Where to go and what to see in Ireland? Isn't it all just green fields, sheep and Guinness Beer?
This is truly a dilemma for tourists because there is just so much to see and do.
How you plan your trip pretty much depends on where you're going to land...
How much time you have, and what your interests are.
do you want to see both parts of the country?
...Or just the Republic?
...Or just the North?
There are plenty of them....
Some are just ruins.
Some have been converted to luxury hotels like Dromoland Castle and Ashford Castle.
Some are historic sites.
Some you can have a medieval banquet in.
You could devise a whole tour just based on visiting castles.
Ireland is almost as famous for its golf courses as Scotland is.
If you're a golfer, you've probably heard of the Ballybunion Old Course.
You could combine golf and a castle stay at Dromoland Castle or Ashford Castle or others if you want to splurge.
You'll have to go to Bru na Boinne and see the Passage Tombs of Newgrange and Knowth.
If you go to Trinity College in Dublin, you can see the Book of Kells.
The Hill of Tara in the County Meath is the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
While there really isn't much there in the way of structures or ancient monuments at the Hill of Tara, it's worth visiting just for the sweeping views. There are passage tombs and standing stones, but mostly you should go to "feel" the history here.
You can follow a trail of sites associated with Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.
From the Rock of Cashel where he was supposed to have converted the King of Munster to Christianity...
To Downpatrick where he is supposed to be buried in the Down Cathedral.
We loved starting our trip at a quiet farmhouse B&B near the Rock of Cashel. It was an easy way to get into the rhythm of this easy going country.
Are you just interested in seeing the green and the scenery?
Well, you can see that almost everywhere...
But you'll want to get to the Cliffs of Moher....
These 650 foot high cliffs (198 meters) drop straight in to the Atlantic.
For stark barren beauty see the Burren near Galway.
limestone plateau has ancient dolmens and bizarre rock formations.
And if you can get all the way to the northern tip of the country you can visit the Giants Causeway...
The basalt columns that seem to form a giant pathway to Scotland.
You'll probably want to get to Blarney Castle and the kiss the Blarney Stone.
Some guidebooks will tell you that this is a little too touristy.
Well maybe, but we went the first time we visited the country, and we thought it was fun to see Blarney Castle... why not?
We had our nieces with us... one of them kissed the Blarney Stone twice! Yes, she's a talker.
As for beer, you can tour the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It's a modern museum inside an old brewery. If you just want a Guinness, you can get one in any pub.
You can taste Irish Whiskey almost anywhere in the country, but just know that most of the places you find for tours are not working distilleries. It's still fun.
There are several ways to get around on your visit.
You can choose to take a tour of the country which focuses on your interests.
Another choice is to visit on your own and use public transportation, but it may be hard to get to some of the more out of the way sights.
Driving yourself around Ireland is fun and a great way to see it, but you must be willing to drive on the left. You need steady nerves on some of those narrow roads, but they will lead you to all the great sights.
However you choose to visit, Ireland is well worth a visit.