Places to Visit in Western Ireland
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Places to Visit in Western Ireland

A list and description of various locations to visit within Ireland's Western half.

As compared to the rest of the Emerald Isle, its western half is noted by many residents and visitors alike for being the picture of "true Irish" life. While the eastern counterparts, such as the city of Dublin, have come under the wing of strong British influence, the side of Ireland that faces the Atlantic has been more successful at preserving traditional Irish culture, language and the internationally acclaimed landscape. While the Dublin metropolis may be fun for a weekend, those who plan to travel to the land of grass and Guinness would do well to concentrate of the western coast.

Galway City

Set on the west coast and within Galway Bay, the city of Galway is a world away from the conventional urban atmosphere as it is a center of culture and celebration. It is also a small metropolis of 60,000 people that are in touch with their roots with every piece of literature and signage written in Irish Gaelic and subtitled English. Galway is famous for being a partying city, especially along Shop St., but action can be found throughout the cobblestone streets and small canals. Visit the city in July to be part of the Galway Arts Festival or attend the Galway Races (a week-long series of horse races), or stop by during the fall months to get a taste of their prize oysters and salmon.

Aran Islands

Located out in the mouth of Galway Bay, this three island paradise is just a ferry boat ride away from Galway City. The islands are home to some well-preserved archaeological sites, such as the Bronze Age stone fort of Dún Aengus, and the islands are known worldwide for their wool sweaters. Many visitors enjoy taking bike rides along the length of the longest island, Inishmore, where along the route are several beautiful white sand beaches facing out towards the Atlantic.

Dingle Peninsula

Dubbed by numerous travel magazines as one of the top world destinations, this peninsula located in the southwestern Co. Kerry is a goldmine of lush green, seaside views and Irish Gaelic. The modest sized town of Dingle is lined with colorful wooden abodes and has small boats lined within it small harbor. On the outskirts of the town are deep green cliffs as well as numerous prehistoric and medieval ruins. Take a drive to the Slea Head, a small stretch of beach from which you can see the Blasket Islands, the westernmost point in all of Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher

On the edge of Co. Clare, it is not an exaggeration to call these cliffs a true wonder of the world. The highest point reaches over 700 ft. above sea level and attracts over one million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth. From the cliffs, visitors can see for miles to the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and Connemara while at the cliffs' bottom are many underwater caves. There are many cruise and touring options available, but the most cost effective way to see the cliffs is to just pay normal bus fair, rather than a tourist bus far, to the location.

The Burren

Just east of the Cliffs of Moher is the Burren, which is an archaeologist's or history buff's paradise. Filled with hundreds of ancient megalithic tombs, medieval stone forts and abbeys, this region of Co. Clare is a well preserved insight into the older life of Western Ireland. The majority of the sites are unexcavated and untouched, due to local taboos against meddling with ancient structures. The Burren is also a karst landscape, meaning the its surfaces were formed from years of being an undersea bed, which is what attributes to its dramatic seas of limestone with some crevices going two feet deep. A few famous spots include the Poulnabrone portal tomb and the Karst Dome.

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