The Light in the Window

A light constantly shines from an upstairs window in Áras an Uachtaráin (the Hall of the President), in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

This tradition of the light, first introduced during the Presidency of Mary Robinson, is a symbolic beacon reaching out to guide our emigrant families, and their descendants’ back, to visit their ancestral homeland.

Of course, you don’t have to be Irish to be Irish (according to the song in the 1971 film: Flight of the Doves) and it’s true. The traditional 100,000 welcomes, so identified with this Treasure Island of ours, is also extended to all the visitors who come to our shores.

The Irish Government declared next year to be: The Year of the Gathering and has invited our global Irish Diaspora, their extended families and friends to make a trip back to Erin’s Green Isle, the cradle of their ancestors.

Just to give you a small sample taste of what might be in store, should you decide to visit the Island of Ireland, I have taken a look across our 32 counties and have chosen to introduce one point of interest, from each.

So, let’s start alphabetically on our virtual tour of the counties and see what attractions may be in store:

(01) Antrim, North of Ireland

“The World Heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway lies within the Causeway Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers 18 miles of dramatic cliffs, headlands and a series of bays”.

More about: The Giant’s Causeway

(02) Armagh, North of Ireland

“Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles covering 153 sq miles (400 sq km) and touches five of the six counties of Northern Ireland. The Lough has many stories concerning its origin. One of the best known is that of Ireland’s legendary giant, Finn McCool, who is said to have created the Lough when he scooped up a portion of the land and tossed it at a Scottish rival. He missed and the earth landed in the Irish Sea thus creating the Isle of Man”.

More about: Lough Neagh

(03) Carlow, South-East of Ireland

“Town Hall, Carlow Town, Co. Carlow – The Carlow Museum shows life in 19th and 20th century Carlow and the region”.

More about: The Carlow Museum

(04) Cavan, bordering Fermanagh (North)

“The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of counties Fermanagh and Cavan. Taking in the world-famous Marble Arch Caves, the Geopark boasts some of the finest natural landscapes in Ireland and offers a window into the area’s 650 million year past”.

More about: The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark

(05) Clare, West of Ireland

“The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s top Visitor attractions and are a designated UNESCO Geo Park. The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean, on the western seaboard of County Clare”.

More about: The Cliffs of Moher

(06) Cork, South-West of Ireland

“Bantry House is not only one of the finest historic houses in Ireland but it also commands one of the best views overlooking Bantry Bay in West Cork. It has been open to the public since 1946, the first to be so in the country and possibly also in the British Isles”.

More about: Bantry House

(07) Derry, North of Ireland

“Among the many historic monuments in Derry, the massive city walls on the west bank of the River Foyle are the most striking and memorable”.

More about: Derry City Walls

(08) Donegal, North-East of Ireland

“Glenveagh National Park lies in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains in the north-west of Co. Donegal. It is a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes”.

More about: Glenveagh National Park

(09) Downpatrick, North of Ireland

“The Downpatrick & County Down Railway (DCDR) was set up in 1985 with the aim of restoring a portion of the former Belfast and County Down Railway as a working railway museum, incorporating the various aspects of Northern Ireland’s railway heritage”.

More about: Downpatrick Railway Museum

(10) Dublin, East of Ireland

“The Phoenix Park at 707 hectares (1752 acres) is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city.  The Phoenix Park was established in 1662 by one of Ireland’s most illustrious Viceroys, James Butler, Duke of Ormond, on behalf of King Charles II”.

More about: The Phoenix Park

(11) Fermanagh, North of Ireland

“Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguire’s.  Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, it was strategically important throughout its history.  In the 17th century it became an English garrison fort and later served as part of a military barracks.”

More about: Enniskillen Castle

(12) Galway, West of Ireland

“Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as excellence in education.”

More about: Kylemore Abbey

(13) Kerry, South-West of Ireland

“Muckross House is situated close to the shores of Muckross Lake, amidst the beautiful scenery of Killarney National Park. The house is a focal point within the park and is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding terrain.”

More about: Muckross House

(14) Kildare, East of Ireland

“Nestled in spectacular natural surrounding, there is no other Palladian house in Ireland to rival Russborough House either aesthetically or architecturally. It was designed by the renowned German architect, Richard Castles.”

More about: Russborough House

(15) Kilkenny, South-East of Ireland

“The King of Ossory founded the beautiful Jerpoint Abbey near Thomastown, County Kilkenny in 1158 and today, with many details preserved, the site offers a unique glimpse into the life of the Cistercian monks who once inhabited it.”

More about: Jerpoint Abbey

(16) Laoise, Midlands

“The Rock of Dunamase in County Laois is a very prominent outcrop. Standing at over 45 metres in height, the outcrop with its castle ruins totally dominates the surrounding countryside.”

More about: The Rock of Dunamase

(17) Leitrim, bordering Fermanagh (North)

“The Arigna area has a long tradition of mining which dates back to the early 17th century. High grade iron ore are commonly found in the area in “nodes” or rounded lumps varying from the size of a pebble to that of a rugby ball. This led to the establishment of iron works by Elizabethan Planter, Charles Coote at Creevela and Arigna.”

More about: Arigna Mining

(18) Limerick, South-West of Ireland

“King John’s Castle is a 13th century Castle on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick City.  The Castle overlooks the majestic River Shannon offering wonderful views of Limerick City.”

More about: King John’s Castle

(19) Longford, Midlands

“Lough Ree said to be the fifth largest lake in Ireland offers a wide variety of amenity, historic and tourist attractions to the visitor. An old poet sung of Lough Ree and its thousand Islands.”

More about: Lough Ree

(20) Louth, North-East of Ireland

“The County Museum, Dundalk is located in a beautifully restored late 18th century warehouse in the Carroll Centre at Roden Place in Jocelyn Street.”

More about: The County Museum

(21) Mayo, West of Ireland

“Westport House & Gardens, first opened to the public is 1960, is one of Ireland’s best loved heritage attractions.  Having been family home to the Browne family for over 300 years, its roots trace back to Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connaught.”

More about: Westport House and Gardens

(22) Meath, North-East of Ireland

“Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, was constructed over a thirty year period by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. Hugh de Lacy was granted the Liberty of Meath by King Henry II in 1176 in an attempt to curb the expensionist policies of Richard de Clare, {Strongbow}.”

More about: Trim Castle

(23) Monaghan, Northerly (on border with: Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh)

“Rossmore Forrest Park is the former estate of the Rossmore family who were granted these lands in the 17th century. Samuel Lewis, a visitor in 1837, wrote this about it: “A handsome mansion in an Elizabethan style situated in an extensive and beautifully diversified demesne abounding with wild and romantic scenery and commanding some fine distant views.”

More about: Rossmore Forest Park

(24) Offally, Midlands

“Clonmacnoise was founded in 548 by St. Ciaran, the son of a master craftsman. The settlement soon became a major centre of religion, learning, trade, craftsmanship and politics, thanks in large part to its position at the major crossroads of the River Shannon (flowing north-south) and the gravel ridges of the glacial eskers (running east-west).”

More about: Clonmacnoise

(25) Roscommon, West of Ireland

“Lough Key has for many centuries drawn people to its spectacular views, abundant wildlife, historic buildings and evocative islands. This beautiful landscape is steeped in a rich history.”

More about: Lough Key and its Forest Park

(26) Sligo, North West of Ireland

“Located just 10 minutes from Sligo Town, the village of Drumcliffe is home to the site where St Colmcille founded a monastery in 574. It is also the burial place of revered Irish poet, W.B. Yeats.”

More about: Drumcliffe

(27) Tipperary, South of Ireland

“Cashel is home to the iconic Rock of Cashel. One of the most spectacular tourist attractions in Ireland and one of the most visited. Cashel’s rich history is reflected in its built heritage, from prehistoric raths to mediaeval monasteries and fortified town houses and much more.”

More about: The Rock of Cashel

(28) Tyrone, North of Ireland

“Immerse yourself in the world famous story of Irish emigration at the museum that brings it to life. Follow the emigrant trail as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier.  Meet an array of costumed characters on your way with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share.”

More about: The Ulster American Folk Park

(29) Waterford, South of Ireland

“The Copper Coast stretches from Tramore to Dungarvan and is ideal for a road trip. Along the way, you will be treated to quaint sea-side villages and jaw-dropping cliff-side views, all set against the back-drop of the Comeragh Mountains.”

More about: The Copper Coast

(30) Westmeath, Midlands

“The Abbey at Boyle was the first successful foundation in Connacht of the Cistercian order which had opened its first Irish house at Mellifont, Co. Louth, in 1142.”

More about: Boyle Abbey

(31) Wexford, South-East of Ireland

“Dunbrody was a 19th Century three masted sailing ship that brought many emigrants from Ireland to North America during and after the Great Famine.”

More about: The Dunbrody Famine Ship

(32) Wicklow, East of Ireland

“Powerscourt is one of the world’s great gardens and is located 20km south of Dublin City Centre. Set against the backdrop of the great Sugarloaf Mountain, Powerscourt is stunning in every season. From the ornate Italian Gardens, to the formal walks of the Rose and Kitchen Gardens, there are many hidden treasures to explore. With over 200 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers this 47 acres has something for everyone.”

More about: Powerscourt

That brings us to the end of our whistle stop tour around the 32 counties of the Island of Ireland. For further information about the places we have visited or any other visitor attractions on the Emerald Isle please contact:

Discover Ireland and The Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Have you ever visited Ireland?

Have you ever been to any of the sites listed in this post?

If you have – what were your impressions?


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About dubmantalks

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3 Responses to The Light in the Window

  1. Pingback: Bitten by the Bug’s Big Brother | Disparate Ireland

  2. Thanks! We’re coming to Ireland in October 2013; me for the second time, my husband for the first time. These are more great ideas as we’re renting a car and travelling on our own.


  3. dubmantalks says:

    Great to hear that irisheyes0620. We hope you will have a wonderful time. Be sure to check out Dublin’s iconic Phoenix Park while you are here. Here is a tiny sample of the natural beauty of the park –


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