We’ve all heard of the Cliffs of Moher, dreamt of kissing the Blarney Stone, and marvelled at the wonder that is the Giant’s Causeway. But did you know that Ireland is home to some of the most spectacular and jaw-dropping hidden gems and scenic routes that money cannot buy. In this article we are going to explore 5 of Ireland’s hidden talents as it were, not to be missed on your next voyage to the Emerald Isle!
- Dalkey Island
Despite being put relatively on the map after Hollywood actor Matt Damon became stranded there for the first 6 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dalkey remains one of Ireland’s best kept secrets. This tiny uninhabited island sits just 300 metres off the Dublin suburbs – acting as the perfect Irish hideaway spot. Dalkey is breathtaking, and the perfect spot for nature lovers, as visitors can partake in a little fishing, sailing, or bird-watching. However, visitors’ fascination with Dalkey does not end there. The island has some fascinating history – with the earliest human settlement dating all the way back to the Mesolithic period. Attractions on Dalkey Island not to be missed include the ruins of St. Begnet’s Church, and the Martello Tower.
- Cape Clear Island
Let’s get one thing straight – West Cork is one of, if not the most awe-inspiring and aesthetically beautiful places in the world. It is home to a plethora of hidden gems, stunning Irish scenery, and welcoming friendly faces who won’t mind teaching you a Gaelic word or two! Cape Clear Island is most definitely up there with one of West Cork’s hidden talents. Situated off the west coast of Cork, this island is home to a primarily Irish-speaking group of natives and their one pub, one shop, one church, and an Irish language school. It doesn’t get much more secluded than Cape Clear. It is in fact the southernmost inhabited part of Ireland – which gives it a real distinction from the mainland. Activities on the island include long walks, sailing, kayaking, visiting the goat farm and eating some delicious goats milk ice-cream.
- Bantry House
Okay so maybe my infatuation with Cork is beginning to show, but there’s a good reason why I am giving you back to back hidden gems from the Rebel County, and you can see for yourself next time you visit Bantry House and Garden. Sitting just over an hour away from the beautiful town of Kinsale, and lying just shy of the end of the Wild Atlantic Way, this dreamy 18th-century mansion awaits. Bantry House is surrounded by magnificent gardens, and has belonged to the White family for over two-and-a-half centuries. The estate offers panoramic views of Bantry Bay, as well as an unforgettable display of antique furniture, tapestries and other rare works of art for those wishing to roam further into the mansion’s cinematic interiors. Believe it or not the house itself is actually still lived in, while much of the estate is still being restored, giving a warm and homely feel to those that arrive from far and wide.
- Poolbeg Lighthouse
Now that we’re done meddling through the beauty of the south coast, let’s return to the capital and more of what Dublin has to offer. Just over 30 minutes away from Dublin City’s hustle and bustle is a red lighthouse and sea wall combination that will leave you breathless. Many people like to grab a coffee or a hot chocolate from the famous McHobbs coffee truck before setting off on a 20 minute escapade of one of the longest sea walls in Europe. All the while you are accompanied by panoramic views of Dublin Port, Dublin Bay, and Howth until you arrive at the 19th-century lighthouse. The 4km walk is becoming increasingly popular as more people find out about it – and with good reason!
- Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve
Finally an honourable mention for all the star-lovers and astrology nerds out there. One of Kerry’s best kept secrets is that it is home to the only Gold Tiered reserve in the Northern Hemisphere. Situated between the Kerry Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, this hidden gem offers visitors the chance to experience an unrivalled and star-studded night-scape, far away from any sort of light pollution. It’s been confirmed by top astrologists that key components of our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy can both be seen with the naked eye.