5 places I didn’t care to visit in Ireland
We’re preparing for our group trip to Ireland in July, and we also have a lot of activity for our Notre Dame vs Navy game trips for 2023, so with Ireland on my mind, that inspires this week’s article…
By happenchance I started the foundation of my business with a big connection to Ireland as I created group trips for the Navy vs Notre Dame game back in 2012. I continued to visit Ireland repeatedly and strengthened those bonds over the years, and love exploring every nook and cranny of Ireland.
Have you ever had the chance to visit a foreign place or attraction you weren’t interested in at all, and found yourself delightfully wrong in your pre-judgement?
I have visited a huge number of sites and attractions throughout Ireland, but there were some visits that I was initially skeptical about. So, I want to share my top 5 ‘lesser known’ sights that are worth a visit in Ireland.
Dunbrody Famine Ship. While on a familiarization trip several years ago, the organizers did a last-minute diversion to visit the ship, and I remember thinking, “Oh goodie (strong sarcastic tone), a famine ship!”, but I was total mesmerized, and it became one of my favorite stops in Ireland.
The ship is an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, and features actors portraying characters that crossed on the ship. They stay in character, as they share stories and experiences of the hardships endured. I found it gives a more personal perspective of the stories of Ireland’s history and the impact of the famine; I completely loved visiting the site and would highly recommend.
Glasnevin Cemetery. This is another one of Ireland’s hidden gems, and also another situation where I wondered why we would want to visit a cemetery.
Once again, I was proven wrong and it turned out to be an amazing visit filled with interesting and intriguing stories of personalities and the history of Ireland.
Glasnevin is in Dublin, filled with the graves of famous Irish figures, but even more importantly filled with captivating narratives that introduce key characters and historic moments. It really is a worthwhile visit.
Walking tour of Derry. Derry is not only a beautiful walled city in Northern Ireland, but a center of the actions and stories of the conflicts between Catholics/republicans and Protestants/unionists during the time of ‘the Troubles’, from the 1960’s to 1990’s.
After years of hearing about the conflict but not really understanding, the walking tour gave me not only a historical perspective, but our tour guide also shared personal experiences of that time that made the visit more remarkable beyond the standard walking tour. It’s that connection with history that is part of our lifetime that makes this a more relevant visit.
Titanic Belfast. This attraction opened in 2012 in Belfast, and it was an immediate hit. I’m personally not a big fan of Titanic, so I was not particularly interested in it, but I must say that the first time I went, I had an hour and a half to tour the museum, it was not enough.
It is one of the most well-done museum experiences that I’ve been to, and the entire design and focus of the different galleries all build on creating a fascinating experience. Even though it’s not a topic I’m particularly interested in, the quality of the displays and the impact of the stories that they share makes this a place where I still go and spend hours exploring.
Skellig Experience Visitor Center. The Skellig Islands are off the coast of the peninsula known for the ‘Ring of Kerry’ scenic drive, and Visitor Center near Portmagee provides an in-depth look at these desolate rocky islands. The islands have become much more popular in the last few years because of the closing scene of Star Wars 7 where Luke Skywalker has hidden himself away on this remote island that was filmed on Skellig Michael.
The Skellig Experience is a compelling visit as it explains these amazing barren islands that monks somehow tamed and then created a life there. The story of this incredibly rugged harsh rocky island landscape is truly engaging and one of those demonstrations of human ingenuity and determination.
There are many popular sites around Ireland associated with amazing scenery or Irish music or the pub culture, but there is so much more that will spark your interest. I hope you will visit one of these the next time you go to Ireland.