Cultural Experience | Dublin

7 Reasons to Discover Small Towns in Ireland

Experience the beauty of Ireland outside of the cities.

When travelling to Ireland, it is very common to visit the bigger cities such as Dublin, and even Belfast if you are traveling in Northern Ireland. You will be able to visit museums, Universities, such as the popular Trinity College, and to grasp the country’s rich history. To have an even more fulfilling visit to Ireland, make sure that you visit the smaller towns.  Here are seven reasons to persuade you:

1: To Grasp the Nature of the Irish Landscape

 If you enter Dublin, yes you will be able to experience a large amount of the Irish culture but by leaving the city, you will be able to see so much more. There are hundreds upon thousands of green fields with all kinds of sheep and other animals roaming around. Part of the charm of traveling through the Irish country side is that the fields are divided by low rock walls rather than the fences normally seen in the US farmland.  The rock walls are built using rocks that are found on the land.  These rocks are stacked up in a very intricate way to allow the water to flow through the fence without knocking it down in the process. These rocks create a property line while also keeping the animals inside their enclosed area. It is a very beautiful site to see.

 When traveling from small town to small town, you will quickly discover that the roads are very narrow with quick, sharp turns. As you travel,  take in the entire vistas as on one side of a turn there could be a huge mountain and then a plain around the next. It is a breathtaking sight to see. If you at any point you get lost, feel free to talk to any of the friendly locals who will be happy to help you to your destination in a timely manner.

Paige Wagner Ireland Small Towns image

2: Once in a lifetime sites and opportunities

Visiting the Western region of Ireland is also breathtaking and much more about nature and agriculture than big city life. Most of the small cottages in Western Ireland have sod roofs that are hand woven and especially expensive. This is a long lasting profession that has become a true art. As you travel through Ireland, make sure to keep an eye out for these thatched roofs that look like they have are made from woven hay. They are somewhat of a rarity due to the expense however to the people of Ireland, they are the best roofs that you could ever have!

One of the most famous sites to see that has over one million visitors a year is the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs tower over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and are stunning. The cliffs stretch for over 5 miles. Visit O’Brien’s Tower and climb up inside to get a higher and more amazing view.  The Tower stands near the highest point on the cliff. This has served as a viewing point for visitors for hundreds of years and once you are at the top, it is a windy yet blissful view.

3: Meet the Locals

To meet tons of locals, the best place to go is the pub. Irish people, for the most part, will tell you anything that you would like to hear over a pint of their treasured Guinness. Take some time and ask them questions about themselves and learn about the area that you are staying in. You will never know how much your perspective can change when talking to someone about the place they live. Everyone will have a good or interesting story to tell so take a second and listen to it. Maybe from asking questions, you could make a long lasting friend that could take you on a walking tour. While you’re chatting you’ll notice the Irish accents are very interesting, as in Dublin, but even more entertaining and enjoyable in the small towns since the language is mixed with Gaelic.

Paige Wagner Ireland Small Towns image

4: Eat Local Food

While you’re chatting with the locals in the nearby pup, ask the server or bartender for their favorite dish or what they are most famous for and enjoy it. Don’t go for the safe option, instead live a little and experience something different. If you are questioning if potatoes are a good choice or not, just say yes. To the Irish culture, potatoes are always a good option so live like a local for a few days (it will be very worth it)!  Most of the small towns, are located close to the water since that was the most accessible trade route for their supplies giving rise to a rich seafood cuisine. Give it a try.  You will not be disappointed with the freshness.

Paige Wagner Ireland Small Towns image

5: Learn about local history and festivals

When walking through the towns there are plenty of historical plaques to tell you what has occurred in the past. Take this opportunity to learn more about the local history of the town. To attract many people to a certain small town, these places often have festivals. In Galway, they have over 70 festivals a year; that’s more than one a week! In Lisdoonvarna there is a Matchmaking Festival throughout September and it is the biggest Singles Festival in the world! They believe that everyone should meet their soulmate and this is the perfect place to meet them. There is even an expert matchmaker by the name of Willy Daly you can meet if you are at the festival looking for love. This is a small town that attracts thousands of people throughout the month of September. It is definitely a sight to see if you are single and looking!

6: Find hidden treasures

 Discover the many small castles that are hidden all through Ireland.  Visitors are usually more than welcome to walk through them and learn about their owners or what historical events took place in the area. A great excuse to stop the car and take that chance to discover more while stretching your legs. In addition, there are even secret hot springs. These can be tricky to find, so if you are interested you should talk to the locals about their locations .

Paige Wagner Ireland Small Towns image

7: Collect meaningful gifts from the origin place

Many small towns are known for a specialty gift or product.  For example, Galway is specifically known for the Claddagh ring. The ring is interlaced with Celtic and Irish symbols. There are two hands symbolizing friendship, a crown representing royalty, and a heart representing love. When you wear it a certain way, on a certain finger, it shows if your heart is open, taken, or engaged. These rings date from the Roman times when the gesture of clasped hands was shown as a symbol of pledging vows and these rings were originally used as wedding or anniversary rings. Now, it has become a very important part of the Irish culture and is an emblem of Irish identity.

All in all, Ireland is a great place to discover, aside from meeting locals and discovering great gifts for loved ones, you can grasp their rich history and bask in the beautiful countryside. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures as you travel too!

More About Traveling in Ireland here.

Paige Wagner

Susquehanna University | 6 stories

I am a Junior at Susquehanna currently studying abroad in London at Regent's University! Please stay tuned to my blog to see my wonderful European experiences!

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