The most beautiful heritage towns in Ireland

Cobh

There’s no place that’s better suited to make you realize that towns are more than buildings and roads than Ireland – it’s enough to step foot in even the tiniest village to learn that what makes Irish towns, cities or villages special is their spirit. But atmosphere aside, there are some towns in Ireland which would be utterly amazing even if they were completely uninhabited. These heritage towns have been a long time in the making, and their every nook and corner seems to be infused with historical significance. Here is a list of the most beautiful heritage towns in Ireland, but truth to be known, all the heritage towns in the country deserve a thorough visit.

Kinsale, Co Cork

photo by jf1234

The century old harbor town of Kinsale has been the site of battles between Britons, Spaniards and the Irish, but in the end this clash of cultures resulted in one of the most cosmopolitan small towns in Ireland. Kinsale has 17th century military forts, an amazing wine museum, the impressive Desmond castle and other attractions, but the best part about the town are the narrow streets and vividly painted buildings.

Cobh, Co Cork

Cobh (the town saw a lot of name changes throughout history) has a meaningly history, and not necessarily a pleasant one. 2.5 million Irish sailed from Cobh to other parts of the world because of hardships between 1848 and 1950, so this quaint little town is the last piece of Ireland that the immigrants saw. In 1912, Cobh was the last port of call of the famed Titanic.

Listowel, Co Kerry

Listowel, photo by Paul Woods

Listowel in the north of County Kerry is a lively market town nestled in the verdant expanses of the country, crisscrossed by meandering rivers. The town itself is a jewel in an already idyllic region: 18th and 19th century buildings, some remains from a further past like the ruins of the 13th century castle, and lots of opportunities for tours, horseback riding, golfing or walking.

Dalkey, Co Dublin

Dalkey is a masterpiece of medieval urban landscape, with some beautifully preserved townhouses and cobbled streets. Dalkey Castle is perhaps the most popular attraction in town, especially due to its living history performances centered around the Tudors. Add some literary and historical walks to the mix, and you have a perfect town for sightseeing.

Kells, Co Meath

Old mill in Kells, photo by Bernard Goldbach

The first thing that pops into the minds of most people when they hear of Kells is the famous Book of Kells, the oldest manuscript in Ireland, now kept in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. Kells is the ‘birthplace’ of the book, but the town is a great attraction on its own, full of ancient and medieval ruins and remains and beautiful buildings.

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