireland, the voyage on "coffin ships" and life in America.

Mount Stewart Gardens, (right) near Newtonards in Northern Ireland is a fairyland surrounding an exquisite historical house. Each garden is unique and beautiful, opening one onto the other. Paths meander through the estate unfolding from the shamrock garden to the lily wood, from the Italian garden to the dodo terrace, from the sunken garden to the lake walk. Heavenly!

Kells, (right) near Stonyford in Co. Kilkenny was once a medieval ecclesiastical city that was repeatedly conquered, burned, sacked and then rebuilt over the centuries. Turrets, ramparts and curtain walls enclose five acres of ruined churches, monastic remains, domestic buildings, chapels and castles.

Benbulben (right) is a great table mountain that dominates the skyline of the Sligo area. Set between the mountains and the sea, it is called Yeats' Country because of its associations with the poet W.B. Yeats. The area is rich in archeological remains, including Carrowmore, one of the largest prehistoric cemeteries in Western Europe, which encompass tombs, dolmens, cairns and stone circles.

Rosses Point (right) is a scenic peninsula northwest of Sligo town with lovely beaches and panoramic views of Sligo Bay. In the distance is Knocknarea, which is crowned by a huge cairn that is reputedly the tomb of the tempestuous Queen Maeve of Connaught who lived about 2,000 years ago.

Muckross House (right) was built in 1843 and is set idyllically on the famous Lakes of Killarney. Close to the house are formal gardens. Beyond, well-kept lawns slope down to the lake, interspersed with old trees, magnificent rhododendrons, a rock garden, a water garden and nature trials. Also on the grounds are the Muckross Traditional Farms.

The Cliffs of Moher (right) rise majestically almost 700 feet straight up from the Atlantic. It is a glorious sight, especially in the spring when it is the haunt of thousands of nesting sea birds (and mermaids--if you believe the locals). O'Brien's Tower, marks the highest point of 668 feet.

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