When travelling abroad you get the chance to view the royal splendours of the world. The Doge’s palace in Venice, Schonbrunn in Vienna, Versailles in France. Their long established histories of Monarchies and Emperors wrought them incomparable architectural wonders and though Ireland could never rival this, we have something in abundance. For Ireland has a plethora of awe-inspiring religious and spiritual sites. The following is a list of sites tourists of all denominations should experience when they visit Ireland.
Located in the heart of Galway City, the Cathedral finished construction in 1965, making it the youngest of Europe’s great stone Cathedrals. Drawing from a number of styles, architectural influences include renaissance style pillars, gothic rose windows and mosaics and stain glass derived from traditional Christian art. Beautifully situated on the banks of the river Corrib, the building boasts a 145 ft dome that stands prominent against the city skyline. Summer concerts feature music from the 16th-21st centuries, such as Gregorian chant and traditional Irish music. It is a must see for new-visitors to the city. https://www.galwaycathedral.ie/
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built around 3200 BC, preceding both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. The Neolithic passage tomb leads to a chamber, both perfectly aligned with the rising sun during the winter solstice. Coveting megalithic art, human bones and votive offerings, the structure is considered the jewel of Irelands ancient east. Each year around the winter solstice, tourists gather in the chamber as the sun rises. Within minutes all is dramatically illuminated within the monument and is undoubtedly a strong bucket list contender. As the attraction is so popular, entry into the tomb around the solstice is based on a lottery system. More information on visiting Newgrange can be found here. https://www.newgrange.com/index.htm
The Sunyata Centre in Clare is a haven for people of all denominations, who are searching for a spiritual getaway. Ideally located along the Wild Atlantic Way, the centre is predominantly a Buddhist retreat, but is open to all who seek a calmer, meditative lifestyle. Offering one-day, weekend, 10-day, female only and beginners retreats, there is a programme for everyone. Courses encourage mindfulness, balance and coping mechanisms, all while surrounded by the beauty of Ireland’s west coast. https://www.sunyatacentre.org/
St Fin Barres
Saint Fin Barres Anglican Church lies south of the River Lee in Cork City. Completed in 1879, the grounds on which it stands have been used for various forms of worship since the 7th century. Styled in the popular gothic revival fashion, the building hosts some 1,260 sculptures, positioned around the interior and exterior of the church. All created under the watchful eye of its designer William Burges, the Cathedral is said to possibly have the most cohesive neo-gothic style in Western Europe. Notable characteristics of the structure include the golden iconography of the western façade, which glows in the setting sun, the gilded copper “Resurrection Angel” and the 32 gargoyles, each with an individually stylised face. Beautifully and skilfully conceived, it truly is breath-taking and is a must-see for those with an interest in art and architecture. https://corkcathedral.webs.com/
In the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Kerry, lie two small, steep and wildly important islands, known as the Skellig Islands. Skellig Michael, the larger of the two and the only accessible island, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the home of one of Ireland’s earliest monastic settlements, the ruins of which have become an extremely popular tourist activity. 11,000 people arrive annually to view the remains of the monastery, beehive huts and the monks graveyard. Ecologically the island is off great importance also, as it is inhabited by atypical flora and fauna. In particular it is known for its Puffins. J.J Abrams found the area so beautiful he chose to film ‘Star Wars VIII The Last Jedi’, on the island, modelling the adorable Porgs on the Atlantic Puffin. The Skellig’s are accessible by boat only and therefore trips are entirely weather dependent. Much like Newgrange, it can be difficult to arrange due to its UNESCO and weather dependent status, which are in the control of experts. However, it is a completely unique and special experience and those who are lucky enough to go should jump at the opportunity. https://skelligislands.com/
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