The cool green landscapes of the Emerald Isle, the lilt of an Irish brogue... Ireland delights the mind and heart, with its brooding stone castles, prehistoric runes, enchanting islands and friendly people.
PROVINCES and COUNTIES
There are four provinces: Connaught, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster. Within these provinces are 32 counties. The Republic of Ireland consists of 26 counties and Northern Ireland consists of 6 counties.
The ancient Province of Connaught on the West coast of Ireland contains a rich diversity of stunning landscapes and coastal views, including the stunning sights of Connemara, Mayo and Sligo.
The coastline consists of thousands of wildly shaped bays, inlets and islands all of which merit a visit.
Galway City, the capital of the West, and an easy mix of ultra modern culture and proud Gaelic traditions, is worth a visit, as are the beautiful towns of Westport and Sligo.
Counties in the province of Connaught: Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo.
The most fought-over and colonized part of Ireland and this is reflected in the region's historical heritage. Now, Leinster is a mixture of beautiful countryside and modern towns, with well over half the population of the Republic living in Leinster.
Leinster includes Newgrange, Europe's greatest and most stunning Neolithic monument, the luxurious countryside of Wicklow and Kilkenny, with its rich Norman architecture and lively atmosphere.
Counties in the province of Leinster: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow.
The lushest of the four Provinces and home to some of Ireland's most breathtaking scenery, Munster's winding roads lead over mountain passes descending to magnificent inlets of the sea. The area is rich in archaeological remains, not least the mysterious stone circles which dot the landscape.
Throughout the region are many traces of plantation towns as well as numerous coastal and harbor towns such as Kinsale and Clonakilty. Munster is also home to Cork City, the second city of the Republic of Ireland and Limerick City, which is a historical gem with its 13th century castle fortress and old town.
Counties in the province of Munster: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford.
The Northern part of Ireland—the great and majestic Ulster—offers a different and quite unique experience. The interwoven influences of several different cultures—the Ulster Scots, the Gaelic, the Norman and the Anglo-Norman— have sculpted and colored the landscape in a way quite different to the rest of the island.
The geographical location of Ulster, as the most northern part of Ireland and surrounded by ocean on three sides, has formed a breathtakingly beautiful coast of dramatic cliffscapes, sweeping strands, and tumbling mountain ranges rarely equaled elsewhere in Ireland. The tranquil rural landscapes of Southern Ulster bounded by Lough Neagh in the East, Lough Erne in the West and the Lakelands of Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan in the South, offer a superb and almost continuous countryside shaped by mountains and rolling Drumlin hills and enclosing numerous spectacular lakes and rivers.
What is undoubtedly the most impressive aspect of Ulster is the unremitting beauty of its spectacular coastline, from the wild reaches of Donegal in the West, along the northern shoreline from Londonderry to Bushmills and down the dramatic Antrim coast to Larne, north of Belfast.
Donegal is characterized not only by the tremendous beauty of its coastline, but also by the rugged mountain wilderness that dominates the centre of the county and the scattered villages and towns, which dot its coast.
Counties in the province of Ulster: Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan, Tyrone.