Just as we did with Dublin, in this post we’ll list some Irish points of interest that we couldn’t visit due to lack of time, like these ones: Skellig Michael Island, with a monastery in the cliff, Corlea Trackway from Iron Age or Hill of Tara, site of the kings of Ireland. We also couldn’t visit Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain of Ireland.
The Skellig Islands are located 12 km from Portmagee coast, Southwest from Kerry. Skellig Michael, the biggest, rises up to 218 meter from the sea level and there is in its top a very well conserved monastic settlement from VI century (one of the oldest of the country). It’s included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The monks of St. Fionan Monastery live a simple life in hive-shaped stone huts. It’s said that they went down the 670 steps every morning to fish their breakfast. They spent most of the day praying in the church, gardening and studying. These huts, which are rounded in the outside and rectangular in the inside, were built very carefully in order to prevent a single rain drop breaking through the stones. The monks left the island in 13th century, when it became a peregrination place.
The area has amazing bird wildlife, especially puffins at the end of spring and northern gannets in Small Kellig Island, where 23.000 couples come to build their nests in every available salient. In fact this is the second biggest colony of northern gannets in the world.
You need an entire day to go to the island, make the visit and come back.
Free admission, the ships from Portmagee, Valentia or Ballinskelligs make the travel and charge the tickets.
Opening Hours: from mid-May to mid-October, depending on the weather conditions.
GPS Coordinates: 51.770921, -10.54057
More information: Skellig Michael
The Visitor Centre in Corlea Trackway explains this road from Iron Age built in 148 b. C. in Longford wetlands, near Shannon River.
This trackway made of oak wood is the biggest in its kind discovered in Europe. In the Visitor Centre there is permanently displayed an 18-meter stretch of the original road, in a specially designed room which preserves the old wooden structure.
Opening Hours: from 5th April to 26th September, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
GPS Coordinates: 53.619458, -7.846562 (approximate coordinates)
More information: Corlea Trackway
Hill of Tara
The hill of Tara has always been a very important place in Ireland since the end of Iron Age, when a corridor tomb was built there. It’s famous, most of all, for being the site of the Great Kings of Ireland and it reached its peak as political and religious centre in the first centuries after Christ’s birth.
Among its attractions are included an audio-visual presentation and guided visits to the place.
Admission: 3 € per adult (included with the Heritage Card)
Opening Hours: from 24th May to 12th September: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
GPS Coordinates: 53.577678, -6.611949
More information: Hill of Tara
Croagh Patrick Mountain (Cruach Phádraig in Gaelic) is the sacred mountain of Ireland since Iron Age (3000 b. C.). Before Christianity the Celtic people considered the mountain as the dwelling of the god Crom Dubh.
You can see many examples of Neolithic art in a rock outcrop known as “St. Patrick’s Chair”, in the way to the top. Recently a Celtic fortress has been also discovered at the bottom of the mountain.
According to Christian tradition, St. Patrick climbed to the sacred mountain about year 441. He fasted for 40 days and banished every snake and demon from Ireland.
The place soon became an important place of Christian peregrination. Every year about a million pilgrims walk to the top of the mountain to pray, take part in the mass, do their penance or simply to enjoy the astonishing views. The main moment is the last Sunday of July, called the “Reek Sunday”, when 30.000 pilgrims come to this place.
GPS Coordinates: 53.768196, -9.657085
More information: Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre