July Destination of the Month: Ireland

Horse-riding on Cleggan beach in Connemara, County Galway, (photo by Corrie Wingate)
Horse-riding on Cleggan beach in Connemara, County Galway

Céad Mile Fáilte! A hundred thousand welcomes to our destination of the month for July: Ireland. With a year-long programme of events and festivals to celebrate "The Gathering" of people of Irish descent from around the world, this year is a fantastic time to plan a visit here.

Europe’s most westerly outpost, Ireland is known for its physical beauty, with vast areas of unspoilt wilderness, dotted with romantic ruins.The country also boasts one of Europe’s liveliest capital cities, Dublin, where the population is becoming more diverse, adding new strands to its already thriving arts and music scene. Belfast and Cork are also packed with busy bars and restaurants, and live entertainment.

The Irish have always been proud of their ancestry and this year they want to share this pride with the world. Throughout the whole of 2013, all parts of the country are holding celebrations in honour of the more than 70 million people across the globe with Irish roots (or those with a love of the Green Isle). Events at The Gathering include opportunities to trace your family tree, visit villages of heritage and enjoy the "craic" at festivals celebrating Irish music and food. A visit in July will improve the odds of getting some sunshine to boot. Learn more about The Gathering at www.thegatheringireland.com.

If you are planning to visit Northern Ireland, head for Londonderry/Derry – this year's UK City of Culture – where lots of cultural events are planned throughout the year, including the Turner Prize presentation in December. 

 

Where to start

 

There's a lot of variety packed into a small island, from the slightly faded elegance of Dublin to the wild remoteness of windswept Connemara.

 

If you want to experience Ireland's boisterous nightlife, visit Dublin...

 

Temple Bar, DublinWith its vibrant mix of traditional pubs, fashionable bars, elegant Georgian architecture, cool shops and a colourful cultural scene to rival any European capital, Dublin bubbles with an infectious energy. The vivacity of its citizens and the hospitality they show to visitors have made this lively city on the Liffey one of Europe's most popular destinations.

 

Try Temple Bar...

 

Known as Temple Bar, the network of small cobbled streets between Dame Street and the river quays has undergone a remarkable renaissance to become Dublin’s "Left Bank". Full of studios, galleries, vintage clothing and music stores, specialist bookshops, pubs, clubs, cultural centres, restaurants and craft shops, this area is buzzing. The streets are thronged with tourists in the summer, and on Saturday nights the main street feels like a Disneyland of Irishness. The area’s renewal created two new public squares: Temple Bar Square, a meeting point for shoppers, and Meeting House Square, a cultural centre and performance space, which still draws the locals for its excellent Saturday farmers’ market, as well as its outdoor cinema events.

 

If you want to see glorious scenery, visit Southwest Ireland...

 

Most people who visit the southwest are here for the outdoors and the scenery. The lakes of Killarney are spectacular, while the Ring of Kerry offers a variety of seascapes and great golfing. The Dingle Peninsula is rich in prehistoric and early Christian remains, with rugged coastal scenery. In contrast, the town of Dingle is a lively spot, known for good food and traditional music.

 

Ring of Kerry view



Try the Ring of Kerry...

 

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive, justifiably famous for its combination of lush subtropical vegetation and rugged seascapes. You can drive the 180km (112-mile) route in under four hours, but it’s best to allow a full day to allow for making several stops. In July and August the narrow two-lane road can be clogged by a slow procession of tour buses, vans and cars making the most of fairer weather so if you would prefer to avoid the crowds, do the Ring of Beara instead, or go straight to Dingle. 

 

Look out for more articles on Ireland and Irish culture throughout this month, from the best festivals to the popularity of Irish dancing to the 10 best bars...

 


Plan your trip to Ireland

 

Insight Guide IrelandFor practical advice on how to plan a trip to Ireland, visit our Ireland destination guide or browse our Ireland guide books.

 

 

Articles about Ireland...

 

From the Giant's Causeway to the Aran Islands, see our top 10 Irish attractions

 

• The Gaeltacht and interest in the Irish language

 

• Wilde, Joyce, Yeats, Heaney – Irish literature and literary festivals

 

• Walking enthusiasts should take a look at our top 10 hikes in Ireland

• Coddle and drisheen: what to eat in Ireland

This July we're exploring Ireland as our destination of the month. For more updates keep following the Insight blog, or check us out on Twitter @InsightGuides or on our Insight Facebook page, or why not look at some lovely travel photography on Pinterest.