Introduction to Ireland

Every year when St Paddy’s Day rolls around, nearly every Aussie claims to be at least an eighth Irish. It’s the perfect excuse to knock back a few pints, right? Well, while some might be telling furfies, there’s also probably a lot of true Irish-Aussies floating about too. You see, the Irish diaspora (the spread of Irish people from their original homeland) is actually massive – more than 15 times the Irish population live outside of the country. Or to put it simply, there’s 100 million people of Irish heritage living around the world. Could you be one of them?

Might just be the perfect excuse to take a trip to the Republic of Ireland? All in the name of genealogy, of course. But whether you have Irish blood or not, you’re sure to have good craic in the Emerald Isle. While it’s a tiny country, it’s full to the brim with culture, attractions, traditional experiences and historic sites. It’s a separate country to the United Kingdom but obviously sharing many historic and cultural ties.

There’s signs of the past everywhere in Ireland. You don’t have to travel far to see Stone Age passage tombs, ring forts, castles, ancient monasteries and prehistoric monuments. Some famous ruins of Ireland’s monastic past are at Clonmacnoise and Glendalough. More recent history can be seen in the famine museum in Cobh. As well as its rich history, Ireland is also well known for its incredible landscapes. Sure, it might rain a lot here, but that’s why it’s so lovely and green. All over the country, there’s breathtaking scenery – the cliffs of Galway in the west, lakes and mountains in the midlands and the beautiful beaches in the northwest.

The cities are remarkable too. Dublin, once described as a ‘Dirty Old Town’ really has come of age. Especially since Ireland joined the European Union. Other noteworthy cities worth a visit are Galway, Cork and Limerick. There are many little villages and towns you should stop at along the way, particularly in the west if you want a traditional Irish experience – some villages here still have Irish (Gaelic) as their first language. Are you ready for a craic-ing good time?

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