Historic Sites of Ireland — Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide

With evocative Celtic forts, ruined monasteries, and other remnants of its rich ancient and early-Christian past, Ireland is like an open-air museum. #ricksteves #ricksteveseurope #ireland

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We're beginning here on inishmore at Eight miles long and two miles wide it's The largest of the three Aran Islands It's also the most populated interesting And visited Inishmore's main attraction is the 2 000 Year old fortress of Dune Angus which Hangs precariously on the edge of a Cliff 300 feet above the Atlantic The concentric walls of this mysterious Celtic Fort are 13 feet thick and 10 Feet high As an added defense effective even today The fort is ringed with a commotion of Spiky stones called frusian soldiers Sticking up like glances they're named After ancient soldiers who used a wall Of Spears to stop a charging cavalry Little by little as the cliff erodes the Walls of this circular Fort fall into The sea below dunangas can be mobbed by Day Trippers but since we spent the Night we're here early and the place is All ours I make a point to be all alone Here where the crashing waves below seem To say you've come to the very edge of Europe The place to commune with the ancient Soul of Ireland is in its Lush Countryside the peaceful Boeing River Valley just an hour's Drive North of Dublin offers a world-class Concentration of historical and Spiritual sites

In one day you can see the capital of Ancient Irish Kings some of Ireland's Finest High crosses crawl through burial Mounds older than the pyramids and be Back in Dublin in time for dinner in a Pub crawl and that's precisely our plan The hill of Tara was the most important Center of political and religious power In pre-christian Ireland this was the Seat of The High Kings of Celtic Ireland And this is the place where you'll find The soul of Ireland here on this hill of Tar Local guide Gene Thornton is giving us a Sample of Tara's prehistoric medieval And modern history so for five thousand Years people have come here people have Come to Tar and as you can see they are Still coming today We're not the Stone Age people were here We know the Bronze Age people were here We know the Iron Age people are here This area was a very sacred place for Certainly and ritual took place Now you know said Patrick is our patron Saint And the Shamrock is a symbol of Ireland We are told that it All Began here on This hill of Tara now in 432 A.D Ireland Was a pagan country now he came here to This hill of Tara to ask the Pagan King's permission to spread Christianity No this is what Saint Patrick used to Explain Christianity to the high King he

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Used this as a symbol there are three Leaves and one stem on this little piece Of Shamrock Father the Son and the Holy Spirit and That is how he explained the Trinity the Concept of Christianity to this Pagan King the symbolic importance of Tara Continued into Ireland's modern history In 1843 Daniel O'Connell the great Champion of Irish Liberty gathered Several hundred thousand people here Peacefully they demanded Irish home rule Foreign This ruined Monastery monaster Boyce is Notable for its round Tower a standard Feature in Ireland's early Christian Churches and its ornately carved High Crosses The cross of Murdoch named after an Abbott who ran this place around the Year 900 is considered the finest High Cross in all Ireland These crosses were Illustrated with Bible stories carved into the Sandstone Originally they were brightly painted Imagine a thousand years ago priests Used As visual aids as they taught the people Tim Cullen stingles retired police chief Is an amateur archaeologist who takes my Tour groups around when they're in town Today his group is really small just me And Andy On this trip around the peninsula Andy's

Learning some history the way I like to From a local Dingle Peninsula is like an open-air Museum it started with more than two Thousand monuments dating back to 4000 BC some of Ireland's ancient and complex History can be sorted out by visiting These sites Now this is actually known as done big Promontory Fort it's one of about 22 2200 archaeological monuments we have on The dingley peninsula this site was Built by the early Setters about 500 BC That is the date for it it has been Excavated about 25 years ago because Half it has actually fallen into the sea Due to Coastal erosion I suppose there's No part of Ireland that has got so many Archaeological monuments intact as you Have got in the Dingle Peninsula and Primarily that's due to the fact that This area has never been industrialized Thankfully so far this remote Peninsula Was also busy during early Christian Times the galarus oratory was a church Built without mortar about 1200 years Ago shaped like an upturned boat it's Finely fitted walls Stone without mortar Still keep out the rain In the depths of the Dark Ages monks Fled the chaos of Continental Europe They sailed to the far fringes of the Known World settling in places like this Dingo peninsula living in monastic

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Communities of stone Igloo type Huts They kept literacy alive for Western Civilization In fact Charlemagne who ruled much of Europe in the year 800 imported monks From Ireland to be his scribes Foreign Christian monasteries several Stone type Igloos and a church within a fortified Wall The inner wall divided a community into Two sections one for work and one for Worship This Monument now actually is a thousand Years old I don't know what we've been Already looking at a slab cross erected By the Celts about 500 years BC red Sandstone and they decorated this stone With these Celtic motifs or these Concentric circles which run through the Front of the stone and that remained Until the 6th Century A.D when the Christians came and christianized The Cross by superimposing this Greek cross On the upper part of the old Celtic Monument thus displaying the two Traditions on the one slab cross the Celtic and the Christian when the English came in the 12th century they Replaced the old monastic settlements Like the one we just saw with their own Churches in an attempt to centralize Their control During that era this ruined church was a

Center of worship for the peninsula Foreign The soil itself reveals the struggles of The Irish people now in prehistory the Site here was worthless very burned this Side here we're looking at was actually Made by the hard work and Endeavors of The peasants that actually had to Reclaim this Garden Land by going to the Beach and drying up seaweed and sand to Augment the very modern side that was There to grow their potatoes and their Crops so there's seaweed inside mixture And some peas Which was developed into a clay over the Centuries patch by patch they created Fertile fields for potatoes climbing Ever higher up the hillside in 1845 they Planted but a blade swept across Ireland And nothing grew the potatoes rotted in The ground for the next four years Ireland starved the village of Duncan With its many abandoned homes is a Reminder that Ireland's population was Decimated by The Great Potato Famine In Ireland you drive on the left on Narrow roads like these take your time Everybody works together in a Scenic Dosey doe up and over the mountain with The help of a good map I often take the Slow more memorable route the dramatic Conor pass leads to the scenic southwest Tip of Ireland dingo peninsula Over 100 inches of rain a year give this

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Area its famous 40 shades of green Bingo Peninsula offers an ideal mix of Varnaway beauty archaeological wonders And desolate walks or bike rides all Within convenient reach of its main Town My Irish dreams have long been set here On this sparse but lushly carpeted Peninsula the people of Dingle are close To the land when I asked a local if he Was born here he thought for a second And said no it was about six miles down The road when I asked if he'd lived here All his life he said not yet Dingle is so traditionally Irish because It's another Gale Tech a region where The Irish culture survives subsidized by The government while English is always There the signs menus and songs often Come in Irish or Gaelic first Teenagers from Ireland's big cities come Here for summer camp filling old-time School rooms to learn the traditional Language and Irish ways And here Irish songs are sung in Irish Is And all churches do double duty as Concert Halls where those enthusiastic About traditional music share their art Foreign The town of Dingle is the perfect home Base for peninsula explorations It's just large enough to have all the Necessary tourist services and a steady Beat of Irish folk music although a

Popular tourist destination Dingle still Has a relaxed feel This is a place where the fish in the Farm still matter Faint whiff of burning peat fills its Streets Tractor tracks dirty the main drag And 40 fishing boats still sail from its Harbor