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Among the draws to Ireland are definitely the green countryside, the castles, the beautiful rolling hills, and dramatic coastlines. But, the greatest charm has always been how lovely the people are!

The verdict on Ireland - love it! But, it rains too much all year, and that is coming from someone who lived in Seattle.


The Coast

Castles and Churches

It is said that there are 30,000 castles in Ireland, at various stages of repair and ruin. Can you find them all?!



To me, the wonders of the Irish island are found away from the big cities, Dublin is still a wonderful place to visit. 

One can enjoy the simple pleasures of a pub visit (or a Guinness brewery tour),  or enjoy the great history and architecture. 

Of course, The Book of Kells, St Patrick's Cathedral, and Dublin Castle are all a must.

Fortunate for the residents, but unfortunately, for the traveler, the economic success of Ireland in recent years is making Dublin quite an expensive place to visit.  But, that just means less days in Dublin and more around the island. So, you will get to experience more!

Dublin Cathedral
Dublin Trinity CollegeQuad
Dublin Guinness Brewery

Favorite Places in Dublin

Trinity College

The first Irish University, founded in 1592, is a beautiful campus with Georgian style architecture.  You can visit the Douglas Hyde Gallery for modern art exhibitions, enjoy the open Parliament Square, and visit the many green spaces.   But, the highlight is 1200 year old gospels, The Book of Kells, in the Old Library.


St Patrick's Cathedral

Built between 1220-1259, this is a magnificent church with a very welcoming and relaxing yard in front, even if it is a bit crowded on a sunny day. 

Entry to the church is 10 euros and adding the library makes it 15 euros.  

It was constructed on the site of an earlier wooden church, an ancient well, supposedly used by St Patrick, himself.  

After the English Reformation Saint Patrick’s became an Anglican Cathedral, and even later demoted to parish church. It was also used as a court house and a university.  However, in 1555, Queen Mary returned the church to the original Catholic purpose.  

National Gallery of Ireland

When the gallery was founded in the 1850's, it had just 112 paintings.  Today, it is a world class gallery over over 16,000 pieces of European art from the 14th to 20th centuries and they have many of the masters including Picasso, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Velazquez, Morisot, etc. 

Located between Trinity College and Merrion Square Park, this free museum is a must visit part of Dublin!

Dublin Castle

From 1204 until 1922 it was the seat of English, and later British rule in Ireland and served as the residence of the Viceroy of Ireland. The original castle was built as a fortress and occupied until 1684 when it was largely destroyed. The original location is approximately the present site of the Upper Castle Yard.

After the fire, the new structure was built more like a palace.

In 1922, the last Viceroy handed over the keys to the newly independent Ireland.  

Today, it houses 2 museums and a Royal Chapel.  

Drinking tours

take your choice...The Guinness Brewery tour, the Irish Whiskey Museum, The Teeling Whiskey Distillery and many others. 

Getting to and around Dublin

You will likely arrive in Dublin by plane, and it is easy to get from the airport to the center using the Dublin Express buses. The 784 will take you into town and down to the docks. The 782 will take you city south and Georges Quay. The 41 or 700 will take you directly to the center of town.

Of course, you can also arrive by ferry from Liverpool, England, Holyhead Wales. Or even from Cairnryan Scotland to Northern Ireland. But, unless you are bringing your vehicle over from Great Britain, this is not likely the best way to arrive for most visitors. 

To pay for public transport, the easiest way is probably the Leap Visitor Card. You can buy these at the airport, and they come in 1 day, 3 day, and 7 day versions (8, 16 and 32 Euros as of 2024). To get a card, visit Wrights Airport Convenience Store or WH Smith stores at Terminal 1 arrivals. You can then use it all on buses trams and rails in the Short Hop Zone. 

You can also buy the Leap Card ahead of time, but it cannot be downloaded. It will be mailed to you. So, just buy it when you arrive. 

The other reason to buy a Leap Card is that fares vary on a bus depending on the number of stops, and on the short hop trains depending on the route. So, the card takes away the confusion. 


The 2nd largest city in Ireland straddles the River Lee, and is located in the south of Ireland, giving you access to The Wild Atlantic Way.

Cork Ireland
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral Cork
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral Cork
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral Cork

Favorite Places in Cork

Elizabeth Fort

This star-shaped 17th-century fort offers views of the city views & guided tours.  Wal around the walls for great views of the city. 

Cork City Gaol

restored 19th century prison that even offers night tours.

Blarney Stone

5 miles outside of town, you can kiss the stone and get the gift of gab.

Fitzgerald's Park

Lovely park along the River Lee, with walking paths, sculptures and fountains.  Capped on the east end with the Cork Public Museum.


Cute town of less than 2000 people that has an ancient Domincan priory, and castle remains, as well as remains of an old defensive wall.

I used this as a base for a week because it is quite relaxing, and it is located just an hour from Cork and a half hour from Limerick. 

Kilmallock Ireland
Kilmallock Ireland
Kilmallock Ireland
Kilmallock Ireland


along the River Shannon and highlighted by the 13th-century King John’s Castle along the river.

Visit the castle for great interactive exhibits, then walk a couple blocks down to St Mary's cathedral, also dating to the 13th century.

Don't miss the Hunt Museum, a former customs house that holds 2000 Irish artifacts.  Then, head about 10 miles outside of town to see Bunratty castle, a 15th-century castle and living 19th-century village bring the periods alive at this family museum .

King John's Castle Limerick Ireland
Limerick Ireland
River Shannon Limerick Ireland
St John's Cathedral Limerick Ireland

Irish Castles and Churches

It seems like no matter what part of the country you are in, you are never from from an old castle or church.  it is one of the wonderful charms of this country. Walking through a castle, picturing how people lived and worshipped in those rooms hundreds of years ago. 

It is said that there are over 30,000 castles in Ireland.  And, it does feel like they are everywhere. 

Irish Castle
Irish castle
Irish Castle
Irish Castle

Cliffs of Moher

Located on the west coast, beaten and carved by the Atlantic, these cliffs are hundreds of feet high, and draw millions of visitors to see them.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Glenveagh National Park

One of my favorite places to go in Ireland. It is up in the north in County Donegal, about 3 hour drive from Dublin.  I really enjoy being able to visit Glenveagh Castle (and its beautiful grounds) and hike up Mount Errigal.

Be ready for all seasons, even in July.  The first time I tried to hike Errigal, I was turned back by driving wind and rain that made me uncomfortable climbing the wet rocks. Luckily, the 2nd time, the weather cooperated and I was able to summit. 

Glenveagh Castle
Glenveagh national park
Glenveagh national park
Glenveagh national park
Mount Errigal
Mount Errigal
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