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Torc Waterfall

Find 10 Ireland hidden gems, from the wild waters of the Atlantic to fascinating history and world-class attractions, giving you an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

This small yet intriguing island offers breath-taking landscapes, with the dramatic wilderness of its counties. Explore each corner of this magnificent island, listen to the sounds of traditional folk music, sample some fresh oysters and tread over spectacular countryside with many hidden treasures to be found.

Discover 10 hidden gems that make Ireland so special below…


1. Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Constructed in 1787, directly on the gloomy gallows that stole the lives of many by public hanging, Kilmainham Gaol was notorious for its rebellious prisoners right up until 1924, the youngest believed to have been just seven years old.

Interestingly, in 1916, Irish rebels took over various locations in the centre of Dublin, which led to their surrender and imprisonment at Kilmainham Gaol. This event, known as the Easter Rising, was in protest to being ruled by the British.

This historic Dublin gaol offers guided tours to the public, telling tales of its solemn past left behind. You can glimpse haunting graffiti created at the hands of Nationalists and martyrs to the rebellion, and envision just what it might have been like for the poor souls that found themselves locked within these eerie walls.

Set over three floors, it hosts a tea shop, museum and many compelling exhibitions worth a look.

Are you feeling patriotic? Choose from 5 perfect cottages for St Patrick’s Day and secure your next Irish getaway today.


2. Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael

Eight miles from the coast of County Kerry, this ancient monastery boasts an enviable location on a jagged isle in the Atlantic. The history of Skellig Michael dates back to Pagan times, with most of its recorded history in the 7th century, a real Irish gem.

Perched at its summit, an eerie oratory plays centre to a cluster of beehive-shaped huts, which once offered monks a haven of solitude, accessed by 600 stone steps. On the southern peak stands another singular oratory, intended for total isolation for the world.

Those observant Star Wars fans may already be aware that this island flourished into fame when its unusual beehive structures, perilous staircases and dramatic cliffs were used at the end of The Force Awakens and again in The Last Jedi, as the setting for Luke Skywalker’s secluded hideaway.

For more coastal scenery, browse through our whirlwind tour of the Irish Coast to discover the best sites from County Donegal in the north to County Cork in the south.


3. Cobh

Cobh

If its Ireland hidden gems you’re here for, then it doesn’t get much better than the bustling town of Cobh on the coast of Ireland’s County Cork. Cobh boasts a number of notable attractions and fascinating local maritime history, suitable for all ages and tastes.

Famously known at the last port of call for the Titanic in 1912, the town has since dedicated a themed attraction known as the Titanic Experience Cobh where you can experience what life would have been like on board.

Choose to dine or enjoy a refreshing beverage at Kelly’s Bar after a long day sightseeing, particularly popular with the locals and tourists alike. Join the Titanic Trail, explore the imposing St. Colman’s Cathedral and discover all the towns rich history at Cobh Heritage Centre.

If it’s a seaside break you’re interested in, then check out our selection of coastal cottages in Ireland, or browse through our handy County Cork Travel Guide for more inspiration.


4. National Botanic Gardens

National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Similar to the famous Eden Project in Cornwall, the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin hold over 15,000 plant species from all over the world settled in Victorian wrought-iron glasshouses. Home to over 300 endangered plant species, 6 of which are already extinct in the wild, this hidden gem would be a horticulturists haven with over 200 years’ worth of history.

Explore the herbaceous borders, rose garden, rose garden, the alpine yard and even the double line of yew trees, locally known as “Addison’s Walk” which still exists since the late 18th century.

This award-winning attraction rests a short drive from Dublin city centre and is completely free to visit.


5. Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Settled on the outskirts of the town centre of Killarney, is this well-known attraction of Torc Waterfall, resting at the base of Torc Mountain.

Located a short stroll from the car park, Torc Waterfall is surprisingly most beautiful during the heaviest downpour of rain, making this a superb hidden gem of Ireland nestled within one of the most natural habitats of the Killarney National Park.

If you’re looking for more picturesque attractions, our scenic drives in Ireland guide is sure to help you decide the best choice for discovering the true beauty of Ireland.


6. Silver Strand Beach

Silver Strand Beach

This delightful Ireland hidden gem rests near a camping site in County Wicklow and is perfect for those seeking to relax on the golden sands at Silver Strand Beach.

Surrounded by rocky cliffs on both sides giving protection from strong winds, this small bay is the perfect secluded beach for enjoying a relaxing swim in the shallow waters.

Particularly beautiful during the summer months when the sun is at its brightest; bring a homemade picnic along and make a whole day of it with your family!


7. Sean’s Bar

Sean's Bar

Positioned in the heart of Athlone within a traditional Irish neighbourhood, is Sean’s Bar, considered to be the oldest existing bar in the world.

With a detailed history taking you back to 900AD, this Ireland hidden gem offers a friendly, heart-warming atmosphere, with an open fireplace and walls covered in ancient artefacts.

During renovations in 1970, 9th century evidence was obtained, finding old coins minted by various landlords for trade with their customers, most of which are now displayed in the National Museum.

On a trip through Central Ireland, stop by for a sample of its ale and a taste of its culture. Famous for having its own whiskey, live music and daily historical talks explaining its fascinating story, you won’t want to miss an opportunity for a pint in Ireland’s oldest pub!

Along the line of pubs, we have a list of the top 10 Irish taverns you should visit on your next Irish getaway.


8. Dalkey Island

Dalkey Island

Dalkey Island rests just off the coast of Dublin and dates back to the Viking era (over 6000 years ago), with its name meaning ‘Thorn Island’ due to its shape. Spanning across 22-acres, this island is perfect for keen explorers with an abundance of bird life and even rabbits to spot along the way.

This hidden gem is considered an important historical site with two churches on site, one dating back to the 7th century and is well-worth making the trip to explore this iconic site.

Treat yourself to a luxury cottage in Ireland and secure your next Irish getaway today.


9. Poolbeg Lighthouse

Poolbeg Lighthouse

Poolbeg Lighthouse is not only an excellent walking opportunity but is stepped in history. Walk the 4km stone path into the middle of the Dublin Bay and be greeted by this individual lighthouse once you reach the end.

Boasting far-reaching coastal views most beautiful during the Irish sunset. Poolbeg Lighthouse was rebuilt in 1820, based on the original from 1768.

Are you looking for more inspiration on where to visit in Ireland? Then browse through our tours and attractions for ideas on where to visit.


10. Bantry House and Gardens

Bantry House and Gardens

An experience is awaiting you at Bantry House and Gardens, a real hidden gem located in Ireland’s County Cork. Designed by the 2nd Earl of Bantry, Richard White, this site benefits from 7 terraces and has survived for more than 200 years, even after an attempted invasion by the French during 1796.

You can enjoy a self-guided or guided tour and listen to stories of its rich history and is sure to be one of the highlights of your visit to County Cork.

Take advantage of the on-site tearoom located in the west wing of the estate, serving traditional afternoon tea if you fancy a spot of lunch after a long walk through the formal gardens with your four-legged friend.


If you want to uncover even more hidden gems sitting among Irish territory, have a read of our Ireland Travel Guide and browse some of our specially selected Ireland holiday cottages for where to stay in this awe-inspiring country!


Image credits: William Murphy(CC BY-SA 2.0); Sharonlflynn – (CC BY-SA 4.0); Olivier Bruchez(CC BY-SA 2.0).

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