History, Heritage & Tourism Class - Places to visit this Easter
How about enjoying the Easter holidays by visiting some of Ireland’s most beautiful places?
In our History, Heritage & Tourism class we show you some of the most interesting places for you to visit.
Clonmacnoise: This is a famous monastic site dating from the 6th century. It was a centre of learning excellence located on the banks of the River Shannon, not far from Athlone, in County Offaly. This one was chosen by Patricia Boucher.
Clonmacnoise was once one of the most important religious and scholarly locations in Europe. The monastery was founded by St Ciarán of Clonmacnoise in 544. He was one of the twelve Irish saints including St. Columba of Iona, who trained at Clonard Abbey under St Finnian. St. Finnian was one of the pioneers of monasticism that would become such an important element of Irish cultural identity. The monastery flourished and became a great seat of learning. It was a university with students from all over Europe.
It is also a world-famous historical site and burial ground for some of the high kings of Ireland.
The monastery is located along the River Shannon near the village of Shannonbridge. A walk along its peaceful stone ruins will echo images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s renowned golden age of learning.
The Burren Drive (Ballinalackin to Ballyvaughan in County Clare): This one was chosen by Marie Brady. If you’re visiting County Clare and the famous Cliffs of Moher, why not take the scenic route from Ballyvaughan to Fanore, then through Lisdoonvarna and up to the Cliffs of Moher? You will be travelling through a part of the Burren, one of the most unusual and remarkable parts of Ireland. You can find many fossils in the limestone, testimony to the rock’s underwater origins many thousands of years ago.
There are remarkable places to see in the Burren:
The Burren: The Burren is a UNESCO heritage site with a vast area of ice-age limestone, cliffs, caves and rock formations, as well as a huge variety of plants and rare animals. In winter or summer, this is a breathtaking journey, with parts of the road almost carved into the mountain on your left and the south coast of Galway Bay below you on your right. As you leave Ballyvaughan you will see the pop-up waterfalls that descend the mountain after rain, while on the right you can see the Connemara and Mayo Mountains as they soar in the distance.
Gleninagh Castle is a well-preserved 16th-century tower, guarding the north coast of the Burren. They spoke Irish in Gleninagh until about 100 years ago.
Black Head Lighthouse is another amazing feature at the northern tip of the Burren. It was built in the mid-1930s at the request of ocean liners that made regular calls in Galway.
Fanore (or Fan Óir, “golden slope”) is about 7 km south of Black Head. 6,000 years ago, Stone Age people lived here their homes and kitchen mounds can still be found. You’ll have a great view of the Aran Islands from Fanore beach. On a clear day, you can see the lighthouse at Inis Oirr facing the north coast of Kerry. If you continue to Doolin, about 15 km away, the ferry will take you to the islands. On the islands you can spend the day strolling along the coast, tasting the seafood or visiting some of the many monuments and archaeological finds that mark the landscape. Visit the ruins of Ballinalacken Castle, a tower house built-in 1390. It looks like a sentry overseeing your progress towards Lisdoonvarna.
Clare is home to traditional Irish music. You’ll have no trouble finding a “session” in one of the many pubs favoured by musicians.
A stroll in Merrion Square: Merrion Square is surrounded by beautiful Georgian Houses. Along the west of the square are the houses of the Government. Also on the same side is the National Museum of Ireland. It is home to the greatest collection of Irish heritage, culture and history. It’s also free to visit. This one was chosen by Mary Warren.
There are plaques on the walls. This features the rich and famous who once lived in the Georgian Houses. Look out for Daniel O’Connell and W.B.Yeats. The attractive central park features colourful flowers and shrub beds. Oscar Wilde reclines on the rock. On Sundays, artists hang their works for sale on the railings surrounding the park.
Opening Times: 10.00 am. – 6.00 pm.
The Hill of Uisneach: Located in Co. Westmeath, near Mullingar, at the heart of Ireland’s ancient east. Ireland’s ancient east is described as the ancient, geographic and spiritual centre of Ireland. Chosen by Joan Byrne, this site dates back to the Iron age. Older than the Neolithic tombs at Newgrange, this site is 1000 years older than Stonehenge. It was built before the Pyramids. The Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages are all represented here.
James Joyce, the famous Irish writer, described the site as a ‘Mountain Molehill’ It contains buried tombs, Neolithic chambers, standing stones and holy wells. Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget and the Kings of Meath are all said to have passed through here.
To the side of the hill lies the ‘Cat’s Stone’. It is a limestone rock, rising almost 20ft, that marks the centre of the Earth. Beneath is said to rest the goddess ‘Eire’, Ireland’s Mother Earth. She was one of the ‘Tuatha Dé Danann’ who is said to have ruled from here.
The summit of Uisneach rises 200 metres above sea level. The view stretches out to include 20 of Ireland’s 32 counties. It is said to be the mythological centre of Ireland. It was thought of as the fifth province, which ruled overall. People from all the other kingdoms could come and visit.
The best times to visit this sacred and magical place include
- ‘Imbolic’ on the 1st February
- Bealtaine on the 1st of May,
- Lughnasa on the 1st of August
- Samhain on the 1st of November. This is when the gates to the underworld were said to be opened.