‘Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis’~Brendan Behan
Every country has their own special landmarks. Not the ones you see in all the travel brochures, but the ones which make the local people immensely proud and which confuse visitors. Ireland is no different.
These places are usually more related to the countries culture rather than their history. In Ireland, we like to mix the two.
In this article, I want to look at my pick of some of some great cultural landmarks in Ireland and why there are so important.
As I touched on in a previous article. Ireland’s native language has been slowly dwindling over the past two centuries. But there are still areas in Ireland where the native language called Gaeilge (ge-lic) is still spoken. They are specially designated areas which receive increased government funding. This is to support and help grow where possible, the number of people who actively speak Gaeilge.
Located in the far west, and north and south-west of the country these areas are home to some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery. You will be in awe of the great differences between Gaeilge and English. Unfortunately, I can only say a few basic words.
Incredibly important in Ireland’s independence movement, this prison saw many of the most famous Irish independence leaders either imprisoned or executed here. Opened to the public in the 1970s the guided tours bring you through some of the darkest periods in Ireland’s history. The information provided helps visitors to gain a better understanding of Ireland’s recent history and its efforts to gain full. Check out more information here.
The home of the GAA and also the third largest stadium in Europe. The GAA is a grassroots organisation which helps promote Irish sports such as hurling and Irish football. These are amateur sports with a massive local following and interest. Croke Park holds the most important games of the sporting season and also play host to other sports on occasion. A visit here during a game day will be something which you won’t forget as easily as over 80,000 people cheer on players from their home counties. If you cannot make a game there is also a brilliant museum which highlights the history of the GAA.
A beautiful mix of stunning scenery, history and religion Glendalough (Valley of two lakes) is a favourite among visitors and locals due to its proximity to Dublin and the eclectic location. Here you can find the remains of a once large and prosperous monastery surrounded by the Wicklow mountains. Although a much older example it helps to highlight how important religion was in Ireland.
One of the most famous cultural landmarks in Ireland. Newgrange is located in County Meath, about an hours drive north of Dublin. It is a passage tomb which was built to inline with the winter solstice. Its exact function is not known, but it is believed to have been used as a calendar or for religious purposes.
Predating the Pyramids and Stonehenge it is one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in Ireland. It highlights the beginning of civilization in Ireland and the sophistication of Ireland’s ancient people.
Having been abandoned for millennia its use and function became mixed with Irish folklore and mythology becoming one of Ireland’s most famous mythical locations. This is similar to many ancient sites in Ireland where the actual functions were replaced by folklore.
Some of the more famous cultural landmarks in Ireland have been left out purposely. I aim to highlight some of the lesser known areas.