Once you’ve been, you’ll want to return again and again
Things To Do
Visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin to learn more about one of Ireland’s most famous brands. Discover the history, and enjoy a drink at the glass-housed Gravity Bar close to the top of the St James’s Gate Brewery, the original home of Guinness.
Head to the Flying Boat Museum at Foynes, County Limerick, for a taste of Irish coffee. It’s where the drink was invented in 1943 on a cold and dismal night when flight passengers heading across the Atlantic needed a pick-me-up.
Pick up an Irish Golf Pass and you’ll no longer have to choose which golf course to play on; you can tee-off to your heart’s content for days on end, experiencing a selection of top courses across the country.
Step out on to the geological wonder that is The Burren, a vast limestone plateau in north west County Clare. The exposed layers of rock, sweeping down to the sea in parts, is a wondrous sight, especially when summer flora creep up through the cracks and crevices.
Discover Celtic art at the ancient Rock of Cashel. The most visited heritage site in Ireland, the Rock has an atmospheric spot on County Tipperary’s most famous hill. As the former seat of the High Kings of Munster, there is Celtic symbolism aplenty.
When To Visit
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are lots of things to do in Dublin, the city seeing the largest number of big, annual events taking place, including the Six Nations rugby tournaments between February and April at Lansdowne Road, the Dublin Writers Festival in May, Ireland’s premier literary event attracting the finest writers in the world, and also Taste of Dublin in June, a massive foodie fair. And the new kid on the block is NYF Dublin, a three-day music and arts festival taking place, it’s hoped, annually, over New Year.
Elsewhere, The Gathering Traditional Festival held every February in Killarney (County Kerry) is the highlight of the Irish cultural calendar for traditional musicians and dancers, the Guineas Spring Racing Festival at Curragh (County Kildare) in March is the highlight for horse racing punters (though just one of many horse racing events throughout the year), while the Galway Food Festival in April rivals Dublin’s food fairs for size and spectacle. Watch out too for Cork’s Midsummer Festival in June. It is, however, just one of 23 festivals taking place in the city each year!
Of course the whole of Ireland goes crazy for St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, with week-long festivals and events nationwide. National Heritage Week at the end of August is also celebrated nationwide.
Stena Line has sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare, Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire, and Holyhead and Dublin. Irish Ferries operates between Holyhead and Dublin, and Pembroke and Rosslare. P&O Ferries sail between Liverpool and Dublin.
Travel to north west Ireland may be easier via ferry sailings to Northern Ireland. Stena Line operates between Cairnryan and Belfast, as well as between Liverpool (Birkenhead) and Belfast. P&O Ferries sail to Larne from Cairnryan and Troon.
The M1 tunnel from Dublin Port to access the M50 ring road operates a toll (currently €3 off-peak – peak time is 4pm until 7pm, Monday to Friday), but it is worth every penny to otherwise sit in traffic through the centre of Dublin and negotiate the mine of streets out of the port. There is also a barrier-free toll on a section of the M50 (Dublin ring road) between junctions six and seven (junction six required for the M3 to north west Ireland; junction seven needed for the M4 to Galway). The toll, currently €3, can either be prepaid online or otherwise must be paid by 8pm the following day of travel at a retail outlet displaying the Payzone brand, nationwide.
Other short toll sections of motorway, paid at source, include the M6, the M7/8 interchange and a short stretch of the M8 to the north east of Cork. Ireland was once notorious for poor road surfaces and desperately slow journeys. The upgraded motorways, radiating out from Dublin, have vastly improved the island’s network with generally quiet routes that make journey times across Ireland quick, smooth and efficient. The road improvements have opened up more of the campsites in Ireland for people who can only spare a couple of weeks for their holidays in Eire.