The hidden gems of Ireland

In the midst of J1 forms and inter-railing maps, it can be easy to get swept away in images of some of the world’s most exotic destinations. Then looking outside your window at grey skies leaves you questioning the sanity of the tourists that flock to our streets each week.

But there’s a reason why the New York Times mentioned us in their annual ‘places to visit this year’ list, or why Rough Guide’s readers voted us one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  To remind yourself why, here are some places you might want to visit this weekend:

Carrick on Shannon

This vibrant town has plenty to do, making it the perfect student getaway. During the day you can walk along the pretty riverside, take a boat out on the water and explore the town’s shops. A short fifteen minute drive will bring you to Lough Key Park and the challenging ‘Boda Borg’ adventure rooms. The town comes alive at night as it’s the country’s current hen and stag party capital.

Ashford Castle

This fully restored (at the bargain cost of more than €69 million) Mayo castle lies in the middle of 350 acres of forest, park land, gardens and a lake. You feel as though you have been transported through time as you walk through the five star hotel’s elegant interior. A must see for any fans of Pride and Prejudice or Downton Abbey.

Carrick-a-Rede

This country spot in Co. Antrim is where you’ll walk across a twenty foot long rope bridge. Not impressed? What if I told you the bridge is over thirty feet high, above the sea, connecting two cliffs. The spectacular view looks like it was pulled straight from a movie and is surrounded by unique flora and fauna from the area. A fifteen minute coastal drive down the road is the Giant’s Causeway, or the opposite direction for the idyllic waterfall at Glenariff Forest Park.

Kilcommon Swiss Cottage

This ornamental house located in South Tipperary looks like it came straight from a fairy tale and will sell you in one picture.

Michelle Martin

Image credit: bemireland.com

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