As an Irish Native who has lived in Ireland her whole life, I may be a little biased…but you can make that judgement for yourself; here are 20 speak-for-themselves-reasons you should definitely visit Ireland at some point in your life.
1. It is home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
That’s not to say that if you walk up to some people that they won’t growl and then ignore you; every country has their fair share of those. But in general, something Ireland is known for is it’s hospitality. If you need something, like help finding a place you want to see, you can stop and ask almost anyone. They may not know what or where you’re talking about, but just about everyone will try to help, or at least try to direct you to somewhere or someone who can.
2. If you want to experience some serious hearty food, there are a thousand and one places to go.
Pubs have great food that’s perfect to fill you up after a long day of exploring. If you want to find good food, ask around, look and see where people gravitate towards. I’d personally recommend Bear, if you’re in Dublin. It has some serious soul food.
3. If you visit Ireland in the Summer, you can do a tour around the country, following the Arts Fests.
Dublin, Galway, Cork and Belfast, all at different ends of the country (and venturing into Northern Ireland), host Arts festivals throughout the summer months. They’re filled with music, food, art and culture, and are definitely not something to be missed.
4. The landscape is stunning.
There are no two places in Ireland that look the same. Sure, you may become numb to the fields after a while, but the landscape is drastically different from county to county. From the rolling fields and pastures in Leinster, the gorgeous bare cliffs and mountains in Ulster, the marshes, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher in Connacht, to the stunning Ring of Kerry in Munster; no matter where you go when you visit Ireland, it’ll take your breath away.
5. The rich history.
I’m not much of a history buff, but I take pride in Ireland’s incredibly rich and intriguing history. From hosting the unique Celtic culture, with their beliefs of druids and magic, to being the home of the monks who re-educated Europe after the spread of the plague, to building huge monuments like Newgrange; Ireland has done a lot for being such a tiny little island nation, and we’re damn proud to share it.
6. The incredible art and literature.
It’s no secret that Ireland has produced some amazing things, as well as unbelievably talented people. The Book of Kells, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and Bram Stoker to the more modern Cecelia Ahern and Roddy Doyle, we have produced masterpiece after masterpiece, all inspired by the wonders of the magical land around us.
7. The traditions.
When you visit Ireland, you’ll notice that it is quite westernized, so you’ll have to dig around a little to find the real Irish traditions, but we do have some lovely ones! Irish dancing, ceilis and Gaeltacht areas where people still speak Irish in their daily lives are just a few noteable ones. But one of the cutest traditions is that Valentine’s Day in Ireland is the day when the girls stereotypically propose to their boyfriends. *Is breá liom tú (Pronounced: Is bra lum too) = I love you.*
8. The music.
Ireland is world renowned for its music, both traditional and modern. From U2, to the Script and the Coronas, along with more traditional music, we have quite the varying taste. But boy are we proud of it. And yes, people do meet up in pubs for “Trad” nights.
9. The architecture.
Ireland still has beautiful ruins and completely intact castles and cathedrals that are absolutely stunning. Often time they’re mixed in with equally beautiful new architectural pieces, like the Samuel Beckett bridge; designed to resemble a harp. If you’re an architecture buff, have a gander at Dublin when you visit Ireland. You’ll love it.
10. The cities.
They’re all stunning and all completely different to each other. From the modern style of Dublin, to Belfast with its British influences, to Galway, with its more traditional Irish style and winding streets.
11. The natural treasures.
The Burren, the Japanese Gardens, the Giants Causeway, the Phoenix Park, all of these are beautiful sites to behold. While the Japanese Gardens were obviously implanted, the rest are full of natural Irish landscapes, featuring plants and wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Definitely worth checking out when you visit Ireland.
12. The national holidays.
We all know that St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal. But as a Christian country, different patron saints are celebrated throughout the year, with traditions that date back thousands of years. For example, St. Brigid’s day, something that’s celebrated in Kildare, is when crosses are made from reeds, and is a celebration of springtime. There are loads of other holidays, that while they may not be “national,” are taken very seriously. It’s really nice, even as an Irish atheist, to see the respect that everyone gives to the religion that helped Ireland become what it is.
13. The national parks.
From Lough Key to the Phoenix Park and Fota, the national parks provide a place for animals to run wild and give the population a taste of what once was, before the arable land was used up for farming and pastures. They’re beautiful to wander around and gawk at. And who knows, you might make a friend or two.
14. The many adventure-filled trips you can take.
A treetop adventure course in Lough Key national park, coasteering along the west coast, kayaking in the sea and in the rivers, a bike track built on reclaimed, unused railways that stretches from Westport out to Achill Island (the Greenway), a scuba and snorkel trail parallel to the Greenway (the Blueway), and not to mention some of the best surfing waves in the world; Ireland is the perfect place for the adventurous soul. Even Bear Grylls tried to “survive in the harsh, barren climate.” It’s really not that bad, but you’re better to go with someone who knows the way. These trips are stunning and one of the best ways to see the spirit and the heart of the country that breathes life into everything around it. So grab your gear, get up and go!
15. The nightlife.
Templebar (the area, not just the bar) in Dublin is notoriously one of the liveliest places in the country and definitely worth checking out during your Ireland visit. But don’t worry, if you’re not in Dublin, each city has an equivalent area. You’ll never be hard pressed to find a good time if you’re sticking to the cities. Just follow the crowds!
16. The wildlife.
If you love seeing animals who are happy to just be living where they are, then Ireland is the place for you. We have squirrels and rabbits, reared cows and wild sheep. And not to mention our basking sharks, our frequent holidayers; the humpbacks, and our dolphins. Dolphins love Ireland’s fish-rich waters and rivers (take note all you amateur anglers), and Fungi is our most loved dolphin. Fungi is a dolphin who has been frequenting Dingle, in county Kerry, for years. He loves putting on a show for the boats, and just wants to say “hi.” I’d recommend that you go visit Fungi on a rainy day – the waves will be a little choppier, and no-one else will be out on the water, so he’ll give you a show of all the flips that he can’t land, just like he did the last time I went to visit.
17. The coastline.
I’m sure that you can tell from the previous pictures, but Ireland has one of the most unique and stunning coastlines in the world. It varies so much from place to place that you never quite know what to expect. And you can explore it all through coasteering, boat and kayak trips.
18. The eighth wonder of the world.
The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a stunning piece of nature that baffles everyone who sees it. With the rich history of the legend of Cu Chullain, who supposedly scared away the giant who built the Causeway before attempting to destroy it as he ran away, it draws tourists from the world over. It’s perfectly hexagonal pillars were formed from slow-cooling lava, and there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Definitely a must-see when you visit Ireland.
19. The sports.
Ireland is not only a proud participant of international sports, being the birthplace of many champion golfers, soccer players, and a world renowned rugby team…but it is also host to its own native sports, which have been played for centuries. The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) look after ensuring that our home sports such as hurling, camogie and gaelic football don’t get lost. And they hold a big part of the hearts of the Irish.
20. The street performers.
Grafton Street in Dublin isn’t the only one, but is certainly the most well known street in the country for street performers. They’re there in every kind of weather, showcasing their talents. (Not surprising when you think of how many bands and musicians had their starts of Grafton Street.) There’s even world street performer showcases and competitions held there every so often, so get yourself down there to enjoy the magic.
Featured image source: tianxinqi.com