Exploring Ireland's Ancient Monuments
Rock of Cashel
A few of Ireland's top cultural attractions
by Suzanne Barrett
Come and explore the ancient monuments and attractions of Ireland.
Ireland is home to a vast array of historical and cultural attractions, which can easily be visited by holidaymakers arriving in the country. Car rental is an ideal way to explore these places of history and heritage, with many car hire companies available at airports and big cities, such as Dublin.
Visitors to Ireland should make sure they go to the megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange, in County Meath. Built around 3200 BC, this historical attraction dates back to before the construction of the pyramids in Egypt. It has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, welcoming over 200,000 visitors every year.
The passage tomb is enclosed by a mound, which covers around an acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones that are decorated with megalithic art. The design of the passage and chamber means that they light up during the summer and winter solstice. However, experiencing this phenomenon could mean a long wait. For the 50 places that were available to book in 2003, 20,000 people applied.
County Meath is also home to the Great Mound at Knowth and is similar to the passage tomb at Newgrange. This monument was built around 5000 years ago and has guided tours running from the Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre, close to the village of Donore. These tours run between April and October.
Another place of interest is Kells, which is home to a round tower that was constructed to protect natives against the invading Vikings and remains today. The original monastery is also present and this is where the famous Book of Kells was created and housed over a thousand years ago. The book has since been moved to Trinity College Dublin, where thousands of people go to visit it every year.
The landscape of Ireland transformed considerably due to the arrival of the Normans in the 12th century, with castles frequently dotted around the country. These forts come in many different shapes and sizes from the grand Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, to the ruins of Kildownet Castle, which was once the Achill Island home to pirate queen Grace O’Malley.
Until next time.