The Irish Countryside and Landscape
Did you know? Ireland may be known as the land that boasts 40 shades of green, but not all natural attractions shimmer a shade of emerald. The Burren was formed around 340 million years ago at the bottom of a sea, and is an extraordinary region stretching from north Clare to south Galway. Arrestingly dramatic, the unique landscape includes miles of limestone layers cut through by meandering streams, lakes and labyrinthine caves, a phenomenally rich cultural heritage, and over 70% of Ireland’s native flora. It is also home to more than 500 ring forts and over 80 Neolithic tombs.
The Giants Causeway
The bizarre lunar landscape of the Giant’s Causeway may have been caused by volcanic eruptions and cooling lava, but legend tells a different story. The Causeway (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a mesmerising collection of tightly packed basalt columns that run from the cliffs of the Antrim Plateau right down to the sea. Similar stones on the island of Staffa in the Scottish Hebrides led the ancients to believe that it was the work of giant Finn MacCool who made County Antrim’s Causeway as a pathway to Scotland, where a rival giant lived.
The Irish Coast
Ireland enjoys over 1,448km of spectacular coastline, surrounded by the mighty Atlantic on the west and the Irish Sea on the east. As well as towering cliffs, clear fresh waters, pristine sandy beaches, and an abundance of opportunities for the watersports enthusiast, the coastline enjoys lively fishing villages with some of the best seafood in the world. Check out Kinsale in County Cork, Dingle in County Kerry, Dunmore East in County Waterford, Roundstone in County Galway, Cushendun in County Antrim and Kilcar in County Donegal.
The River Shannon
At 344km in length, the River Shannon is the longest river in the British Isles and one of the finest in Europe. Winding through an area of outstanding natural beauty, this unspoilt waterway flows from the Shannon Pot on the slopes of the Cuilcagh Mountains in County Cavan to Loop Head in County Clare, where it meets the Atlantic. Rich in glorious scenery, filled with prolific wildlife, and dotted with pretty villages, the Shannon Erne Waterway is the longest navigable waterway in Europe, and is a paradise for nature lovers, boating enthusiasts and those who prefer the quiet life.
Isolated and remote, Ireland’s islands resound with mythical beauty and are excellent hideaways for those after a holiday away from it all. Many of Ireland’s islands didn’t have electricity until the 1970s and a more traditional ethos endures amongst the islanders. For a real break away from it all, try Coney Island, Tory Island, Clare Island, Rathlin and the fabled Aran Islands.
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