Steeped in the mist of history and woven into a rich tapestry of arts and literature, Ireland offers magnificent landscapes of vibrant mossy hills and dramatic coast strewn with castles, prehistoric monuments and manor houses, as well as a fascinating Celtic heritage. Follow in the footsteps of Irish writers in Dublin, see the wind-swept Cliffs of Moher, the rock-encrusted Burren, the translucent Killarney lakes, the spectacular Ring of Kerry seascapes, then join in a singalong in a local pub.
Book of Kells
One of the top sights in Dublin and Ireland's finest national treasure is the Book of Kells, on display at the Trinity College Library. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament transcribed by Celtic monks about year 800, when the rest of Europe was in the midst of the Dark Ages. The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells which was its home for centuries. It is widely regarded as a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination.
Irish history is rich with myths and legends, and the realms of Irish mythology and folklore are both universal in theme and timeless in appeal. The Irish legends capture the spirit and essence of the Irish psyche: brave, honorable, compassionate and strong, the heroes of Irish myths and legends remain a powerfully strong symbol of the Irish national pride.
Castles, stone towers, walls and other fortifications are an integral part of the Irish countryside, and they can be found all over Ireland. Some castles have been lovingly restored and others lie in ruin, a broken mass of ruble the only testament to their former greatness and importance.
Music is an integral part of Irish culture and has been as potent a force in the lives of the Irish people. The ancient Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend, and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of epic poems, stories and songs.
Some 8,000 years ago, soon after the retreat of the glaciers, first people arrived in the Emerald Island. They are the ones responsible for the large stone monuments and megaliths that dot the Irish countryside to this day. The most famous of those, Newgrange in County Meath, close to Dublin, was built in the 4th millennium B.C. That's 1,000 years before Stonehenge.
Irish food gets little or no respect. A well-poured Guinness does not count as food, but Irish food is more than meat and boiled potatoes. Traditional Irish dishes include such "feel good" foods as scallion and potato pancakes, Guinness-braised pot roast, bacon and cabbage, boxty, coddle and colcannon.