The 32 Best things to do in Ireland’s 32 counties

Wouldn’t it be amazing to say you visited every county in Ireland? Even better would be to say you done one of the best things to do in every county. Here is our recommendation to do something amazing in every county!

1. Antrim – Giant’s Causeway 

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An absolute no-brainer. The Giant’s Causeway is a fantastic place, one of Ireland’s finest locations for natural beauty and wonder. Undoubtedly Antrim’s greatest tourist attraction.

2. Armagh – St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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Armagh’s most iconic building. Voted No.1 attraction on tripadvisor. Construction of this imposing Cathedral was started in 1840, dedicated for worship in 1873, and its magnificent interior décor completed in the early 20th century.

3. Carlow – Duckett’s Grove

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Duckett’s Grove, the 18th, 19th and early 20th century home of the Duckett family, was formerly at the centre of a 12,000 acre (4,856 hectares) estate that has dominated the Carlow landscape for over 300 years. Even in ruin, the surviving towers and turrets of Duckett’s Grove form a romantic profile making it one of the most photogenic historic buildings in the country.

4. Cavan – Dún na Rí Forest Park

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Voted Cavan’s No.1 tourist attraction on tripadvisor. The 565 acre Dún na Rí Forest Park is just outside Kingscourt along the banks of the River Cabra and features a dramatic gorge embracing part of the Cabra Estate, formerly owned by the Pratt family.

The Romantic Glen of the Cabra River, stretching the full length of the park is an area steeped in history and legend. It is said that Cuchulain camped there at night, while by day conducting his single handed defence of Ulster against the armies of Maeve.

The Normans were here also and in later years the glen echoed to the sounds of Cromwells armies.

5. Clare – Cliffs of Moher

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The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with a magical vista that captures the hearts of up to one million visitors every year. Standing 214m (702 feet) at their highest point they stretch for 8 kilometres (5 miles) along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland.

From the Cliffs of Moher on a clear day one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.

6. Cork – Blarney Castle & Gardens

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Blarney Castle  is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446. The noted Blarney Stone is found among the machicolations of the castle.

7. Derry – The City Walls

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No. 1 attraction on Trip Advisor to Date. Scenic/ Historic Walking Area. Customers View: “We were very moved by the way our guide was implacably neutral in his description of the causes of the troubles and we left having our views changed for good.

This is a complicated part of the world and our guide brought it to life for us. He was very articulate, had a great sense of humour and answered our questions in an intelligent manner. This tour is a must.”

8. Donegal – Portsalon Beach 

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A very extensive sandy beach on the shores of Lough Swilly. It gently slopes towards the Atlantic ocean and is located in a Natural Heritage Area (NHA). The beach at Portsalon can be reached by travelling northeast in the R246 from Carrowkeel to Portsalon.

9. Down – Jump into a pool above Bloody bridge

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Above Bloody Bridge (close to Newcastle), there is a stream the whole way up to the top of the Mourne Mountains. On the way, there is many pools which are deep enough to jump in and swim about!

10. Dublin – Kilmainham Goal

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One of the most famous jails in the world and definitely Ireland’s most famous jail. There are amazing tours every 20 minutes and it is only $2 entry for students.

You will find out that the youngest prisoner in this jail was six years old and you will learn of the stories and legends of the lives of famous prisoners including the leaders of the Eater Rising 1916 who were executed here.

Many films including the original Italian Job and In the name of the father were filmed here.

11. Fermanagh – Devenish Island

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The iconic symbol of Fermanagh. Devenish Monastic Site was founded in the 6th century by Saint Molaise on one of Lough Erne’s many islands. During its history it has been raided by Vikings (837AD), burned (1157AD) and flourished (Middle Ages) as a parish church site and St Mary’s Augustine Priory.

12. Galway – Connemara National Park

Beautiful Connemara – 'Quiet Man' country – viewed here from Leam Bridge, Oughterard..

Situated in the West of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. Some of the Park’s mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range.

13. Kerry – Slea Head Drive

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Voted the No.1 attraction in Co. Kerry on TripAdvisor, a scenic drive from Dingle Town to the Dingle Peninsula and back. Absolutely amazing.

14. Kildare – The Kildare Maze

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Leinster’s largest hedge maze is a fabulous attraction located just outside Prosperous in the North Kildare countryside. We are focused on providing a challenging and exciting day out with good old-fashioned fun for families at an affordable price. Out in the fresh air, this is a great place for families to enjoy a day together.

15. Kilkenny – Kilkenny Castle

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Kilkenny Castle has been the centrepiece of Kilkenny City for over 800 years. Occupying a strategic vantage point along the River Nore, this imposing fortress first started out as a tower house built by the Anglo-Norman invader Strongbow (aka Richard de Clare).

The castle is more synonymous with the Butler family, the Earls of Ormonde, whose dynasty ruled over the castle and held sway over much of the county and it surrounds all the way up to 1935.

During that time the castle has played host to numerous members of the English monarchy and a small band of Irish Republicans, who besieged the castle in 1922 during the Irish Civil War (with the Butlers holed up in their bedroom as well). But the castle’s most famous visitor was Oliver Cromwell, who saw Kilkenny as the heart of the Catholic rebel movement in Ireland at the time and sieged the town in 1650.

The castle was saved but not before both the east wall (which opens on the park now) and the northeast town were destroyed beyond repair. The current entrance to the castle was built around 1661 after Cromwell’s exploits in blowing up the original entrance.

16. Laois – The Rock of Dunamase

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Dunamase or The Rock of Dunamase is a rocky outcrop in the townland of Park or Dunamase in County Laois. The rock, 46 metres (151 ft) above a flat plain, has the ruins of Dunamase Castle, a defensive stronghold dating from the early Anglo-Norman period with a view across to the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It is near the N80 road between the towns of Portlaoise and Stradbally.

17. Leitrim – Glencar Waterfall

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Credit: http://www.adventurous-travels.com

No. 1 attraction on TripAdvisor for Co. Leitrim. Granted Certificate of Excellence in 2014. Glencar Waterfall is situated near Glencar Lake, 11 kilometres west of Manorhamilton, County Leitrim. It is particularly impressive after rain and can be viewed from a lovely wooded walk. There are more waterfalls visible from the road, although none is quite as romantic as this one.

18. Limerick – Lough Gur Visitor Centre

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Lough Gur Heritage Centre is a community run tourist attraction telling the story of 6,000 years of habitation in the Lough Gur area. From Neolithic house sites to medieval castles Lough Gur has monuments from every era and the heritage centre ensures that visitors get the history/folklore and archaeology of the area from trained guides.

19. Longford  – The Corlea Trackway

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The Corlea Trackway is an Iron Age trackway near the village of Keenagh, south of Longford town, County Longford, in Ireland. It was known locally as the Danes Road.

The trackway is situated in an area which is the site of industrial-scale mechanised peat harvesting by the Bord na Móna, principally to supply the peat-fired power stations of the Electricity Supply Board. While today a generally flat and open landscape, in the Iron Age it was covered by bog, quicksand, and ponds, surrounded by dense woodlands of birch, willow, hazel and alder while the higher ground was covered by oak and ash. The terrain was dangerous and impassible for much of the year.

20. Louth –  Carlingford Lough

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Carlingford Lough is a glacial fjord or sea inlet that forms part of the border between Northern Ireland to the north and the Republic of Ireland to the south. On its northern shore is County Down and on its southern shore is County Louth. At its extreme interior angle (the northwest corner) it is fed by the Newry River and the Newry Canal.

21. Mayo – Keem Bay

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Keem Bay, Achill Island, Co. Mayo. Located past Dooagh village in the west of Achill Island in County Mayo, it contains a Blue Flag beach. The bay was formerly the site of a basking shark fishery. There is an old British army lookout post on the top of Moyteoge to the bay’s south. To the west is an old booley village, at Bunown. To the north stands Croaghaun, with Europe’s highest cliffs. The road leading to Keem Bay is high with steep cliffs.

22. Meath – Newgrange

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Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built about 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by ‘kerbstones’ engraved with artwork.

There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice.

23. Monaghan – Castle Leslie Estate

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Castle Leslie Estate, home to an Irish branch of Clan Leslie and located on the 4 km², Castle Leslie is both the name of a historic Country House and 1,000-acre Estate adjacent to the village of Glaslough, 11 km (7 mi) north-east of Monaghan town in County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland.

24. Offaly – Birr Castle 

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Birr Castle is a large castle in the town of Birr in County Offaly, Ireland. It is the home of the seventh Earl of Rosse, and as such the residential areas of the castle are not open to the public, though the grounds and gardens of the demesne are publicly accessible.

25. Roscommon – Roscommon Castle 

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Roscommon Castle, a 13th Century Norman structure was built in 1269 by Robert de Ufford, Justiciciar of Ireland, on lands which were taken from an Augustinian priory. The castle was laid siege by the Connacht King Aodh O’Connor in 1272.

Eight years on it was once more in the possession of the English garrison and fully restored. By the year 1340 the O’Connors regained possession and held it until 1569, when it then fell to Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy.

In 1641 it was gained by the Parliamentarian faction and then confederate Catholics, under Preston, captured it in 1645. From thence, it remained in Irish hands until 1652 when it was partially blown up by Cromwellian “Ironsides” who then had all the fortifications dismantled. The castle was burned down in 1690 and ultimately fell into decay.

26. Sligo – Belbulben 

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Benbulbin, sometimes spelled Ben Bulben or Benbulben (from the Irish: Binn Ghulbain), is a large rock formation in County Sligo, Ireland. It is part of the Dartry Mountains, in an area sometimes called “Yeats Country”. Benbulbin is a protected site, designated as a County Geological Site by Sligo County Council.

27. Tipperary – Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland

The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary. Also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church.

The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

28. Tyrone – Ulster American Folk Park

Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone.

Immerse yourself in the story of Irish emigration at the museum that brings it to life. Experience the adventure that takes you from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full-scale emigrant sailing ship, to the log cabins of the American Frontier. Meet an array of costumed characters on your way with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share.

29. Waterford – Bishop’s Palace

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Waterford city boasts the finest collection of 18th Century architecture of any city in Ireland outside of Dublin. Its great legacy from this era includes elegant architecture, silverware and of course, fine glassmaking. This period of elegance began in Waterford in 1741 when the Anglo-German architect Richard Castles designed the wonderful Bishop’s Palace.

30. Westmeath -Sean’s Bar, Athlone

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On the site of a wattle alehouse, it is thought that Sean’s Bar dates back to 900. This is officially the oldest pub in Ireland and in fact the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Although most of the evidence found during excavations is now housed at the National Museum of Ireland, some of the self-minted coins from the original establishment can be seen in cases on the walls of the pub.

31. Wexford –  Carnivan Beach

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Carnivan Beach is a long sandy beach with rock pools at low tide. It is a popular surfing spot with a surf school at the beach that provides lessons and equipment hire.

32. Wicklow – Glendalough

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Credit: http://www.adventurous-travels.com

Last but certainly not least in our list is Glendalough. A popular day trip from Dublin, Glendalough, or the ‘Valley of Two Lakes’, is one of Ireland’s most prominent monastic sites, nestled in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

The 6th-century Christian settlement was founded by St. Kevin and boasts a series of impressive remains set against a backdrop of the picturesque Irish countryside. Nicknamed ‘the garden of Ireland’, Wicklow is a nature lover’s paradise of rolling meadows, vast lakes and hillsides carpeted in purple heather.

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