A tour of Ireland’s historical landmarks

Stone of Destiny at Tara, photo by Germán Póo-Caamaño

First time visitors to Ireland are always stricken by the country’s natural beauty, which doesn’t lose any of its appeal regardless of season. The famous Irish joy of living, their propensity for the craic and the friendly and inviting traditional pubs can make any holiday to Ireland unforgettable. For for those who are interested in more than a cursory survey of the Emerald Isle, there are some places that must be seen in order to understand more about Ireland. Irish landmarks are always tied in to history, culture and folklore, so whenever you visit one you learn something new about it. If you want to take a tour of Ireland’s historical landmarks, here are some suggestions on where to start.

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Patrick is probably the single most important religious building in Ireland, and also one of the country’s oldest churches. The cathedral was established in the 12th century, and the fact that it has survived so long mainly out of donations tells a lot about how devoted people are to it. More than 300,000 people visit the cathedral every year. If you are not religious, then you will still enjoy the church because of its beautiful architecture.

Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Co Cork

Blarney Castle, photo by postdlf

Even those who have never visited Blarney Castle have heard of the famous Blarney Stone, the stone that will fulfill one wish if you kiss it. The mush-kissed stone is not the only reason to visit Blarney. This medieval stronghold was built on the site of much earlier fortifications, but the the present castle dates back ‘only’ to the 15th century. Although parts of the castle are in ruins, there are still more than enough intact rooms and battlements which can be accessed by visitors.

Oscar Wilde Statue, Dublin

Although there have been many literary figures born and bread in Dublin, none of them caused quite as much stir as Oscar Wilde, playwright and novelist of exceptional talent. Wilde lead a scandalously libertine life and insisted that he enjoy many freedoms prohibited at the time, which landed him in prison and lead him to die in squalor. However, the statue in Merrion Square presents Wilde at his happiest and most charming – lying on a rock, grinning sardonically at the passers-by.

Hill of Tara, Co Meath

Trinity College, photo by budgetplaces.com on Flickr

The Hill of Tara is one of the most important sites in Irish history, but it isn’t your standard historical landmark – it is a place where fact and legend are mingled inextricably. The Hill of Tara was the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and a site that features prominently in Irish mythical tales. There are several monuments in Tara, but even the man-made wonders pale in the face of the scenic views of Co Meath.

Trinty College and the Book of Kells

Trinity College is one of the most well respected academic institutions in Ireland, and also the oldest university in Ireland, which has the largest research library in the country. The most prized possession of the library is the Book of Kells, a medieval illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks back in the late 7th century. The book is a masterpiece of medieval calligraphy, and it is considered to be one of the most important national treasures of Ireland.

 

 

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