Irish Bucket List: 15 Best Things To Do In Ireland
With ancient ruins dating back thousands of years, hidden beaches, iconic attractions and exciting walks to explore, Ireland offers everything you need for your holiday.
1. CLIFFS OF MOHER…. At the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, is Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with a magical vista that captures the hearts of up to 1 million visitors each year. The Cliffs rise up to 700 feet at the highest point and range for 8km over the Atlantic Ocean on the Western seaboard of Co. Clare. The House of Waterford Crystal is less than three hours’ drive from the Cliffs of Moher and ideally located for those travelling from the West Coast of Ireland to Wexford, Kilkenny or Dublin.
2. ROCK OF CASHEL…. Also known as Cashel of the Kings. Long before the Norman invasion the Rock was the seat of the kings of Munster and it’s here in the 5th century, so the story goes, that St. Patrick converted King Aenghus to Christianity. The Rock was later gifted to the Church and most of the buildings date from the 12th and 13th centuries. They even inspired designs for a Waterford Crystal collection! The House of Waterford Crystal is approx. one hour’s drive from the Rock of Cashel and ideally located for those travelling onto Wexford or Dublin.
3. HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL… Located in the heart of Waterford City, the House of Waterford Crystal allows visitors to witness the creation of crystal stemware, giftware and masterpieces right before their very eyes. The factory tour is a unique and captivating experience that is sure to enthral visitors of all ages, both national and international. Go behind the scenes for over an hour and see exactly how Waterford Crystal pieces are made - witness every stage of production, from the initial design stage right up to the final engraving of the piece. Each year, the House of Waterford Crystal melts down over 750 tonnes of crystal!
4. DUNBRODY FAMINE SHIP…. Stepping aboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship and hearing about passenger hardships from costumed actors, you suddenly realise why such vessels were nicknamed Coffin Ships. The ship, an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, provides a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience, while the Irish Emigrant Wall of Honour and Emigrant Flame pay tribute to the courage of so many ordinary men and women.
5. TITANIC EXPERIENCE COBH…. situated in the original offices of The White Star Line, the departure point for the last 123 passengers to board the Titanic on its disastrous maiden voyage to America in 1912. Check your boarding card: it bears a real passenger’s name and later you will discover your fate. The story unfolds through innovative audio-visual technology, cinematic shows, scene sets and holographic imagery. At the end, don’t forget to check your boarding card.
6. HOOK LIGHTHOUSE…. Who were the 5th century monks who tended a beacon on the cliffs and why did “the greatest knight that ever lived” build this lighthouse tower? Climb the well-worn steps of the tower to explore its thick-walled chambers and you will meet life-size hologram figures who will tell you their tales. Hook Lighthouse, the world’s oldest working lighthouse, has shone across 800 years to help seafarers navigate the rocky coastline – a thrilling thought as you enjoy lunch in the former keepers’ houses, the waves crashing outside.
7. KING OF THE VIKINGS….. This life was epic and brief. But now Reginald, King of the Vikings, beckons you into his domain. And so you step into this innovative Viking Virtual Reality Adventure – a world first – in a recreated Waterford Viking house in the City’s Viking Triangle: on the very spot where Reginald built his fort in 917. On and on you are drawn by animated information panels, far away from the modern City, and you don a “magical helmet” to journey back through 1,100 years: even meeting the ghost of King Reginald as he spars with the ghost of an Irish Christian monk. Close, personal, you really feel what it was like to be a Viking. Epic and brief his life may have been, but the legacy of Reginald and his fellow Vikings lives on around you in Vadrefjord – Waterford.
8. TINTERN ABBEY…. On a voyage to Ireland in 1200, William Marshall’s ship was struck by a tremendous storm. Fearing all would drown, the famous knight prayed for help and vowed to found an abbey where he found a safe landing – and that is how he came to build the Cistercian abbey of Tintern. Discover more of its subsequent history as you wander the impressive remains, the nave, chancel, tower, chapel and cloister. The Abbey was occupied by the Colclough family from the 16th century until the 1960s.
9. MEDIEVAL MUSEUM…. What does the 13th century ring brooch tell us about courtly love? Why was The Great Charter Roll of Waterford created? What is the link between the dazzling Cloth of Gold Vestments and the Renaissance? Why did King Henry VIII give his red velvet cap – the only surviving piece of his wardrobe – to the Mayor of Waterford in 1536? The stories behind these treasures and many more are revealed in the Medieval Museum, the only building in Ireland to incorporate two medieval chambers, the atmospheric 13th century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault.
10. KILKENNY CASTLE….. Step into the epic age of Castles & Conquests, when Strongbow invaded with his Anglo-Norman barons and his son-in-law William Marshall built the mighty stone edifice of Kilkenny Castle to command the crossing on the River Nore. Kilkenny City became a major Norman power base and to this day the castle dominates the 'High Town'. As you tour the great castle, a complex structure of various architectural styles, you can piece together its story through eight centuries as well as that of the powerful Butler family who held sway here for nearly 600 years. Outside in the Castle Yard you can share in the creative side of the city in Kilkenny Design Centre and the National Design & Craft Gallery.
11. JOHN F KENNEDY ARBORETUM…… In 1848 famine emigrant Patrick Kennedy sailed from New Ross. In 1960, his great-grandson John Fitzgerald Kennedy became President of the United States, an amazing poverty-to-power story. This Arboretum at New Ross, dedicated to the memory of JFK, has grown into a plant collection of international standing. Covering 252 hectares (623 acres) on the southern slopes and summit of Slievecoiltia, it contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all temperate regions of the world, planted in botanical sequence.
12. JERPOINT ABBEY…… Wandering around this outstanding Cistercian abbey, founded in the second half of the 12th century, you feel a wonderful peace across the ages: inthe church with its Romanesque details; inthe transept chapels with their13th to 16th century tomb sculpture; admiring the tower and cloister dating from the 15th century. Then you spy the curious medieval human and animal carvings around the cloister arcade and you feel so very in touch with the individuals who made them. Guided tours and a Visitor Centre housing an interesting exhibition will tell you more.
13. GUINNESS STOREHOUSE….. experience the history, heart and soul of Ireland’s most iconic beer. Explore the story of Guinness across the seven floors of the iconic Guinness building, before taking in the 360 views of Dublin city from Gravity Bar.
14. POWERSCOURT ESTATE & GARDENS….. Step inside and explore the magnificent 47 acre gardens, voted 3rd best garden in the World and only 35 minutes from Dublin. Marvel at the sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows and rambling walks. Don’t froget to visit the magnificent Powerscourt Waterfall too! - The Waterfall is 6km from Powerscourt Gardens and is accessible by car.
15. GLENDALOUGH….. In a stunning glaciated valley in County Wicklow, in the sixth century, one of Ireland’s most revered saints founded a monastery. The foundation of St Kevin at Glendalough became one of the most famous religious centres in Europe. The remains of this ‘Monastic City’, which are dotted across the glen, include a superb round tower, numerous medieval stone churches and some decorated crosses. Of particular note is St Kevin’s Bed, a small man-made cave in the cliff face above the Upper Lake. Learn all about this hallowed place in the fine interpretive centre before exploring the site for yourself.