travel

9 hidden treasures of the Emerald Isle

By Megan Marples

Published July 18, 2019

Megan Marples for CNN

9. The Seven Churches

These church ruins are located on the north end of Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast. They date to the 8th century and include a graveyard that surrounds most of the structure.

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8. Waterford Crystal Factory

Visitors can watch trained glassblowers sculpt molten crystal into elaborate works of art. Waterford crystal is used to make a variety of pieces, most notably the panels on the New Year’s Eve ball in New York City.

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7. Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park sits along the northeastern border of the Ring of Kerry and boasts mountainous views. It’s Ireland’s first national park and is riddled with ancient castles and ruins.

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6. Dalkey Castle

Step back in time to when the Tudors were at the height of their power at Dalkey Castle. Actors welcome visitors in and teach them about how people lived there long ago.

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5. St. Anne's Church

Climb 132 steps to the top of St. Anne’s Church in Cork City Centre. Visitors can take turns ringing the famous Shandon Bells or take in the magnificent 360 degree views.

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4. Glendalough

This medieval settlement is tucked away in the towering Wicklow Mountains, about an hour south of Dublin. The landscape gives way to an expansive lake and is home to a collection of ruins.

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3. Sliabh Liag Cliffs

Escape the crowded Cliffs of Moher and take a trip up north to County Donegal. Sliabh Liag Cliffs are almost 2,000 feet high, which is nearly three times as tall as the Cliffs of Moher.

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2. Bunratty Castle

Just a short drive from Limerick, Bunratty Castle is a 15th-century tower house overflowing with history. A recreated 19th-century village sits just outside the castle’s walls and reflects the building styles of the era.

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1. Airfield Estate

Escape the hustle and bustle of Dublin for the quiet serenity of farm living, all without leaving the city. Airfield Estate is home to dozens of farm animals, a heritage house, a farm-to-fork restaurant and more.

Megan Marples for CNN