Brigid’s Cross Symbol – History and Meaning

Brigid’s Cross or Saint Brigid’s Cross is widely believed to be a Christian symbol and an old Irish symbol, which is also tied with Celtic Mythology. This is a symbol that’s seen across Ireland every February 1, which is the feast day of Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan. Read on to learn more about the history and meaning of Brigid’s Cross. 

Brigid’s Cross Symbol – History and Meaning

st. brigid's cross

Also known as Saint Brigid, she is considered to be the female counterpart of Saint Patrick. She is as beloved as the emerald isle’s patron saint and much revered as a life-giving goddess among the Celts.

History

Brigid’s Cross is a variation of the universal cross symbol that is mounted in all Irish homes every first day of February. This is a tradition that is practiced in honor of Saint Brigid and as protection against fire and evil spirits. 

Saint Brigid is said to have been the one who came up with this distinct cross symbol, and that the design was inspired by the pagan sun wheel.

The story on how Brigid came up with the cross was also somehow tied to the pagans.

st. brigid's cross

According to an old tale, there was once an old pagan chieftain who lay delirious and restless in his deathbed in his Kildare home. Nobody can calm him down so his servants summoned the saintly Brigid to help put him at ease. 

Brigid came to see the old man and sat by his bedside. She patiently calmed and consoled him.

As she soothingly spoke to the dying man, Brigid saw the rushes strewn all over the floor. She picked up the strands, began waving as she kept watch on the man, and eventually formed a cross with the rushes. 

She explained the meaning of the cross to the old chieftain until her soothing words brought peace to his soul. The old chieftain eventually relaxed, as he lay captivated by Brigid’s words. Just before his death, the old pagan chieftain was baptized as a Christian. 

News about this conversion spread across the land, and since then, people made rush crosses to honor the occasion. February 1 became the feast day of Saint Brigid, and aside from the cross, boxty pancakes were served to celebrate this day. 

Brigid’s Cross Symbol Meaning

St Brigid's Cross

Brigid’s Cross (Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde in Irish) is a small cross woven from rushes or straw. It has a distinct squarish center.

The cross is made by weaving around 12 -16 strands of the rushes from the center to create the cross shape. A crisscross weave is repeated until the cross is sturdy.  The ends are then tied then blessed with holy water.

There are variants of this cross that only has three radials. Brigid’s Cross is often compared to the pre-Christian sun cross, which was known among the Celts. 

Putting up Brigid’s crosses in households in Ireland is done every first day of February, the feast of Saint Brigid. The cross mainly signifies protection for the household, from evil spirits, bad energies, hunger, and fire. 

Every February 1, a  cross is hung on the door to ward off any bad elements that might enter the house. The cross from the previous year is then burned to keep the fire away from the household.

 

Does It Snow In Ireland?

Does it snow in Ireland? That’s one of the most common questions when it comes to visiting Ireland. 

The short answer is yes. But it’s actually rare occurrence contrary to what people expect. 

Ireland has a mild, humid, and it gets abundant rain all throughout the year but it doesn’t have an extreme temperature.

Read on to find out when and where you can enjoy the snow season in Ireland. 

Does It Snow In Ireland?

snowfall in Ireland in February

How cold does it get in Ireland?

Ireland doesn’t have extreme temperatures and it does have milder winter if you will compare the weather of the country with places such as Newfoundland, Canada, and Sakhalin, Russia, which are both in the same latitude as Ireland. 

Between January to February, the temperature goes between 4° to 7° Celcius and that is the coldest Ireland gets. 

What months does it snow in Ireland?

Ireland rarely sees snow and it normally falls between January to February.

Depending on the location, the country gets an average of 5 days of snowfall in the Southwest and up to 24 days in the north midlands during the winter season.

Ireland also normally gets between 1-2 cm of snow. Because of its oceanic climate, the annual temperature ranges are very narrow so both the winter frost and summer heat are very rare. 

Where does it snow in Ireland?

Wicklow Mountains national park

The snowiest parts of Ireland are the Clones in County Monaghan and the Wicklow Mountains in County Wicklow which can last up to a month and Valentia Island in County Kerry gets the least snow in Ireland. 

Does it hail in Ireland?

Malin Head
Malin Head

Like snow, hail is also not that common in Ireland. But it can occur at any time of the year and it’s more common during the Spring season when thunderstorms are present. 

According to the local weather stats, Malin Head in County Donegal gets the most hail every year with an average of 48 days every year and Roche’s Point in County Cork gets the least hail with an average of 8 days annually. 

Is winter the best time to visit Ireland? 

The best time to visit Ireland depends on your personal preference. Winter might be ideal for some due to less crowd and cheaper prices but summer might be preferred by some due to more available activities and better weather in general. 

You can check this article for when is the best time to visit Ireland to help you decide. 

Also, if you are interested to check the weather in Ireland every month, check out our monthly guides for more information: 

Things To Do In Gap of Dunloe, Ireland

Depending on where you start when doing the Ring of Kerry route, the scenic Gap of Dunloe could either be among your first or last stop. This narrow mountain pass smack between MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain is hard to miss.

The area was formed by glacial flows from millions of years ago. Today, a river called Loe runs through the gap and it, hence the name. 

5 Things To Do in Gap of Dunloe

River Loe, Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe starts at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where the most narrow road winds through the pass and leads into The Black Valley as it passes five lakes.

Just a few steps away from Kate Kearney’s cottage is a pretty old bridge called the ‘Wishing Bridge’. Remember to stop by and make a wish, many attest that they really do come true! 

From north to south, the wild and scenic Gap of Dunloe spans around 11 km. There are tours on offer where you can either hire a jaunting car (horse-drawn wagon) or boat to explore the Gap.  You can also rent a bike and navigate this stunning area on your own. 

If you’re doing the Ring of Kerry Tour, the Gap is about 12 kilometers west of Killarney. You may also start from the national park and head towards the west if you want to hike the area, which takes a good 2 and 1/2 hours. 

Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe and its surrounding areas are dotted with interesting places to see and exciting activities to make the most of your visit.

From hiking to watching the sunset by an old castle, here are some of the best things to do in Gap of Dunloe, Ireland. 

Visit Kate Kearney’s Cottage

Kate Kearney's Cottage

A must visit Gap of Dunloe attraction is a 19th-century pub located at the northern end.

If you want to relax before or after exploring the area, go and have some hot drinks or pub grub at Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

This is practically an institution in the Gap of Dunloe area, as this is the usual starting point of tours and hiking trails. During summer, Kate Kearney’s hosts live traditional Irish music sessions every night. 

Bike or walk around the Gap

gap of dunloe

Going on a relaxing stroll or pedal around the Gap is one of the best ways to enjoy the area. There’s a track designated for those who want to go on this scenic and mostly quiet tour.

Take in the spectacular beauty of the area, as you walk up into the mountains. Stop every once in and appreciate the views of the craggy boulders, lakes, streams, old ruins, and a few houses.

Hike Carrauntoohil

Carrauntoohil and the Beenkeragh Ridge

How about a hike up Carrauntoohil? If you’re physically fit enough, enjoys challenging hikes, and some rock climbing, then this Gap of Dunloe attraction is a must.

This is Ireland’s highest summit, at 1040m, which has several trails up to cater to different fitness abilities. 

Go on a boat trip

Another fun thing to do in Gap of Dunloe is to go on a boat trip.  This is a different yet still equally stunning perspective of the area.

Most boat trips depart in the area close to an old Victorian hunting lodge and Cafe Lord Brandons.

Considered as one of the world’s oldest boat trips, the journey will take you from Lord Brandon’s to Ross Castle on the lower lakes of Killarney.

Visit Ross Castle

ross castle

Visitors who opt to explore Gap of Dunloe and surrounding areas by boat will surely find themselves marveling at Ross Castle at some point. This is also where some boat tours depart so stop for a while and look around.

The 15th Century Tower House Ross overlooks the picturesque Lough Leane. It is located by the edge of the lake and is also regarded as one of the best places in Killarney to view the sunset. 

 

Things To Do In Spike Island, Ireland

Spike Island is just a short ride from the picturesque little fishing village of Cobh in County Cork. A historic area that encompasses 103 acres, the island has been a monastic settlement, as well as a prison. These are just among the best things to do in Spike Island, Ireland. 

Spike Island’s history goes back to over a thousand years, as it served purposes that have nothing in common except the location. 

Things To Do In Spike Island, Ireland

Fort Mitchel Spike Island, Ireland
Fort Mitchel

As a monastic settlement, Spike Island was home to a 6th-century Monastery.

Then, a 24-acre fortress was built during the Victorian area which housed a prison which the island is now known for. This fortress is the world’s largest convict depot, a star-shaped building that’s also known as ‘Fort Mitchel’.

Over the years, Spike Island has become one of the best attractions in County Cork. It is often referred to by tourists as the “Alcatraz of Ireland’, in reference to the island in San Francisco, California.

It has not been that open to the public for a long time, yet the island already received awards such as Europe’s leading tourist attraction 2017 at the World Travel Awards and it’s considered one of the best islands in Ireland.

Getting to Spike Island

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Spike Island (@spikeislandcork) on

 

From the village of Cobh in County Cork, Spike Island is just a short boat ride away. It is best to join a tour to make the most of your visit and to ensure that you really get to explore the many interesting places that the island has to offer. 

5 Things To Do in Spike Island

More than being the so-called Alcatraz of Ireland, Spike Island offers many interesting places to see and things to do for its visitors. Here are some of them. 

Learn Military History at the Artillery Gun Park

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Spike Island (@spikeislandcork) on

 

One of the best places to see in Spike Island is also the largest Artillery Gun Park in Ireland.

Here, you’ll find old cannons as well as modern military machines, in over a dozen exhibits that cover more than 300 years of warfare.

You will also find here a stunning recreation of the Battery Observation Post.  This is a fun and fascinating feature of Spike Island that’s not to be missed. 

Visit the Punishment Block

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Spike Island (@spikeislandcork) on

 

Constructed as a response to the murder of Warder William Reddy in 1856, the Punishment Block is now one of the most intriguing places to visit in Spike Island.

On your visit, you’ll see the Guardroom where you’ll learn how archaeologists worked on the site. Get your torchlight ready and visit the Dark Cells. There’s also the modern solitary cells that were in use until 2004.

Other interesting places to see are the cells of Irish nationalists Patrick Tierney and John Mitchel, which are both recreated, as well as the upstairs rooms of the block which houses an art exhibition of prisoners artwork.

Walk along the 1985 cells

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Spike Island (@spikeislandcork) on

 

While in Spike Island, go and explore the 1985 cells, which housed modern prisoners in 4 man cells. One of these prisoners was Martin Cahill, who orchestrated a 40 million Euro art heist in Dublin.

Today, you may visit these modern C-Class prison cells for a glimpse of what life was and is like for modern prisoners, compared to the conditions in the 1850’s Punishment Block. 

Check out the ‘Shivs and Shanks’ exhibition here, where you’ll find some of the dangerous weapons that were made in the prison and kept by inmates, as well as homemade tattoo guns.

See the 6-inch Guns

6-inch guns

The 6-inch guns became part of the British service at the start of the 20th Century and played a significant role since.

These guns are now among the best attractions in Spike Island, with two located in the Number 3 Bastion.  The third gun meanwhile is used for training and kept in a covered building on the north of the island. 

Join the After Dark Tour

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Spike Island (@spikeislandcork) on

 

What can be more exciting than touring an old, possibly haunted place at night?

If you’re up for some spooky adventure, then joining their After Dark Tour is the best thing to do in Spike Island. Discover more about the prison’s somber and frightening history, as you explore this dark and dangerous place.

Hear a different take on some of the island’s top attractions such as the Punishment Block, and come out with some intriguing stories to tell your friends back home. Not for the faint of heart but this is a must experience. 

 

Best Islands In Ireland To Visit

Ireland is an island in itself but there are around eighty islands that make up the entire country. Out of the islands in Ireland, only around twenty are inhabited. 

So if you are looking for the best places in Ireland to hide, these beautiful Irish islands are your best bet in finding peace and quiet. 

Best Islands In Ireland To Visit

From UNESCO heritage sites to beautiful beaches, the islands in Ireland is not to be missed. You can also enjoy monolithic sites, hiking trails, historic sites, rugged cliffs, and beautiful bays to explore. 

So without further adieu, we listed our favorite islands in Ireland to help you decide which ones to visit. 

Skellig Michael, County Kerry

Skellig Michael things to do in ireland
Skellig Michael – filming location for Star Wars films

Standing in the Atlantic Ocean at about 12 kilometers southwest of Valentia Island, County Kerry are the stunning Skellig Islands – Skellig Michael and Small Skellig.

The islands are both world-famous, but Skellig Michael is more known throughout the world of archaeology as the site of a well-preserved monastic outpost of the Early Christian period.

The earliest reference in history to the Skellig Islands dates back to 1400 BC. Between the 6th and 8th centuries, a Christian monastery was founded on the island and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century.

The remains of this monastery, along with most of the island itself, became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1996. 

A jagged, difficult-to-access island off the Kerry shoreline, Skellig Michael towers at 714 feet  (218 meters) above sea level.

It’s rather a steep climb up, but the sight of the remarkably well-preserved sixth-century monastic settlement and the magnificent views of the nearby islands and the Atlantic are well worth it and makes for one of the best things to do in Ireland.

These days, Skellig Michael isn’t just known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also for its role in two recent Star Wars movies. 

Great Blasket Island, County Kerry

great blasket island cliffThe Great Blasket Island is the largest among the Blasket Islands, which are the westernmost islands off the coast of Ireland. 

This island measures roughly 3 kilometers by 1 kilometer (2 miles by ½ mile) and is predominantly rocky. It is also the westernmost point of Europe and has a long, fascinating history.

Even with its size and remote location, the Great Blasket Island has attracted visitors over the years.

The rustic surroundings and the calm atmosphere attracts tourists who wanted a quick, memorable getaway. Its incredible, unspoiled landscape is the walker’s paradise.

This stunning island is an easy ferry ride from the Dingle Marina.

If you’re up for a unique day tour, there are several fun things to do in Great Blasket Island when you visit. 

Arranmore Island, County Donegal

Arranmore Island

Arranmore Island or Árainn Mhór in Irish is located a few miles off Donegal. It is often regarded as one of the more underrated destinations in the Wild Atlantic Way.

Wild and untamed, Arranmore is one of the few places in Ireland where the main language is native Irish. A visit here guarantees fun, adventure, and a taste of real island life.

From cliff walks to deep-sea diving, there are several things to do in Arranmore Island that you shouldn’t miss when you visit. 

Tory Island, County Donegal

tory island ireland

Located off the north coast of County Donegal, Tory is a tiny island at just about four and a half kilometers long and a little over one kilometer wide.

Known for its rugged landscapes and as a stronghold of Irish traditions, Tory Island is one of the most unique places to visit in the Atlantic.

The name of the island is said to have originated from the Irish word for rock (tor) or from the Irish word for robber (torai).

Rock refers to the cliffs and rocks that make up most of the island. Meanwhile, ‘robber’ is said to refer to the first occupants of the island – a band of pirates called Fomorians. 

Tory island is comprised of granite cliffs on the north side,  which turns gradually into the pink quartz high rocks on the far northeast of the island. The highest among these cliffs is Tor Mor, at about 115 feet high.

Things to do in Tory Island includes meeting the King – the only King in Ireland, the Tau Cross, and if you come at the right time, the island is also one the best spots in Ireland to watch the Northern Lights. 

Aran Islands, County Galway

Aran Islands

Aran Islands are a group of three rocky islands located in Galway Bay.

The islands include Inishmore (Inis Mór – the largest island), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin – the second largest), and Inisheer (Inis Oírr – the smallest).

On the islands, you can explore ancient stone forts and churches, awesome cliffs, and flora and fauna.

The islands are considered the soul of Gaelic culture and it’s considered one of the top island destinations by National Geographic.

Dursey Island, County Cork

Dursey Island

Located at the end of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Dursey Island is one of those who must experience detours for those tackling the Wild Atlantic Way route.

It is remote and there are no facilities to cater to visitors, but it remains to be one of the most exciting destinations in the south of Ireland. 

The island has quite a turbulent history.

Aside from not being soared from war and conflict as well as the Great Famine, Dursey Island has also witnessed one of the most horrific events in the history of Ireland. 

The island was the site of a massacre that took place in the early 1600s, perpetrated by English forces to ‘clean’ the island.

Close to the cable car stop is the now neglected church and graveyard, where their bodies were buried. The area is quite desolate but nonetheless an interesting place to see as you explore Dursey Island. 

Dursey Island is only 6.5 kilometers from the mainland and can be reached by boat or cable car – the only one of its kind in Ireland. It was established in 1969 and has since been one of the island’s main attractions.

The cable car journeys across the fast currents of Dursey Sound, which becomes treacherous with storms and a tidal surge.

Whether you’re making Dursey a part of your Wild Atlantic Way journey or as part of your visit to the south of Ireland, you’re in for a happy surprise as there are interesting things to see here. 

Achill Island, County Mayo

Keem Bay

There are fun things to do in Achill Island. It was first inhabited 5,000 years ago and is now the largest among all islands off the coast of Ireland.

Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Achill makes for an easy day trip of you’re in County Mayo

The island is known for its spectacular views and its two popular beaches, Keem Bay and Keel Beach.

Keem Bay is a small cove sheltered by mountains, a relaxing area with stunning views that’s perfect for hanging out. Keel Beach meanwhile, is a haven for surfers as well as for its scenic beach walk. 

Achill Island has something for everyone, with its majestic mountains, diverse landscapes, and stretches of stunning Blue Flag beaches. This place is best for those who love scenic nature walks as well as fun watersports.

Around the island, visitors will also see remnants of Achill’s storied past – from ancient forts, deserted villages, historic churches, and megalithic tombs

Valentia Island, County Kerry

valentia island ireland

Valentia Island is located off the Iveragh Peninsula in southwestern Kerry. It has a population of over 600 people spread in its two small villages – Knightstown and Chapel town. Despite being small, there are several things to do on Valentia Island

Technically, Valentia is no longer an island because it is connected to the mainland by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge at Portmagee since 1971.

It is situated on the Skellig Coast in the Southern Peninsulas of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is adjacent to the Ring of Kerry and known for its highest peak, the Geokaun Mountain.

Valentia Island, despite being easily accessible is still not that touristy and crowded during peak season, and is said to have one of the best sunset views in Ireland. 

Roads here are quite narrow, so visitors are encouraged to explore Valentia on foot to really enjoy the unique scenery.  The island vibe is relaxed and peaceful, with friendly locals and sights that are still unspoiled.

Valentia’s long history is evident in the various structures and natural wonders you’ll see as you explore, from tetrapod tracks to an old lighthouse. 

Bull Rock Island, County Cork

Bull Rock island

Bull Rock Island is located about 4 kilometers away from Dursey Island and 9 kilometers from the mainland of County Cork.

The rock is 93 meters high and is actually a small island. It has stunning jagged cliffs, a tunnel where boats can pass and a lighthouse.

It is regarded as one of Island’s best remote attractions and a great stop if you’re doing the Wild Atlantic Way road trip. 

The Bull Rock Island is situated on a sea transit at the tip of the Beara Peninsula and the entrance to Kenmare River. It is a few kilometers away from the more popular Dursey Island. The Rock is also the most Southwesterly point from the Beara Peninsula.

This island rock looks straight put of a fantasy film set, with its green sandstone and purple siltstones surface that was formed more than three hundred million years ago

The Bull Rock is a bit older than the Cow Rock, the old red sandstone that you’ll see on the way. This intriguing rock island, like most natural destinations in Ireland, is steeped in folklore.

Legend has it that the tunnel-like passage of Bull Rock is the ‘Gateway to the Underworld’.

Comprised of dramatic, rocky cliffs, Bull Rock looks quite mysterious. Apart from the lighthouse, there are stone structures built on the cliffs. These buildings are proof that people lived here for a time.

Spike Island, County Cork

Fort Mitchel Spike Island, Ireland
Fort Mitchel, Spike Island

Spike Island is just a short ride from the picturesque little fishing village of Cobh in County Cork. A historic area that encompasses 103 acres, the island has been a monastic settlement, as well as a prison. These are just among the best things to do in Spike Island, Ireland. 

Spike Island’s history goes back to over a thousand years, as it served purposes that have nothing in common except the location. 

As a monastic settlement, Spike Island was home to a 6th-century Monastery.

Then, a 24-acre fortress was built during the Victorian area which housed a prison which the island is now known for. This fortress is the world’s largest convict depot, a star-shaped building that’s also known as ‘Fort Mitchel’.

Over the years, Spike Island has become one of the best attractions in County Cork. It is often referred to by tourists as the “Alcatraz of Ireland’, in reference to the island in San Francisco, California.

It has not been that open to the public for a long time, yet the island already received awards such as Europe’s leading tourist attraction 2017 at the World Travel Awards and it’s considered one of the best islands in Ireland.

 


New to Airbnb? Get a $43 off for your next trip if you use our link here


 

Things To Do In Dursey Island, Ireland

There are several fun things to do in Dursey Island.

Located at the end of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Dursey Island is one of those who must experience detours for those tackling the Wild Atlantic Way route.

It is remote and there are no facilities to cater to visitors, but it remains to be one of the most exciting islands in the south of Ireland. 

The island has quite a turbulent history.

Aside from not being soared from war and conflict as well as the Great Famine, Dursey Island has also witnessed one of the most horrific events in the history of Ireland. 

The island was the site of a massacre that took place in the early 1600s, perpetrated by English forces to ‘clean’ the island.

Close to the cable car stop is the now neglected church and graveyard, where their bodies were buried. The area is quite desolate but nonetheless an interesting place to see as you explore Dursey Island. 

Dursey Island is only 6.5 kilometers from the mainland and can be reached by boat or cable car – the only one of its kind in Ireland. It was established in 1969 and has since been one of the island’s main attractions.

The cable car journeys across the fast currents of Dursey Sound, which becomes treacherous with storms and a tidal surge.

Whether you’re making Dursey a part of your Wild Atlantic Way journey or as part of your visit to the south of Ireland, you’re in for a happy surprise as there are interesting things to see here. 

Things To Do in Dursey Island

Mostly deserted and with no amenities around, Dursey Island seems like a daunting place to explore.

However, there are interesting places to see here that make it a worthy place to visit. Here are the best things to do in Dursey Island: 

1. Take the cable car

Dursey Island

Being the only island in Ireland that is connected to the mainland by cable car, a ride on this rickety contraption is one of the best things to do in Dursey.

These carriages were originally designed for sheep and started in 1969.

The cable car can only accommodate up to six persons per journey and is a fantastic way to see Dursey as well as its neighboring rock islands. The journey takes about fifteen minutes and a must experience. 

2. Hike around Dursey Island

Dursey Island

 

Exploring on foot is the best way to see Dursey Island, which can be done in around four hours. From paved roads to sloping hills, the marked paths are quite easy to navigate.

Along the way, you’ll come across some of Dursey’s best attractions such as historic ruins, Napoleonic signal tower, rocky cliffs, and spectacular views.

You’ll also see various seabirds, native orchids and on the coast, you may even spot some dolphins and whales. 

3. Stop at St. Mary’s Abbey

Located close to the cable car station is a place called St. Mary’s Abbey.

This is one of the intriguing places to see in Dursey Island, with its roofless church and neglected graveyard.  The graveyard keeps the O’Sullivan Beara family vault.

An area called ‘Pairc an Air’ (meaning ‘Massacre Field’) is located nearby, said to be where a large number of the O’Sullivan family were murdered by British Forces, in the 1500s to the 1600s.

4. See the abandoned houses in Dursey Island

Dursey Island abandoned houses

Over the centuries, the population of Dursey has gradually diminished.

At present, there are only several residents left in Dursey, making the rest of it pretty much abandoned.

One of the best things to see in Dursey Island are the abandoned houses left over from the past centuries.

These houses have been witnesses to various periods in Ireland’s conflicted history and among the things that give Dursey its unique character. 

5. See the Rocks 

Bull Rock island

From the nearly deserted Dursey, you can easily see some nearby islands that are also worth visiting.

From the eastern end, check put the rock islands with interesting names – the Calf Rock, Cow Rock, and Bull Rock.

Visitors to Dursey may also take a closer look by joining tours that will take them on a boat ride around these rocks.

5 Things To Do In Achill Island, Ireland

There are fun things to do in Achill Island. It was first inhabited 5,000 years ago and is now the largest among all islands off the coast of Ireland.

Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Achill makes for an easy day trip of you’re in County Mayo

Achill Island, Ireland

Achill Island West Mayo
Achill Island, West Mayo

The island is known for its spectacular views and its two popular beaches, Keem Bay and Keel Beach.

Keem Bay is a small cove sheltered by mountains, a relaxing area with stunning views that’s perfect for hanging out. Keel Beach meanwhile, is a haven for surfers as well as for its scenic beach walk. 

Achill Island has something for everyone, with its majestic mountains, diverse landscapes, and stretches of stunning Blue Flag beaches. This place is best for those who love scenic nature walks as well as fun watersports.

Around the island, visitors will also see remnants of Achill’s storied past – from ancient forts, deserted villages, historic churches, and megalithic tombs

How to get to Achill Island 

Achill Island

The closest major towns from Achill Island are Westport and Castlebar.

From Westport 

To get to Achill Island from Westport, just take the N59 towards Newport and then Mallaranny. Then follow the R319 Road towards Michael Davitt Bridge – the bridge that connects Achill Island to the mainland. From the bridge, you can head towards your first destination in Achill Island. 

Achill Island is around 51 km (31.6 miles) from Westport and it’s around 50 minutes to get there by car. 

From Castlebar

To get to Achill Island from Castlebar, just take the R311 road towards Newport and then the N59 towards Mallaranny. Then follow the R319 Road towards Michael Davitt Bridge – the bridge that connects Achill Island to the mainland. From the bridge, you can head towards your first destination in Achill Island. 

Achill Island is around 58 km (36 miles) from Castlebar and it’s around 50 minutes to get there by car. 

Things To Do in Achill Island

If you’re going to visit just one island off the Irish coast, Achill should be on top of your list. From walking along stunning beaches to deserted homes, here are some of the best things to do in Achill Island, Ireland.

Walk along Slí Grainne Mhaol

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Neasa Sweeney (@sweeneyneasa) on

 

Achill Island is known for its scenic coastlines, that visitors simply couldn’t resist.

Waking the three and a half-mile stretch of Slí Grainne Mhaol is one of the best ways to see more of Achill. The trail, which starts at the Pattens Bar, is easily accessible.

If you only have a day to spare but want to see more, then this is the best thing to do on the island to make the most of your visit. 

Visit the Deserted Village

Deserted Village

For a look into the island’s past, check out the Deserted Village.

This is one of the best things to see in Achill Island, where you get to see what life here must have been like during the Anglo-Norman period.

Located at the base of the Slievemore mountain, this old settlement dates back to the 12th century. The place is quite eerie but nonetheless fascinating.  

Soak up the stunning scenery along Keel Beach

Keel beach achill island

Often regarded as one of the best places to visit in Achill Island, Keel Beach is a must experience.

Hang out by the shores and watch surfers ride the wild Atlantic waves, or simply marvel at its distinct beauty.

See the rugged mountains sloping to sandy shores, said to be one of the best views in Ireland.

Keel Beach also has a scenic cliff walk that towers over the Atlantic, which is another way to see more of the beach and its surrounding areas. 

Relax at Keem Bay

Keem Bay

The island doesn’t run out of unforgettable places to visit and Keem Bay is definitely one of Achill Island’s best attractions.

With its sparkling blue waters and idyllic surroundings, it is no wonder Keem is a Blue Flag beach.

It is one of those places where you can just hang out on the shore, enjoy a picnic, or enjoy a quiet beach stroll. 

Check out the local pub scene at Ted’s 

No visit to any place in Ireland is complete without visiting a pub and enjoying a pint. Achill Island is no exception, and one of the local favorites is Ted’s. Enjoy some good pub grub along with your pint.

The atmosphere is cozy and authentic, which makes it an ideal place to chill after a long day of exploring the island. 

 

5 Things To Do In Valentia Island, Ireland

Valentia Island is located off the Iveragh Peninsula in southwestern Kerry. It has a population of over 600 people spread in its two small villages – Knightstown and Chapel town. Despite being small, there are several things to do on Valentia Island. 

Valentia Island Ireland

Technically, Valentia is no longer an island because it is connected to the mainland by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge at Portmagee since 1971.

It is situated on the Skellig Coast in the Southern Peninsulas of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is adjacent to the Ring of Kerry and known for its highest peak, the Geokaun Mountain.

Valentia Island, despite being easily accessible is still not that touristy and crowded during peak season, and is said to have one of the best sunset views in Ireland. It is also one of the best islands to visit in Ireland.

Roads here are quite narrow, so visitors are encouraged to explore Valentia on foot to really enjoy the unique scenery.  The island vibe is relaxed and peaceful, with friendly locals and sights that are still unspoiled.

Valentia’s long history is evident in the various structures and natural wonders you’ll see as you explore, from tetrapod tracks to an old lighthouse. 

How to get to Valentia Island

If you are visiting Valentia during summer and want that island feel, you may also reach it by a ten-minute ferry trip from Renard, located just outside Cahersiveen town.  

Things To Do in Valentia Island

Home to diverse landscapes, stunning views, and fascinating historic places, visitors will never run out of things to do in Valentia. Here are some places to see and things to do in Valentia Island when you visit.

Walk along the Tetrapod Trail

Tetrapod Trail

One of the best things to see in Valentia are the sets of tracks made by tetrapods. These four-legged amphibians existed 350 million years ago, back when Ireland has located south the equator.

These tracks are among the earliest records of the existence of tetrapods, which makes Valentia a valuable geological heritage site.

The views on the way to the tracks are quite spectacular so make this activity a part of your visit to Valentia. 

Visit Glanleam House and its gardens

Glanleam House

The beautiful gardens of Glanleam are among the best attractions in Valentia, with its exotic plants and hiking trails. Visit and surround yourself with various plant species from around the world.

From the garden, there are also trails that lead to the forest, river, or beach if you fancy a relaxing stroll. Glanleam was the former home of the Knight of Kerry.

It is now a privately owned bed and breakfast that visitors can book if they want to stay on the island for more than a day. 

Hike Geokaun Mountain in Valentia Island

Geokaun Mountain

If you’re up for a more daring adventure, the top of Geokaun Mountain is waiting for you. This is the highest point on the island and offers sprawling views in every direction.

From here, you can see the Skellig Islands, the Kerry Mountains, the village of Portmagee and the rest of Valentia.

If you’re not up for a leg workout, Geokaun is also accessible by car. Just be sure to stop at viewpoints to fully appreciate the area’s diverse landscapes. 

Climb the Bray Head Tower

Bray Head Tower

Can’t get enough of the views? Valentia has more places where you can enjoy views of the island and surrounding areas.

Head towards the Bray Head Tower, a structure that dates back to 1815, and was a naval sentinel until 1920.

Situated along a circular path, the Bray Head Tower offers stunning views of the Skelligs and Valentia Island, as well as the Iveragh Peninsula.

Valentia Island Lighthouse

Valentia Island Lighthouse

Another attraction in Valencia that offers stunning views even along the way is the lighthouse.

Located in Cromwell Point, this used to be fort built in the 16th century. It became a lighthouse in March 1828 but only started operating 10 years later.

As you make your way to the lighthouse, stop, and appreciate the views. The open landscapes are breathtaking, and you can see the island of Beginish and further into Mount Killelan.

Tory Island – Things To Do And See

Located off the north coast of County Donegal, Tory is a tiny island at just about four and a half kilometers long and a little over one kilometer wide.

Known for its rugged landscapes and as a stronghold of Irish traditions, Tory Island is one of the most unique places to visit in the Atlantic and one of the best islands in Ireland.

Tory Island – Things To Do And See 

tory island ireland

The name of the island is said to have originated from the Irish word for rock (tor) or from the Irish word for robber (torai).

Rock refers to the cliffs and rocks that make up most of the island. Meanwhile, ‘robber’ is said to refer to the first occupants of the island – a band of pirates called Fomorians. 

Tory island is comprised of granite cliffs on the north side,  which turns gradually into the pink quartz high rocks on the far northeast of the island. The highest among these cliffs is Tor Mor, at about 115 feet high.

Tormore, Tory Island
Tormore, Tory Island

The rocky shoreline and two small lakes are found in the south of Tory. One of these is among the few natural lagoons in Ireland, the salt waters of Loch O’Dheas (south lake). The other is the freshwater Loch O Thuaidh (north lake), found at the end of the island.

At the other end of the island is another lake, An Loch O Thoir (east lake) which is at the other end of the island. There are no rivers in Tory, and not a lot of trees either, just a few bushy areas.

The island’s rough landscapes are a haven for seabirds, which visitors will most likely spot as they take a walk around. 

How to get to Tory Island

Tory Island, Donegal

The island is accessible by daily ferry services from Donegal, from either Donegal Coastal service or Toraigh na dTonn.  Services run daily but still depends on the weather, and travel time is about forty minutes.

Every two weeks, a helicopter visits the island to bring a doctor from the mainland. Spare seats are offered to those who want to visit the island. It is possible to see most of Tory during a day trip but it is recommended to spend at least a night here to fully appreciate what the island has to offer. 

Things To Do On Tory Island

Remote and wild, Tory Island has some interesting sights and things to do that will make even a day visit quite memorable. Here are some of them:

Meet the King

Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí, King of Tory Island
Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí, King of Tory Island

Following its unique tradition, Tory Island has its own king, and visitors will meet him soon as they step on the island.

This is definitely a Tory attraction that makes every visit extra special, as you’ll get the chance to encounter the only monarch in Ireland.  Current, painter Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí is the Rí Thoraí or King of Tory Island. 

Attend a Céilís

Visitors who would like to spend more than a day in Tory must experience its own brand of nightlife and party.

When in Tory, go attend a Céilís, an Irish social gathering involves dancing and playing Gaelic folk music.

It is either done in a house or in larger venues fit for social gatherings. It is a fascinating activity that introduces visitors to the island’s distinct culture.

See the Tau Cross

Tau Cross

The T-shaped Tau Cross dates back to the 12th century, and one of the interesting things to see in Tory Island. It is said that this cross could be evidence of ancient seafaring activities on the island.

One cannot miss the Tau Cross because just like the King of Tory, the sight of this structure pretty much welcomes those who arrive on the island. 

Birdwatching

Tory Island’s dramatic cliffs are home to a variety of bird species. 

As you explore the island, you will most likely spot various seabirds such as fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes, and razorbills.

The cliffs have choughs and peregrines, while the lake is home to Arctic tern, dunlin, and common gulls.

Tory also has little sparrows, and seasonal visits from Eider duck, Lapland bunting, and snow bunting. The presence of these species is just one of the things that make Tory Island such a unique place to visit. 

Do the Loop Walk

St. Colmcille
St. Colmcille in Tory Island

One simply must explore Tory Island to appreciate its rugged beauty. There is a gentle loop walk around Tory that allows visitors to know more about the island.

Along the way, stop and look at some historic sites such as a round tower that once protected monks from the Vikings.

The walk also takes you to the ruins of the 16th-century monastery of St. Colmcille as well as the intriguing Tau Cross.

Watch the Northern Lights

If you visit at the right time, you can witness the Northern Lights in Tory Island.

An island steeped in history and legend, Tory Island’s rugged landscape provides one of the most glorious sites to witness the northern lights. It is a bit difficult to reach though, and the weather can be unpredictable.

Still, chasers of the aurora take the ferry from the harbors of Bunbeg and Magheroarty to experience both the mystical lights show and one of Ireland’s most unspoiled places.


New to Airbnb? Get a $43 off for your next trip if you use our link here


 

 

Slane Castle: History and Things To See

The magnificent Slane Castle is set on a 1,500-acre estate, in County Meath. Regarded as a cultural and historical touchstone, the castle is known as one of the most picturesque castles in the emerald isle

Slane Castle: History and Things To See

Slane Castle

Slane Castle History

This fortress is situated in the heart of the Boyne Valley and dates back to the 1700s.

It was Albert Conyngham and his son Major General Henry Conyngham who bought the land where Slane Castle and Slane Distillery is located.

His family and descendants were known as the ones who worked on planning and improving the Village of Slane in 1781.

In 1785, the castle was built by the Conynghams, who was originally from Scotland. The construction was under the supervision of William Burton Conyngham, who employed the collective talents of some of Ireland and England’s most prestigious names in architecture. 

The Castle is one of the most exciting historic buildings in Ireland, with its stunning Gothic and Gothic Revival architectural style.

Its surrounding parklands, meanwhile, were designed by a renowned landscape architect, Capability Brown.

Today, the castle is owned by Henry Conyngham, who transformed the castle grounds into a premier concert venue in the 1980s. A fire in 1991 caused extensive damage to the castle, particularly the part that faced the River Boyne.

It was closed to the public for a decade so it can undergo reconstructions and was reopened in 2001. 

Today, the castle and the estate remains to be a top attraction in the area, as well as a venue for concerts, weddings, and other events. 

Things To Do in Slane Castle

From seeing more of this architectural marvel up close to hiking up a sacred hill, here are some of the best things to do in Slane Castle.

1. Tour the castle

slane castle

 

Learn more about Slane Castle by joining a guided historical tour of Slane Castle. Find out more about the house that’s regarded as a national icon, as well as the Conyngham family since 1703.

In this tour, visitors will know more about the family that lives in it and the castle’s fascinating architectural history. 

2. Learn more about the Conyngham family

If you are intrigued by family histories and especially those who lived in a castle, this is the perfect thing to do in Slane for you.

The Conyngham family has lived in Slane Castle since 1703, and they are featured in one of the fascinating tours inside the castle.

Learn more about this family’s history through paintings that come alive. Through this tour, visitors get a glimpse of castle life throughout the centuries. 

3. Watch a concert

slane castle

If you happen to visit Ireland in summer and heading towards Slane, how about attending its annual summer concert?

The castle is known today as a tip notch concert venue and has held concerts by acts like Madonna to U2. Concerts are held in the castle grounds, with a capacity of 80,000 people.

If you’re up for a memorable summer, attending a concert is one of the best things to do in Slane Castle in the evening. 

4. Discover Slane Irish Whiskey

Easily the best attraction in Slane Castle, the distillery offers quite a fascinating tour of the area.

Here, visitors will learn more about the art and science of making whiskey in the distillery’s heritage room, barley room, cooperate, and maturation warehouse.

The next stop is a visit to the pot stills and production areas. The tour ends with a taste of their famous triple casked blend, Slane Irish Whiskey.

5. Hike up the Hill of Slane

Hill of Slane

After you have explored the majestic castle, it’s time to enjoy a rewarding hike up the Hill of Slane.

Considered as an important site in Irish history, the Hill of Slane is said to be where St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire.

For hundreds of years, the hill was a center of religious devotion. Up to this day, this is still regarded as a solemn, spiritual place.

On the hill, hikers will find a cemetery, church, and some ruins. At the top, one will enjoy sweeping views of the valley below, as well as lush hills dotted with sheep and tiny villages. 

 

Copyright © 2020 Ireland Travel Guides · Theme by 17th Avenue

Copyright © 2020 · Peony on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in

error: Content is protected !!