With so many hidden gems to visit in Ireland why not head off the beaten track and discover some of the places that even the Irish don’t know about?
If you’re seeking no queues or crowds, just peace and tranquillity… here’s a guide to the secret spots of the Emerald Isle that you won’t find in the guidebooks.
Do you love creepy stories? Discover the desolate Jealous Wall and Maria’s fate…
If you enjoy delving into Irish history, take a visit to the 18th century Jealous Wall, an imposing ruin that stands in the grounds of Belvedere House in Mullingar, an hour from Dublin. The 50 metre Gothic wall was built by Robert Rochfort, owner of Belvedere house, who became jealous of his wife Maria’s friendship with his brother George. Robert built the wall to obscure his view of his brother’s nearby house. He imprisoned his wife in their home for years, and today, the Jealous Wall is a reminder of the cruelty Maria endured.
Love a brisk walk with the wind in your hair? Visit remote Poolbeg Lighthouse
Standing on a solitary seawall 4 miles out to sea in Dublin, Poolbeg Lighthouse was built in 1768 and initially ran on candle power. If you feel like a bracing walk on a spring day, then this stroll out to the lighthouse is certainly a challenge if the wind gets up. Not for the fainthearted, the walk takes about an hour, and you’ll certainly deserve an Irish coffee when you return to land!
A fascinating journey beneath the stars at Kerry Dark-Sky Park
With zero light pollution, the Dark-Sky Park and Observatory in Northern Ireland is a fascinating place for kids and adults alike. The spooky lunar landscape combined with the majestic Davagh forest is best viewed in the evening, where you’ll see the night sky in all its glory. This is a place that makes you realise the vastness of the universe, and if you’re lucky enough to see one, you can make a wish on a shooting star!
You’ll be in awe of the magnificent scenery of Sally Gap
Known as the Military Road, and constructed by the British Army, this is one of Ireland’s greatest drives and easy to reach from Dublin. If you enjoy the challenge of driving along winding country roads through spectacular scenery with not other vehicle in sight, then take the Sally Gap. Rugged mountains fall away to spectacular lakes and heather covered blanket bogs, and you’ll find plenty of places to stop for a photo opportunity.
Never been in a cable car? Now’s your chance at Dursey Island
Are you looking for something romantic to surprise your partner with? A trip in Ireland’s only cable car will create unforgettable memories. Picture yourself gliding high above the delightful scenery of Dursey Sound to this remote island on the south-west tip of Ireland. And don´t forget to pack a picnic as there are no shops or pubs on Dursey Island.
Family fun at the secret getaway of Maghera Beach and Caves
For a traditional bucket and spade and ice cream day out Maghera Beach, on the north-west coast is perfect. You can explore the caves, run free on the beach, and even take a refreshing dip in the ocean. In summer this beauty spot is reminiscent of a tropical beach, with miles of white sand and clear blue sea (remember though, the Atlantic can be chilly!). The gently shelving beach is ideal for children to paddle although in winter the waves can be strong. Finish the day with a beach barbecue and we promise your little soldiers will sleep well!
Are you in search of stunning scenery – try walking the Mourne Mountains
Full of legends, impressive scenery and walks for all levels, the Mourne Mountains lie on the north-east coast of Ireland, an hour’s drive from Belfast. As one of the many places that inspired C.S. Lewis to write the Narnia stories, any bookworms in the family will love a visit to this mythical and barren landscape. In the heart of the mountains, you’ll come across the Silent Valley, with its enormous reservoir that sits majestically at the foot of the slopes.
Looking for a secluded beach? Keem Bay is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets
One of Ireland’s many beautiful beaches, Keem Bay is backed by sheltered cliffs and offers a fantastic day out. Located on Achill Island, this spectacular blue flag beach boasts golden sand and clear blue water. Why not hunt for amethyst with your lover while you’re here? This semi-precious stone can be found lodged deep into the cliffs that surround the bay. Ideal for walking too, when you’ve had enough beach time you can take the 1.5 km clifftop walk and enjoy this part of the Irish coastline in all its glory, with only the sheep for company.
If you want to escape the crowds and leave the pressures of everyday life behind, then take a trip to some of the most rural places in Ireland. Even if you’ve visited before you’re bound to discover something new!