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Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Headlines | 24 comments

Help Create Ireland’s “Other” List of Attractions

ALTERNATEDESTINATIONSI’m working on a new podcast episode and could use your help.

I’m taking a look at some of Ireland’s top attractions and then mixing things up by recommending amazing alternatives to the most-visited places.

Take a look at the list below and use the comments to offer any suggestions you think should be included.

Instead of…

  • The Guinness Storehouse: Do you have a favorite micro brewery in Ireland or something beer related you think would make a great alternate?
  • Cliffs of Moher & Giants Causeway: What are your favorite dramatic coastal places?
  • Book of Kells: Any Illuminated manuscripts or places with ancient Celtic designs you like to visit?
  • The Rock of Cashel: If they’ve already been there, what’s an interesting Rock-like they should head toward?
  • Adare: Where would you send someone on the hunt for “quaint” villages?
  • Dublin Zoo: Are there animal-related places you’d recommend?

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24 Comments

  1. Cliffs of Moher & Giants Causeway – My favorite cliffs are Sliabh Liag – while not as sheer as the Cliffs of Moher, they are higher, and you can drive halfway up! There is also a small single-track path for the brave to walk along at the ridge.

    Dublin Zoo – how about the Donkey Sanctuary?

  2. Cliffs–Loop Head and on the way back to Kilkee.

    Animals–Muckross Traditional Farms. While it is obviously set up to be a tourist attraction (so is the zoo, of course)it is well done. Kerry Bog Village is good, also, on a smaller scale.

  3. Cliffs–Loop Head and on the way back to Kilkee.

    Animals–Muckross Traditional Farms. While it is obviously set up to be a tourist attraction (so is the zoo, of course)it is well done. Kerry Bog Village is good, also, on a smaller scale.

  4. Cliffs of Moher & Giants Causeway — go to Loop Head in County Clare. The cliffs there certainly aren’t as tall as Moher, but the peninsula is dramatic with lots of neat formations and crashing waves, and you can walk right along the top of the cliffs…if you dare!

    Book of Kells — if you’re looking for examples of beautiful Celtic art, visit the Treasury at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. They did a big rehab on the galleries and it’s gorgeous. You can also see the Faddan More Psalter there.

    Dublin Zoo — instead, try the Fota Wildlife Park in County Cork. Many of the animals walk freely about the park, so every turn in the path can lead to a surprise! It’s a pretty, relaxed and happy place.

  5. Altenative to Guinness Store House. I would suggest the Midleton Distillery in East Cork or Kilbeggan in Westmeath. A new one is the Dingle Brewery in Co Kerry.

    Favourite Dramatic Coastline.
    The Skellig and Dingle Coastline which you can veiw best from the Sea but it is also a beautiful drive, The Cliffs west of Dingle, and the drive around St Fenians Bay and Valentia island show some wonderful and rugged coastline.
    Quaint Villages. There are many, Allihies West Cork, Portmagee, Ballyferriter, Co Kerry, O’Briens Bridge Co Clare,
    Yes, Fota Island is fabulous in Co Cork, you can mix with the wild animals. Kennedys Pet Farm in Killarney,

  6. Two family favorites–we avoid the crowds at the top of the Cliffs of Moher and take the boat ride from Doolin and see the Cliffs from the water angle. You have to have a strong stomach as you can’t be sure of calm seas but the view is breathtaking and the ride delightful.

    Our family, when visiting Dublin, always takes a side trip to Howth. We usually drive but you can take the Dart (?) there. It has beautiful hiking, wonderful seafood restaurants, some days has a farmers market and, best of all-Seals! There is a fish store that sells bait fish in a bag with an extra bag to cover your hands. we toss the food in to the seals who all know the deal. The kids love it, even as young adults.

  7. Though certainly not an alternative to the Book of Kells exhibit, the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum in Ventry on the Dingle Peninsula is a worth a visit, especially if you can take some time to talk with Harris, the owner and curator- one of the most fascinating people you’ll ever meet.

  8. Another great “Rock” is the Rock of Dunamase in County Laois. It’s definitely off the beaten path, even a few locals had a hard time giving us directions. We were the only ones there when we went. It’s beautiful, peaceful and truly historic. My husband and I kept remarking how, if this was an attraction in the States, we would have to pay an entrance fee, stay on a designated path, and follow a tour guide. Not so at the Rock of Dunamase! It really was amazing.

    Just a little background…the Rock of Dunamase was originally fortified by Pre-Celtic Bronze-age settlers, possibly as early as 500 B.C. It was plundered by the Vikings in 845 A.D. Dermot McMurrough, the King of Leinster, built a castle on the site in the 12th century. It was destroyed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell in 1650.

    Gleninchaquin Park on the Beara Peninsula is a great destination for hikers. There are several trails, some more challenging than others, but all beautiful! We went on the longest trail which took us up to the top of the waterfall and across the mountain. It was truly one of the highlights of our trip. The pictures speak for themselves!

  9. On my recent tour to Ireland we enjoyed being shown through the brewery and tasting of the beer named for Tom Crean, the famous Antarctic explorer . The brewery is in Dingle, but we found the beer available in several other stops on the tour including Dublin.

  10. In addition to the cliffs I would advise going to visit Inishbofin. You get to it by taking the ferry at Cleggan.

    Once there you can take lovely hikes on a much less touristy place such as the Aran Islands. The vistas are stunning and magical and you can get them practically all to yourself. Cnoc Mor is beautiful and no gates to hold you back just your own intelligence. I loved this place. I recommend going here.

  11. I have two preferred alternatives to the Cliffs of Moher and the Giants Causeway. In County Clare, I absolutely love the cliffs along the Loop Head Peninsula. Starting in Kilkee, you can walk a short distance from the town center to a dramatic cliff walk, known as the Dunlickey Walk. Alternatively, you could drive from town and park near the Diamond Rocks Cafe (there’s a decent sized public car park right there) and the cliff walk begins where the car park ends. A short drive from Kilkee is the Loop Head Lighthouse. Park at the lighthouse car park and walk around the area surrounding the lighthouse. One point of interest you’ll see is a majestic seastack named “Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Rock”, also known as “Lovers’ Leap”.

    In County Donegal is the beautiful Sliabh Liag. While you can drive over halfway up, we chose to park at the lower car park and walk. (Just be sure to leave the gate as you found it, usually closed.) What an exhilarating walk! Once you reach the car park, there is a small observation deck to enjoy the view. You can also continue on up a narrow track if you’d fancy a higher view, walking along the ridge, or exploring further afield.

    As alternatives to the Dublin Zoo, animal-related places I’d recommend are any of the donkey sanctuaries. Some of Ireland’s donkey sanctuaries are: Donegal Donkey Sanctuary near Raphoe, Liscarroll Donkey Sanctuary in Counnty Cork, The Donkey Sanctuary near Mallow, County Cork, and Donkey Sanctuary Belfast.

  12. Downpatrick Head, Mayo is a great alternative to CoM and GC.

    While Adare is good for thatched cottages, Carlingford, Louth is a quaint medieval village in which I’ve enjoyed wandering.

    The “Dead Zoo” (a.k.a. Natural Museum on Merrion Street) in Dublin is a find! You can pet the animals (yes, there is a host of taxidermed animals not behind glass) without worrying about turning into lunch.

  13. While staying at Mt. Juliet (guests of my parents–our budget leans towards B & B’s) we visited Kilfane Falls. It is a man made waterfall so, I guess the pumps get turned off at night. It was still a fun place to visit with our kids. The grounds are for hearty walkers so we lost the interest of our older family members. The first part of the grounds is an outdoor sculpture garden followed by a walk through the woods including going over a bridge over a creek. Lots of stairs, up and down. Finally, after going down a spiral staircase, you come across a scene with a cottage and the waterfall. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. This is not handicapped accessible. We also had the place to ourselves which was unique on that trip to Ireland.

  14. Instead of Adare – Convoy & the steeple… Edel MacBrides designer studio & Knitfield school in convoy, Donegal, Edel MacBrides pop up in Derry craft village in Derry city…
    Instead of Dublin zoo go to the dead zoo… (The natural history museum) & or fota wildlife park in cork (this was a highlight for me as a kid)… Pigtails, cute dress covered in ice cream and mud the whole way home to Kildare on the train…

  15. Cliffs of Moher & Giants Causeway: Slieve League, Loop Head, Mizen Head, Horn Head, Malin Head

    The Rock of Cashel: Rock of Dunamase

    Adare: Kilmore Quay (Wexford), Dunmore East (Waterford), Stradbally (Waterford)

    • Two more… Quaint Towns: Hillsborough (Co. Down), Birr

  16. Cliffs of Moher – Loop Head is a great alternative to the Cliffs of Moher. It’s 48 miles south of the more famous Cliffs along the coast, but a thousand miles away in atmosphere. The cliffs are the same, but no parking fee, no crowds, no fences. Park at the lighthouse and wander in solitude.

    The Rock of Cashel – Glendalough- not as dramatically sited, but much larger.

    Dublin Zoo – Fota Wildlife Park, just north of Cobh. http://www.fotawildlife.ie/ – Low key park, many of the animals are wandering around with you or in fields across low fences. Look up in the tree, there’s a monkey there…

  17. My favorite at Trinity College was not the Book of Kells, but the old library there which was breath taking! The Hill of Tara, Glendalough, and Kinsale were my favorites too!

  18. Cliffs of Moher: I’m in total agreement regarding Slieve League. Definitely worth the walk or nail-biting drive to see. I’d also like to throw in the Ceide Fields interpretive center on the coast of Mayo.

    Book of Kells: Well, where do I start? Celtic Design abounds in rich gold at the National Museum nearby in Dublin. The best known Celtic artifacts can be viewed there including the Kells Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice. The Castlestrange Stone near Athleague, and the Turoe Stone near Loughrea will show you the height of classic La Tene design. The interpretive centers of Kilfenora, Cong, Cashel and Clonmacnoise have fantastic info.

    Dublin Zoo: An animal related site at Glenveagh in Donegal follows the work at reintroducing Golden Eagles to Ireland. The Birds of Prey Centre at Aillwee Cave near Ballyvaughn is definitely worth the visit while you wander in the Burren.

    Quaint villages? Well, I didn’t go looking for one, but when I rented a cottage on the Finvarra peninsula in Co. Clare, I was gifted with the experience of the surrounding village to include a visiting storyteller, family goat and a green hillside complete with a white horse with mane billowing in the sea breeze.

  19. The Guinness Storehouse: instead go to great pubs with fab irish craft beer selection: examples; JJ Harlow’s in Roscommon & Brewery Corner in Kilkenny (next to Cleeres; go there, too great Guinness, not as many of craft beers, but great atmosphere & sure tis right next door to BC.) I’ve not been in but if ya need a brewery tour Smithwichs is 1 minute walk from there, too. You have to book ahead, tho, as until the planned expansion, they can’t handle large #s and tours fill quickly. O Hara’s Brewery is in Carlow & they run the Brewery Corner mentioned above. I know they have had visitors but not sure if that is by special arrangement. Even tho I’m a minimal beer drinker, this subject is close to my heart and if you’d like I’ll find out more & maybe do a guest post for you if you’d like.

    Cliffs of Moher & Giants Causeway: Donegal coast, the new Northwest Atlantic way prob fab but I’ve not ‘done’ it yey

    Book of Kells: look at it online. Go to the Little Museum of Dublin & get a real feel for Dublin & its people. Do the tour there.

    The Rock of Cashel: if you want atmospheric but deserted ruins, the 11c Kells (Kilkenny!) Priory is fab. Then a 15-20 min drive from there is Jerpoint Abbey & Jerpoint Park lost town, has St Nicholas’ grave, brought there 800 yrs ago ( am currently working on post on this)

    Adare: Dunmore East, Waterford- do the drive of the Copper Coast

    There’s some of my 2 cents worth :)

  20. Dramatic coasts- the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. Absolutely amazing! Fort Dunree has amazing coastal walks and a stop at Malin Head is a must.

    Rock structures- again in Donegal. Granian of Aileach is stunning. From its’ perch high above everything you can see into 3 counties- and far across the ocean on a clear day.

    Quaint villages: County Fermamagh. :) Definitely an overlooked county; filled with lovely villages around Lough Erne. Also, County Offaly. Birr and Kinnity are both quite nice.

    Animals: the Donkey Sanctuary in Mallow, Cork. Definitely a fun stop.

    And I’ll add one more- chocolates. Forget Butler’s. If you happen to pass through Wicklow be sure to stop at the Chocolate Garden of Ireland near Tullow.

  21. Hands down, the alternative Book of Kells is to visit the wonderful Royal Irish Academy library on Dawson Street, and see the manuscript of the day that’s on display. They have a stunning collection of ancient manuscripts, and there is always one on show. Admission is free, it’s just you and the librarian, no crowds, and you are in the hush of a working library. A real hidden gem. (Disclosure: I love this place so much, I made an audio guide of it!)

    For quaint villages, try Borris by the banks of the River Barrow, or Birr. Both are heritage Georgian villages, built by the local estates. Borris House is still lived in by the MacMurrough Kavanaghs, the original kings of Leinster, and they give tours of the house, and the Barrow River is an idyllic walk. Birr Castle has gorgeous gardens, a fascinating historical museum, and an amazing telescope that for 70 years was the biggest in the world.

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