A Celebration of Irish Literature & Sights in honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This guest post comes to you from John McNally pictured here with his wife, Sally and their daughter on Summer Solstice 2008. They visit Ireland often; in this photo they’re touching the Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny on the Hill of Tara at which the High Kings were crowned.

A few years ago, Sally and John McNally gave a presentation about Ireland and its culture to my college composition and literature students that included a Reader’s Theater performance of John Millington Synge’s classic Irish tragedy, Riders to the Sea. Read the play Riders to the Sea; this study guide will help you see Synge’s brilliance and this post will tell you something about the traditional language.

To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, and to help people appreciate the Irish people and culture, John put together a selection of Irish websites along with a brief narrative for anyone with an interest in Ireland or who may be planning a trip there. “These are my favorite places and activities,” writes John, “carefully selected and happily experienced as a result of a dozen visits to the Old Sod over the last three decades.”

John McNally’s Top 20 Places to Go in Ireland
or at least visit on the web!

Around Dublin

1) The National Museum of Archeology on Kildare Street, Dublin.   It’s free, located in central Dublin, and has artifacts from throughout Irelands history from stone age gold jewelry and mummified Bog People to the uniforms and weapons of the Irish Rebel leaders.  http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/irelands-gold-introduction.aspx

2) The National Library: Next door, it has with a superb exhibit on poet W. B. Yeats:  http://www.nli.ie/yeats/

3) Kilmainham Goal Tour is unsurpassed in telling the story of Ireland.  This former prison is preserved as a museum and is filled with history.  It has also been the site of several recent films. http://www.bing.com/reference/semhtml/Kilmainham_Gaol?fwd=1&src=abop&qpvt=kilmainham+gaol&q=kilmainham+gaol

4) Walking tour: the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl.  http://www.dublinpubcrawl.com/

5) Dublin Writers Museum offers an excellent one hour presentation. http://www.writersmuseum.com/

6) 1916 Rebellion Tour Another lively and informative walking tour http://1916rising.com/

7) Sinn Fein Bookshop: If you have further interest in Republican (Rebel) Ireland then visit the Sinn Fein Bookshop:   http://www.sinnfeinbookshop.com/catalog/index.php

8) Tourist Center on Suffolk Street. You may have noticed my personal interests lean towards history and literature so naturally my selections favor these enduring sites.  For a wider variety of activities visit the Tourist Center on Suffolk Street where you can find information on events, shows, and tours of all types.  http://www.visitdublin.com/seeanddo/TouristOffices/Detail.aspx?id=256&mid=2090

9) Grafton Street is a favorite with street entertainers and should not be missed.

10) Temple Bar is Dublin’s Cultural Quarter where you can find modern and traditional Irish music and art.  It’s also a handy place to stay because it’s in the center of the city so you can walk to nearly all other venues.   http://www.tascq.ie/

11) Hop-On Hop-Off Busses The best way to see central Dublin in a day or two and not worry about getting lost or paying for parking are the Hop-On Hop-Off Busses which stop at all the major attractions and are a tour in themselves.   http://www.dublinpass.ie/dublinpass/transport/default.asp?refID=

Outside of Dublin

12) The most significant attraction is Newgrange. These ancient Temples predate Egypt’s Pyramids and England’s Stonehenge.  http://newgrange.com/ Tours take small groups inside the Passage Tombs from this well run center: http://www.knowth.com/bru-na-boinne.htm

13) Brigit’s Garden is just the thing if you are a lover of Celtic Heritage and Mythology like ourselves.  http://www.galwaygarden.com/

14) Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a living museum of rural Irish life.  http://www.group-trotter.net/ireland/places/bunratty/bunratty.html

15) Craggaunowen Nearby is my favorite pre-history site, Craggaunowen. http://www.craggaunowen.org/

16) Cliffs of Moher A virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher shows you why you’d want to visit: http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/TakeTheTour.aspx

17) Blarney Castle in Cork can be overcrowded with tourists but if you go anyway be sure to visit the Druid area in the nearby forest. http://www.blarneycastle.ie/

Northern Ireland

18) Black Taxi Tours are a good way to see Belfast. http://belfastcitytours.com/gallery.html

19) West Belfast is the Irish-Catholic side of the city and they offer their own tours: http://www.visitwestbelfast.com/tours.php

20) Dunluce Castle If you get up to the Antrim Coast, Dunluce Castle is unsurpassed with its rugged beauty.  http://www.travelsinireland.com/castle/dunluce.htm

Sin-e’   (That’s it)                                                                                        John McNally    March 2010

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