Ireland's mountain beauty

Ireland's mountain ranges are mostly in the coastal counties creating an almost bowl-like shape for the island

Ben Bulben, County Sligo
Ben Bulben, County Sligo

Climb every mountain? Well, at least start with St Patrick’s… Every year, thousands of pilgrims go barefoot up the side of Croagh Patrick in pilgrimage to Ireland’s patron saint. But if you’re not taking your shoes off and hiking up through the mists, then there are still plenty of mountains where the terrain ranges from challenging to totally do-able…

Lough Tay, County Wicklow
Lough Tay, County Wicklow

Starting with County Down, the Mourne Mountains are thought to be Ireland’s most picturesque and were the inspiration for CS Lewis to imagine Narnia in his famous book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

The sharp-peaked Twelve Bens in Connemara, County Galway, are a dominant presence over the area and can be seen from all over this rugged region. A Ben of another kind – Ben Bulben – is popular with climbers and inspired a famous poem by WB Yeats Under Ben Bulben.

Ireland’s compact size means that you can easily access mountains from the main cities – on Divis and the Black Mountain in Belfast, you can look all the way across to Scotland on a clear day, while the beautiful Wicklow Mountains are an unexpected retreat just a 30-minute drive outside the urban buzz of Dublin city.

If you’re looking for the highest point on the island, check out the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the formidable Carrauntoohil in County Kerry. It looms at 1041m/3415 ft. On a clear day you can see for miles around!