For the past 10,000 years or so, the only
changes inside the Ailwee Caves have been the slow growth of stalactites and stalagmites.
Many of the spectacular formations in the Cave have taken thousands of years to form.
During the Bronze Age people protected
themselves against attacks by building their homes on lakes. An example of such a lake
dwelling, or "crannog", constructed from wattles, reads and mud, is to be seen
at Craggaunowen - The Living Past, near Quin in County Clare.
The rock rises
from the Plain of Tipperary, forming a striking landmark which can be seen from all roads
leading to the town, and carries a complex of buildings of immense historical
significance. From the 4th to the 12th century it was the principal stronghold of the
kings of Munster, but after being visited by St. Patrick in the 5th century it aquired a
religious significance which was soon to outshine its political importance. Many of the
early kings were also bishops, and in 1101 it became a foundation of entirely
ecclesiastical purpose. Remains of the rock comprise the 92ft round tower, Cormac's
Chapel, the roofless cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace, the Hall of the Vicars Choral,
and the Cross of St. Patrick - all knit together in a tightly grouped architectural unit.
magnificent cliffs of darkest weed-stained sandstone form a 5 mile range which overlooks
the Atlantic Ocean from an average height of about 700ft. Hag's Head is located at the
South West extremity of the cliffs and O'Brien's Tower marks the North West end. This
tower was built by Cornelius O'Brien in 1835 for visitors to view the cliffs.
capital of the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas of Ireland), the gateway to the celebrated
Connemara, and an old University town, is today a rapidly expanding city that has much to
attract the visitor. The centre still has a compact size and the best way to travel around
is by foot. The narrow winding streets are full of atmospheric pubs, shops and
cosmopolitan restaurants. The University, a few minutes' walk from the centre, beside the
green domed cathedral, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, having been founded as
Queen's College Galway in 1845. Ceremonies are planned to mark the occasion, the majority
of which take place in September. The city is also host to a number of theatres, among
them the Taibhdhearc, which performs plays in Irish. Galway is visited by thousands of
backpackers every year, and many hostels cater for these, all conveniently situated near
the centre. The lively music scene has both a strong traditional heritage, and more
contemporary rock following. Both featured in venues scattered around the city. Two miles
outside Galway is the famous seaside resort of Salthill, which has a view across the Bay
to County Clare. Following this coast road west, brings you through Spiddal and on to
Connemara, and...it's really rather nice.
Dublin: TrinityCollegeDublin [top]
Trinity College Dublin was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, and features some of the
most impressive architecture in Dublin. Currently the focus of the college's renovation
program, Trinity College Library was established along with the college in 1592, and is
the largest research library in the Ireland. Indeed, it is recognised as one of the major
libraries of the world, along side the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Bodleian
library in Oxford, the British Museum in London and the Vatican Library in Rome.
One of the major attractions for visitors is the Book of Kells which contains a
Latin text of the four gospels decorated by Irish monks in the year 800 AD. The book is
included in an exhibition called The Book of Kells, Picturing the Word which places the
work in its historical context. After seeing the book in the specially designed Treasury
room, visitors can look at the Long Room which at 65 metres long contains 200,000 of the
library's oldest books.
This distinction is not earned solely through its collection of nearly four million
volumes, but also through its significant collection of maps, music and manuscripts; the
most famous of which is the Book of Kells, which was donated to the library in the 1660's.
It's collection got a significant boost in 1801, when is was endowed with the legal
deposit privilege, meaning a copy of all material published in Ireland and the UK is
received by the library.
Address: Trinity College, Dublin 2
Tel: 01 608 2320
April-Oct: 9am-5pm Mon-Sat; 9.30am-5pm Sun
Nov-March: 9am-4pm Mon-Sat; 10am-4.30pm Sun
Admission to the college is free.
Admission to the Old Library/Book of Kells: Adults £3.50; Students, senior citizens &
under 18s £3; Children under-12 free.
Dublin: Guiness Brewery [top]
The Guinness brewery,
synonymous with its location at St James's Gate, has been in operation since 1759 when
Arthur Guinness purchased and renovated the 'Rainbow Brewery' and started to produce the
porter that has since become renowned worldwide.
The four storeys of the converted 19th century Hop Store house the World of Guinness
exhibition, an audio-visual show on the history of Guinness in Ireland, an exhibition of
Guinness advertising and a model Cooperage and Transport Museum.
Tours of St James's Gate, although instructive on the process of brewing, are confined to
areas outside the brewery proper. However, the atmosphere is recreated quite authentically
in the visitors' centre with huge copper vats and pipes. Guinness is said to taste better
closer to its source and the tour's highlight is indisputably the pint of porter which
awaits the visitor in the bar afterwards. Go there for a nice creamy pint of Guiness -
it's good for you !
Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral
a wooden structure built in 1038 by the Vikings, Christ Church Cathedral
owes its present form to the Norman invasion. The timber structure was
destroyed when Richard de Clare (Strongbow) conquered Ireland in 1171. It
was Strongbow himself who put up personal funds, along with Archbishop
Laurence O'Toole, to have the current church built in 1172. During the time
of the Reformation the church pased to the Protestant Church of Ireland
where it has remained.
Abbey is the only Irish home of the Benedictine Nuns. Built originally
as a Castle (1868) it is one of the best examples of Irish neo-gothic
architecture, the estate features include a Victorian Walled Garden,
restored Abbey reception rooms, Gothic Church, tranquil walks, craft
shop, pottery, and restaurant. Take a closer look at Kylemore
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