Everyone knows about the Seven Wonders of the World, but, just in case you didn't already know, we thought we would introduce you to the Seven Wonders of Ireland.
Ireland is a country renowned for its history and its warm hospitality and what better way to experience this than by visiting some of the top visitor attractions whilst enjoying a comfortable and luxurious stay in one of Ireland's Blue Book's beautiful properties. Below we present our list of the seven 'must-see' wonders of Ireland which we have coupled with a selection of 'must stay' places within the Blue Book collection.
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin City
The Guinness Storehouse was originally built in 1904 to house the Guinness fermentation process at the brewery. The building was constructed in the style of the Chicago School of Architecture, with massive steel beams providing the support for the structure of the building. The Storehouse building was in use as part of the making of the famous Guinness stout until 1988 and in November 2000 the building was turned into an iconic tactile visitor centre situated in the heart of The Liberties area of Dublin.
A choice of accommodation awaits you in Dublin, including the stylish 5-star Merrion Hotel in the heart of the city centre, Barberstown Castle - only a short drive from the city, and the petite King Sitric Townhouse in the traditional fishing village of Howth, with amazing sea views.
Newgrange Neolithic Tomb, Co. Meath
Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.), making it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange was built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley.
Knowth and Dowth are similar mounds that together with Newgrange have both been classed as World Heritage Sites
Tankardstown House, situated just outside Slane, is close to Newgrange and the ideal place to stay for those wishing to visit the Royal County of Meath, which boasts other famous historic sites, such as the Hill of Tara and the crosses at Kells. Ghan House, in the medieval town of Carlingford, is another wonderful accommodation option for those looking to explore Ireland's Ancient East.
Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim
Listed as a World Heritage site since 1986, The Giant's Causeway is the jewel in the crown of the fabulous northern coast of Antrim. The story of the Causeway goes that the legendary giant Finn McCool forged this unique rock formation to reach an enemy giant in Scotland. However, in reality, the causeway was the result of volcanic eruptions some 60 million years ago. It is renowned today as a habitat of rare plants and animals.
Also worth visiting when exploring the Northern coast, is the Bushmill's Whiskey Distillery, where you can purchase a special, personalised bottle of whiskey with your own name on it. In the village of Bushmills, you will find the cosy Bushmills Inn where warm open fires, comfortable bedrooms and hot toddies are the specialities of the house.
A short drive from the Antrim coastline you will find Ardtara Country House, widely regarded as one of the finest country house accommodations in Northern Ireland.
Connemara National Park & Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway
Situated in County Galway, in the west of Ireland, Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, vast expanses of boglands, grassy heaths, and woodlands. Some of the park's mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. Much of the present parklands formed part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate. A visit to the Abbey, home of the Benedictine nuns, is a must for many visitors to the country.
There are three beautiful places to choose from for those wishing to visit Connemara; Cashel House, Rosleague Manor and Currarevagh House are all charming, comfortable country house hotels, full of character.
Not far from Connemara, The Céide Fields, in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo are the oldest known field systems in the world, dating back over five and a half millennia. A designated UNESCO heritage site since 1992, the Céide Fields make up a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance, which has changed the world's perception of our Stone Age ancestors. The remains of stone field walls, houses and megalithic tombs are preserved beneath a blanket of peat over several square miles.
For those wishing to stay awhile in historic Mayo, we recommend Enniscoe House, an authentic listed heritage house, or the Ice House, a contemporary style lodge, both of which are within easy driving distance.
The majestic Cliffs of Moher are 214m high at their highest point and range for 8 kilometres along the western coast of County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher take their name from a ruined promontory fort "Mothar", which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower.
Also in Clare, a visit to the Burren is a must. It is an expansive area of limestone rock, including imposing mountains, as well as tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. With its extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, and megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour and a seductively magical aura.
We recommend two very different styles of properties in this region... The first is Gregans Castle - an old manor house perched atop Corkscrew Hill, which is a haven of peace and tranquillity.
Closer to the Atlantic ocean the quaintly beautiful Moy House snuggles into the rocks and offers visitors inspiring ocean views.
The Ring of Kerry (or Iveragh Peninsula, to give it its correct name) is part of an unspoiled region of Ireland that has attracted visitors for hundreds of years. Its spectacular beauty is beyond question and it is a natural centre for outdoor pursuits. The Ring of Kerry has some of the finest beaches in Europe and many sites, such as Ancient Monasteries, Iron Age Forts, and Ogham Stones, which provide an insight into the ancient heritage of Ireland.
The Gap of Dunloe was carved by a huge glacier thousands of years ago, and is roughly seven miles in length, with the Tomies and Purple mountains on the left and the McGillycuddy Reeks on the right. Don't miss the "Ladies View" so named after Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting who stopped to look at the beautiful scenery from this spot during the Queen's visit to Killarney in 1861.
It would be a shame to visit Kerry without experiencing the unique hospitality of the 5 star Park Hotel in Kenmare, where brothers John and Francis Brennan look after their guests with the utmost care and attention to detail. Hidden away on the shores of Caragh Lake you will find an equally warm welcome in the enchanting Carrig Country House, and for those who wish to stay in the vibrant centre of Killarney town, we recommend the Killarney Royal.
Reputedly the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD., long before the Norman invasion, The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. Most of the buildings on the site date from the 12th and 13th centuries when the rock was gifted to the Church. The buildings represent both Hiberno-Romanesque and Germanic influences in their architecture.
If you're looking to stay somewhere nearby, Castle Durrow, a converted 300-year-old mansion with stunning surrounding gardens and beautiful individually decorated rooms, is just a half-hour drive away.