The Emerald Isle is steeped in history, so it’s no surprise that historic places can be found in all four corners of the country.
Ireland is both ancient and beautiful. There are many historical places in Ireland to discover where one can find a strong connection with the past.
Ireland has a long and diverse history, a history that has often been troubled and linked to battles, tragedies, and rebellions.
However, it is also a history of perseverance, hope, and survival. This history and emotion come alive at Ireland’s historical sites.
In this article, we will explore our top ten picks for historical places in Ireland that every history buff will love.
15. Giant’s Causeway – mystical and majestic
The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, is a historical site steeped in ancient Irish legend. According to folklore, an Irish warrior giant, Finn McCool, created the Giant’s Causeway because he wanted to avoid getting his feet wet when walking from Ireland to Scotland.
Address: 44 Causeway Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SU
14. The Derry walls – The Walled City
The Derry Walls are the largest ancient monument in state care in Northern Ireland. Derry is the only remaining entirely walled city in Ireland.
Visitors can walk around this intact 17th-century enclosure to explore the intact gates as well as canons.
Address: The Diamond, Londonderry BT48 6HW
13. Clonmacnoise – Ireland’s oldest monastery
Clonmacnoise, located in County Offaly, is one of Ireland’s oldest and most important monasteries.
It is located on the banks of the River Shannon and was founded in 545 AD by Ciaran of Clonmacnoise. It is also one of the most famous and most visited monastic sites in Ireland today.
Address: Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Offaly, Ireland
12. Rock of Cashel – strong and powerful
The Rock of Cashel, located in County Tipperary, is a stronghold that has stood watch over Tipperary for over 1000 years.
It was the traditional seat for the Kings of Munster for hundreds of years before the Normans invaded.
So, the Rock of Cashel has four main structures: The round tower, the cathedral, the hall of the vicars choral, and the jewel of the rock, Cormac’s Chapel.
This is considered to be one of the best examples of 12th-century Roman architecture remaining in Ireland.
Address: Moor, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
11. Béal na Bláth – a historic ambush
Béal na Bláth is a small village in County Cork that carries significant historical meaning in Ireland because it was the site of the ambush and death of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins in 1922.
Address: Bealnabla, Glannarouge East, Co. Cork, Ireland
10. Reginald’s Tower – Ireland’s oldest building
Waterford’s Reginald’s Tower is Ireland’s oldest complete building and was the first building ever to use mortar.
The 13th-century tower was also the city of Waterford’s main protection and a marvel of medieval architecture. The tower has acted as an arsenal, a prison, and even a mint!
Address: The Quay, Waterford, Ireland
9. The Peace Walls – erected to quell Northern Ireland’s conflict
The Peace Walls are one of the most significant and historical parts of Northern Ireland’s history.
Originally built to separate nationalist and unionist communities, they now stand as a reminder of this part of Ireland’s history that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Once drab and intimidating, the peace walls are now filled with art and graffiti.
Address: 15 Cupar Way, Belfast BT13 2RX
8. Leap Castle – Ireland’s most haunted castle
Leap Castle, situated in Offaly, was built in the 15th century and is not only a historically important place but is known as one of the most haunted locations in Ireland. The castle has played host to many horrifying incidents.
Address: R421, Leap, Roscrea, Co. Offaly, Ireland
7. Dunbrody Famine Ship – Ireland’s darkest days
The Dunbrody Famine Ship in Wexford gained notoriety during the Famine as it was frequently used to transport Irish emigrants to America.
On the New Ross waterfront, where the original Famine Ship once departed, stands a replica ship which visitors can board.
Address: N Quay New Ross, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland
6. Céide Fields – Ireland’s oldest fields
The Céide Fields in north County Mayo are an ancient Neolithic landscape and the world’s oldest known field systems.
The fields date back to 5000 BC! The fields remained hidden for over five millennia until they were unearthed in the 1930s.
Thus, fields, houses, and tombs had all been concealed and perfectly preserved underneath the bogland.
Address: Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, Ireland
5. Hill of Tara – throne to the High King of Ireland
The Hill of Tara, near the River Boyne in County Meath, was, according to tradition, the seat of the High King of Ireland.
The Hill of Tara is 500 ft (152 m) high and provides stunning views of the Meath countryside.
There are also several ancient monuments to be found on the Hill of Tara, the oldest of which is the Mound of Hostages, which is over 2000 years old.
Address: Castleboy, Co. Meath, Ireland
4. Glendalough – peace and tranquillity
The monastery at Glendalough, County Wicklow, was founded in the early 6th century by St. Kevin, who sought an isolated place for religious reflection. He certainly found it with Glendalough.
Glendalough is a beautiful and historic place to visit, surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains. Also, the monastery was successful and attracted disciples for over 900 years.
Address: Derrybawn, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
3. General Post Office (GPO) – you can still see the bullet holes
The GPO in Dublin has a long history that includes a strong connection with Ireland’s struggle for independence.
It was famously used as a headquarters by the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, which remains evident by the bullet holes still visible in its grand façade.
It remains Dublin’s main post office to this day and is certainly one of the most historical places in Ireland.
Address: O’Connell Street Lower, North City, Dublin 1, Ireland
2. Newgrange – ancient and beautiful
Newgrange, County Meath, is an ancient ceremonial site and megalithic cemetery over 5,000 years old. This historic place is older than the Egyptian pyramids of Giza and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge!
Newgrange has officially become a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its passage tomb naturally aligned to mark the Winter Solstice.
Address: Newgrange, Donore, Co. Meath, Ireland
1. Kilmainham Gaol – one of the most historical places in Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol was built in the late 18th century to replace Dublin’s former county prison.
A site of imprisonment and public executions, it would go on to house many of the prominent revolutionaries involved in the 1916 Easter Rising.
The jail was then closed in 1924 by the Irish Free State government and reopened as a museum in 1971. It is one of Ireland’s most, if not the most, historical places.
Read More and plan a trip: our guide to Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin
Address: Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28, Ireland
Other notable mentions
Blarney Castle: Blarney Castle near Cork is home to the Blarney Stone.
Kilkenny Castle: Not many buildings in Ireland can boast the continuous occupation that Kilkenny Castle does.
Dublin Castle: Dublin Castle is an important building in Ireland’s history. Until 1922 it was the seat of the British government’s administration in Ireland.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge: This famous rope bridge was first erected in 1755 to connect salmon fishermen to the rocky island of Carrick-a-Rede.
St Patrick’s Cathedral: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin was founded in 1191. It is currently the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland.
Titanic Belfast: Visit Titanic Belfast to learn everything you need about the infamous RMS Titanic sinking.
FAQs about historical places in Ireland
What are the most historic sites in Ireland?
For anyone interested in history, you have to check out our list above. Kilmainham Gaol and the GPO are some of the most famous landmarks in Ireland you need to visit.
Where can you visit to learn about the different conflicts in Ireland?
We recommend checking out the Peace Walls in Belfast, Kilmainham Jail and the GPO in Dublin because all of these sites have serious historical significance to different conflicts in Ireland.
Are there historic national parks in Ireland?
Killarney National Park is the oldest national park in Ireland, formed in 1932. There are many other great national parks to check out, like Connemara National Park and Glenveagh National Park.